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A Nostalgic Look Back at the Original Bullworker


The mystery package

I was reading the hub The Rags to Riches Story of Charles Atlas by fellow hubber Rupert Taylor when a fond memory came back to me. When I was 14 and my youngest brother was 12 we were both pencil-thin and truly were the 95-pound weaklings. Both of us were teased and desired to look healthier and it was far worse for me being a girl. We had a lot of magazines in our home that were filled with advertisements. One day I walked to the Post Office which was about 2 blocks from our home. We were being raised by our grandma and great-grandmother in the county. when I looked through the glass of PO box number 74 I saw a square card and became very excited. This card indicated that there was a package that was too big to fit in the PO box. I turned the combination and opened the little door and took the piece of paper out. I was so excited and wondered if someone had sent me a present. I presented the card to the assistant postmaster named Ms. Rosalie who took it and went to the back of the building.



When she returned Ms. Rosalie handed me a long thin box that had my youngest brother's name on it. I was so disappointed that the package was not for me and angry that I had to carry it all the way home. When my brother opened it I saw that it was a piece of exercise equipment called a Bullworker. It was metal and had cords on each side that you could pull to add tension. The enclosed paperwork indicated that this item would build muscle and I realized that my brother really felt bad about being 5"3 and under 100 lbs. I understood as I was the same height and just as thin. Our middle brother was taller and more muscular and a lot of girls thought they were in love with him. He was also good in sports and always on the first string (first team of choice) for softball, basketball, and football. My youngest brother rode the bench and did not have a lot of girls who wanted to "go with" him. I could feel his insecurity and I hoped and prayed that the Bullworker would indeed work.We both used it over the summer without any extreme results. I had hoped it would strengthen my pectoral muscles and increase my 32 A breasts. All we got from the hard work was muscular arms bu overall we both looked pretty much the same.


Trouble knocks at the door

The Bullworker came in June and sometime in late August, a problem arose. An older white gentleman showed up at our house one day looking for my brother and my grandmother intervened. It seems that the Bullworker had been sent because my sibling checked the box saying he was over 18 and he owed $35.00 for it. My grandma told the man that she did not order it and certainly did not have $35.00 to pay for the contraption. She chastised the company for sending a product through the mail without first getting their money. The representative from the company left our home but the Bullworker remained. I now wonder why my grandma did not give it back or why the man never asked for it. My brother got the whipping of his life that day and grandma often spoke of the trouble the "Bullwinkle" caused her. I guess the representative decided to chalk it up as a loss but it was his company's property and he had every right to take it back. My brother and I continued to use the Bullworker and still, all we got from it was muscular arms. My brother eventually grew to 6"0 in height at age 19 after he had been out of high school for a year but remains slim to this day. I finally gained weight and made it to 110lbs. just after graduating high school and I was 5"5 1/2 inches tall.


Fond memories

In 1979 my family moved to the city and the Bullwinkle/Bullworker came along. I'm not sure when my brother discarded it and I had not thought of it in decades until I read the story about Charles Atlas. I can recall the Popular Mechanic's magazine lying around the old house when we were teens and the ads of the 95lb weakling getting sand kicked in his face. There was always a nutritional supplement, vitamin or exercise apparatus that was supposed to transform the skinny guy into a man of steel. There were also ads for lifts in shoes to give the appearance of height. Two county teens in the 1970s were fascinated by all that was promised by commercialism but children today are savvier and taught not to fall for false advertisement. I am so happy to have recalled the wide-eyed wonder and great expectations that my brother and I had back then in the good old days. The Bullworkers are still around so I guess they do benefit those who dedicate their time to them.


Cheryl E Preston (author) from Roanoke on June 12, 2021:

Thank you for sharing your story

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on June 12, 2021:

This brought back memories for me Cheryl. Not long after I started my first job a work colleague said he had a bullworker for sale. I had read an advertisement previously so decided to buy it. Yes, it did work to build up biceps and shoulders over time. I must have had it for about 15 years before it stopped working and I discarded it.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on June 12, 2021:

This is an interesting story, Cheryl.

Cheryl E Preston (author) from Roanoke on June 11, 2021:

Thank you so much

Rawan Osama from Egypt on June 11, 2021:

Well written

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