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, August 31, 2016

Kylee Seto. Techster Goalkeeper.

Kylee is my hero. Last winter she taught me in my water exercise class. Now in August she is a star soccer player for the Louisiana Techster Soccer Team. Kylee is from Vancouver, Canada. (One of my favorite cities.)


I am thrilled to be in a picture with Kylee, even if my face looks glum. I have seen four soccer games so far. The Techsters lost one game, tied one game, and won two games. I played soccer in the fifth grade.





Sunday, August 28, 2016

PrunePicker Memories of my Mother, Olive Knowlton Monson.

My Mother was born in Stirling, Kansas in 1889. She passed away in 1931 at the Los Angeles County Hospital. 42 short busy years.

She had nine children. First five girls and then four boys. Two of the girls were twins. I was just five when she went to the hospital. I can remember her sitting in the back seat of a soft top sedan. I was held up by someone to tell her good by. That is my last memory of her. The total number of memories that I have of her is about three or four. I really missed having a Mother in my life. I love her.

The picture below is an enlargement of her from a Knowlton Family picture. She is about 16 in the picture.
This next picture is the best picture that I have of my Mom. It is also a good picture of my Dad.

Mom sent me to kindergarten a year early. (She needed a baby sitter) So I went two years to kindergarten. I can remember walking to and from school. It was a good distance and across a large busy street. When I got home Mom would fix us a tasty snack.

I remember taking a nap on the school room floor. I could see Mom sitting along the side of the room.

Once Mom went to a movie theatre for a demonstration of new kitchen cook stoves. She took me along. Curtains went up so we could see the stoves. Then my Mom carried me up on the stage to get a closer look at the stoves. I was terrified. I thought that the curtains were going to come down and trap us for ever. I screamed and Mom had to leave.

Once I was a naughty four year old. Mom told me to go out doors and pick out a good switch. Three feet or so long and leave some little branches at the small end. I did not like that job. Mom switched the back of my legs! (Later in the sixth grade I got the same treatment from the Principle. In the seventh grade at Fremont Junior High School I had a fraternity paddle laid on my rear end by Principle Chance. Miss Beard, the teacher involved, observed. I remember smiling at her during the paddling.)

I remember Mom mixing strawberries, cream, and sugar in a large enameled blue bowl. She baked non sweet fluffy short bread. This was the entire meal for a bunch of family on Sunday evening during strawberry season. I loved it. I would like some right now.

I remember the funeral. A large room full of people. My cousin Elmo was holding me in his arms. It was an open casket funeral. Everyone was crying. I had no conception whatever about what was going on. I remember people saying that there was a very large attendance.

My sisters say that Mom was a good cook and a skillful seamstress. She could make two dresses for the twin girls (without patterns and each a different size) between lunch and the time to start supper. Mom would also play the piano and sing for her children. I wish that I could have heard that.

I show the Knowlton family picture again. Taken in Stirling, Kansas around 1905. Mom is the teen age girl on the left. I am so thankful that I have this picture.


Friday, August 26, 2016

PrunePicker Memories of my Father, Charles Abner Monson. Part 6.

I had said in a previous post about my Dad that I did not know when he was adopted by his Uncle Charles. And moved from Covington, Kentucky to Stirling, Kansas. I have since writing that post found out. I was re-reading an old letter from my Sister Donna. She said that Dad's Mother died when he was about seven and that he was given to his Uncle. This would have been around 1888. If I had any kind of memory or if my genealogy work had been complete I would have known the year of her death. So my Dad lost his Mom (my Grandmother) at about the same age that I lost mine.  So sad.

Dad's life was a mixed bag. Was the Father of nine. Food on the table. Worked many years as a hired farm hand and Ranch foreman. Then was a successful contractor with a team of horses in Pomona. I can remember being in a barn with the horses. They were named Bert and Beck. I remember eating some rolled oats (horse food). Then Dad fell on hard times. Due to the Great Depression and the mechanization of farm work. At the age of 59 he had a severe stroke. He spent the next 17 years as an invalid. He committed suicide by starvation at the age of 76. It is hard to fault him for this act.

27 per cent of my close family committed suicide. 3 of 11.

My oldest brother, Keith. killed himself at the age of 59.

My next oldest brother, George, killed himself at the age of 85.

I was shocked and saddened by these events. I found it hard to believe. I watch my state of mind closely. I do not want to die that way. I used to carry a concealed pistol. I got rid of it. I do not need a convenient means of suicide in my pocket.

I will now start on my memories of my Mother, five sisters, and three brothers. Let us find some happy memories.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

My sixth grade Japanese friend.

When I was in the sixth grade, in the morning, I used to go to the home of a boyfriend, who was Japanese, and we would walk to school together. Then we graduated and went to John C. Fremont Junior High School. Soon after Pearl Harbor my friend was moved to a Relocation Center out at the Los Angeles County Fairgrounds. My brother in law, Butch, was hired to be a guard at the Center. With the help of Butch I was able to visit with my friend through a chain link fence. I never saw him again and can not remember his name. I often think about him and wonder about the rest of his life. Especially his time in incarceration.

Recently a monument to the Pomona Relocation center was dedicated. My niece in Pomona posted about this dedication . Along with the only published pictures of the Center. The pictures gave me a nostalgia surge.




Tuesday, August 23, 2016

PrunePicker Memories of my Father, Charles Abner Monson. Part 5.

My Dad was the son of five generations of Kentuckians. He taught me manners. And to say ma'm, sir, and thank you. One time he beat me with his razor strop for not speaking correctly. Another time he made me stay home for 30 days. The beating infuriated me and just made me feel rebellious. What really got my attention and made me feel so bad was when he would talk seriously to me about my shortcomings.

Dad had several sayings  that stuck with me. "Honesty is the best policy". "Anything worth doing is worth doing right". If he thought a lot about someone he would say "You sir, are a gentleman, and a scholar, and a good judge of horse flesh". If you are in a fight "Hit him in the nose, hard!". "Do not draw your gun if you are not going to use it."

He was born in a time where the ability to handle work horses was valuable. He was in his element for the first fifty or so years of his life. Then motors took over. Dad never fully adjusted to the internal combustion engine.

When I was very young I remember watching Dad excavate the basement of a large building with a horse drawn earth scraper called a Fresno.

I was impressed. My Father was an important and vital part of the construction crew.

Dad supported a large family for many years. Then he fell on hard times. Poor man. My heart goes out to him. It must have been very hard on him. After his severe stroke he spent 17 years in an institution.  In his last years he tried to end his life several times but was unsuccessful. He finally stopped eating and successfully ended his life. I think about him a lot. God Bless.

Charles Abner Monson was born 9 Jun 1981 in Covington, Kentucky. He died 27 Dec 1957 in Downey, California.

Monday, August 22, 2016

PrunePicker Memories of my Father, Charles Abner Monson. Part 4.

My Father never told me that he loved me. I know that he did, in his way. I can remember several things that showed his thought for me. I used to get terrible cases of poison oak. My whole body would be involved. One time required the care of a Doctor. Another time I missed several weeks of school. This one time his Mexican friends told him of a cure. It involved boiling a bucket full of a certain weed. The bucket poured in a tub full of water. Then you soaked in the tub. I think that it helped.

One time I had a terrible ear ache. My Father poured a spoon full of my heated urine into my ear. It helped.

When my family was breaking up and going their separate ways (I think that my Grandma gave up running our home) Dad sent Warren and I to the McKinley School for Boys in Van Nuys. It was kind of fancy and cost a good bit. I know that Dad was getting letters from the School for a few years wanting money.

Times were hard. I can remember no food at times in our house. Now it was just Dad, Warren, and I. Warren was four years older than me and was soon gone. I would slip into orchards (they were all around Pomona) and steal fruit to eat.

The following story will illustrate how poor we were. Dad, Warren and I were in a grape field picking grapes.
I believe our fellow workers were mostly Mexican. When we broke for lunch I saw my first Mexican food. Lots of tortillas! I think our fellow workers had more lunch than we did. We were paid a certain amount per grapes picked. I was pretty young and did not pick a lot. But I kept track and knew that I had earned 70 cents. That was a lot of money to me and I was thinking during the day how I was going to spend it. When pay time come Dad kept all the money that the three of us had coming. I was greatly disappointed. I think now what dire straits my Dad's finances were in and I feel bad for him.

About this time I came home one day. All of our furniture was in a pile in the front yard. We had not paid our rent and had been evicted. That is poor. I had to go to a sister's house.

Later Dad and I lived in a room adjacent to a couple of rooms that the family of my sister Nita lived in. These rooms were in the back of a long ago closed up store. I can remember wandering in the store and looking out the front windows. We ate our meals with Nita. I can remember biscuits and salt pork gravy three meals a day. I remember that salt pork was 4 1/2 cents per pound. Sometimes we had potato soup.

One morning I woke up and saw my Father laying on the floor. He had suffered a severe stroke in the night. An ambulance took him to the Los Angeles County Hospital. He recovered but was paralyzed on his left side. He spent the next 17 years at the Rancho Los Amigos in Downey, California. This was the Los angeles County Poor Farm. It has been closed. There is a Rehabilitation Center with the same name across the highway. (Years later my son Chris spent time at the new facility when he had many broken limbs from a traffic accident.)

My Father lived from 1881 to 1957. Seventy six tough years.


Sunday, August 21, 2016

PrunePicker Memories of my Father, Charles Abner Monson. Part 3.

How did Mom  and Dad get from Elk City, Oklahoma to Holtville, California in 1907? Holtville is 12 miles from the Mexican border.
It is a few miles from El Centro. This is not the prettiest part of California. Hot, dry, but when you have water you can hear truck crops growing. Hot day and night. I think about the young couple from Kansas working on a farm in the area. (Farms here are called Ranches) My 18 year old Mom with a baby girl (my oldest sister Nita).

In two years my sister Thelma was born. Thelma was born in Long Beach. Mom's family had moved during these two years to Long Beach. (they later settled in the Bay area. Oakland and Berkeley) I suppose that the Knowlton's were too embarrassed by my Mom's early pregnancy to stay in Stirling and sold their farm and moved to California.

Three years later Jean was born in Redlands. The Monsons stayed in the the Redlands area for some time.  Jean, Dallas, Donna, and Keith were born in Redlands. In 1918 my brother George was born in Riverside. In 1921 Warren was born in Chino. I, Charles Elbert, was born in Pomona in 1925.

I would say the surroundings were nicer in Pomona that in Holtville. I liked Pomona. It was an hour from the snow on Mt Baldy, and an hour from the beach at Long Beach. I used both places a lot.

I have no idea how much schooling my Dad had. I wish that I had asked. I suppose it came up but i sure do not remember. He was a hard working man. And until the depression had supported his family well.

Dad was good looking in the John Wayne style.
He would debate politics and religion at length. I remember his religious discussions with my Grandmother.

I remember going with him to a political feed out in the country. The feed was given by Jerry Voorhis. Jerry was a candidate for Congress. I remember slot machines at the feed. It was exciting to a young boy. It seemed so sinful, I know it was illegal. After five terms in Congress Jerry was defeated by Richard Nixon. You remember Richard, huh?


Saturday, August 20, 2016

Skip and Carolyn Russell Horse Ranch at meal time.

Much of my Louisiana family visited the Skip and Carolyn Ranch today at feed time. It is fun to see the excitement of the horses when Skip gives them gourmet feed. Skip also treated us to a four wheeler caravan around the Ranch.


To celebrate Katie's upcoming birthday we had some cake and ice cream before going to the Ranch.



Skip greets his guests.



John gave cousins Johnny Lynn and Christian a ride..




Skip leads a four wheeler caravan 


The cousins riding with Paw Paw John.




Those horses love Skip. He loves them too and hates to sell them. (haha)




Some big horses came and kicked the little horses aside.



Thanks Skip, so much. My family really enjoyed the visit. See video below.






Thursday, August 18, 2016

PrunePicker Memories of my Father, Charles Abner Monson. Part 2.

So my Dad had family or parent problems when he was young. His natural Father did not raise him but adopted him out to a older brother 800 miles away. I do not know how old my Dad was when the adoption took place. I had no idea that Dad was adopted. I had never heard this ever. Do you suppose that my siblings did not know about the adoption either? It was never mentioned that I can recall. Dad and I both had problems in our childhood. He lost his Mom and Dad at an early age and I lost my Mom at four years old.

Dad  lived in Rice County, Kansas (City of Stirling) until he was 26. He was a farmhand and teamster most of his life. Later a laborer. At 26 he moved to Southern California. He was a ranch foreman and teamster in Holtville, Redlands, Riverside, Chino, and Pomona. For a time in Pomona he had a team of horses and did contract work in the groves around Pomona. He was middle class. Lived in a big two story house. Then the Great Depression happened and he ended his life in poverty. Which I shared with him. He then suffered a severe stroke (completely paralyzed on his left side). He spent the last 17 years of his life in this terrible condition.

I know very little about the 26 years Dad spent in Kansas. He did not talk to me about this time very much. H told me that he had job once on a  farm where he worked six days a week for monthly pay paid in one coin. It was a $20 gold piece. Of course he got board and room.

In the 1905 Kansas census he was living with the Knowlton family in Stirling, Kansas. Listed as a hired hand. John Knowlton was a prosperous gentleman farmer. He lived in town and rode a fancy horse in the mornings out to oversee his farm. The picture below is of John and his family. Picture taken about 1905.



The sailor suit is an indication of how well Grandfather Knowlton was doing farming in Kansas. The girl on the left is my Mother, Olive Knowlton.Things went good until 1906 when Mom and Dad became with child. Stirling was a very straitlaced town and did not take well  with un wed pregnancies. Mom and Dad were married and went to live with an Uncle in Elk City, Oklahoma. My oldest sister Nita was born in Elk City in February 1907.






Tuesday, August 16, 2016

PrunePicker Memories of my Father, Charles Abner Monson. Part 1.

My Father Charles Abner Monson was born in Covington, Kentucky in 1881. Dad's Father and four grandfathers are buried in north central Kentucky.
One of his grandfathers is buried in Morristown, New Jersey and three are buried in New Haven, Connecticut. The oldest of these three is Captain Thomas Munson. (Dad's Seventh great grandfather) Captain Thomas was born in Rattlesden, Suffolk, England in 1612. Thomas moved to America in the 1630s with the Great English Migration. (Pilgrims) He was involved in the Pequot Indian War of 1637. He spent his life in the militia, hence the title of Captain. As a civilian he was a carpenter, land trader, and civic leader.

I do not believe that any of my siblings or my Father knew any of the history listed above. I always thought that my ancestors came from Sweden in a turnip boat a hundred or so years ago. Actually they came from England almost four hundred years ago. When my wife, Jackie passed away ten years ago I started studying genealogy. I discovered the above history. Wish I had known about it sooner. In our 22 years of RVing Jackie and I drove by many of the places involved.  In the last ten years I have visited many of the places involved in the above Munson history. I have also visited some of the places involved in Jackie's genealogy.

Dad's Dad was a younger child in the large family of Abner L Monson (my great grandfather). For some reason he did not raise my Dad. His name is James Mart Monson. (1858 - 1957)


My Grandfather. (I only met one grand parent. My maternal Grandmother)

Dad was adopted by an older brother, Charles Morton Monson at an early age. James Morton had moved to Rice County, Kansas in 1878. Rice is some 800 miles west of Covington. James Mart (My Dad's natural Dad) later married a second time. One of the children from his second wife (who he did raise) was my Uncle Frank. Uncle Frank and many children (cousins) moved with my Dad to California and lived in Pomona when I was a boy. I have many memories of my cousins. I have not seen them for seventy years.

Monday, August 15, 2016

PrunePicker Memories.

I am going to write an extensive series of blogposts that will detail all my memories about my parents and eight siblings. I will write about all the memories and things I know about the person.



Here are photos of my PrunePicker subjects. My Father. the oldest, to Warren, the youngest. My folks had five girls and then four boys. Thank goodness, I was the fourth boy! There are four years between me and Warren. My memories of my siblings will be almost entirely of them as adults. I will add things about their early lives that I learned over the years.

I estimate that the series will have many posts and take months to complete. Some of the series could be interesting reading.

For some time I will always have a subject to write about. I am looking forward to a long walk down memory lane.


Sunday, August 14, 2016

Northeast Louisiana Genealogical and Historical Society. 8/14/2016.

Good meeting today. Margaret Rivoire brought the program. She gave the history of her family moving from France to America. I enjoyed her talk. It was very interesting,


From here to Monroe.


Family Seal.



Margaret Rivoire.


Saturday, August 13, 2016

Ark-La-Tex Genealogical Association Seminar.

This is a once a year all day seminar in Shreveport. The featured (and only) lecturer was Diane Giannini. Dianne is a Certified Genealogist. She gave four lectures that I really enjoyed. Dianne is a professional genealogist and owns a research firm - Ancestry Sleuths. Dianne lives in Bentonville, Arkansas.


Diane gave me some ideas about family stories. She spoke about FamilyStories, using documents, using maps and map software, and as a special treat she spoke about an actual job she worked on locating a long lost Courthouse in Maryland.


Barnes and Noble Bookstore in the lobby.



The Ark-La-Tech Genealogical Association puts on a very good seminar it is both informative and gracious. I wish Shreveport was closer to Ruston.

















Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Ruger 10 22 excitement is building.


The Ruger 10 22 has been the best 22 rifle made for 50 years. There is going to be a drawing for a Anniversary model of the rifle on August 31. All proceeds are going to Greg Reynolds for cancer medical expenses.


The scope and sling are not in the drawing but the rifle is pretty looking and marked for the 50th Anniversary.

Tickets are $5. See Mickey Fitzgerald to purchase. Phone 318 245 6049.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

The Peter Principle.

I do not know if the Peter Principle is true or not. If it is true an incident in my life might help prove that it is true. Here is a statement of the Peter Principle.

The Peter principle is a special case of an ubiquitous observation: Anything that works will be used in progressively more challenging applications until it fails. This is the "generalized Peter principle". There is much temptation to use what has worked before, even when this might not be appropriate for the current situation. Laurence J. Peter observed this about humans.[1]
In an organizational structure, assessing an employee's potential for a promotion is often based on their performance in the current job. This eventually results in their being promoted to their highest level of competence and potentially then to a role in which they are not competent, referred to as their "level of incompetence". The employee has no chance of further promotion, thus reaching their career's ceiling in an organization.
This states that if you are doing a good job you will be promoted until you are not doing a good job. I was a young man working for Schlumberger. I was a field engineer. I went to oil wells and ran various  logs and services.
It was a hard demanding job requiring long hours, 24 hour call, and much technical training. I did a good job. After several years I was promoted to Station Manager in Santa Maria, California. As Station Manager I was in charge of a one truck Schlumberger post. I managed several people but also did the field engineer work. Then I was promoted to District Manager in Newhall, California. I had several crews to manage. I had a large desk and a secretary and a shop crew. Some two dozen people.

In a couple years the the Newhall District was closed due to a decline in business. I was transferred to Bakersfield and put back to engineer on a truck, I assumed that I would be in line for the next District Manager vacancy. Not so! I was never promoted again. When a new manager was required for Bakersfield I was told that an engineer junior to me was getting the job. In fact I had been involved in training the engineer when he was first hired. This was a shock to me. I was even given the news by the new Manager. (who I believed was junior to me)
Management evidentially did not appreciate the manager job I did in Newhall.  I very much felt shut out of ever being a manager again. Darn Peter Principle. I was transferred to Coalinga. I think so as to spare the new manager the discomfort of bossing a former superior. I do not believe I ever did anything that should have made Management feel that was necessary. Maybe the new District Manager just wanted me in a different District.

Oh well it all worked out in the end. I eventually left Schlumberger for a Petroleum Engineer job in Long Beach, California. And then to Superior Oil and Mobil Oil in Houston, Texas.

I still fondly remember my 15 years with Schlumberger. What did I do wrong?

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