28) Ventura and Laytonville: Oil Fields and Tall Trees

In the last post you read what it’s like to be homeless on the beach. In this post you will read about my next two gigs as an oil field inspector and lumberjack in California.

Ever held a really odd job?

I have had dozens. Like others you will read in this blog, the descriptions for these are really short. But each job could take a chapter.

After arriving in Ventura, California we rented a small cottage and having no particular destination in mind, looked at the help-wanted ads to access our chances of finding work. Priscilla got a waitress job at a nearby Mexican restaurant. The first week she brought home burritos wrapped very tightly in aluminum foil.

Ventura has some of the best climate you will ever experience. Wiki talks about Ventura, California in the link below.

Ventura, California

http://www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ventura, California

“Ventura (officially the City of San Buenaventura; commonly called San Buenaventura before 1891) is the county seat of Ventura County, …”

I responded to a newspaper ad (no internet 1973) looking for a temporary field worker for a company by the name of AMF Tuboscope. I was hired for the position. My job was riding in a company truck to nearby oil fields and inspecting oil-well drilling pipes for defects. My title was Oil Field Operator/Inspector – temp, I think. After one week of this work, since only one full-time position was being offered, two of us were asked to toss a coin to see who got the job. I had worked circles around this lazy s.o.b. and felt lucky going into the coin toss.

Fate Influenced by Coin Toss

Priscilla and I loved Ventura, California and getting hired would impact both of our lives. But it wasn’t meant to be. I lost the coin-toss and was out of work the next day.


That summer however, I took a job as a lumberjack in Laytonville, California about 20 miles north of Willits near highway 101.

Priscilla returned to St. Paul but to everyone’s surprise, called me from the laundromat in Laytonville one Saturday afternoon with about two weeks left in the cutting season. “I don’t have anywhere else to stay,” she said, playing innocent, I think.

Impressive but Pesky Visitor

We were now four guys and a blond bombshell, in a 18 x 12, mosquito infested, galvanized, steel Quonset hut, in the middle of the woods in northern California, all bonding nicely. Comfy and cozy, some might say. Priscilla had a way of showing up at odd times. Tensions were high in the camp. Nights that were sweltering, now sizzled.

The year of 1973 held promise of excitement and trepidation of the unknown. I was 23 years old and wandering from one job to the next, one town to the next and one emotion to the next.

The years 1970-1980, for me, were truly the wandering years.

We broke lumberjack camp two weeks later and loaded up the trucks to head to San Francisco, some 2 hours and 55 minutes to the south.

Did you ever feel stuck in something but afraid to change it?

Next: San Francisco – Our Very Precious and Odd New Home

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