Uncle Rupert

Of all my Dad’s friends, I liked ‘Uncle Rupert’ most of all.

Unlike my Dad, Uncle Rupert was short, and had almost no neck. He had an infectious laugh, and a great sense of humour. He loved to smoke, drink, and to play golf very poorly.

However, Uncle Rupert was absolutely brilliant. ‘So Nupping, why are you on the same page of your homework for twenty minutes’, asked Uncle Rupert as I sat at the dining table doing homework while my Dad and Uncle Rupert smoked and had a drink in the adjacent living room’. ‘I’m doing an unseen in Latin’,  I complained. Uncle Rupert got up, stood behind my back, and translated every word that I had marked. Many years late, Uncle Rupert asked me, ‘Nupping, is it still 26-9-48?’ He had helped me set my combination lock a decade before-and still remembered.

There is one memory that sticks out in my mind more than any other. Dad, Uncle Rupert and I had flown to Northern Quebec to fish, and we were driving the last 200 miles to Wapoo-Sibi fishing camp. I was still a young boy, and I was lying in the back seat, exhausted from the day’s travel. Uncle Rupert heard my stomach gurgle and said to my Dad, ‘pull over at the next restaurant, Phil; Nupping is hungry’.

Sitting in our back yard in 1967, Uncle Rupert asked me what are my thoughts on the Greek military coup. I gave a dumb answer, and for over an hour, Uncle Rupert gave me an overview of the history of military coups, Greek history, and how radical changes in government ‘screw the little guy’.

Dad often told me that Uncle Rupert can talk about almost every subject in great depth. ‘The man has a great mind’, was Dad’s one liner on Rupert. My Dad had one-liners for a lot of his friends.

When I started to talk, nupping was the way I pronounced nothing, and Uncle Rupert never ever called me anything but that.

When Uncle Rupert passed away, I had returned to Israel. The news devastated me and I wrote to his wife, Auntie Selma, who was a head taller than Uncle Rupert. I received a very touching answer from Auntie Selma, who was an artist.

Montreal is a city with so much to remember: bitter winters, skiing at Tremblant and Mt Gabriel, rue de la Montagne where my Dad lived, the Main, the French ambience, my summer working at Expo 67, Schwartz’s Deli, McGill, Orange Julep,  Place des Arts, McGill, 7 graves of family members, my remaining cronies from childhood, and memories of Uncle Rupert.









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8 thoughts on “Uncle Rupert

  1. Loved this. We all had an uncle we remember. And I think my dad took me to the same fishing place you went to with an uncle. Amazing memories. And some additional Montreal memories to add to yours – Belmont Park, Laurentian Lanes Bowling, Bar B Barn, The Limelight, (standard for coffee after a date), Vito’s, Duc De Loraine, The Lookout, Morrie Heft (so you didn’t look like a jocko when you got dressed), Plattsburg, Burlington (extra 20 minutes but didn’t have Bass Weejun outlet), St. Viatur Bagels, Desjardins, Moishes (some of the waiters worked there 40 years). Note most memories around food.

  2. I loved Montreal. Leaving Montreal was political and Jewishy as the FLQ were anti-semites and we left our parents in fear. They stayed, where else would they get their lox and bagel. Most of my friends went to Toronto. I ended up in Ottawa after trying out Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, even had a gig in Northern Alberta.
    From here, I can go to Montreal often.
    I need to change the information on my father’s gravesite as I have new information from genealogist about his wife and children that were killed. I will have my kids come in and hire a Rabbi say Kaddush for them and perhaps some peace for me. If you read my book, The Inheritors: Moving Forward from Generational Trauma”. you will see that I dedicate the book to the children, Henush and Helena.

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