Prune picker

Prune picker is a Depression Era term for a native Californian. It was not a complement. In the thirties when I was a boy there were times that I was the only prune picker in a group. Everyone else had been born somewhere else.

My posts are placed down the left column. Personal data is placed in the right column along with a list of blogs I check and a listing of my past posts.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Dutch Oven meeting at Lake DArbonne State Park. Softball on way home.

Saturday morning I drove up to Lake DArbonne State Park to a Dutch Oven Club Meeting. They had bluegrass music all day.




Some of the musicians had played for my bluegrass club in Arcadia.



Some people danced!


Chow line.


Stopped by Tech softball on the way home.



We played the University of Southern Mississippi.




We won! It was beautiful weather for bluegrass and softball.







Saturday, April 19, 2014

(Waterflood 2) Long Beach was the fun city of my youth.


There was a huge wooden roller coaster at Long Beach. It was there from the thirties to the seventies. Some say that the Long Beach roller coaster was the greatest and best wooden roller coaster ever built. (I am not surprised. Everything in California is the greatest, biggest, oldest, and grandest.) The beach came up under the roller coaster.
You could walk there and listen to the creaking of the timbers as the roller coaster went by. The amusement zone had several streets full of fun booths. The amusement zone was called the Pike.
There were sailors everywhere. There was and still is a large Navy installation on Terminal Island. Ocean Boulevard ran parallel with the ocean. Several blocks were part of the amusement zone. Tattoo shops, bars, etc.  I had last seen these blocks at the time of Pearl Harbor (1941). When we moved to this area in 1966 those few blocks looked the same. The roller coaster and the rest of the amusement zone was gone, but those few blocks on Ocean Blvd were still there.

Now that whole area is under huge buildings. Office buildings, a new city hall, and a large convention center. The fun city of my youth is gone. The Long Beach Gran Prix is run down Ocean Blvd.

Long Beach is where we would go when there was some one with a car. I remember a Model A that we burned smudge oil in. Every 1/2 hour we would have to stop and clean the sediment bowel out. A friend and I were driving home from Long Beach when we heard the news of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Jackie and I purchased a nice home in a large subdivision named Rossmoor in Orange County. It was barely out of the city of Long Beach and the county of Los Angeles. When we moved in it was a quiet place. Then they completed a new freeway that ran along the edge of Rossmoor  It was about 200 feet from our house. In the yard all you could hear was the roar of the freeway, We hated it. We looked into relocating but never did.

About this time we bought a new red Mustang. Not exactly a family car but we put many happy miles on it.


Friday, April 18, 2014

(Waterflood 1) Start work at LBOD.

In January 1966 I started on a new job at the Long Beach Oil Development Company. LBOD was owned by several major oil companies. They had a contract to produce oil from City of Long Beach properties in the Wilmington Oil Field.

This photo was taken years after I went to work for LBOD. The land in the odd shape is all land filled by Long Beach City. Much of it came out of the sea after I was working in the Long Beach Harbor Department Building. The four islands in the harbor were built by the THUMS Oil Company. THUMS is another company owned by major oil companies and had a contract to produce oil in city properties adjacent to the LBOD lease. Some THUMS wells were miles up under the city.

I could see the Queen Mary out my window. If you look close you can see the Queen Mary in the photo. The Harbor Dept building is the white square just off where the bridge come over from the city. From our coffee room on the back of the building we could see the large building where the Spruce Goose was stored for some 20 years. A few years ago I toured this area and did a blog.  Blog of Long Beach.

I was a combination waterflood/reservoir engineer, production engineer, and log analyst. The work was interesting, the fellow workers were good folks. The commute from the west edge of Orange  County was not too bad. Our home was about at the top edge of the aerial photo.

It was exciting to have a normal five day week job. Time off at Schlumberger would run for 48 hours. Every five weeks it was 72 hours. But at LBOD time off was from 5 pm on Friday to 8 am on Monday. Boy! that is almost three days off every week.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

(Wireline 26) We move to Coalinga. (City with a third faucet.)

Coalinga is somewhat remote. It is in the Coast Range foothills in the very western part of Fresno County. The ground water in the area is so loaded with minerals that it was not used for drinking or cooking. Drinking water was brought in by railroad tank cars for years until a reverse osmosis plant was installed. There were two water systems, one for brackish water and one one for drinking water. At the kitchen sink there were three faucets, hot, cold, and drinking. People out of town would bring tanks to a metered faucet downtown and buy drinking water. When the Feather River Canal was completed down the west side of the San Joaquin Valley, fresh water was available, and the third faucet was retired. This was long after our stay in Coalinga.

Coalinga is not an old Indian name. There was a Railroad in the area that was loaded with coal at coaling stations. Coaling Station A was in this area and the town was very soon named Coalinga.

In season Coalinga is in the center of miles of cantaloupes. We would go dowtown to the parking shed and buy a crate for $1.00. A crate held 20 cantaloupes.

Coalinga is the home of the World Famous Horned Toad Derby.

It is thrilling when the bugle signals the start of another race. The toads are let loose in the center of a stage. The first to run over the enclosing circle is the winner. A three day civic festival went with the Derby, with parade, etc.

There were some interesting areas in the District. The furthest north was Half Moon Bay, just south of San Francisco on the Pacific Ocean. There were wells in the mountains above Santa Cruz. There were historic fields like Kettleman Hills. A large steam flood project was started about our time in Coalinga.

While working for Schlumberger I made two trips offshore. One was to a platform off of the coast of  Santa Barbara.

While in Coalinga I got on a work boat in Oakland, went out under to Golden Gate Bridge, then north to a wildcat off northern California. I remember riding a net on a line from the work boat to the drilling rig. That was a thrill.

One time while I was working in Coalinga I was sent to Alaska to work for a couple of weeks while the Division there was putting on a Log Interpretation Conference. I was sent to log a well in Homer. I later logged a well in Soldatna.
I went to a small bush pilot airport. I got into a two seat airplane. After we had taxied to the end of the runway the pilot started cranking. He cranked the wheels up until the airplane was on skis. It was December and the field was covered with snow. We took off and flew out over Cook Inlet which was covered mostly with chunks of ice. I could see forever. I could see Mount McKinley. When we landed at Homer I found the company car in the parking lot. It was covered with snow and had four worn out flat tires. Plus I did not have a key. It was towed to a local service station where four new tire were installed. They took the key apart and rigged it so I could hot wire it to start and run the car. It was zero degrees. The crew bought some crab legs. They stored them and kept them frozen by laying them outside the motel room in the snow. When people parked outside a restaurant they would leave their car running. Drive ins were open. The carhops would take orders dressed in parkas.

My family's stay in Coalinga had many interesting twists and turns. There were happy times and there were sad times. Nancy and Chris graduated from High School in Coalinga. Kerry was first clarinetist in the band and Mike was the cutest best behaved nine year old boy in Coalinga. A handsome high school swimmer and senior, Bob Wright won the heart of our oldest daughter Nancy Ann. He is still our handsome son in law. He was a star on the Coalinga High School swim team, he is now a star in a CPA firm.

Our oldest son Chris was an excellent student and appeared on a Fresno TV show that starred top students. Jackie and I were so proud. Later Chris suffered bouts with severe depression and tried to end his life by swallowing many aspirin pills. At the time the rest of our family was visiting in the San Fernando Valley. It is shocking and so sad to receive a phone call in the middle of the night that your son has attempted suicide, has had his stomach pumped, and is in intensive care at the hospital. This came as a complete surprise to Jackie and I. Chris was in a hospital in Glendale for a time. He was given electroshock treatment. I believe that they still do this. The treatment induces a deep convulsion that can help people with depression.

My job with Schlumberger required 24 hour call and long hours. I started looking for a job that would permit me to be home more to help Jackie with Chris. I gave Schlumberger six months notice (this much notice was required by my employment contract). My last day working for Schlumberger was December 31, 1965.

I know that my 15 year career with Schlumberger was unreasonably hard on my family. I would not do it that way again. But I really enjoyed the work. I am a born tourist and enjoyed seeing so much of the country. The technical work was interesting and challenging. Schlumberger is a good company and I would have worked for them another 15 years except for family problems. They were good to me except for not letting me be President of the company.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

(Wireline 25) I am passed over for the next District Manager opening.

This was big shock, disappointment, and rude reawakening for me. I had been the District Manager in Newhall. When the Newhall District was closed I was transferred to Bakersfield and put back to Field Engineer on a truck crew. I assumed that when an opening came for a District Manager that I would get the job. However, Schlumberger did not assume that. An opening soon came up. The opening was given to an engineer who was junior to me and had never been a Manager. It was apparent that the California Management did not like my performance as a manager and that I would be on a truck crew from then on. So much for my trip up the corporate ladder. I had started up, was found wanting, and was sent back to start. I am realistic enough to not believe that my bosses were entirely in the wrong. But it sure hurt. No one ever came to me and told me the above. However their actions sure told me. It was a bitter pill to swallow.



 I congratulated the new manager and proceeded to be a good soldier. There were worse jobs than that of a Schlumberger Field Engineer.

After a year or so in Bakersfield I was transferred to Coalinga.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

(Wireline 24) I am promoted to District Manager in Newhall, California


One day Max Taves the Manager of the West Coast came to Santa Maria and took me to supper. He told me that I was being promoted to be the Manager of the Newhall District. (with a substantial raise in salary) I was thrilled. I am on my way up the corporate ladder.

We moved from Santa Maria to the San Fernando Valley. Mike was a couple of weeks old. With both Kerry and Mike we moved while they were infants. We lived in the Granada Hills area. This was just over the mountains from Newhall. We could not find a place to rent in Newhall. After we moved I would sometimes drive by the McKinley School for Boys in Van Nuys, where I spent some time at age 8 or so.

Newhall was an interesting place. It is located at the very eastern end of the Santa Clarita Valley. This is a long narrow transverse valley that runs to the ocean at Ventura. Lots of mountains all around it. A city has been built in the area since I worked there called Canyonlands from the local topography. The Sheriff's Prison Farm is near. We sometimes went through the gate to log wells on the farm. The William S Hart Ranch
was in Newhall. I could look out my office window and up a little valley and see the location where they filmed Gunsmoke.
Part of our district was the Simi Valley. The drive involved going into the San Fernando Valley, turn right and go over a pass to the Simi Valley. There was located the fort where F Troop and Rin Tin Tin TV shows were filmed.

One well (a wildcat) was drilled on the ranch of Joel McCrea.
Before the well was spudded I was listening to the conversation of some geologists in the area. They were debating how deep a certain sand would be. Estimates varied from 5000 to 8000 feet. When the surface location for the well was graded the sand was found at the surface! The geology was not precise.

There were three trucks and crews in the district. Probably 15 people.

Pico Canyon was a very large field that was very shallow. The wells were about 500 feet deep. The wells produced for a very long time at low rates. A Standard Oil well completed in 1870 produced for 120 years until 1990.

The Newhall Canyon Field was very deep. 15,000 to 20,000 feet deep. We were busy and logged wells from the Simi Valley to Newhall to Santa Paula.

It was interesting being a Manager. I was amazed at the things that were told to me by the people who worked for me. They must have looked at me as sort of a father figure. At Christmas we had a party for staff and their families. I rented a Santa Claus suit and played Santa Claus. I tried to be a good manager.

Over the next year and a half business declined in the District. We moved trucks out and we were soon a one truck station.  And then the Newhall District was closed altogether and I was transferred back to Bakersfield where I had started with Schlumberger in 1951.


Monday, April 14, 2014

(Wireline 23) Time out for the birth of Michael Kevin Monson.

July 4, 1956. What a day. My fourth child and second son Mike was born in Santa Maria, California. What a guy! The apple of my eye. We have had a lot of good times. A couple not so good. That has been true of all four of my children. I guess that I am not always lovable.

Mike has brought lots of interesting things into my life. Mountain men, car races,  track meets, and tough fiction writing. He is a very good writer. He is concentrating on fiction. I wish him much success.

Mike has made a big change in his life. It is fascinating. For years he had lived in Modesto and commuted to San Francisco. 2 1/2 to 3 hours each way. He worked as a paralegal for a large law firm. Recently he and his wife have moved to Kona, Hawaii. Three time zones to the left! I think that is exciting.


Mike, his little girl Lilly, and his big brother Chris.


Mile and his sister Kerry.


Same pair a little younger.



Looks like a movie star.


Crime/Noir author.


The group. Kerry, Nancy, Mike, and Chris.

Jackie and I were in a hurry for Mike to be born so that we could move to Newhall. I drove Jackie over rough oilfield roads to shake her up. I guess it worked. He was born the next day.



Sunday, April 13, 2014

Jewette Farley. Surprise 77th Birthday Party.

A few dozen people were hidden inside the home of Jewette's  daughter. Jewette was surprised when he came through the door.





The Hostess with the Mostest.








It was a very nice party. Lots of good old friends and most of Jewette's family.


(Wireline 22) Santa Maria Style Barbecue.

Santa Maria, California is known for a certain style of barbecue called the Santa Maria Barbecue. It is so good. Tasted like candy!  It is featured in many places in the Santa Maria area.

At this time there was a social organization called the Santa Maria Club They had a lage converted home on the main highway (101) through town. They had a large dining room. Jackie and I, and our kids used to eat there now and then.

But the big deal was the monthly Santa Maria Style Baroque they put on. Hundreds came (all men and mostly oil men) and would line up. Oil men would call and ask for tickets, which we gave them and put on the expense account.

There were large raised pits out in back. Large enough for several thousand pounds of meat.


With Santa Maria style beans.



The club had grills many times larger than these.

I guess you realize how much I enjoyed the Santa Maria Sytyle Barbeque. I hope that they still have it.

I just googled it. The Club was a gentlemen's club started in 1931. The monthly barbecue was a stag affair. They served as many as 700. The Club disbanded in the 70s, but the Elks have continued the monthly feast, 700 to a meal in a small town. It was worth a drive.

When we were there the Elks put on a great rodeo. They said that is was the fastest rodeo in the world. It sure did move fast from event to event.


Saturday, April 12, 2014

Boogie Woogie

videoGrass Fire plays good Boogie Woogie.
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