Mr. Standfast

"Nothing taken for granted; everything received with gratitude; everything passed on with grace." G. K. Chesterton

August 19, 2004

What ever happened to Bruce Caruso?


Pay no attention to the great gaping ape in the picture below. I am going to write just as many words as I have to this morning in order to move that fellow down the page, so that he’s not the first thing you see at Mr. Standfast.

***

Who do you wonder about when you wonder, “What ever happened to . . .”

I wonder about Bruce Caruso.

Bruce was a friend of mine in high school. Not a bosom buddy, not a guy I hung out with all the time, but for a brief while a member of our little click. He lived in the little town of Larksville, Pennsylvania. Let me tell you about Bruce Caruso.

Bruce was a fat, exuberant kid with the longest hair in school. It was sleek and black and down to his belt. His favorite band was Black Sabbath, and Ozzie Osbourne was, in his opinion, the guitar-god. This was 1973, mind you. Back when Ozzie was Iron Man. Bruce used to call me on the phone, every night. He had a phone in his bedroom, rare in those days, and he’d be playing Black Sabbath on his 8-track with the volume turned all the way up, so sometimes I couldn’t even hear Bruce because of Ozzie.

Yes, most of our relationship was on the phone. He’d say, “Bob, you gotta hear this song,” and he’d lay the telephone receiver in front of the speakers. So I’d be subjected to Black Sabbath, whom I detested (I was more of a Crosby, Stills & Nash sort of guy), and Bruce would simply walk away, completely forgetting about me. After a while I’d hang up in frustration, but in those days hanging up the phone would not necessarily break the connection. A half-hour later my mother would pick up the phone to make a call and be greeted with Ozzie’s, “I AM IRON MAN!!!” I can well-remember her none-too-polite response!

Bruce’s father owned the Ace Moving and Storage Company. His house was chock-full of gaudy furniture and lamps, etc., that had been "left behind" by people using his moving and storage services. At least once a week he would fly into a rage and throw Bruce out of the house. “Pack your rags and get out!” was his standard way of putting it. Bruce would laugh about this. He never seemed disturbed by his father’s anger. He seemed to know it was only for a moment, an episode, and would soon pass.

At one point Bruce’s dad decided he was going to build and in-ground swimming pool next to the house. So he hired the back-hoe and had the hole dug, but then he flew into one of his rages over something one of the kids had done or failed to do. “That’s it!” he shouted. “No swimming pool!” So: just a big rectangular hole in the ground right next to the house.

I can tell you more, but you get the picture. Bruce’s family was text-book disfunctional. I smoked my first illegal cigarette with Bruce, sitting on the loading dock of Ace Moving and Storage. I remember walking home and wondering, “Am I high? Is this what being high feels like?”

The last I heard about Bruce was a couple of years after high school. He’d been seen handing out tracts on a street corner in Philadelphia. He was a born-again Christian! It was my friend George who’d run into him there. George was the ultimate anti-Christian cynic. I remember him saying he wasn’t surprised about Bruce. Bruce, he said, was just the type. “People like him always get religion.”

Well, now it’s many years later, and I’ve got religion too! And I wonder where Bruce is, and how he’s doing, and if he's still sweet and exuberant, and if he still loves the Lord.

7 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bruce is my brother-in-law. This is funny as hell, and so like Bruce! What is your name...I can't wait to show him this!

9:40 AM  
Blogger Bob said...

Wow, I was wondering if I'd get a response from someone who knew Bruce, but I didn't really think I would. My name is Bob Spencer, but Bruce might have known me as Mark, which is my middle name. Tell him to send me an email. I'd love to hear from him.

2:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a small world, I was just surfing on some ancestory links and somehow saw Bruce's name come up and it lead me to your site! I will be speaking with him later today and I'll let him know you were asking about him. He doesn't have a computer, so I will most likely respond back to your email address. My husband & I were just back in town (Luzerne Co.) visiting Bruce and family. He's still living in Plymouth and doing well.

Lynn

2:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello,

My name is Steve (Bruce's nephew) and I recently spoke to Joe (as in Bruce's brother and my uncle) and you have your Bruce Caruso Update backwards. Joe is Bruce's brother and Lynn is Joe's wife making her Bruce's Sister-in-law. By the way, here's another update for you, Bruce is far from loving the Lord these days and has reverted back to the days you originally were recollecting about.

Ahh yes... just like a pendulum is the life of Bruce Caruso.

For those of you keeping score at home here's where we are:
60's to 70's = WAY LEFT
70's to 1984 = WAY RIGHT
1985 to 1994 = WAY LEFT
1995 to 2000 = WAY RIGHT
2001 to Now = WAY LEFT
I may not be exact with my years, but I know I'm fairly close.

Enjoy,
Steve

2:50 AM  
Blogger TexasDude said...

Very nice blog, hard to come by these days,

If you have a chance, can you visit my how to play guitar site

It has all guitar related stuff.

Thanks

1:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello again Bob/Mark,

It's me Steve (Bruce's Nephew) and I have him on the phone right now as I type this out. He's laughing his ass off over this. He wants me to ask you where are you living these days? He recently got a PC, but really at the very early stages of learning how to do anything with it. He wants to know if you know anything recent about George Knorr?

Is there anyway to give me your email address so I can try to show Bruce how to use email and he can talk to you that way?

Thanks,
Steve

Posted 12-30-10

11:22 PM  
Blogger Bob said...

Steve, that is so exciting. Tell your uncle Bruce hello and it's about time he got a computer! Tell him also that I don't know where George is, although I've found some evidence, after searching online, that he might live in the Camden, NJ, area. If Bruce ever gets to the point of using email, make sure he writes to me at rspencer[at]gmail.com.

4:57 AM  

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