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.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

(Wireline 2) Roustabout at Golden Bear.

I was hired as a roustabout at the Golden Bear Oil Refinery in Oildale, California. Oildale is over the Kern River from Bakersfield. You know what they say "once a roustabout, always a roustabout!". I worked there a few months until I was hired by Schlumberger. I was paid by the hour at Golden Bear. I made a hundred dollars a more per month than I made at my college required job at Airco.

Times were tough in 1950. (I know that they are tougher now) I went to college for four years and the only job that I was offered paid $250 per month (many college graduates today do not get any job offers). I went down the street and got more pay as a roustabout. However many roustabout jobs do require a skilled workman. I did require a college degree to get a job with Schlumberger.

Golden Bear only processed heavy crude oil. The main product was motor oil. They made all the motor oil that was sold by Montgomery Ward in the Western US. You remember Wards? Wards and Sears were arch rivals at this time.

The work at the refinery was mostly manual labor. I remember one odd job. Several of us went out to a well location and shoveled some Black Magic drilling mud. This mud is very heavy and viscus. It was like shoveling tar. Probably tar would have been easier.

I cleaned out boiler tubes by pushing a powered drill through the tubes.

I loaded motor oil into barrels and helped put the barrels into railroad cars.

For a week or two I gauged every tank in the refinery. This job started at 3 or 4 in the morning. One man had the title Yield Clerk. His jub was to keep track of all fluid movement through the refinery. He required a daily measurement of how much fluid was in each tank. At this time (the olden days) that required that a weighted marked tape be dropped into the tank and the fluid level be noted and entered on a list. There were many wet cold stairways up to the top of tanks (high). Then find and open a hole through the tank top. There were many tanks (a few dozen). It was a cold dark tedius job.

Now a days this measuring is mostly done electronically. The fluid levels are always available on a electronic panel. The fluid level is read by various devices. Think of all the steps that they do not have to climb.

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