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Becoming Mr. Bruce

September 19, 2014

When I was a child of ten living in Southern California during the late 1950s, I was very typical for the times. Together with my friends, I would maraud our little middle class neighborhood looking for simple things to do, from catching butterflies to skateboarding. Most of our neighbors forgave our minor trespasses of property and calm because we were all living in the land of Ozzie and Harriet. We did no real damage as we were just kids being kids.

Sometime in 1959, a new neighbor moved in two doors up from our house. His name was Mr. Bruce and he was immediately completely intolerant of me and all children on our block. He would scrub and then hose off the sidewalk in front of his house daily and yell at us if we dared transverse the section of the public right of way in front of his property. Of course, we thought he was nuts. As we went over this piece of concrete daily with our skateboards, he would come roaring out of his front door to confront us. This cycle continued for years.

One day we heard that Mr. Bruce had died of a brain tumor. His untimely end aside, I swore that I would never let myself become him. Mr. Bruce was a loathsome and feared phrase in my vocabulary.

Years later I became a father and then a single parent but always with a deep tolerance for children of all ages. I was a Cub Scout leader, I coached T-Ball and often had my home full of my son’s hyperactive friends. But as the years advanced and my patience did not, slowly I became less of a fan of screaming children and mamby-pamby parents who refused to to discipline their broods. I’ve heard that this phenomenon is called “getting old.”

This process continued throughout my latter adult life. I am now way retired and living in the Italian Alps where things are normally very peaceful. However parents here set no boundaries at all for their children; it’s a European thing that ultimately manifests itself with sons living with their mothers until they are 50 or older. These parents turn their little wretches upon the general public instead of perhaps teaching them T-Ball.

Today, after a five hour onslaught of screaming in Italian and German, I finally lost it. I leapt to my balcony and bellowed, “Basta, halt deine klapper!” (Enough, shut up!) As I went back into my house, I gasped aloud, ” Oh crap, I’ve become Mr. Bruce!” I then began checking my skull for any noticeable bulges.

   Read author Allen E. Rizzi’s latest books available at

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  1. Loving “quiet” must be a ‘getting older’ thing, huh? I can stand people noise better than machine noises like leaf blowers and vacuum cleaners.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. allenrizzi permalink

    I agree….I woke up this morning at 6:45 to the sound of my neighbor’s pressure washer…. it made the little cherubs in Italy seem almost mute.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Reblogged this on allenrizzi and commented:

    As the quiet set in here in the Italian Alps this evening, I thought of this old post from nearly five years ago – Enjoy!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. ellem63 permalink

    Oh dear! 😂 I can relate to this so much when I catch myself saying things my mother used to say!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Becoming a curmudgeon seems to be part of the aging process for many if us. Heavy sigh.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’d like to think that I haven;t become a curmudgeon just yet but age has has taught me a certain amount of intolerance. In the parlance of my generation: Bummer!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Marty Smidt permalink

    I love your stories of life in Sylmar/San Fernando

    Liked by 1 person

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