Happy Birthday Bruce!

February 27 is a big day for the Amos Boys—it’s Bruce’s birthday and he’s going to be 79. Happy Birthday Bruce!

Supposedly, this week’s conference call was supposed to be an hour long “Roast Bruce,” but I must say, Duane and Jerry went pretty easy on him. A few stories have come out over the weeks, and even though Bruce repeatedly claims they’re all hearsay, I’ll pass some of them along to you anyway. Like, say, the time things got a little “smoky” in their Grandma Maggie Adams’ chicken coop.

I’ll let Jerry clear the air (ahem) on this one:

“When Bruce was 12 or 13 he was visiting on Beaver Street (Maggie’s house, where Jerry was living). It was our step-grandfather Jim Adams’ birthday and he had received a lot of Lucky Strike cigarettes. Bruce thought we and some of our neighborhood buddies should have our own party so he borrowed a carton of Jim’s smokes. We crowded into a little chicken coop out back and smoked those cigarettes.

“After getting sick of the whole thing, we all went down the street to another kid’s house for something to drink. While there, we heard fire engine sirens and ran out to enjoy some excitement. We were shocked though, to see this big rig pull in to Jim and Maggie’s place. Someone had seen a lot of smoke coming from the chicken coop and called the fire department.

“A fireman took his big ax to the coop door and opened up to a large number of smoldering cigarettes butts on the floor. We boys were standing there innocently when the head fireman walked right over to Bruce. I don’t remember what he said but there weren’t any serious consequences that I know of except for a lingering bad taste.”

Here’s one of Bruce’s high school pictures. Isn’t he handsome?

Bruce's high school picture

There’s a story about Bruce’s high school years as well. Apparently, there are several versions, but we’ll go by how he tells it:

“Back when I was in junior high, I got in the habit of skipping school. When I got to high school at Eastern (High School), Duane started skipping right along with me. At the end of the first semester, the principal called us into the office and said Duane was a pretty good student until I got there. He made the statement that the school wasn’t big enough for the two of us.

“I went home and didn’t tell Ma I got kicked out of school. I just asked if she could get me into Sexton (High School) because that’s where all my friends from junior high were going.”

Sexton High School was a long walk across town for Bruce, but it turned out to be quite worthwhile because that’s where he met a very special someone—Coyla Jean McCargar.

Coyla Jean

Coyla, who went by Jeanie, grew up living with her grandparents in the very small town of Henderson, about 45 miles northeast of Lansing. During her high school years she moved to Lansing to live with her mother, and she graduated when she was just 16.

She must have been pretty smart to graduate so young, don’t you think?

“Not too smart,” says Bruce. “Not if she married me.”

Bruce and Coyla Jean

Bruce and Jeanie married that next January 1952, a month before Bruce turned 19 and a few months before Jeanie turned 18.

“She twisted my arm,” says Bruce.

Well, she obviously did more than that. By December of that same year, their daughter Vicki was born. Fourteen months later, in February, 1954, Shelley was born. And in July, 1959, Roland Scott was born.

When I ask Bruce what he enjoyed doing in his younger days, his response is that he was “never particularly smart, or never had any particular interests.”

“I just lived life as it came,” says Bruce.

I’m thinking Bruce is being a bit modest here, because it sounds like he worked hard and did well.

In the early years of their marriage, Bruce worked 40 hours a week delivering mail for the post office during the day, plus another 42 hours a week as the night manager for a McDonalds in Lansing.

“I was getting a little worn out and was going to quit McDonalds,” says Bruce. “But the owner asked how much I was making at both jobs. He offered me more money to quit delivering mail and just manage his McDonalds.”

Eventually Bruce was managing three Lansing McDonalds, and later, one in St. Johns and one in Corunna. He also owned shares in another McDonalds in Portland.

All of this is really interesting. But what’s even better is what Bruce’s children have to say about their dad. It’s very, very special.

Here a word from Vicki, Shelley and Scott.

Vicki

Dad was always one of the hardest working dad’s we know. He always took his job seriously and did his very best. My guess would be his best work years were the one’s he spent at McDonalds in Lansing, which started as a second job (nighttime -after working at the Post Office all day). Eventually he became the supervisor of all three Lansing McDonalds that were owned by Ed MacLuckie.

Dad was a strict dad. If he whistled, you better come running. If he said you should be doing this or that, you better be doing just what he said. We all knew he loved us very much, but he was not a demonstrative man with his feelings…that has changed as he has aged. He shows more emotion now and says I love you. We always knew that he did, but it wasn’t said often when we were young.

Dad gave us all a strong work ethic which we have carried throughout our lives. He’s never been materialistic, he just looks to be comfortable and content.

Dad used to play men’s softball as a pitcher for many years and now he still enjoys watching. He and I have lots of conversations about my granddaughter, Makela, who is a 10th grader in high school and a great little pitcher. When Dad has been home to Michigan he makes sure he takes in one of her summer tournaments.

He is an avid reader…this year we got him a Kindle to move him into the technological world with his reading.

The love of Dad’s life now is his dog, Molly! She is a rescue dog that Scott found for him and they are inseparable.

Vicki, Jeanie, Shelley, Bruce and Scott, 1972

Shelley

The first thing I really remember is my family living in a house with Grandma (Gladys) and Jerry and Elaine. I guess Dad worked nearby, but things must have been tough for everyone if we were all living together.

We moved to a house on State Rd. in north Lansing. I’m not sure if this was our next residence or not, but I remember having a dog and Dad making me go out back and feed it. The dog would run around my legs and I would get caught up in his chain and fall down. That’s when I first remember Dad saying “I’m gonna trade you in for a dog and shoot the dog.” That really scared me because I didn’t want to go away and I didn’t want the dog to die.

I think after that we moved to Coulson Ct. in south Lansing. There were lots of young families on that street with lots of kids to play with. When it was time to go inside in the evenings, Dad would whistle for us and it didn’t matter where we were, we could hear him and knew we’d better get our little butts home. Our parents made friends with lots of the other parents and there were always parties. The adults would dance and Dad was the best twister. He was also pretty good at hula hooping!

I guess I was a daddy’s girl because I always liked to help him with whatever he was doing. I’m sure I was in the way a lot, but I don’t ever remember him telling me to go away. We didn’t talk a lot when we “worked” together and I remember him saying that we could spend half a day together and I wouldn’t say a dozen words. (That’s because my older sister always felt the need to talk for me!) I’m sure I learned a lot of Amos expletives by helping Dad with his projects too.

Dad worked at McDonalds for several years. He took me to work with him one day when I was probably 7 or 8. It was before females were allowed to work there. I thought I was pretty special because I got to put the pickles on the hamburgers! I also remember Mom calling him at work a few times when Scott was a new baby, because we were being naughty. He would come home and get Vicki and I and take us back to McDonalds with him. The first time, he made us sit in the car while he went back to work, but his boss found out we were in the car and made Dad bring us inside. We got to do cool things in the back like cut the potatoes into French fries (yup, they used real potatoes way back then), help make shakes, and eat whatever we could talk Dad into.

Dad was the disciplinarian. Mom would say “wait until your father gets home!” so I would be in tears when Dad walked in the door. He always said all he had to do was scold me because that was harder on me than getting spanked. Dad was not very good at verbalizing his love for us. If we would say “I love you Dad” he would say “me too” or “mmhmm”, but we knew he loved us by his actions. He’s gotten over that over the years and doesn’t have any trouble saying “I love you” now.

We moved to St. Johns when I was in the third grade and lived on a farm and we all got horses. Vicki and I were in 4-H with our horses and Mom and Dad were very involved. We would take our mares down the road to another farm to be bred. Dad thought it would be a good educational experience for me/us (I don’t remember if Vicki was there) to watch. Mom wasn’t too happy about that when she found out!

When we had friends over, Dad would always stare at the top of their heads when he talked to them, which made them very nervous! (I bet he did it to you cousins too.)

I worked for Dad at McDonalds for awhile and all the other employees thought I was a great person to voice their complaints to, hoping I would go home and tell Dad. I tried…once….

Dad was always there for us kids, even when he wasn’t too happy with us, and always gave us good advice, even when we didn’t want it. He still treats me like his little girl…love you Dad!

Scott

I worked at McDonalds also when I was 9, working every other Saturday picking up papers in the neighborhood. After I was done doing that, I got to help out inside. Filling buckets with potatoes, slicing potatoes, putting ketchup & mustard on the buns, making shakes & eating pretty much whatever I wanted. I got sick on cherry pies when they came out.

Dad would ground me and after a couple of days mom would let me off but said, make sure I was home before Dad got home.

Happy Birthday from all of us!

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17 thoughts on “Happy Birthday Bruce!

  1. Happy Birthday Uncle Bruce! I remember some of those pictures! I loved playing under the willow tree at your first farm house. The horses were always special…except for the one time Grandpa Amos got thrown and had to go get stitches. I was greatly disappointed in your second barn. Climbing two ladders and going through a trap door to get into the hay mow to play was too freaky for me. ;-( All in all, it was always fun to come and play with the Cousins!

  2. You have a very good memory Terri! We always called Grandpa numb skull after that. I’d forgotten about the trap door to the hay mow. The first barn had lots more room to play and make forts out of the hay bales.

  3. Happy birthday (great) Uncle Bruce! It’s cool to read all these stories about my mom’s cousins, whose names I’ve always heard, but who I don’t know much about!

  4. Happy birthday Uncle Bruce!!(belated – know it was yesterday!) I think your brothers were AWFULLY easy on you for the “roast”. Or maybe they are just getting so old that their memories are failing! I have always thought of you as my wild uncle – and always will. Hope you had a wild time on your birthday.

    Love, JerriLynn

    • That’s funny JerriLynn. I never thought of my dad as wild, although with some of the stories I’ve read, maybe he was…in his younger days anyway! I always thought of your dad as the crazy one of the three.

  5. Pingback: Jobs, Driving and Happy Days | Those (Expletive) Amos Boys

  6. Happy belated Birthday Uncle Bruce. I hope it was a good one. I remember coming over to your house when you lived in the basement while you were building the rest of the house. I remember playing in the barn and petting the horses. I also remember grabbing the electric fence and it knocking me backwards into a mud puddle. We were going to church that morning and I was thinking “Why isn’t everyone more concerned. I can’t believe that they are making me go to church when I was almost killed. ” It’s funny the things you remember and the odd little things that stick with you.

    I hope you are enjoying the warm weather in Florida, we are anxiously awaiting it’s return to the Midwest.

  7. Pingback: Happy Birthday Jeanie! | Those (Expletive) Amos Boys

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