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.

Monday, September 26, 2016

PrunePicker Memories of my brother, James Keith Monson

Keith was born in 1916 in Redlands, California and passed away in 1975 in Pomona, California at the age of 59.

Keith was the jolliest and funniest of my siblings. I can remember him taking his teeth out and making faces. He loved to make people laugh. I could not believe the news when I was told that he had committed suicide. So as not to mess up the house he had gone out in to the backyard and shot himself with his shotgun. Keith was a heavy drinker and I heard that he was having problems at work.  Keith died at the youngest age of all my siblings. 59 next Jean at 65 (brain tumor). The oldest was Dallas at 98. I do not expect to break Dallas's record.

An oft told Monson family story was that at the age of 12 Keith had taken a Model T Ford engine apart and put it back together. And it ran! Keith was a mechanic or in mechanical maintenance all of his life.

Keith was eight years older than me. I remember him coming home on leave from the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corp) in his sun tan uniform and telling us about his adventures in the Corps.

About this time Keith was in a terrible motorcycle accident. His right leg below the knee was really mangled. The doctors wanted to cut the leg off. But my Father insisted no. Keith had to wear a metal and leather brace on that leg the rest of his life. I can remember Keith healing for months in the living room of the house on Third Street. I can still remember seeing the terrible wound healing up. To help pass time Keith would play a guitar and sing for us.

I remember being in the living room of a house down the street at Keith's first wedding. The room was packed with people. The wedding was annulled in a month.  This was sort of dramatic to me. The Matthews Family (Okies from Oklahoma) lived across the alley from us and Keith married LaVerne Mathews. They had three beautiful girls. They were a beautiful family.

After Keith married LaVerne they were living in El Segundo, where Keith had a job. I can remember staying with them a few days once, early in their wedding. Years later they were still living in El Segundo when I came home from the war. Jackie and I visited Keith's home. On a trip to the grocery store, Keith used my celebrity as a returning veteran to get the butcher to sell him some bacon! Bacon, shoes, gasoline and coffee were in very short supply in those days.

Keith worked in an airplane factory all during World Wr II. I told people that I had a brother in the Marines (George), and a brother (Warren) in the Navy, a brother (Keith) who was a defense worker, and I was in the Army. Soldiers at that time were called Dogfaces. My brothers enjoyed calling me a Dogface! My brothers were all involved with airplanes. One built them, one flew them, and one repaired them. I operated a rifle and a shovel in the Combat Engineers.

I love Keith. He was a sweet guy. My heart is heavy when I think about his last years. I am sure that those years were sad and tragic because of alcohol.

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