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.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

(Youth 1) Dad's stroke and my short stay at George Junior Republic.

I awoke when my sister, Nita, was trying to wake my Dad. He had a severe stroke during the night.  The ambulance came and took him to the Los Angeles County Hospital in Los Angeles. After unsuccessful treatment for stroke he was committed to the Rancho Los Amigos in Downey, California. He was to stay there until his death 17 years later. I remember visiting him often. I usually accompanied my sister Jean. I was now without a mother or a competent father.

I had eight older siblings who faced the question "what do we do with Bert?". About five miles south of Pomona in the Chino Hills was the George Junior Republic. It was a long established home for boys. My brother George had stayed there for a short time. In my football career at Fremont Junior High I had played football there. It was a semi reform school as the county put some tough kids there. The most famous graduate of the school is Steve McQueen. When my football team was there and a school bell would ring, we would yell "prison break!". And laugh derisively. Not very cool, huh?

My siblings decided to put me in the George Junior Republic. My Dad's stroke and my short stay at George Junior was certainly another important turning point in my life. I was not a good candidate for  being a citizen of the George Junior Republic. The school was organized like a republic with a senators, etc. It was and is a good school.

For some three years I had lived much on my own, I had very little if any supervision. I came and went as I pleased. When those George Junior Republic gates slammed shut behind me and I was told when to line up to go eat, go to bed, etc, I panicked. I could not stand it. I could not stand the supervision. I did not try very hard as I only stayed two nights. The second night I rolled my blankets under my spread (there was a timed bed check) and went out the window. I wonder how my life would have been if I had been a good boy and stayed in the Republic. An interesting question.

Several years ago I visited the Republic. Here is a picture of the building I stayed in. It is still in use some 73 years later.

Here is a picture of the window I used to escape. The window is about ten feet off the ground. I would not go out of it today!

What does a 14/15 year old escapee from George Junior Republic do in the middle of the night in the Chino Hills? It sure was dark out.


  1. Hey Mr. Chuck!

    This was a great post. When I read what you wrote about Steve McQueen being a resident of the same boys home, I remembered reading somewhere that he would often put into his movie contracts that they had to give him large amounts of items like blue jeans that he would then donate to the boys home he spent time in. I looked it up and found this info on wikipedia:

    "McQueen had an unusual reputation for demanding free items in bulk from studios when agreeing to do a film - things like electric razors, jeans and other items. It was later discovered that McQueen requested these things, and donated them to the Boy's Republic reformatory School,[58] where he spent time in his teen years. McQueen made occasional visits to the school to spend time with the students, often to play pool and speak about his experiences."

    I thought that was such a super cool thing to do. He had such a rough and tough public persona. It is interesting to know that he had such a soft spot. So, I know that at least two really great guys spent some time at that boys home. You and Steve McQueen!

    Love and Hugs,

    1. I am a Steve McQueen fan. I have a picture history of Boy's Republic and Steve is in it. Thank you for your comments. I appreciate them. Love, Chuck

  2. "Prison Break!" That is bad. I guess you broke out yourself. So what does a 14/15 year old do by himself in the middle of the night in Chino Hills? Gonna have to drive by that campus next time we're that way.
    Love you, Janelle


!-- Site Meter -->