prune picker

This is the blog of a prune picker. (Native born Californian) Retired oilfield. I am an old man. (91) I blog a lot about my body and getting old. As I approach death life gets more interesting. More interesting is not good. I still drive. I attend sports, music, and civic events. I am writing my memoirs. I attend swim class three times a week. Some of my blogs might be interesting. A lot of my blogs are silly and trivial. None are very long.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

(Army 2) Inducted into Army. Reception Center at Camp Anza, California.

I can remember catching a bus with many others at Fourth and Garey in Pomona. The bus took us about 30 miles to Camp Anza in Arlington (Riverside).

This is an actual photo of Camp Anza. Talk about tar paper buildings! And lots of people. I remember being issued clothes. We moved along a counter with stations for pants, shirts, etc. We took tests for hours. We got shots.

I pulled KP. I remember peeling potatoes. It was a long hard day for a 17 year old kid, but I had been a professional dishwasher.

I can see a person looking at my civilian work history and see that I had worked on a surveying crew as a rodman/chainman. Ah ha! put this guy in the combat engineers. My discharge stated that I was a rod man. The 154th Engineering Battalion was starting basic training at Camp Cooke.

I was put on a train and let off at Surf, California. This is the closet station to Lompoc where Camp Cooke is located. 

Prunepicker Blog Post #2001.

This is my post number 2001 to my Prunepicker Blog.  I hope that you have enjoyed one or two of them. Writing the posts keep me busy thinking. I learn a lot, go places, and recall many memories doing the blog. It will be four years on April 10, 2010 since my first post.

I am planning to write my life story. I will write the story as blog posts, then combine later. I hope some of my life story might be interesting. I will divide it up as follows. Of course I will have posts about current Prunepicker affairs. I have to keep you up on Basketball, etc.

Part 1: Birth to Army. This will include memories of my parents and my eight siblings. Age zero to 17.
Part 2: Army. Age 17 to 21. Pacific, Peleliu and Okinawa
Part 3: College. Age 21 to 25. Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, California
Part 4: Working. Age 25 to 60. Different oilfield areas
Part 5:  RVing. Jackie and I living in a fifth wheel trailer. Summers on the Olympic Peninsula, winters traveling. Age 60 to 82.
Part 6:  Living without Jackie. Age 82 to 88. Ruston, Louisiana. Trailer parked in daughter's yard.

Right now I am working on Part 2: Army. I have listed my Army trips in a blog and getting drafted in recent posts. Next is about the reception center in the next post.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Dr. Doris Williams-Smith, Professor, Curriculum and Instruction, Grambling State University.

John and I have been visiting with Doris at breakfast at the Waffle House for years. It is one the pleasant things in our lives. We have told her good by at least twice as she traveled to Switzerland to visit her daughter. And then two grandchildren. We have admired the pictures of her trips.

Sunday morning we were thrilled to meet her daughter who is in Ruston on a Mother's Vacation. It was like meeting a movie star. I took the picture below. What nice folks!

(Army 1) Could not enlist, but could be drafted.

Pearl Harbor was on Sunday of December 7, 1941. I was 16. On Monday I listened to the President speak. The students of Pomona High School were all sitting in the auditorium to hear the speech. On Tuesday I rode the street car into Los Angeles and tried to join the Marines. I did not get very far before I failed the eye test. You could wear glasses in any branch of the Service but not in the Marines or Air Force.

Very disappointed I rode the street car back to Pomona. The street car was called the Red Car. They were soon taken out and replaced by busses. I walked from the street car to the office of an eye doctor. He informed me that yes I had bad eyes. They might have saved my life. Very soon the Marines landed on Guadalcanal.

Over the next year I tried to enlist in the Army and the Navy. Each time I was required to get the approval of my Father. I can remember phoning him several times and asking him for his approval. He always refused. He did not want me to get killed. We had never been real close. I am impressed that he worried that much about me. He was an invalid in a hospital after a severe stroke.

I got the idea to register for the draft and to lie about my age.  Said that I was 18 instead of 17. In two weeks I was ordered to duty!

That was a strange fact. I could be drafted into the Army and the permission of my Father was not required, but if I wanted to voluntarily enlist in the Army the permission of my Father was required.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Good luck to Rosa, Tina, and Rhonda!

They are leaving theJefferson Corner Chevron and are moving. Monday the 30th of December is the last day they will be at the Jefferson Corner Chevron. I really hate to see them go.

Rhonda, Rosa, and Tina.

I want to wish Rosa and her daughters the very best in the future. I know that all their friends in Ruston do too. I want to say how much I have appreciated them these seven years. At my age you can love all the women you want. I love these three ladies.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Army Trips. World War II.

Between the time that I was inducted into the Army on 17 Apr 1943 and when I was discharged on 8 Jan 1946 the Army took me on many trips. I calculate 16 trips. The shortest was 30 miles and was a ride from Gary and Fourth in Pomona, California to the local Army Reception Center in Arlington. Arlington is now part of the city of Riverside. The longest trip was 5,800 miles from Pearl Harbor to a combat landing on Angaur, in the Palau Islands. On that trip we went out of the way to Guadalcanal to have our last dress rehearsal for our landing on Angaur.

I estimate that the total mileage of the trips was 30,000 miles. I spent five months traveling, four months of the five were on troopships. We crossed the equator and became Shellbacks, I crossed the Pacific four times. It sure is a big ocean. I was six weeks on one of those trips. I was on a 5 mph LST.

The table below lists the trips with some data. The table is followed by a rough sketch of the trip routes. This table will be a help as I write the story of the army part of my life.

Trans. Type

Drafted. Get nice haircut
Reception center. Inducted 17 Apr 43 (17 years old)

Basic training
Camp Cooke

San Bernardino
Desert training
Aborted in 30 days

San Bernardino
San Luis Obispo
Truck (overnight at Santa Barbara)(Battle of SB)
Amphibious training
At Moro Bay

San Luis Obispo
San Diego (Round trip)
Practice landings
Land at Aliso Canyon, San Clemente, Coronado

San Luis Obispo
Truck (overnight at Merced)
Prepare for overseas (dip gear in cosmoline)
Camp Beale

Train (very scenic ride)
Catch ship
Fort Lawton

Matson Liner SS Maui
Took rugged jungle training
Camp in a pineapple field on hill above Pearl Harbor

Palau Islands
Troopship (made last dress rehearsal. land on Guadalcanal)
Combat landing in Palau Islands
Wounded on Bloody Nose Ridge, Peleliu, 27 Sep 44

Palau Islands
Hospital ship
Heal gun shot wounds

Trip to rejoin my outfit
They were not in Hawaii

Or here either
Darn, I miss them

Combat landing
Easter Sunday 45

Occupy Korea

Heading home
Fort Lewis

San Pedro
Troopship (stop over night in Portland and San Francisco)
Get discharged, 8 Jan 46
Fort MacArthur

Friday, December 27, 2013

Wildlife at 2765 HWY 544.

Pileated woodpecker. This is a rare bird. Down by John's deer feeder. Picture by John on his iphone.

The dish is a couple of yards from John's recliner. There have been as much as six raccoons at one time on the deck, And possums.

Midnight and Felix love each other. You probably can not call them wildlife.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas at the Newberry Home.

I rode with my daughter Kerry and son in law John over to West Monroe to have Christmas breakfast and to watch Ethan, Ross, and Christian open their presents. They had such a good time! When you are a great grandparent you sometimes feel like a person from another world watching. It is probably just me, but it is like watching a movie sometimes. I try to be, but sometimes I do not feel connected. My beloved relatives do their best to include me and I really appreciate their efforts. It is probably just an old prune picker thing and a generational thing. I qualify for both.

Wonderful breakfast.

Meet the Newberrys. Christian, Ethan, Joy, David, and Ross.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all.

It is never too late to say Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Michael Ray, the quintessential auto body man.

What does quintessential mean? The dictionary definition of the word is representing the most perfect or typical example of a quality or class. That describes Michael Ray.

On Christmas Eve Eve I delivered my poor beat up junker of a car to Michael. On Christmas Eve afternoon (a day and half later, yesterday) I picked up a shiny beautiful car. Michael had made two major repairs and two minor repairs to the body.

Before Michael.

After Michael.

These pictures are of one ding. Michael repaired four dings. All four of these dings were the fault of the driver. I am going to be more careful. Michael covered the repairs with beautiful paint jobs. The car had been detailed. My heart swelled with pride as I proudly drove the car home. 

I do not know how he did so much beautiful work in such a short time. But he did. Thank you Michael! This work would normally have cost me several thousand dollars. I tried to give Michael several hundred. He said no charge! I will have to buy Michael a present. I know. I will buy him a nice dog. He does not have one and his wife has six!

Merry Christmas to Michael Ray and his wonderful wife, Rhonda Michelle Blakley Ray.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve 1945 and a Mutiny.

In December of 1945 I rode a troopship from Seoul, Korea to Tacoma, Washington. I will never forget the mass mutiny that took place shortly after we docked. A mutiny that I was part of. This picture gives you an idea of what the deck of the troopship looked like.

There were 5 to 6000 troops on the ship. Downtown Tacoma was a few miles away. Buses were lined up on the dock to carry troops downtown. These troops had been overseas several years. This was their first chance in a long time to be in an American city. They were ready to go downtown. Rumors were flying as to how troops would be allowed off the ship. There were to be passes (in the military you are never permitted to leave any military site without a pass). Time went by and the authorities did not announce any decision. I was in the middle of this mass of soldiers when they slowly started to go down the gangplank (without permission). Officers and non-coms yelled halt, stop, and so on. But nothing could stop that mass of men who were going downtown. I was amazed but moved with them. Down the gangplank, across the asphalt dock, and into the busses or cabs or on foot we went. It was not as dramatic as the Mutiny on the Bounty, but it was a mutiny. A mutiny where the prize was a trip to Tacoma.

I recall going to a restaurant and ordered a large tossed green salad and a big steak. One thing that I really missed while over seas was fresh lettuce!

In a few days we were put up at Fort Lewis in Tacoma. A fancy older Fort. It had a fancy Special Services Building which is now a Military Museum. Fifty years or so later Jackie and I were staying in an RV park nearby and I visited the building. What memories. It is quite a museum. It visible from Interstate 5.

I spent some of Christmas Eve 1945 in this building. On Christmas we had a wonderful Christmas Dinner in the Fort Lewis dinning hall served by German POWs. Their accents made you think of Santa Claus. I will always remember the Christmas of 1945. 68 years ago.

The detour to Fort Lewis on the way home to Jackie in California cost me several hundred dollars for phone calls!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Techster Sunday Matinee. vs Alabama A & M University

A Techster Sunday Matinee is unusual. It filled in the 2 to 4 pm slot in my Sunday nicely. Plus I was able to see Santa Claus. Santa looked a lot like the VFW Post Commander JD Harper.

Opening prayer.

Thr Right Ears.

Two loyal sports fans.

Mary Alice waving at her old friend, the Prunepicker. She was once a Techster. Maybe it is like the Marines--once a Techster, always a Techster.

Doesn't he look like JD Harper?

The wrestlers match had a  colorful referee.

Nice score!

Coach Spoon looks happier.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Christmas Eve 1965.

I was driving home to Coalinga, California. I was on my last month working for Schlumberger, an oilfield service company. It was Christmas Eve about 10 pm. It was raining. My wife, Jackie, and our four children, Nancy, Chris, Kerry, and Mike were at home. There had been a fire and the house was cozy. I was feeling sorry for myself. I should be home resting for Christmas morning. Unfortunately I had been dispatched to log a well north of Coalinga.

I had finished my work and was driving south on Highway 33. I had just driven through Stinky Hollow. So named because of the smelly oil field. I had worked at Stinky Hollow all day several times and had gone home sick in my stomach.  I drove over the last hill before Coalinga. Coalinga lies in an valley named Pleasant Valley. I could see the city lights. I would soon be home!

Bam! My right rear tire blew out. There I was on Christmas Eve changing a flat tire in the rain. Boy! Was I mad and depressed. Then I had a happy thought.


Immediately I started smiling, laughing, and humming Christmas Carols while I changed the tire. You know, that thought was true. I never have changed a flat tire in the rain on Christmas Eve again.

!-- Site Meter -->