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, September 30, 2015

(Youth Bay Area 4) My trip to the San Francisco 1939 Worlds Fair.

I was used to fairs. The Los Angeles County Fair was and is located in Pomona. It is a huge fair. I was there most every day of the three weeks it was open. I like a fair.

When the World's Fair opened in San Francisco I made plans to go. I was an experienced hitch hiker and my Aunt Marjorie live nearby. I was 14 and ready to travel. In the summer of 1939 I arrived at Aunt Marjorie's house. She now lived in Berkley.

Aunt Marjorie drove me to the fair. We spent the day there. It was located on a land filled island named Treasure Island in the middle of the Oakland Bay.



I remember an outdoor drama with horses and covered wagons. The curtain was a row of water fountains. I was impressed.

The next day I went to the fair alone. Rode the bus. I had an interest in the Sally Rand Nudist Ranch on the gayway. (I was a 14 year old boy,)


I had a box camera and took several pictures of the front of the Nude Ranch attraction. I took the film to a drugstore in Berkley. When I got the prints back the film and prints of the Nude Ranch were missing. I guess that the film processor did not think that a 14 year old boy should have pictures of scantily clad cowgirls.

The fair was large and impressive. I had a good time. Another good visit with Aunt Margery.





Sunday, September 27, 2015

(Youth Bay Area 3) My first trip to the Bay Area.

I must have been 9 or 10 years old the first time that I visited the Bay Area. I have no memory of how I got there. (to Aunt Marjorie's home in Oakland. It is a 400 mile trip from Pomona.) Later trips I hitch hiked or drove my Model A. This how I decided on my age at the first trip. Aunt Marjorie took me to San Francisco to meet other Aunts and Uncles for a picnic at Golden Gate Park. To get there we rode a ferry from Oakland to San Francisco. The Oakland Bay Bridge was completed in 1936. I was born in 1925. We had to take the ferry because the bridge was under construction. On my next visit we used the bridge.

I can remember a nice picnic on the lawn at the Golden Gate Park with several of my Knowlton relatives. I remember going to the aquarium. Probably my first aquarium.

We drove through the Sea Cliff area of San Francisco. I used to listen to the radio drama "One Man's Family" with Grandma Knowlton. She lived with us for several years in Pomona after my Mom passed away. It was a very popular drama and took place in Sea Cliff. I remember that the program started with the sound of fog horns.

This how the neighborhood looked like at Aunt Marjorie's. It was not this fancy, but you get the idea. I believe that the sidewalk was right at the garage door. It was very strange to this ten year old boy from the country.



Aunt Marjorie took me to a huge farmers market in Oakland. It was in a large building with many booths.

Aunt Marjorie made ice cream in an ice cube tray. It was delicous.



Saturday, September 26, 2015

(Youth Bay Area 2) Romance on the Prairie.

It was quiet and peaceful on the prairie around Sterling, Kansas. It was in the spring of 1906.  However, a romance was brewing that would end that peace and quiet. The culmination of that romance would drastically change the lives of many people. A large established family and a new family (started by the romance) would move a half continent away to California. The romance helped settle the State of California.

The romance was between my Father (25) and my Mother (16).

My Dad was born in 1881 in Covington, Kentucky, which is located across the river from Cincinnati, Ohio. Billy the Kid was killed that year and George Custer had been killed five years earlier. Evidently, Dad’s first family was dysfunctional and an uncle who had previously settled in Kansas adopted him. That Uncle’s name was Charles Morton Monson. He had a large prosperous farm in Alden, Kansas. He had moved to the farm in 1878. Alden is a few miles out of Sterling. I have visited his (my grandfather by adoption) grave in Alden. His grave has a large impressive tombstone.

I have spent several days in the Alden area trying to get the feel of where my Dad was raised. And where my Mom and Dad had fallen in love. Dad hired out as a cowboy and farm hand. He told me that he can recall working six-day weeks for a month and his pay was one coin, a twenty dollar gold piece. He was working for Mom’s father as a farmhand in 1906. He lived with them.

My Mother was born in 1889 in Sterling, Kansas. Her Father was a well to do gentleman farmer. He lived in town and rode a fine horse out to his farm when his presence was required. His name was Edwin John Knowlton. He was born in 1854 in Kalamazoo, Michigan. This picture of the Knowlton family was taken around 1905.

Look at the ties and the sailor suit. That indicates well to do. The girl on the left is my Mother. The girl on the right is my Aunt Marjorie.

Sterling was and still is a very straitlaced town. Two years before the birth of my Mother a Christian college (Sterling College) was founded. The college is still there and is still a Christian college.



This is in a small town of about 2000 people. A flavor of the times is this item. When the train station was built it had two waiting rooms. One for male and one for female. No telling what might happen if both sexes used the same waiting room.

I can imagine the alarm, consternation, and shock when it was discovered that my Mother was pregnant. I do know that the baby (my sister Nita) was born in a different city about eight months later in 1907. The city was Elk City, Oklahoma. About 250 miles south of Sterling. Another Uncle in Dad’s Kentucky family lived there.

Dad and Mom went from Elk City, Oklahoma to Holtville, California. Dad worked for years in that area on farms. He was a skilled teamster who could work horses. He could excavate a basement with a team of horses and a Fresno.

My folks had eight more children after they moved to California. They were born in Long Beach, Redlands, Riverside, Chino, and Pomona. Here is the romantic couple. Charles Abner Monson and Olive Knowlton.



Within a year or two the whole Knowlton family had moved to California. They were a short time in Long Beach but settled in the San Francisco area. After my Mother passed away I would visit Aunt Marjorie. (Once to visit the Golden Gate Fair) Later during the war I lived at her house while I worked in Emeryville.

I could have been born in Kansas, except for the romance. The romance worked out, however. Nine children. I was the ninth.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Sweet Adeline's in song.

Sweet Adeline Day in Ruston.

Last nught I attended a concert by the Sweet Adelines of Ruston. Barber Shop and acapella singing ladies.





They sure can sing! I enjoyed the concert. The Mayor had proclaimed yesterday as Sweet Adeline Day in Ruston. 

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Bicycle Rider in Swartz.


Rhonda is a top rank bike rider. She is also an excellant cook. See gumbo below. Ride on over to Swartz and enjoy a great plate lunch.



Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Added Life story chapter. (Youth Bay Area 1) Introduction

After some thought I have decided to add a chapter to my life story. The chapter title will be Youth/Bay Area. In the youth period of my life I spent some time in the Bay Area. (San Francisco/Oakland Bay) It would be interesting to add some data to this period of my life.

I spent time in thee Bay area because that is where my Mother’s family, the Knowltons settled after moving from Kansas. Especially my Aunt Margery. Aunt Margery was my Mother’s younger sister. I spent some time at Aunt Margery’s home in Berkeley. Aunt Margery took an interest in me. The memory of her is large in my life.

I plan to write about what I know of the courtship of my Mother and the movement of the Charles Abner Monson and the John Erwin Knowlton families from Kansas to California. This is not about the Bay area really but I am adding the courtship story here.


This could take several blogs.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Medical lecture from Doctor Prunepicker.

I have fallen victim to food poisoning at least a half dozen times in my life. The last time was a horrendous case I caught in Las Vegas from eating in a casino.  The typical case is where I get very sick 2 to 3 hours after a meal. I throw up and have diarrhea. After I am empty I am sick for several days.

I consider myself somewhat of an expert on recognizing food poisoning in myself. You eat bad food, and get very sick two or three hours later.

I recently had these symptoms. But I did not have food poisoning. It was a gall bladder malfunction.

The gall bladder is a bladder that holds bile made by the liver. On signal the gall bladder puts bile into small intestine. (It takes bile to digest steak.) The signal is generated when a large body of fat is being digested. If the gall bladder gets infected and is not working right it can be removed and the liver will keep bile available for the small intestine. Usually there are zero or very small effects caused by the absence of the gall bladder.

My recent attack by food poisoning symptoms was really a gall bladder failure.  I had a fever. My gall bladder was infected. I also had a large stone, which was blocking the gall bladder opening.

That is why I had gone to the emergency room and requested an enema. Thank goodness the hospital ran a cat scan and found the problem. The surgical removal of my gall bladder solved the problem.


I was so sure of my diagnosis. How could I be so sure and so wrong?


John got two red hens and a big rattlesnake!

John picked up two red hens from the Farmers Market in Franklinton. He also picked up a rattlesnake out at the deer lease in Arcadia. He did not pick up the snake until he had shot it.



That is about the biggest rattlesnake that I have seen.



The chicken flock is back up to three. It took a couple of days for the old white hen and the two red hens to get acquainted but they hang out together now.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Story from the desk of Doctor Prunepicker.

On Monday morning at 5 am I walked in the door of the emergency department of the Northern Louisiana Medical Center. I told the young lady through the hole in the glass that I wanted an enema.  Had an impacted bowel.

At 2 pm (9 hours later) I was laying on an operating table. A feminine voice behind me said that she was now putting me to sleep. Doctor Butler was going to remove my gall bladder.

A slight change in plans don’t you think?

Prior to Monday when I got up at 4 am to drive to the hospital I had just spent three days in misery. Throwing up, fever, terrible weakness. I have never been so weak in my life. Based on my past history of this sort of stomach problem I was convinced that my bowels were impacted. And a good old enema would fix me right up.

Dr Jackie, the emergency room doctor started poking my belly. It hurt here and there. Some in the appendicitis area. She had had blood work done and extensive x-rays taken. She told me that my white count was high. (Sign of infection) She did not think that an enema would help me. Who does she think she is, going against my diagnosis?

Dr Jackie ordered a cat span and went off shift. Bless her, the cat span found the problem. At 11 am I was told that my gall bladder was in terrible shape and immediate surgery was recommended. Three hours later I was going to sleep on the operating table.

When I recovered from the anesthesia I was amazed and pleased at how well I felt. This story proves that I do not know my ass from my gall bladder!

The life is good department.  On Wednesday afternoon I was on the couch in the Adams’s front room. My daughter Kerry came by and asked me if I would like a kitten to hold.This really touched my heart, Kittens and daughters are some of the very best things in life.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

George and I had lunch in Swartz.

Had a nice visit with Rhonda and Rosa. Best hugs in town!



Rhonda and Jasper.



I love lunch at Harts Corner in Swartz.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Death in the woods. (almost)

Patches and I were smooching in the gazebo when all of a sudden Patches ran down the hill into the woods. She chased down what she had seen and brought it back to me. It was a baby squirral.





The story ends happyly. The baby squirral later recovered and returned to the woods.

Patches is skating on thin ice. John likes squirrals more than he likes cats. I do not believe that Patches could handle a full grown squirral. I have never seen her try.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Patches studies the computer.

The other day Patches came into my trailer, jumped on my lap, and looked at my computer. She seems more relaxed and tamer since she brought her kittens in from the woods.



Incidentally, I am 90 years old, going on 95. It is only 1780 days to my 95th birthday.

Friday, September 4, 2015

The long sad story of John's chicken flock.

Summer before last John built a chicken hutch. It was deluxe with a protective screen door, roosts, and egg laying boxes.

John got six hens ( three white and three black) and a colorful batam rooster.


Pretty flock and a lot of company. Here is a white hen at my feet.

The chickens will greet you, check to see what you are doing, and talk to you. I had no idea that chickens could be such pets. They laid up to six eggs a day,

Then the flock began to diminish. A black hen was found in the woods, headless. John tired of the amount of cleaning and gave three hens and the rooster away. Egg production fell to three a day from the two black and one white hen John kept. Then a black hen dissappeared. (Fox?) Production fell to rwo eggs a day. Then the white hen started to moult and stopped laying. Production fell to one egg a day.

Last night, disaster. John had forgotten to hook the hutch screen door shut. About one in the morning John was awaken by a loud chicken yell. He went out and found both chickens gone! We were both blue. After a year and a half we were used to the chickens. We assme that a fox was the villian.

Oh Boy! About ten am the white hen came out of the woods.

Poor old moulting hen. She told me all about the terrible night that she and the poor black hen had gone through.

John's chicken flock is amost back to square one.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The kitty litter came in from the woods!

Patches is the mother of the litter. Patches came in out of the woods last year and adopted us. You may remember the terrible bite she had in a rear leg. Also she lost one of the two kittens in her first litter.

She settled in with us and whoops, had a second litter. The first five weeks after the birth of the second litter were odd. Patches ate all her meals at the Adams's house. She would be on my porch at four in the morning for food and would come back several more times in the day for more food. She bummed a lot of water also. She fed her kittens somewhere else. We never saw any kittens. I tried to follow Patches to her kittens but she would lose me in the woods. I checked her wet nipples and guessed that she had two of three kittens. I was very frustrated because I never saw any kittens. (I am very pro kitten. My children taught me.)

Yeah! The kittens came out of the woods today at lunch time. Three kittens. Tabby, red, and pink. (beige?)










John is teaching the kitty to eat solid food. When they do they can go to new homes.



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