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Becoming Mr. Bruce

August 19, 2021

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. It can’t be helped, Allen! We do become sensitive to the amount and quality of noise that children produce.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Patty (Fese) Kekich permalink

    Haha love it!
    Keep the writing. Grew up on Glenoaks Blvd and Orange Grove. Walked to my sister’s house daily 611 Orange Grove

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post, life is very circular and has a sense of humor 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  4. It could happen to anyone:)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Lucky me! All the kids in our neighborhood are very well behaved. I actually enjoy hearing them playing outside, though an occasional scream does make me react. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. 🤣😂🤣
    Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I could really relate! Lol

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Love you pic!

    Liked by 1 person

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