The Life and Times of Bruce Bramson


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For the first year that I owned the house, I continued to take my meals with Ted: the only good way to rid a building of roaches and mice is to starve them out, so we had NO food of any kind in the place for the entire year. I began assembling some furniture, all of it used. Most of the first year was spent tearing out horrible additions that had been made to the building at one time or another. For many years it had been broken up into “apartments”, with kitchens stuffed into corners. Hung all over the outside of the house was plumbing, now useless, that had fed those kitchens. All this stuff had to be taken down.

Plumbing in the house was perilous, still in old galvanized pipe. I slowly began replacing it with copper, but it was many years before the entire system was in place. Little by little, the place became more livable, and beginning with the second year Ted moved into a suite of two rooms on the second floor. Towards the end of the second year I had the apartment in the basement level complete, so we moved our cooking and eating down there and attacked the main kitchen upstairs: it had had a wall added to reduce its size, and the ceiling lowered, so it was necessary to essentially gut the room and start over. This took most of the third year. Since I was working regular hours, most work took place on weekends, and Ted’s students were often recruited to help. Their “pay” was usually a fine dinner (Ted loved to cook) with lots of fine California Red to wash it down.

We found a few interesting items which had fallen behind base-boards, or had been sealed in walls that were re-plastered, probably after the 1906 earthquake.


A Transfer from 1908

Student Discount card

Can I still use the unpunched rides?

If proof were needed that we had “wing-nuts” long ago, just as we have today, here is a post-card-sized item found in the walls of the house:

Wing-nut 1

A bunch of baloney

Wing-nut 2

More baloney

These items pre-date the occupancy by the drug addicts. Here are two items from that period.


Affixed to the second-floor toilet

Talk about brainwashing! But the item below I found most interesting. In the attic where all the boys (no girls, please note) lived, there was a tiny room about 8-feet square: a couple of sticks in the form of a cross had been nailed to the door, and it was labeled “Prayer Room”. It was the only room in the house where boys could lock themselves in (and others out). Judging from the wads of tissue, sox and hankies found stuffed into the walls, this should have been labeled “Masturbation Room”! The graffito shown below was found about a foot above the floor-line, scrawled on a piece of masonite: my guess is the “author” doodled this while getting porked by one of the other guys—but that’s only a guess:


"Pray for Homosexuals to be delivered from sinful lives"

So the years rolled by. My work at the lab was rewarding, my salary advanced, and in general, life was good. Things began to nose-dive late in 1975, when the last remaining founder of the company I worked for passed on, and he was replaced by someone I did not care much for. The lab needed some attention he was unwilling to pay to it, and several months of doldrums set in. Then one day, I awoke with a headache (not in itself unusual) except that by the next day, the headache was still there and getting worse. Late that week I put myself in the hands of my doctor, who ran me through a whole bunch of tests, scans, and so forth, my head feeling all the time like it might explode. At the end of a grueling day of tests, the Doctor sat down with me and explained he could find absolutely nothing wrong, and that his diagnosis was a classic “tension headache”. He promised to get rid of it, but explained that it was up to me to ferret out the cause. He sent me home with a week’s worth of dynamite pills that put me to sleep for a week: when I came out of the fog, the headache was gone.

On my first day back at work, the headache had returned by mid-morning. I dictated a letter of resignation to my Secretary: I had found the source of my headaches, and there was NO WAY I was
going to stay in a situation that adversely affected my health!

I must have know something was up: I had built up my bank account, and so was able to weather quite a long spell without any work at all. My old wander-lust emerged, and so I sent out resumés asking for possible work overseas. In the fullness of time, I was taken on my one of my old firm’s arch-rivals and sent to work in Egypt. I left the house in the capable hands of Ted who looked after it and my interests.

I arrived in Alexandria April 1, 1977, and in a future page or two I’ll amuse you with some of what I found there. For the moment, here I am, somewhere in Egypt.

BB In Egypt

Lousy photo: Mediterranean in the background

Next page: spend some time in Egypt with me.



Written by Editor

April 17th, 2010 at 11:17 am

Posted in Uncategorized