During the time period of 1930-1949, Harry Bruce lived on 245 California Street adjacent to the Rio Vista’s downtown area. The house he grew up in has been occupied by numerous families since his childhood. Mr. Bruce recalls that the population of Rio Vista was 1,500 during that time, and spent time with his friends, especially hanging out at the downtown’s soda fountain, and trying the different flavors of soda water after attending the new Roy Rogers movies at the Rio Vista movie theater. The cowboy movies were his favorite type of films and he loved them so much that he would attend them at least three times a week. It was quite expensive to finance his thirst for his love of the movies at .11 cents a viewing. In addition, he remembers the joyous times when he and his friends would walk down the Delta River bank with all their fishing gear to catch some fish.
Harry Bruce reminisces of the times he spent with his family enjoying the outdoors in Veterans Hall City Park and playing several games in the thick green grass. He recalls how saddened he was when the Half Dome stage burned down since he had such fond memories there with his family and friends. Also, since his family did not own a car, he relied on the city’s bus system to get around. The bus was a great way to travel to Sacramento, California from Rio Vista, especially traveling to see the baseball games that were held there much of the time. If for some reason he could not come up with the bus fare to attend the games, he and his friends would hitchhike if needed. They would do anything for the love of baseball.
Mr. Bruce attended Riverview Middle School and went on to graduate from Rio Vista High School, located on Montezuma Street. He explains the wonderful times he had in his childhood and teen years in Rio Vista. He states that during this time, the teachers showed much dedication in everything they taught. Mr. Bruce speaks of two of his high school teachers with such pride. Mrs. Bushnell and Mrs. Radford were both his favorite teachers. Back in the days, teachers were very well respected by the community, and their students. He enjoyed attending school and his favorite subject was History. History was very interesting for him because he learned not only the United States history, but history from all over the world. Even though he enjoyed attending school, his number one part of the day was eating his lunch. His mother always prepared something tasty for him to eat. He was usually exhausted from playing baseball and was quite hungry. Playing baseball was one of his favorite sports
Listening to the local radio station was one of Harry Bruce’s favorite pastimes. He enjoyed all types of music and programs. Music was always fun to listen to, especially when he stayed home from school sick. The family doctor used to make house calls and charge $5.00 per visit. One of the childhood illnesses that he recalls is having the chickenpox. An experience he wishes not to repeat. His family members also got together for Sunday supper. An event that he really looked forward to all week long because his mother baked one of the best chicken dinners in town. Some of his favorite programs were Fibber Magee and Molly, The Wistler and the hilarious Jack Benny show.
His family always had to work to make a living, so he decided to take a job at the local grocery store delivering groceries to his neighbors. Although the pay of .75 cents is not much in today’s standards, it was quite a piece of change back then. Furthermore, he recalls his boss as being rather “unfriendly”. At times he did not mind his boss’s temperament, just as long as he got paid. His father worked as a butcher for one of the local stores. In addition to working at the grocery store, Mr. Bruce also took care of his household chores of mowing the lawn, and feeding the chickens. Even though money was somewhat tight, the Bruce family always managed to make the Christmas holiday a big event. Mr. Bruce recalls opening his Christmas gifts on Christmas morning and receiving gifts such as trains, fishing gear and a bike. His mother was a great cook and she always made sure to please her family by cooking a big turkey with all the fixings during this holiday.
One of his family members served in the military and it was hard on the family at times because he could not write home regularly. Harry yearned for his family member coming home safe. Once the family member returned from serving, he quickly landed a job in the trucking business. A faithful friend since childhood is Richard Esperson. Richard and he spent many days playing baseball. They have remained close friends for all these years. They both love talking about the good old days, and continue to make everlasting memories.
This May, Harry Bruce will have been happily married to Carolyn for 52 years. He and his loving wife have seen many changes come and go in Rio Vista. “Changes are not always progress”, he misses the close net family tradition that Rio Vista once held. Everyone knew each other and was kind and caring, and always willing to help if someone needed aid. He finishes by saying that there is no place like Rio Vista, and he loves living in this community among his close friends.