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.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Bulldog basketball game against Middle Tennessee.

Good game. More exciting that the final score indicates. We had to win to have a chance to get in the playoffs. Huge vocal crowd.


Five tuba game.




Carolyn and Skip Russell.


Fan Justin.


I got Right Ear. I must be the most experienced Right Ear photographer in North Louisiana.



We won big. 55 to 39. But it was tough interesting game. Our team has been improving all season.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Visit with Rhonda and her animals.

I had not seen Rhonda this year. Her last day at Jefferson Corner was December 31. So I drove up to her house on the lake this morning. She was nice enough to scramble me some cheesy eggs. They were delicious.

It was good to see Ophelia again. She has not grown much. She is a sweet possum. Didn't I tell you that I have lived in the South too long? I petted a possum!




Flipflop posed for my camera.


And so did Rhonda.



(Boy 6) Dish Washer Par Excellance!

Come to think of it; my stay in the McKinley School for Boys, marked a significant turning point in my life. Before the stay I lived in a conventional home with my mother or grandmother and dad, after was with just my dad and sometimes my older brother. Living started getting tougher and tougher as the depression worsened. I have numerous tales of woe.

In the sixth grade I came home one afternoon and all of our furniture was in a pile in the front yard. Dad had not been able to pay the rent.

Often there had not been any food in the house. At school at lunch time I would leave the school and act like I was going home for lunch. I would walk a couple of blocks and wait until my fellow students had eaten lunch and walk back to school.

I lived in many (a few dozen) places in Pomona. With friends, sisters, and others. Once I overheard a brother in law ask my sister how long I was going to be bumming in his home. That night I slept on the ground under bushes. I suspect that I was about 12.

During this period of my life I started my career in dish washing. My football coach, Mr. Cutler, ate lunch everyday at the U and I Cafe down town. They needed a dishwasher over the noon hour. He recommended me and I got the job. I got a meal and a little money. Later after I ran away from my second home for boys (George Junior Republic) the cafe gave me a bigger job (more time) that permitted me to support myself.


The third building in above picture is the U and I Cafe. I spent several years there honing my dishwashing skills. I got so good that when I left they had to install a mechanical dishwasher. It took a machine to take my place.

This will end my posts on what I call the Boy phase of my life (about 8 to 12 years old). I will probably add to this section later on. Next is Youth, or the period from my Dad's stroke to when I went in the Army.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

(Boy 5) McKinley School for Boys, Van Nuys, California.

The experience of staying in the McKinley School was a memorable time in my boyhood. The school is long gone from Van Nuys. It moved to San Dimas. In 1932 it was surrounded by wheat fields in the San Fernando Valley. The whole valley is now solid city and part of Los Angeles.

I have previously written two posts about my stay there. Complete with old pictures from a cd that the school mailed me. The links to the posts are here1  and here2 .

(Boy 4) First and Second Grade.

I must have lived on East Third for two or three years. I believe that I went to the second and third grade while living on East Third. Like I have said this was the last time that I lived in a home with women present. My maternal grandmother and my sister Dallas lived with us. From East Third my bother Warren (four years older than me) and I were put in a home for boys. After a year or so we came home to Pomona and lived with my Dad. Living conditions with just men is not too good. Things kept going down hill until my Dad had a stroke and was permanently disabled (when I was around 14). Partly due to my own actions I was an orphan from that time until I went into the Army. Then the Army adopted me.

I can remember two different rooms at school. I assume they were the first and second grade classrooms. There was a big clock on the wall. I can remember the agony of waiting for the last thirty minutes of class to be over. This is probably when I learned to read the clock.

A man used to read the Sunday funnies over the radio. I would spread the funnies out on the porch and listen while the man read the funnies to me. One day I realized that I could read. What a feeling of power. I have enjoyed reading ever since.

I remember playing soccer and really enjoying it. I never played it again after the third grade. I enjoy watching soccer today.

My oldest brother, Keith, had a bad motorbike accident. I can remember My Dad telling the story of how he stood up to the doctors and would not let them cut Keith's leg off. It was dramatic. Keith did not lose his leg but a wore a steel and leather brace for the rest of his life. I can remember him recovering for many months in our front room. He learned to play the guitar and would sing. Keith was probably my brother that was the most congenial (loveable).

One time before this Keith served in the CCC. I can remember him coming home on leave in his suntans.

I can remember Mark Johnson parking his huge convertible sedan in the back yard. It almost filled the backyard. Mark was courting Dallas. He was her second and last husband.




Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Princess Louise has a broken foot.

Princess Louise is John McCarter's new aid dog. In an accident she suffered a broken foot. She still made it to Life Story Class today. The collar around her neck is to keep her from chewing on the cast.




We all wish Princess Louise a rapid recovery. John needs her.

Monday, February 24, 2014

(Boy 3) Good old East Third.

I remember my stay (2 or 3 years) on East Third Street in Pomona, California as some of the best time in my childhood. Most of my family was still with Dad and I. Older sisters and their families came to visit. Thelma from Taft and Nita from Arizona. There were boys in these visitors. My nephews. Thelma's oldest boy Donald was just 21 day younger than I. Another two sisters lived nearby in Pomona, and Dallas lived with us. Dallas and my grand mother shared the one downstairs bedroom.

This would end with a trip for my brother Warren and I to the McKinley School for Boys in Van Nuys, California. This would end the busy family home. Just my Dad and I, with Warren who is four years older than me, in and out.

I recently posted about my stay on East Third. Here is the link.

In my next post I will review the happy days of East Third.

Ross John Newberry

Ten years old today! Impossible!

 Ross is enjoying a Birthday Apple Pie made by his Mother.

He is such a nice guy.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Blue bird homes.

John is a bird house maker. Couple dozen recently. He made four yesterday in about an hour. The houses are rugged and will be around for a long time. Made with treated lumber.






Midnight keeps an eye on John.

Techsters put up a good fight.

I watched the Techsters play Rice last night. It was a good game and the Techsters were contenders to win. They were within two points at two minutes to play.


Two tuba game.



Coach Spoon talking to her team.


The game was closer than the final score.




Saturday, February 22, 2014

We grow justly weary of our politics.

The title of my post today is the first sentence of a paragraph in the book "THINGS THAT MATTER' by Charles Krauthammer. Here is the whole paragraph. The paragraph is on page 129 of the book.

We grow justly weary of our politics. But we must remember this: Politics--in all its grubby, grasping, corrupt, contemptible manifestations--is sovereign in human affairs. Everything ultimately rests upon it.

This statement by Charles just about hits the nail dead center.

We must take an interest in politics. We should participate. Politics are too important. That is why we need lots of press, lots of grassroots organizations, lots of yelling and discussion. Lots of opinionated commentators. We should be thankful for everyone of these that we have. Even Russ, George, Bill, Charles, Glenn, Michelle, Keith, Neil, Sean, Michael, Stephen, Laura, Sarah, Jon, Ann, and Rachel. There are a hundred more.

We should attempt to make political office a place for thoughtful service, rather than a ticket to a life of sloth and corruption. We should do all we can to see that our Constitution is adhered to.

I am grateful to the English Nobles and the Magna Carta.

Friday, February 21, 2014

(Boy 2) Rolled oats, baked potatoes, and dried apricots

I have very few memories of the house on the south side of Kingsley. Probably because I was only six years old. I remember going to my second year of kindergarten. I remember saying and memorizing the Pledge of Allegiance. I can almost see my classroom.

I remember that most of my family was still together. My older brothers were fighting over a garden hose. The end or metal part of the hose hit me in the head and knocked me out. Boys will be boys!

The Monsons believed that you should clean your plate. I was a finicky eater and some things I just would not eat. They said "alright you just sit there until you clean your plate". I outlasted them every time. They would finally give in and let me down.

I remember spending some time with Bert and Beck. They were Dad's team of horses. I remember chewing on rolled oats. I have liked oatmeal ever since.

I remember being around a campfire. We covered potatoes with a layer of mud and raosted them in the coals. They were good if you missed the mud.

Dad dried apricots in the backyard. He had a contraption with grated shelves with a fire underneath. He sprinkled sulphur on the fire. Dad put them in a big gunny sack. The sack was stored under the stairs. Before I went out to play I would fill a pocket with the delicious fruit. Just in case I got hungry.

Our house was in Northeast Pomona, almost in the orchards (all city now). We moved from there to East Third Street, a couple of miles east of downtown. I am seven now and start to remember more.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

(Boy 1) My Dad, Charles Abner Monson.

This is the first post (Boy 1) of the part of my Life Story that covers the period between the time when my Mom passed away to the time that my Dad had his stroke.

 When my wife, Jackie, passed away seven years ago I started studying genealogy. It ties right in with my interest in history, etc and I thought it would fill some time. Boy! does it!

I had never heard any discussion of Monson genealogy from my Dad or family. I thought we had come over on a turnip boat from Sweden a hundred years ago or so. I knew that Dad had been born in Kentucky and his sister lived there. I barely got started on genealogy when I learned that Dad's 7th great grandfather, Captain Thomas Munson, had been born in England in 1612 and had fought in a New England Indian War in 1637. This year is considered to be the time he came to America.

I found out that there was and is a Thomas Munson Society that has published five volumes of Munson genealogy, The title of the volumes is The Munson Record. My Dad is mentioned in one of the volumes. They do not mention me. Maybe Volume VI? So here is probably all of the genealogy of my Dad. Thousands of cousins are mentioned, many with pages of their personal history. It has been fascinating reading about them. Even the cousin who was eaten by cannibals.

So my Dad's people have been in America for 377 years. I had no conception of such a thing. I wish that I had known that.

Dad enjoyed a good argument over politics and or religion. He and my grand mother had many disagreements on religion.

Dad was a teamster. he handled teams of horses to do work. I can remember watching him excavate the basement for a church with horses and an excavator. He had a team of horses (named Bert and Beck) at the house on Kingsley that he used to do contract work in the groves and farms in the Pomona Valley. He was fairly well off. We lived in a large two story house. Then the depression came.  My siblings left. My last time living with my Dad was in a single room of my oldest sister's house. I can remember meals of biscuits and salt pork gravy. Salt pork was four and a half cents per pound.

My Dad was a victim of two trends. The replacement of horses by machines and the depression. To top it off he suffered a massive stroke and spent the last 17 years of his life with one side of his body paralyzed. What a sad terrible thing. I have been told that he was so depressed that he attempted suicide and failed. He then stopped eating until he died.

I believe that his daughters thought of him as a strict taskmaster. They got married to get away. Four of my five sisters divorced their first husband and remarried. I have always said that the fifth one should have done the same.


My Mom and Dad in the 1920s.









Wednesday, February 19, 2014

(Child 2) Born Bert, die Chuck.

When I was born, the family of my father Charles Abner and mother Olive Monson consisted of my five sisters, Nita, Thelma, Jean, Dallas, Donna, and my three brothers Keith, George, and Warren. No son named Charles. My sisters thought that I should be named Charles. My father did not agree. My father had been adopted by his uncle Charles (he had been born in Kentucky) and raised on a farm in Kansas. He was called little Charles and his adopted dad was called big Charles. My dad did not like this and did not want any such thing in his family. The girls countered with this proposal. I would be name Charles Elbert and the girls promised to always call me Bert. He agreed.

And that was the way it was. My Fremont Junior High Yearbook refers to me as Bert. I was Bert everywhere. I thought of myself as Bert. I was Bert Monson for 18 years. I just received a card from a niece addressed to Uncle Bert.

When I was drafted into the Army the Sargent would call the roll and refer to me as Charles. I went along with it and then adopted Chuck. I did not want to argue with the Sargent. So I have been Chuck for a long time now.

I was born in a house on the north side of Kingsley. My first memory is of a house on the east side of South Gibbs. That is the place where all the memories of my mother took place. She went to the hospital from there. The next house in my memory is on the south side of East Kingsley close to where I was born. Without my mother but still a lot of family at home.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

"Politics is the moat, the walls, beyond which lie the barbarians"

My title today was found on page 3 of the latest book by Charles Krauthammer. "THINGS THAT MATTER". The sentence, by Charles, rang true to me.What was I doing on page 3 of Charles's book?

I attended a class yesterday with six friends. It is a class on writing your Life Story taught by Deanne Groves. She is trying hard to educate and inspire my class. And doing a good job.


Here is a picture of the class. Nice people.



John McCarter heard me mention my respect for Charles Krauthammer. Today he gave me a copy of Charles's latest book. I came home and started reading.



Thank you John. You are so kind and thoughtful. I appreciate the gift.








Monday, February 17, 2014

(Child 1) I am born. Thanks to Mom and Dad.

This will be the first sentence of my Life Story.

Being born is a good place to start, huh? My mother gave birth to me at home on 1129 East Kingsley Avenue in Pomona, California on July 20, 1925. Home was a house in an orange orchard. I understand that I weighed 12 pounds. I was the ninth of nine children. All nine were at home. Within a year or so my oldest sister was to marry. Our home was full of people.

There is a fact from my babyhood that has been told to me. I became an uncle when I was 21 days old. My second oldest sister, Thelma, gave birth to my nephew Donald. Thelma had a good supply of breast milk and would nurse me when my mother was gone. This was told to me when I was a teenager and I was mortified with embarrassment. Later I got over it and was kinda proud of this fact. This fact must explain my magnificent physical condition.

As an exercise I have written down every memory that I have of my mother. This is essentially my memory of my first five years of life. My last memory of my mother was when I was four years old and she was being taken to the hospital. It was 1929. She was in the back seat of an open sided sedan. Someone was holding me up so she could tell me good by.

Mother needed a baby sitter. She enrolled me into kindergarten a year early. Yes, I had two years of kindergarten. That might explain my intelligence. I can remember in kindergarten lying down on the floor to take a nap. I turned my head sideways and saw my mother sitting in a chair looking at me.

My first kindergarten was on Fifth Street. Our home then was on South Gibbs. I would walk home. At four years old it was a long way. When I got home mother would fix us a snack.

I remember mother fixing everyone breakfast and getting them off to work. Then mother would fix breakfast for her and I.

One time I was a bad boy. I did not make a habit of doing that. Mother told me to go into the yard and get a switch. She told me to trim all the leaves off except for some on the end of the switch. I remember the sense of doom and authority that I felt as I picked out a switch for use on me. Mother then switched me the back if my legs. I will never forget that time. I suspect that it only happened once.

This next item is not a memory of my mother but was while she was still alive. My nephew Donald lived with us. I thought that he had been mean to me. I can remember being under a table. I had Donald by the head and was banging his head into the floor. I can remember being happy and enjoying myself. I can remember adults rescuing him. However they sympathized with me.

I was in a theatre downtown with my mother. There was a demonstration of cooking stoves on the stage. Later my Mother carried me in her arms to go up on the stage to get a close look at the stoves. I had seen the curtains part at the start of the demonstration. I was terrified that the curtains were going to close and trap us behind them. I had a crying fit until we left the stage. I was really scared.

I remember a pleasant time with strawberries. My mother loved strawberry shortcake and occasionally that is all we had for supper. She would make a huge bowel of strawberry slurry. Strawberries, milk, and a little sugar. I can remember the bowel. It had blue enamel with white flecks. Then she made a huge supply of shortcake. The shortcake was not sweet. It was like a fluffy biscuit. We had all we wanted. I can remember that my parents and siblings surrounded the table. My oldest sister would have been married and moved away by then. There was a large happy group. I think that we all liked strawberry shortcake. My father was on my right.

I have listed seven memories of my mother. There are maybe three or four more memories. These are also about all I remember of my childhood up to the age of five. I define my childhood as the time between my birth and the passing of my mother. I was five when my mother passed away. I remember being held in a crowded room with my mother in a coffin. I had no conception of death. I was not sad. I noted all the people crying.

Since then I have developed an appreciation of death. I have been very sad about the death of my mother. I have felt deep envy of people who had their mothers for a long time. I have felt a deep resentment to the loss of my mother. I really feel empathy for any person who has lost a parent.


Charles Elbert Monson


Remarks about my Life History.

I suspect that it will take several hundred posts to write my Life History. It probably will take a year or so. I plan to write about everything that I can remember from my life. I will condense a lot, but it will still be long winded. You will able to recognize a Life History post, the title will start with a word and a number enclosed in parentheses.

I have a good start already. I have written 26 posts about my three years in the Army. This would indicate several hundred posts for the rest of my Life Story. I enjoy the researching and the memory trips. I hope that you might enjoy some of the stories.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Beautiful Sunday afternoon baseball game.

Baseball makes for pretty pictures. Today we won thanks to an exciting play at the end of the game. It was the bottom of the tenth. Tied at 1 to 1. We had two men on base. They walked another so that the bases were loaded. They were planning on an double out at home and first. They came close but the catcher did not touch the plate or runner, he was too concentrated on throwing to first. We won 2 to 1!





Tight wad hill in the sun!



Yesterday. One baseball game and two basketball games..

Here are some pictures from a Bulldog vs USL baseball game, aTechster vs UAB basketball game, and Bulldog vs Rice basketball game. I had a full day that started with breakfast with John and Christian.


Baseball vs SEL. We lost 15 to 6.


Techsters vs UAB.


Five Tubas.


We caved at the end.


Glad to see these nice folks at the next basketball game.



Miniture cheer leaders.


We made a lot of three pointers. I only have one game today. Baseball at 3 pm.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Dirty cords--a fad of the 1930s.

When I was in Junior High School. In the 1930s or so, it was a fad to wear dirty cords. These started out as nice yellow or light brown corduroy slacks. The fad required that you never washed your cord slacks. The idea was to get them dirty. Some even artificially helped them get dirty. And you would wear them for several years or until they fell apart. Can you believe that I used to envy guys with real dirty cords? They looked so stylish.

Some people insisted that they could stand the slacks in the corner of their room and the slacks would stand there, and not fall over. Do you believe that?

You would wear a clean crisp shirt. Some said the shirt should be white.

Corduroy slacks were expensive. They were expensive in my memory. I can remember that I sold my bike and used some of the money to buy a pair of corduroy slacks. So that I could be in style with dirty cords. I remember wearing them for a long time. I was right in style!

A current fad is to wear your pants with the belt across the buttocks. I prefer dirty cords.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Techsters played Charlotte last night.

We tied them the first half. Within two points at the half. Then Charlotte started making lots of points. We threw just as many three pointers as them but not as many went in.


Only a two tuba game.



The Techsters wore pink.



Ex-Techster Mary Alice was there.


That Bulldawg is so suave.



I think Charlotte had a better second half than we did!

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