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.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

(Waterflood 12) My experience as a scab.

I read Jack London as a young man. I was more liberal than I am now. I am usually on the side of the little man or "the working man". My Dad was all for unions. He told me that before unions some miners were chained in the mine at their work place. And that unions were the reason that this practice had been stopped. I believed him. Strikebreakers were no good scabs. (actually real life scabs are useful and good) In any event as a true son of the working class I did not care for scabs or strikebreakers. And here I are one!

My last year with LBOD the wage and hour people were called out on strike. All of us who worked in the office worked 12 hours a day, seven days a week for a month and a half to take their place. It was like a dream. An hour to get home and then an hour back to work. A couple of meals and sleep were all we got at home.

We worked as pumpers. I had special duty monitoring a pilot polymer flood. The fluid was a lot like snot. I caught samples and measured various properties. The data was sent to a large oil company in Denver who were following the test.

We only had a little trouble from the strikers. Some metal items were thrown at trucks. I believe that a windshield was cracked. In the end the union really did not gain much. I was hoping that they would be successful. But the strike was a failure. Us scabs made out like bandits. Our monthly salaries were converted to an hourly rate. Working 12 hours days with time and a half and double time I made the biggest checks of my working career. Probably the most that I was ever paid for six weeks.

In the middle of the strike I broke some bones in my right hand. I had a cast up to the elbow. I had to drive a pickup and unlock gates. This was hard to do with only one hand. It was a real pain in the neck.

How did I break my hand? I was having a discussion with Jackie. To add emphasis to a point I slammed my clenched fist into a steel rail. Smart, huh?


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Tech does zumba?

I was walking today through the pool area when I saw this scene. What's going on?


Why it was a Zumba class.




You use your hips a lot.



(Waterflood 11) Back to LBOD. dejua vue?

I just worked a few months for Champlin Oil. I will always have a guilty conscience about that. Champlin paid a good price to the head hunter, paid for my move from Jena, Louisiana to Huntington Beach, California, and a bonus. I got my job back with LBOD and resigned from Champlin. I have had remorse about that. I did not stay long with LBOD the second time either, but took a job with Superior Oil in The Woodlands, Texas.

After the John Adams family started sharing our home, Jackie and I rented a large house in Irvine. It was sure nice. The tract had a park and swimming pool a couple of blocks away. We all enjoyed that, especially Steven and Joy. Our youngest son, Mike, lived with us some at this time. What a busy happy house!

Kerry had knee problems. She wanted them fixed fast so she had them both done at the same time. I can remember her on a bed in the front room with a cast on each knee. She was immobile for awhile.

For a while John and Mike worked delivering Sears appliances. They even worked on the same truck. They were real brothers in law.

When John moved his family to Lake Charles, Louisiana. We moved into an apartment a few blocks away from our first house in Irvine. It had a lovely view of a golf green. Once a ball hit our window and blew glass spinsters all over our living room. So much for a lovely view of a golf green!

The DOE was sponsoring a seminar on EOR in Tulsa. I talked Jackie into going with me. She really hated to fly. We had a nice few days. There is a fine museum full of original Remington and Russell art work. There was a skate rink nearby. The country is beautiful. We even toured the campus of ORU.


Monday, April 28, 2014

(Waterflood 10) Start working for Champlin Oil Company.

The Champlin office was on Henry Ford Avenue on Terminal Island. It was located almost in the center of the subsidence area. They had built huge dikes all around the lease to to keep the ocean out. LBOD was not in the center of the worst subsidence and had filled in to bring their lease above sea level after welding pipe to the tops of their wells. The original zero point of the LBOD wells was now below ground. All old wells had two sets of measurements. One from old zero and another from the new zero. Life can get complicated.

Champlin had some interesting work for me. They were running tests on different methods for enhancing the oil recovery from old fields. Every major oil company was doing the same research. The Federal Department of Energy was coordinating the efforts.


All of the EOR (enhanced oil recovery) methods involved putting something in to formation and pushing oil to the production wells.

First was water, steam, co2, polymers, diluents, and many more.

I had worked on water floods and steam floods. At Champlin I worked on diluents. Later I will return to work at LBOD and work on steam and polymer floods.

Soon I will get a job with Superior Oil in Texas. I believe my experience in well log interpretation and various EOR methods were instrumental in my getting hired by Superior. (But I am getting ahead of my story)

We rented a nice house in Huntington Beach. Jackie and I (and I think Kerry) were delighted when Kerry's old Jena trade school teacher, John Adams, joined us. Kerry and John were married in the living room of our Huntington Beach home on January 21, 1978. 36 years ago.

I am glad that they did. They own the RV Park that I have lived in for the last eight years. My front door is 25 steps from their front door. It is the best RV Park that I have ever lived in.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

(Waterflood 9) My work life in Jena. We move to Huntington Beach, California.

I had several jobs while we lived in Jena. I believe that it was a year and half to two years. At that time there were Beldon wire plants in Jena. I got a job as an expeditor in one of the wire plants. Almost minimum wage. I believe that these plants are all gone from Jena now.

I drove for miles in all directions trying to get a good job. I drove to downtown New Orleans to interview an oil company. Interviewed a drilling company in Jena. Interviewed a chemical plant located half way to Alexandria. No luck. I was very discouraged.

Then a head hunter obtained an interview with Champlin Oil Company in Wilmington, California. Champlin was a large company in the mid continent area The company was owned by the Union Pacific Railroad.


Champlin was an integrated oil company in the mid continent. Had a refinery and service stations. In California they only produced on Terminal Island. I believe all the Terminal Island land was bonus land earned by the Union Pacific Railroad Company.

They gave me a bonus, liberal moving allowance, and a good salary. I was pleased. We sold our mobil home, packed up, and drove to California. While we looked for a house we stayed in a motel across the street from Knott's Berry Farm. That was when there was free admission to Knott's. 


We always enjoyed Knott's. We could just walk over any time we wanted to. It is now a huge amusement park like Disneyland. We were a group of five. Jackie and I and Kerry , Steven, and Joy.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

(Waterflood 8) Good times and a ureter operation in Jena.

Jackie and I had some good times in Jena. We were there about a year and a half. One time Jackie and I drove to Nashville, Tennessee and spent several days. We took a tour and we saw lots of music shows.

We had visitors from California. We almost always took them to Natchez. There were several old plantations. One plantation was downtown (General Grant had slept there) and also had a nice restaurant. I remember a huge live oak that shaded a whole lot.

Jackie and I took to the catfish restaurants. Some were way out in the country. The ceiling of one was covered with notes and money that were pinned in place. One was a note from the Tennessee Plowboy, Eddy Arnold.

We went to one affair that featured wild game gumbo. All of the meat in the gumbo was meat from the wild animals in the area.

We made many trips to the mall in Alexandria. We usually ate at the Piccadilly Cafeteria. I would get crawfish étouffée. I did not know that in the future that Kerry and John would be excellent cooks of crawfish etouffee.

I just heard this story. It is very sweet and poignant. Kerry was a young lady with two young children. She was busy and had lots to do. I believe that she received a small amount of money for attending the trade school where John taught. He would have been an administrator of the school. He told Kerry that if she became tired she could lay her head on her desk. John has sorta been telling Kerry similar things for 36 years now. (I have been told that John told this to Kerry because she was recovering from major surgery at the time. Still a nice thing to do.)



Charming little house covered with Wisteria. (On White Lightning Road)



The building could use a little work.

Friday, April 25, 2014

(Waterflood 7) Is Jena in America?

We drove across Texas and into the middle of Louisiana. Then we turned right and plunged south into the center of the state. It seemed to me at the last that we drove for hours
through piney woods. And then we were in Jena. Jena is the Parish seat of Lasalle Parish. It was a dry parish with a liquor store at the county (whoops) Parish line.

We felt like we were in a foreign country. No store in town sold mozzarella cheese. How could Jackie make lasagna? We had to drive an hour into Alexandria to get it. The blue law closed all stores on Sunday and one afternoon during the week. Wednesday, I think. Everyone had a strange accent. The drawl added a syllable to almost every word.  Stores stocked all the makings for banana pudding with vanilla cookies. Ice tea was everywhere.

We settled into Jena in a three bedroom mobil home. Jackie and I with our daughter Kerry and her two children Steven and Joy. Momentous things were about to happen. John Morgan Adams was about to enter our lives.


This is Kerry at about 22 years old in our mobil home in Jena. This is the reason that John Adams came into our lives. Kerry was taking classes at the trade school in downtown Jena and John was teaching the classes.

I would like to tell how I first met John. We all drove out to his trailer in the woods. When we drove up John had a large hog strung up between two trees and was cutting it up. I do not know anyone who loves animals more than John or who cuts up more animals. I am sure glad that John came into our lives. He is a true friend and a loving family member. It is a joy watching him being such a kind and thoughtful grandfather.



Thursday, April 24, 2014

Baltimore Liberty. A quilt by Nancy Ann Wright.


Here is a close up of the center square.


Isn't that a beautiful quilt? I knew that Nancy was talented when she was born in 1946.

(Waterflood 6) Chris has a smoke. We move to Jena, Louisiana.

The following news item showed up on the front page of the main Long Beach newspaper. This is the paper that we received. The item stated that a Chris Monson had entered the Long Beach Police Station and went up to the policeman on duty. Mr Monson took a big draw on a marijuana cigarette and exhaled into the policeman's face. Said Mr Chris Monson was shown to a jail cell.

This shocked me. But this action by our son almost killed my wife, Jackie, with shame and mortification. I mean that it really effected her. She was almost physically ill.

Our daughter, Kerry had recently moved to Jena, Louisiana with her two small children. We dearly loved those two grandchildren. Jackie said "I want to move to Jena". So I quit my good job at LBOD, we sold our lovely home in Orange County, California, and we moved to Jena, Louisiana.

There are several people in my family who were born because Chris blew marijuana smoke into the face of a policeman. Don't tell me that life does not have many strange twists and turns.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Johnny Lynn visits the bunnies and paints.

Johnny Lynn, my youngest great grand child from Franklinton is visiting. I have pictures of her and her Mother in a pen with the bunnies and of Johnny Lynn painting a plaque for Maw Maw.



Johnny Lynn paints.




Do you think that Maw Maw will cherish this plaque for years to come? I know that she will.




VFW Tuesday Breakfast Club.

There were ten brave souls for breakfast last Tuesday. Plus JD Harper keeping order and the two ladies who brought the food.



The food was so good. Bacon, eggs, biscuits, and gravy. Every thing was good and freshly prepared for us.


Here are the two ladies who work so hard for the VFW Tuesday Breakfast Club.


Tommy Ledford is a long time member of the club. These ladies are his daughter and his lady friend. I suspect that they do this work to make Tommy happy. I pray that Tommy lives forever. I sure do like the breakfast!





(Waterflood 5) My heart is heavy when I think of the life of Chris, my first son.

I am heartened when I consider how much of a life Chris did have in spite of the tragedy that befell him at the early age of 20. Chris was driving to work on the San Diego Freeway on his motorcycle. It was before daybreak in the fog. A person had stopped their car in the driving lane. Chris hit the parked car at full speed. He flew through the air and landed spread-eagled on his back. He broke both arms and both legs. (We learned months later that he had also suffered a concussion)

When a person has many bones mending they have a high temperature. Chris had sheets over and under him that had ice water circulating through the sheets. He was unconscious for several days.

This was the start of a lifetime of medical problems and procedures for Chris. Casts on all four limbs. Some healed fractures had to be broken and set again.

I can not believe that Jackie and I did the following. Boy! we were green in the world of patient care. When the doctor said Chris was to be released, this is what we did. I painted his bedroom white. We borrowed a hospital bed. It was heavy. I had to have help to move it. I rented a hoist and sling for moving Chris around. We brought him home and put a catheter on him. We proceeded to care for him in his bedroom. The county visiting nurse came. She said right away that this will never do. She told us that we must get Chris into a professional care facility. She checked him into Rancho Los Amigos. This is the Los Angeles County facility where my Dad spent the last years of his life. They had a ward full of people in like condition to Chris.

What made Jackie and I think that we could take care of a large, six foot plus son with four broken limbs?

Chris was a Rancho Los Amigos for several months. I could visit him at lunch time from work in Long Beach.

Finally Chris came home again. We were driving to somewhere. The car was full. I looked at Chris and he was having a tough convulsion! Seizure. I was on the freeway in the center lane. I manuvered the car to the shoulder and parked. I ran around the car, in a panic, and pulled Chris out onto the ground. He recovered from the seizure on his own. This is when we found out that Chris had suffered brain damage in his accident. He faced a lifetime of careful medication to keep his seizures under control. For some time he qualified for a driving license. You have to go six months without a seizure to get a license. He studied in college and became a Licensed Vocational Nurse. Do to his large size he was very useful in mental hospitals restraining unruly patients.

I was and am proud of Chris for obtaining this degree of expertise and usefulness in nursing, despite his severe injuries. In his last days Chris was disabled and living at home alone. He had a seizure and hit his head very hard on a cement floor. A few days later he was brain dead and in the hospital. I requested that he be disconnected from the life support machines and in a few moments he passed away.

Chris was an intellectual. He wrote a blog for several years. Chris was much smarter that his Dad. He obtained fellowship and a circle of friends from his blog. It was a political conservative blog with the title---snaggletoothie of the Loyal Opposition. The blog is still posted and can be reached via this link. I have tried to discover the significance of the blog title, no luck so far.

A few years ago I wrote a blog about Chris and his life. It contains many photos of Chris. Here is the link. Chris






Tuesday, April 22, 2014

(Waterflood 4) Important part of our family life was the time we spent at Rossmoor.

For the next ten years or so I worked for LBOD and we lived in Rossmoor. Rossmoor was just inland from Shell Beach. This was an important part of the lives of our children. Nancy was married. Kerry was married. Chris had a terrible motorcycle accident that effected the rest of his life and was the cause of his untimely death at 62. Mike finished his pre -college schooling.

I have mentioned how Bob Wright and Nancy had fallen in love during their high school years in Coalinga. Well they kept in love after our move. Bob's folks also moved from Coalinga to Southern California about the time that we did. Nancy and Bob were married in December 1966 in Long Beach.


Now isn't that two handsome couples? Bob and Nancy's first home was a basement room at a motel in Laguna Beach where Bob worked on the desk. They have done  well in their married life. They now live in a gated community in Dana Point.

Kerry married John Morgan Adams in January 1978. John and Kerry just celebrated their 36th wedding anniversary. I live in my fifth wheel trailer in their yard.


They sure were a good looking wedding couple. They are a good looking retired couple now. They live on a wooded lot with many critters. Possums, raccoons, armadillo, deer. They brought dog, cats, rabbits.

They were so good to Jackie in her time before passing away. They are so good to me now before I pass away. I love them and appreciate them.

Our family spent many happy years in Rossmoor.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Lincoln Council on Aging. Dedication ceremony for new flagpole and flag.

Today at noon we gathered to dedicate a new flagpole and flag. Community Trust bank paid the expenses. We thank you CTB!








(Waterflood 3) The Sinking City of Long Beach, California

An interesting item in working in the Wilmington Oil Field for LBOD was subsidence. Most of the production came from sands around 3000 feet deep. These sand were uncompacted (like beach sand) and when the fluids were produced from them the zone slumped. The grains of sand moved closer to each other.  A large area subsided.



The center of the subsidence was near the Terminal Island Navy Yard. A large part of the surrounding city was effected. Subsidence was as great as 28 feet in the center. The rate of subsidence reached 2 feet per year.


Notice the well heads high in the air. Notice the berm on the left to keep the sea out of the oilfield.


Poor Fido!

The Navy yard was sinking into the sea. The Navy filed a suit against the City of Long Beach and all the oil companies requesting that they stop production.  A long court hearing ensued with the following result. The oil companies would inject large quantities of water to keep the sand from slumping anymore. When I was working there the oil companies were injecting a million barrels of water per day. LBOD was injecting 400,000 barrels per day. Subsidence was stopped. A few areas even rebounded. 

This is a lot of water. Produced water was filtered and injected over and over. Production increased and the oil production increased back to the good old days. It was exciting. High pressure water from several pumping plants ran every where. It required a lot of production engineering to keep track of injection and production.

A leak in a high pressure water line caused a crater big enough to swallow several cars.

Life was exciting at home too. Daughters getting married. 




Sunday, April 20, 2014

Dutch Oven meeting at Lake DArbonne State Park. Softball on way home.

Saturday morning I drove up to Lake DArbonne State Park to a Dutch Oven Club Meeting. They had bluegrass music all day.




Some of the musicians had played for my bluegrass club in Arcadia.



Some people danced!


Chow line.


Stopped by Tech softball on the way home.



We played the University of Southern Mississippi.




We won! It was beautiful weather for bluegrass and softball.







Saturday, April 19, 2014

(Waterflood 2) Long Beach was the fun city of my youth.


There was a huge wooden roller coaster at Long Beach. It was there from the thirties to the seventies. Some say that the Long Beach roller coaster was the greatest and best wooden roller coaster ever built. (I am not surprised. Everything in California is the greatest, biggest, oldest, and grandest.) The beach came up under the roller coaster.
You could walk there and listen to the creaking of the timbers as the roller coaster went by. The amusement zone had several streets full of fun booths. The amusement zone was called the Pike.
There were sailors everywhere. There was and still is a large Navy installation on Terminal Island. Ocean Boulevard ran parallel with the ocean. Several blocks were part of the amusement zone. Tattoo shops, bars, etc.  I had last seen these blocks at the time of Pearl Harbor (1941). When we moved to this area in 1966 those few blocks looked the same. The roller coaster and the rest of the amusement zone was gone, but those few blocks on Ocean Blvd were still there.

Now that whole area is under huge buildings. Office buildings, a new city hall, and a large convention center. The fun city of my youth is gone. The Long Beach Gran Prix is run down Ocean Blvd.

Long Beach is where we would go when there was some one with a car. I remember a Model A that we burned smudge oil in. Every 1/2 hour we would have to stop and clean the sediment bowl out. A friend and I were driving home from Long Beach when we heard the news of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Jackie and I purchased a nice home in a large subdivision named Rossmoor in Orange County. It was barely out of the city of Long Beach and the county of Los Angeles. When we moved in it was a quiet place. Then they completed a new freeway that ran along the edge of Rossmoor  It was about 200 feet from our house. In the yard all you could hear was the roar of the freeway, We hated it. We looked into relocating but never did.

About this time we bought a new red Mustang. Not exactly a family car but we put many happy miles on it.


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