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, September 17, 2016

PrunePicker Memories of my sister, Donna Susie Lewis.

Donna was born in Redlands, California in 1913 and passed away in Hanford, California in 2009 at the age of 95. She was the youngest of the five Monson girls. She was just a little younger than her twin Dallas. You have heard the story about the presence of Donna was not known. She was turning black when they found her due to the cord around her neck!

What a lovely lady. I have many happy precious memories of Donna. One of the earliest is of her bathing her first born, her son Jim, in the kitchen of her home and drying him on the kitchen counter. I was impressed being around a new mother and child.

When I had pneumonia at the age of six I came home from the hospital to her home. I remember her giving me ice cream out of a carton. This is about the only memory that I have of store bought ice cream. The only ice cream I had in those years was ice cream the family made in a freezer at home. Usually at a family gathering. I remember everyone visiting in the house and the ice cream was on the porch (unguarded) and I was able to get seconds until my temperature dropped. And I got a headache. A ice cream headache.

Later when I was a little older (at Donna's home) I was given the job of turning the crank on the ice cream freezer. Whoops! I turned in the wrong direction. The ice cream did not properly freeze. They called me "Wrong way Corrigan". You remember Douglas Corrigan who (in 1938) by mistake (don't believe it) flew from Brooklyn to Ireland instead of to Long Beach, California. He will be ever known as Wrong way Corrigan. He ran for the Senate in 1946. I remember shaking his hand on the streets of San Luis Obispo when Jackie and I were going to Cal Poly.

I remember watching Donna mixing the batter for breakfast waffles in the evening. I remember that she mixed walnuts in the batter in the morning. She said the nuts would turn rancid if they were in the batter overnight. The waffles were really good. Donna was right.

I watched her make 1000 island salad dressing. It was so good. You know that the islands are chopped up hard boiled eggs, don't you? Donna was such a good cook. Talented in many ways.

One time I was living at her house. I came home one evening and while still in the yard I overheard Albert Kirby (Donna's first husband) complaining about me staying there. He wanted to know when I was leaving. He wanted me gone. I turned on my heels and left. I slept under some bushes that night. I went to a friends house and crawled under the bushes and laid next to the house foundation.

I remember going with Albert and Donna to the Foursquare Church in Pomona. (Church founded by Aimee Semple McPherson in the thirties.) A guest preacher in a cowboy suit gave the sermon one time. He wore a great big white cowboy hat. He impressed me.

I did not have much contact with Donna during the war and while going to CalPoly. 1943 to 1950. When I graduated I got a job with the Air Reduction Company. I was the store manager for the AIRCO store in Bakersfield. Donna had moved to Bakersfield. We got together a lot then. By this time Jackie and I had two children. (I was around a new mother and child quite a bit in those days.)

Donna gave us a puppy who lived with us for 15 years. I think Lucky was half coyote and half collie. He chewed up many toys.

Donna attended Bakersfield High with her sons. She worked as a book keeper for several firms in Bakersfield. She and Albert parted ways. In the sixties she got a good job as an accounting supervisor with Caltrans in Los Angeles. She even got a new husband, Lester Lewis.

Donna and Lester lived in Santa Monica much of the time that Jackie and I lived in Orange County. We visited a lot. Donna and Lester were top on the list for Thanksgiving, etc. They were good company (and family). Lester bought a two seater sports car and wore a beret. Donna and Lester traveled a lot in it. Lester even drove it at drag strips. I forget how fast it was. It was a real sports car.

When Jackie and I were living in Texas Donna and Lester stopped by several times.

Later when Jackie and I were retired and living in Chimacum, Washington and Dallas was living in Oregon City, Oregon, Donna came to visit Dallas. I drove down for the visit. I believe that this is the last time that Donna and Dallas were together. This picture was taken then. The last of the Nine Monson children. We sat for hours around the kitchen table and visited.

It was a great visit (Donna had family with her). It must have been around 2004. The passing of these two ladies (Donna in 2009 and Dallas in 2011) really struck a sad note in my life. They were such a great part of my life. I love them.


  1. Are you sure Donna and Lester lived in Santa Monica? I feel like it was in Studio City or Burbank, somewhere in that direction rather than out toward the beach in Santa Monica.

  2. They lived in several places. One was Santa Monica. I do not remember Burbank.

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  4. Hi Chuck: Very much enjoy reading your family memories, Donna is my grandmother and Jim is my father. Find it fascinating your comfort in motoring around the internet. Please do not be offended by the question, but at 91 years young is there a secret to longevity: sourdough, probiotics, abstain, pine oil (old Dutch remedy)? Diane and husband Rick have lived in Whitefish, MT for the last 17 yrs. Ever come north, stop by. Diane Milton

  5. It was a thrill getting a comment from Donna's grand daughter. I probably met you in Hanford years ago. My long life is due to DNA. (Picking the right parents) I am just doing some Vlogs in addition to Blogs. It is a fight. (I am a slow learner) Several years ago I drove across Glacier Park and should have been close to Whitefish. Hope we will meet someday.


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