Ernest DeGrilla was one of the winner’s of this year’s 2014 Senior Citizen Community Service Awards given by the Department of Community and CUltural Affairs. This is the piece I wrote for the booklet they hand out at the luncheon which was held this year in October.
DEGRILLA ERNEST “SHUBY”.
Ernest “Shuby” DeGrilla, 74, started transporting seniors on the big red Project Action bus ten years ago after he retired from a job at IBC and UPS.
He loves meeting people, but sometimes finds it a little depressing to see people he knew from days gone by now with missing limbs. Many of the people he transports are dialysis patients.
“We save them a lot of money,” he said. “It is all free. If they had to catch a cab it would be about $120 a week. We go from one end of the Island to the other. Sometimes we can’t get up to Somerset or St George. We ask Red Cross drivers to step in and we try to get them back home afterward. He also transports Westmeath Rest Home residents. He said some of them just like to go for a ride. He also takes seniors to the Bermuda College for exercise classes and picks them up again.
“It is a busy bus,” he said. “We are grateful to Rubis for giving us free diesel.”
He said the challenge is sometimes getting down people’s narrow lanes and then battling traffic every morning.
He was born on the South Shore in Smith’s Parish where North Rock Restaurant is currently located. His parents were Arnold and Mary Moniz DeGrilla. He had a twin brother who died in infancy and four sisters. He went to school at Cavendish and left when he was 11 years old to work at Wadson’s Bicycle Shop.
They sold push bikes, radios and seeds, and later motorcycles.
He received the nickname “Shuby”, as a young child, after he took part in a singing competition during a production at the old Eagle’s Nest Hotel. Children were divided into teams. His team’s coach was Goose Gosling who gave him the nickname after the old song ‘shuby duby doo’. All the children in the team had a nickname.
He did a number of jobs over the years. He was a partner in the old Buckaroo Restaurant on Church Street. He drove a horse and carriage for the old Bermudiana Hotel transporting honeymooners. He worked on the American baselands running all their food concessions, which was a big job as there were 5,000 servicemen on the base at one time. There were cafeterias, civilian clubs, three lunch wagons and beach concessions to maintain. Eighty Bermudian women were employed to work there. After that he worked for Butterfield and Vallis for 26 years, Winter Cookson and then IBC.
“Then I retired and then jumped on the bus,” he said.
He has been married twice and has two sons, Stephen and William DeGrilla, and one grandson, Daniel, who is studying to be a doctor. Daniel lives abroad but often comes home for visits. While he is on the Island he helps his grandfather with the Project Action bus, among other things.
Shuby has a great love of animals. He has at one point had horses, show poodles, turtles and birds in his back yard on Euclid Avenue in Pembroke.