Colleen Murphy Anderson

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In January 1968 Bruce and Colleen Anderson were attending school and living in the mountains near Santa Cruz, California when they become involved in the anti-war movement at San Jose State. Bruce received a letter ordering him to report to Oakland to be examined prior to his induction into the US Army. In February Bruce passed his pre-induction physical despite having taken methadone to speed up his heartbeat in the hope that he could fool the doctors into declaring him unfit for military service. Unfortunately the doctors did not really check the thousands of men at the Oakland US Army Induction Center. Bruce also demanded a mental examination because of a family history of schizophrenia but his request was denied. After searching for two days, he found a small, hidden office at San Francisco State College where counselors gave him a copy of the Toronto Anti-Draft Programme's “Manual for Draft-Age Immigrants to Canada” and details of Canadian immigration procedures.

Bruce and Colleen Anderson left California in March and spent six weeks traveling to Toronto by car. In April they passed through Detroit late in the afternoon and found National Guard tanks in the streets and a 6 p.m. curfew in effect. (The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King had just been assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee). “We crossed the bridge to Canada but we were turned back because we had no proof of our dog’s rabies shot. We were nearly out of gas, it was almost 6 p.m. and all the gas stations were boarded up. Soldiers in helmets were everywhere and people were shouting at us to get off the streets. We finally got on the freeway and out to the suburbs where we got gas and dinner. The next day we got our dog another shot for rabies from a veterinarian who didn’t charge us. (He guessed why we wanted to get into Canada and was sympathetic to us.) That day we were allowed to cross the bridge into Canada.” Counselors at the office of the Toronto Anti-Draft Programme (TADP) directed them to the John Street Hostel.

Colleen and Bruce lived at the hostel on John Street for about six weeks. In June they joined some friends from Kansas City to rent a house on St. Paul Street in the Cabbagetown neighborhood of Toronto. After a few weeks Bruce and Colleen moved to a room at the Beverly Street Steam Baths at Beverly and Dundas Streets to escape overcrowding and rising tensions at the house on St. Paul Street. Bruce searched daily for employment without success. He had brought leatherworking tools with him from California and began to do leatherwork on a custom-order basis for people he met in Yorkville Village. His parents wrote of their shock and anger at his leaving the US and he began to show symptoms of schizophrenia. In August Colleen and Bruce joined Dave Woodward, Philip Mullins and Jim and Pat Wilson to lease the house at 224 McCaul Street.

In September Colleen realized that she was pregnant. Bruce’s condition worsened and late one night he flattened the roof of their VW sedan with a sledgehammer. The car was parked in the garage behind 224 McCaul Street but no one dared to approach Bruce and take the sledgehammer from him. Bruce was placed in the care of a psychiatrist at the mental health hospital at 999 Queen Street West but his mental condition continued to worsen and eventually he and Colleen were asked to leave the house at 224 McCaul Street. They moved to an apartment on Bathurst Street hoping that the privacy and calm will help Bruce’s mental condition. However Bruce began a three-week fast, eating only strong coffee and Hershey’s chocolate. This made him even worse. He became nervous and moody. Bruce checked himself into the mental hospital at 999 Queen Street but soon left and wandered the streets as a homeless person. In November Colleen and Mary Rauton moved together to a small third-story room on Henry Street but continued to eat the evening meal with the household at 224 McCaul Street. Bruce’s parents sent him train tickets and Bruce was bundled off to California where he was placed in Agnew State Mental Hospital. By December Colleen and Mary were sharing a room at 224 McCaul Street.

In February 1969 Mary Rauton, Colleen, Frank Tettemer and Steve Blossom rented the house at 218 McCaul Street and moved out of 224 McCaul Street. Another American exile, Steven Bush, soon joined them. For ten months Colleen commuted to the Toronto suburbs every weekday to her job with the Mirror newspaper. In March she took maternity leave and on April 17 her son, Seth Anderson, was born at Mt. Sinai Hospital in Toronto. She and Seth shared the house at 218 McCaul Street with Frank Tettemer, Marita DeGive, Steve Bush, Steve Spring, Steve Blossom and Ed and Sheila Street.

In September 1969 Colleen and the baby Seth moved back to California to join Bruce who was now working and had rented an apartment in San Jose. They again joined friends in protests at San Jose State and Stanford University. They joined a demonstration at an International Industrialist Convention in San Francisco where David Rockefeller was the keynote speaker. Police wearing helmets and body armor chased the demonstrators down the hills in the rain and some of the crowd broke storefront windows as they ran. Colleen decided that she would never again participate in that type of demonstration. Bruce became ill again and became a danger to Colleen and the baby. Bruce drifted away and Colleen lost contact with him.

In September 1970 Colleen helped start an alternative school in Auburn, California and renewed a friendship with Carol Huebner whom she had met in Toronto. She and Carol planned a trip to Toronto for the following summer. In July 1971 Carol Huebner and Colleen drove to Toronto from California for a month’s visit. Colleen stayed at the Ragnarokr leather shop and she and George Mullins fall in love. This caused quite a stir in the Ragnarokr commune. In August she and George left the leather shop on Baldwin Street and stayed a month with the Whole Earth Store commune in north Toronto. They both went back to California where Colleen had taken a leave of absence from her job.

For several months tensions ran high between Philip on one side and Mary and Madelyn on the other as Madelyn reconciled herself to the loss of her long-time companion. After a few months the incident was forgiven and in February 1972 George, Colleen and Seth returned from California by way of Texas where George's parents had moved. George picked up his work at Ragnarokr and Colleen found a job at a publisher’s house doing layout and paste-up. They briefly shared an apartment with Janice Spellerberg on College and Henry Streets. In the spring George began to commute between Toronto and Ragnarokr’s property near South River. He spent ten days building a house at the Frostpocket and then ten days working at the shop in Toronto. By the fall the house was ready for occupancy and in October George, Colleen and Seth moved into their still unfinished home at the Frostpocket.

For the next eight years Colleen and George split their time between their home in the country and the leather shop in Toronto. George took charge of the work at the settlement at Frostpocket while Philip and Mary focused on the leather shop. Over the years the roads on the property were graded and improved, a sugar bush developed, pasture drained and cleared and electricity brought to the property. A workshop was built with the intention of moving the leather shop’s production facility to the Frostpocket. In the late 1970s both George and Philip returned to school in preparation for starting a new business involving wood-burning stoves.

In the summer of 1979 both the leather shop and the settlement at the Frostpocket were thrown into turmoil by the messy split-up of Philip and Mary. By the spring of 1980 Mary and Philip had left Canada and gone their separate ways. This left George and Colleen alone at the Frostpocket and ended the plan to move the leather shop to there. George, like Philip, had school debts that he needed to pay. He and Colleen decided to leave the Ragnarokr leather shop and the Frostpocket temporarily and join Philip in Texas where George was certain that he could find work in the booming oil economy. His idea was to pay off the student loans and put together sufficient capital to start a new business.

In October 1980 George and Colleen and their children closed up their home at the Frostpocket and left for Burkeville, Texas. They moved into a rented house about a quarter of a mile from that of George’s parents. They lived in Burkeville until September 1982. George found work on a construction crew building a new gymnasium at the Burkeville School. (He was the replacement for a worker who had fallen to his death the day before George was hired). By the spring of 1982 George and Philip were still not ready to move back to the Frostpocket and appeared to be no closer than they had been in 1979 to resolving the issue of how to make a living while living at the isolated settlement in the near-north of Ontario.

With her children now all in school Colleen decided that it was her chance to return to school. At first she was interested in becoming a schoolteacher. She hired on at the Burkville School as an assistant teacher but finally, mostly because of the influence of the school nurse Diana Hall, decided to study nursing. She, George and the three children moved to Austin, Texas where she enrolled in Austin Community College. Their good friends, Fletcher and Madelyn Starbuck, were already living in Austin and Fletcher and George begin working together doing finish carpentry.

In the summer of 1983 both Philip and Jeff Mullins joined the business that George and Fletcher had formed in Austin. The four men installed kitchen cabinets as subcontractors for a kitchen design company. For a year the men had more work than they could handle. Then in the summer of 1984 the building boom in Austin came to an abrupt halt. George and Fletcher suddenly found their workload cut by two-thirds. Jeff, his wife Debbie and their two children returned to Pensacola, Florida and in January 1985 Philip returned to Toronto. Construction in Austin entered a long slump. By November Fletcher had taken a job at the University of Texas as a painter but George continued to work as a self-employed cabinet installer and part-time salesman for the A. L. Williams insurance agency.

Colleen did well in school and by 1987 had earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing from the University of Texas. She found employment at Seton Hospital in Austin. By 1992 she had earned a Master’s Degree in Nursing and moved up to a supervisory position at the hospital. Her children all graduated from universities in the Austin area and she continues to be employed at the Seton system. George took a job as a supervisor at a fabrication shop specializing in custom kitchen counter-tops. He continued to work at Classic Marble’s fabrication shop in Austin until he retired in 2006.

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