This is an Author’s note I’m working on for Bruno #10, tentative title: The Scorned.

Growing up I had five brothers and sisters: six kids who needed school clothes and three hot meals a day. Our stepfather worked as a pipefitter, the jobs were sporadic and made the family money fluctuate. Until my mother figured out how to make it all work, we would periodically go on welfare. But this was back when the government gave out food instead of money or food stamps. She’d take me to stand in a long line outside a defunct movie theater with all the other unfortunates. 

When our turn came, Mom handled the paperwork then we shuttled the food boxes into the green Belvedere station wagon. Boxes loaded with inexpensive food: rice and pasta, large cans of mystery meat, powdered milk, powdered eggs, big blocks of American cheese, and butter. The labels on the food came with recipes that helped make the bland food half-palatable. 

Rice pudding was my favorite. Mom made big vats of it to keep in the refrigerator for her always-hungry kids to nosh when their stomachs growled. And that was all the time. She also made big vats of macaroni and cheese with chunks of mystery meat. We didn’t talk about it, so I naturally thought all of our friends’ families were doing the same thing. 

Mom worked at cake decorating, sewing, and selling toys to put clothes on our back and food on the table. Before there were any regulations, she also took in extra children she babysat while their parents worked. At one time, there were twelve plus our six; eighteen children in one house. 

I was tasked with making lunch. I’d take a loaf of day-old Wonder bread Mom got at the day-old bakery, lay out the entire loaf on the bread board and start an assembly line slathering each piece first with peanut butter then with jelly. Not the other way around, it didn’t work that way. 

I became accustomed to all the extra kids. Mom was too busy with her other money-making duties to supervise the children. That job fell to me. I became the sheep herder and the sheepdog. Maybe this is why I can relate so well with Bruno and his mob of children.

6 thoughts on “Another reason for Bruno

  1. As a kid who grew up poor and being the eldest child with a lot of extra responsibilities, including a job that I started at a tiny little cafe in a tiny little town when I was but 13 to help provide for my whole family, I am in love with this glimpse into your life. ❤ Thanks for sharing it!

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    1. Thanks you for your response
      That is so interesting, my mother was born in Thermal and grew up there in a travel trailer in that grueling heat. She went to work at a diner on the Salton Sea back when it was a resort. She was only thirteen. I think it showed her the real world, what it was like to work for everything. She instilled that ethic into all of us kids. Thanks again for your interaction. 🙂
      d.

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  2. Another view of past struggles. We were a very small family – grandmother, mother, small child. This was an era when mothers were not expected to work outside of the home, so my mother, who had grown up to be a wife and mother had no career skills. The best she could do was soda fountain, laundry for others, some shops, but if a man applied for one of those jobs my
    Mother was let go because the man ‘had a family to support’! It wasn’t until WW2 started that women like her could get and keep a steady job. She worked a factory line from then till her early death, earning half of what the man sitting next to her, doing exactly the same job, was paid – because he had a family to support.

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