Dad’s Old Paint Bucket

Paint CanNot long ago my mom began asking my brother and sister and me about what we would want from among their belongings. Being somewhat sentimental, I could have said “anything and everything.” Instead, I told them of one thing I wanted; Something, I am sure, no one else would have desired. If there would be an estate sale it would be one of those items still hanging around when everything was reduced 75%,and even then would probably only be taken as a container to carry other dusty treasures.

My dad’s old Paint Bucket has always been a fixture wherever his tools were kept. I don’t know when he first took possession of the Bucket. It may have been a gift from his dad. Perhaps he had bought it at a hardware store in West End from the money he made while working at the Godwin Radio Company.  I don’t know. What I do know is that this Bucket was his before he married my mom, his bride of 53+ years.

Dad was a printer, not a painter. Painting, however, seemed to follow him wherever we lived and wherever he went. Therefore, this old Paint Bucket has the colors and stains of my life growing up as the son of Jack and Bonnie Bruce.  My dad wasn’t a professional painter. He was a do-it-yourself and do-it-for others painter—after hours or on weekends and days off.

The Paint Bucket is now layered with coats and drips of paint accumulated over 60 years. That Paint Bucket once held the paint that covered the hallways, living room and bedrooms of the little pink-bricked house that sat along Scenic View Drive above Eastwood Mall in Birmingham. I’m sure the gray paint of the front porch, where mom once killed a black snake with my toy hoe, also once filled the bottom of that Bucket.

When we moved to Belview Heights in Ensley, the Bucket went with us. Dad painted the white sculptured walls of the living room and den where mom entertained so many. Dad put the Bucket into action when he painted Gwyne’s bedroom a nice tan color and when he painted Ronnie’s bedroom a bright blue before installing the red shag carpet.

A lot of education happened around that Bucket. Teaching me to paint, he taught me about life. While that Bucket hung from the extension ladder stretched two stories up the back of our house, dad taught me how to safely work on a ladder.  While applying his paint brush to the homes of others, a camp for kids or at the church, he taught me how to serve.

I remember very well the day dad told me we were going to paint the Sunday School rooms of our new church. The West End Alliance

Dad and me on his 80th birthday in 2011.

Dad and me on his 80th birthday in 2011.

Church, which was moving into a new facility and becoming the Westside Alliance Church, was a significant part of our lives. Dad led the congregational singing and the choir. We were at church multiple days each week either for services or getting ready for services. The new church building was a point of much excitement.

The new church had just been built and our congregation would soon be occupying the new facility. In the basement were seven cinder block rooms. Dad and I would be painting those rooms—and we did. He painted the trim and I, at the wise age of eight, did the bulk of the work by rolling the walls. We painted all seven rooms—two coats. I was so proud of our accomplishment.

Most of dad’s serving was done without a paint brush in his hand. He was a member of the Oxmoor Rotary where he served as President. For decades he served as a Board Member of the World Wide Tract Ministry. At least twice, he declined to take a salary for serving as the Music Director at church. He led the Alliance Men’s Ministry of the Southern District of the Christian and Missionary Alliance for six years, assisted mom in leading youth singing groups, regularly volunteered to help build the Poplar Point Camp and before Parkinson’s took a toll on his body, he led the Senior Adult Ministry at his church. Dad enjoyed serving his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

My dad was an exceptional painter because of a trait he put to work in so many areas of his life. He was precise. Everything he did was done with exact precision. This is why he excelled in both typesetting and printing. I remember the one time dad hired a painter for the exterior of our house. Because it was brick house, the only painting to be done was trim work. My dad was extremely upset with the sloppy job of the painter who left white drips of paint on the dark colored brick. My dad would have never scarred the house with such carelessness.

When not in use, the Paint Bucket was stored in a gray wooden tool box the size of a refrigerator. Painting was something dad did on weekends or on a day off, for dad always had a job. His first job started while as a student at Hemphill Elementary and lasted eight years as he threw papers each morning. He took on a second job as a teenager working for the Godwin Radio Company and another second job at 16 at the First National Bank where he was introduced to printing. From there he went on to the Commercial Printing Company, where he worked until he entered the Army for a couple of years.

As a toddler, I remember my dad coming home in the middle of the night. I now know his workday back then started at 3 PM where he again was involved with newspapers.  However, this time he wasn’t throwing them, he was printing them for the Birmingham News. Printing stayed with him as he migrated on to Progressive Farmer and Oxmoor Press, which he eventually left to begin Bruce Graphics.

I cherish this Paint Bucket because it tells the story of my dad’s life…and much of my own. That Bucket came in handy as dad built, and

Dad delighted our family every time he "popped open" the camper.

Dad delighted our family every time he “popped open” the camper.

painted, a room in our basement that was the birthing room of his first business. When Bruce Graphics moved to a more permanent location, out came the Paint Bucket as walls, work benches and homemade light tables were painted and stained to accommodate the typesetting business that would eventually provide work for 15 employees. When personal computers made typesetting obsolete, the Paint Bucket was ushered into service again to make room for Bruce Printing.

Dad worked hard but he always had time for family and church.  The Paint Bucket sat idly in the basement as he gave me a lifelong love of

fishing. Throughout my 10 years of childhood and high school sports, he rarely ever missed one of my games.  Not far from where the Paint Bucket was stored was our Nimrod Pop-up tent camper which dad would pull, to the delight of our family, through the southeast to various campgrounds.  And speaking of vacations, it wasn’t uncommon for dad to use his vacation time to take the youth from our church camping.

The Paint Bucket now sits in my office at home, awaiting the perfect place to be permanently displayed. Daddy will never grip its handle again as the dreaded Parkinson’s disease has dealt its last blow.  While he will never paint again, the brush of his life will continue to beautify the world through those who were blessed to be painted by his generous life.

 In Loving Memory

Jack William Bruce

October 29, 1931 – March 28, 2013.


Visitation will be at First Baptist Church of Hoover from 11 AM – 1 PM on Monday, April 1, 2013. The Memorial Service will follow at 1 PM at the church. The Church is located at 2025 Patton Chapel Road, Hoover, AL 35216. In lieu of flowers donations may be made to the Jimmie Hale Mission/Discovery Clubs of Alabama.


29 responses to this post.

  1. Blessings to you and your family Jack. Truly a treasure has left this world.


    • Posted by jackwbruce on March 29, 2013 at 11:20 am

      Thanks Pam. Our families have a lot of good history together–at church and in the neighborhood.


  2. Posted by Judy Curl on March 29, 2013 at 12:19 pm

    Words can’t express the “good memories” I had from living close to Jack and Bonnie Bruce. I was had a ride to church or work from them. They sacrificed alot for the teenagers in our church growing up. Such beautiful memories of visiting your house, singing around the piano, planning activities for the teens. Jack and Bonnie always had their home open to us. He always had a song to sing. Psalms 147:7 He blessed alot of people in his life time. Prayers for your family.
    Larry and Judy Curl


    • Posted by jackwbruce on March 30, 2013 at 8:32 am

      Wonderful memories Judy. Mom and Dad very much enjoyed working with the youth. My mom continues to relish those relationships…primarily now through Facebook!


  3. I had the privilege of working with your dad in the late 90’s when I was in the advancement/alumni office at SEBC and he printed our newsletters. I let Tom read this too…a choral director, perfectionist at painting and loves to fish….I think they would have gotten along great!


  4. I love/d your dad so very much. Can’t wait until he leads the Westside bunch in a heavenly cantata. Enjoyed your post and glad for you that you have such fond memories of a loving father.


  5. Jack, Thank you for sharing your heart and the beautiful memories of your dad’s life using his old paint can. What a blessing it was to read the testimony and see the legacy his life has left in you and doubtless to say, upon many others. May God’s great grace and comfort be with you and your family during this season of grief and sorrow.


  6. Posted by jim and Deloris Sunda on March 29, 2013 at 6:25 pm

    Jack, We grieve with you in the loss of your dear Dad. What a beautiful tribute you wrote with the allegory of the paint can– so tenderly expressing your life with him!!! God bless you, dear ones as you adjust to his home-going.


    • Posted by jackwbruce on March 30, 2013 at 8:37 am

      Jim & Deloris, I think y’all know how much they esteemed you. My parents were significant supporters of C&MA missions and they had a high regard for your lives of service in Irian Jaya. Thank you for your kind words.


  7. Posted by Tim Wilson on March 29, 2013 at 11:14 pm

    Sorry for your loss, very well written, it paints a picture.


  8. Posted by Brad Hobbs on March 30, 2013 at 4:27 pm

    Jack, I am sorry to hear of your loss. The loss of a father is always painful, and it’s always good to know they are in a better place.


  9. Posted by Sandi Strickland on March 31, 2013 at 2:50 pm

    What a beautiful tribute to your dad! Jack and I will miss your dad dearly – Jack has so many wonderful memories him and all of you that I know he will treasure forever. I was blessed to have known him myself and he was a wonderful kind man with a heart of gold. Rest in peace Mr. Bruce…we will miss you!

    Sandi Strickland


  10. Posted by Jackie Britton Bryant on March 31, 2013 at 6:45 pm

    What a beautiful tribute to a dear servant of God, my former employer, and my friend. I will always remember Jack Bruce with fond memories because he made such a tremendous impact on my life.


    • Posted by jackwbruce on April 3, 2013 at 5:38 pm

      Jackie, It was good to see you, though only briefly, on Monday. Suzi was wonderful. Thank you to both of you for your kindness.


  11. Posted by Jay & Sandra Donmoyer on March 31, 2013 at 7:39 pm

    Jack – A beautiful, heart-felt tribute to your Dad. I know you’ll miss him very much, but it’s wonderful to know that he really isn’t “lost” – we KNOW where he is! Now he is painting in Heaven if God needs any painting done. We pray for you and all the family, that God will continue to bless you all and give you comfort as needed. May He hold you in the palm of His hand till He calls you home. Love, Mr & Mrs D


    • Posted by jackwbruce on April 3, 2013 at 5:37 pm

      Thank you Mr. & Mrs D., It was great to see you this week and I greatly appreciate your words of encouragement. -Jack


  12. Posted by Joshua Hathaway on April 2, 2013 at 6:54 pm

    It’s a truly great tribute to your dad, Jack. You honor him with your words and your memories… you are a good man. And I am sure he is very proud of you.


    • Posted by jackwbruce on April 3, 2013 at 5:36 pm

      Joshua, You’ve been through this and I know your dad was proud of you, as well. Thanks Josh.


  13. Posted by Susan Keith on April 3, 2013 at 4:51 pm

    Jack, you are such a good writer. I know your dad would have loved reading this.


  14. Posted by Elaine on March 29, 2014 at 12:49 pm

    You were blest with a wonderful father. I know that you miss him very much. This is a great story about the paint can.


  15. Posted by June Bruce on April 5, 2014 at 10:42 pm

    Jack, what a beautiful tribute to your Dad!! It surely blessed me to hear the love and devotion you had for your Dad in your words above. I know, without a doubt, that your Dad was so very proud of you! Glad you have so many happy memories, that is a blessing beyond words. Love you much, Aunt June


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: