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Becoming Mr. Bruce

June 25, 2022

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. Yupper. Allus old men have become Mr. Bruce. Somewhat embarrassed, I report that here it’s not necessarily the kids who set me off. Parents and other retired geezers [adults?] walking Fido who figure it best for Fido to crap on my front lawn, to toss candy wrappers and cigarette butts out their car windows driving down streets and highways, to run to the grocery in sweatpants and obscene [almost] t-shirts. You got me with the skateboard thing – we never had such where I grew up. But you’re on the money. Still, Mister Bruce that I am, I delight in children except when they show their parents have not the sense someone’s god gave a rock and taught their children manners, respect, decency, and common sense. This Mister Bruce swallows spit, tries [as much as today’s society allows] to gain these little folks’ respect and attention, and demonstrates and explains good conduct in the manner of a cleverly-written children’s book. One Mr. Bruce to another, deep sigh, we can only try. Good read.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Well, if there is a Mrs. Bruce, I might qualify. I love children dearly and have had 2 myself who grew up and went away at the appropriate time in their early 20s but I have found my tolerance for the incessant screeches of the neighborhood brood is enough for me to want to throw things. It is not screaming from joy at a new discovery, or a wild game of capture the flag, it is whining drone that comes when parents won’t play and can’t be bothered to integrate their kids in what they are doing. Parenting is rewarding work but it seems many parents now just don’t realise that. I like to tell the little beasts stories when I can so at least they stop howling for a moment.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Times have changed for sure. Today’s parents see schools as baby sitters and have relegated the rest of parenting to society – SAD!


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