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.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

McKinley Home for Boys Revisited.

On December 21, 2010 I wrote a blog post about my stay at the Mckinley Home for Boys when I was about seven years old. This would be around 1932. I have received several comments about that post from fellow alumni of McKinley. Some requested more detail. I plan to write more about my memories of the home and to republish the photos from the previous blog, plus additional photos.

















I remember the dorm room with a row of beds down each side of the room. There were about 200 boys in the school so there were many dorms. I believe there were four dorms in a building. The dorm room was a big change for me from my sleeping arrangement at home. It must have been a trumatic experience for a seven year old boy. I remember wetting my bed and spending hours in my wet bed dreading daylight and the reaction of the house-mother. I remember the waiting but I do not remember the reaction of the house-mother. It must not have been too terrible.

I believe at meal times we fell into formation in front of the dorm building and marched to the dining hall. I can remember filing into the dining hall and sitting at long tables. I do not remember the food as being good or bad, I believe that the same room was used for church services and movies. I remember singing Onward Christian Soldiers. I recall seeing two Douglas Fairbanks movies. They were silent and  black and white. I can remember scenes from Robin Hood and the Mark of Zorro. One time busloads of boys were taken to a movie theater where we saw a WC Fields movie with sound. The bus ride was exciting.

There was a view across a river to a lawn covered hillside. A fellow inmate said that his mother lived over there. I can vaguely remember his mother and a man picking us up for a picnic on the hillside. His mother and the man napped on the lawn while we played.

I remember being in a field across the street from the home and watching a wheat threshing machine. Very impressive. I read the Wizard of Oz in a window seat in the library.

I had pneumonia and was taken to the Los Angeles Children's Hospital. When I returned to the home I was in the on campus hospital for a time. I particularly remember the agony of having to swallow a table spoon of cod liver oil every day. Ugh!

For school we walked to a public school next door. I must have been in the second grade. 

I was never abused. I do not have bad memories except for the time that I wet the bed. In general I have good vibes about my stay there, except for the feeling of being in an institution and missing home. I do not believe that I was there for more than a year. The home was on a lot of acres in the middle of the San Fernando Valley. The home has long been replaced by a large shopping mall (Sherman Oaks Fashion Square) and all of the farmland covered with asphalt and stucco. The home has changed it's name to McKinley Children's Center and is located in San Dimas, California.

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