Original Work A Work in Progress

Discussion in 'Survival Reading Room' started by Minuteman, Dec 14, 2013.


  1. Minuteman

    Minuteman Chaplain Moderator Founding Member

    This isn't survival related, and isn't fiction either, but I thought I would post it here for a little feedback. It's been said that I have several books in me waiting to be written. And I have started a couple but they tend to be more Theology related and factual. They require a lot of research and organization. I think that they will be my retirement projects. I just don't have the time to devote to them right now. But they say that you should write about what you know.

    I recently read a book that was written by an oilfield hand that was a chronicle or a reminiscence of his 35 year career in the "Patch". I loved the book and it got me to thinking about my own life story. So I started writing it down and organizing it into chapters. I hope that it is something I can finish and possibly get published. But the problem with writing a book about an industry is that it may not have any appeal to anyone outside of that industry. But I don't hope to make any money off it, just to have it published and shared to my friends and family would be great.

    I love to tell my "war stories", my adventures and life in this crazy business. So it comes easily for me. But I don't have the time or the inclination to explain all the terminology and workings of the oilfield. So it may not be of any interest to anyone who isn't familiar with that world.
    I have the Forward and the first chapter pretty well finished and fleshed out so I thought I would post it here and just see if you all think it an interesting read or not. Any feedback, comments or criticism welcome. ( I have edited most of the names and places out for posting here but of course the final version would include all of that.)
     
  2. Minuteman

    Minuteman Chaplain Moderator Founding Member

    FORWARD

    “I’m an oilfield hand

    that’s what I am

    I travel around from town to town

    Drilling little holes in the ground

    It’s a gypsy life but I sure love it

    I’m oilfield trash and damn proud of it.

    I’ve got a woman in every town

    and their always glad when I come around.

    Lovin and drinkin and raising Hell

    Those are the things that I do well.

    I love a bar room brawl

    A knockdown, drag out, free for all

    And if the locals get in my way

    I look them in the eye and say

    Kiss my ass, I’m oilfield trash

    If you don’t like it you can shove it

    cause I’m oilfield trash and damn proud of it!”

    - ***ME***, Los Alamos California 1984



    I am a Roughneck. I have been a Roughneck most of my life, since I was 16 years old. I fully embraced the wild and wooly roughneck lifestyle. I broke out in 1977 at the tail end of the great oil boom and have been in it ever since. I worked throughout the dry decade of the 80’s after the oil bust hit. And like so many oilfield trash before me I never hesitated to pack up and head out to whatever field was booming at the time. I was always looking for those greener pastures, just over the hill.

    I had a couple of life milestones recently, I turned 50 years old and I hit my 35 year mark in the oilfield.

    I suppose it is only natural to start looking back over your life at those times. Here I am at middle age and in the twilight of my career. I read a book recently written by an old oilfield hand that was reminiscing over his 35 years in the patch. He had broke out in the 40’s and worked all over west Texas and New Mexico. I really enjoyed reading about life in the “old” days. He even mentioned working with my Grandpa’s brother Louis **** in west Texas. His career was just wrapping up in the late 70’s. Just at the time mine was getting starting. It got me to thinking about all the changes that I have seen. The places I have been and the people that I have worked with over the years. So I decided to write it all down.

    Maybe there is some kid out there right now who is just starting out in their career who will find inspiration in this old roughnecks life. Or maybe just laugh at the stories and wonder at what is was like back in the “old” days.

    I say that I was born into the oil patch. I didn’t really have much of choice in what career I would follow. My great grandfather, **** was a driller on old steam powered, cable tool rigs back in the early 1900’s.

    My Grandfather, ***(Hal)*** broke out at Burk Burnett Texas in 1923. He met and married granddad ****s daughter when he worked for him. They married and had 7 children.

    Most of my uncles went into the patch. Then one of grandpa ****s daughters met and married my dad Ron******* who had broke out in the patch after returning from Korea in 1956, he was 17 years old. He had forged his birth certificate and joined the navy at 16.

    Some of my earliest memories are of “Pa” (my grandpa), Dad and my uncles sitting around on Pa’s front porch in *****, Oklahoma and telling “war” stories about their oilfield exploits. Pa had worked all over Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas. My uncle Jack**** had went to Libya in the 1950’s on an 18 month contract. He had since been all over the world. Later my dad and myself would both travel the globe searching for that black gold.

    For a young boy those stories were high adventure. They were much more exciting to me than the Saturday morning serials of the time. I loved to listen to them tell their tales of life in the patch.

    I always knew that I would follow in their footsteps, and longed for the day I had my own “war” stories to tell.

    The first time I ever set foot on an oilfield location was with my dad in the early 70’s. He was working around central Oklahoma. He took me and my brother to work with him a few times. I suppose he was babysitting for us while my mother worked at the café in town. Me and my little brother would sit on the bank of the reserve pit and throw rocks in the water. We’d traipse around the woods on the edge of location. I don’t remember dad ever letting us up on the rig floor. He probably knew that Mom would have a hissy fit if we got hurt.

    The summer of ’75 I was 13 years old, just fixing to turn 14 in July. Back then they worked 4 man crews and if you were short a man you couldn’t do the job. My dad came up short handed soon after school let out for the summer. He asked me if I wanted to go out and work for him. I jumped at the chance.

    Here I was an about to turn 14 year old boy and I was headed out to the rig with a crew of real roughnecks. My dad was the driller and his lifelong friend Dale ***** was the derrickman. We had a guy working motorman that weighed probably 400 pounds. Everyone called him Bigun.

    The 4 of us went to work and they started teaching me how to roughneck. We were working for ***** Drilling Company on a little poor boy double just south of ****** Oklahoma. The toolpusher was an old fellow named Buck, I don’t remember his last name but it was all turnkey work so he only came around every few days or so to check on the rig.

    One day we were tripping out of the hole and Buck drove up. He stood in the door of the doghouse and watched us for a bit. He hollered at my dad to come over and talk to him. My dad chained the brake handle down and went in the doghouse. Buck asked him “Who’s that kid you got workin for you Ron?”

    “ That’s my oldest boy” dad told him. Buck said “well how old is he?” “He’ll be 14 next month”

    I guess ole Buck about had a heart attack. My dad told him that he needed a hand and I wanted to work. Buck said “I don’t want to know anything about it! Just don’t get him hurt!”

    My dad said if you want to work until school starts I’ll keep you on and we’ll put your name on the books. I worked the rest of that summer until school was fixin to start. I was making a whole $5 and hour and I thought I was rich. But I don’t remember ever seeing any of it. My dad got the checks and put them in his account. But I didn’t care I was a Roughneck!!

    I’ll never forget that summer. I didn’t know much about the work I was just a worm but I remember the camaraderie and the feeling of belonging. I was a boy in man’s world and I loved every minute of it.

    I remember that our Hydro-Matic had gone out and Buck was going to send a truck out to get it and take it in to get fixed. We unbolted it and were waiting for the truck when Buck drove up in his 1967 Chevy ½ ton pickup. Dad said “Buck where’s that truck at?” Buck said he didn’t need to pay for a truck just load it in the back of his pickup and he’d take it into the shop. My dad was always a happy go lucky, prankster type. Dale told my dad “He can’t haul that heavy thing in that truck.” Dad said “He wants us to load it up, let’s load it up.” He was on the catline and Dale was on the boomline and they both had every wrap they could get on those catheads to lift that heavy thing. The ropes were smoking when they got it over the side of the floor and when they had it over the bed of Buck’s truck he hollered “Let it down easy!” Dad looked at Dale and said “Let her go Dale!” They set that thing down all at once and the sides of that truck just bent in. Buck was hollering “Pick it up! Pick it up!” My dad was laughing and they lifted it up and Buck drove out from underneath it. He said “I’m going to town and calling for a truck.” As he drove off with the sides of that truck bent into a U shape my dad and Dale were laughing their heads off.

    My dad and mom had divorced just shortly before that and dad was living in *****. He was a typical roughneck. Drinking and womanizing and didn’t give a care about anything. He had stayed out drinking all night and the next morning didn’t show up to pick up Dale and the rest of the crew. Dale came over to his house and told him to get up they had to go to work. My dad said “Leave me alone! I quit!” Dale said “You aint quittin you son of a bitch, I need a job too bad!” So he grabbed my dad’s legs and drug him out of the bed.

    Another time we were on evening tour and we got in dads car and were headed to work. We had to pass the ****** bar south of town on our way out. Dad said he needed some cigarettes so we all went in. They decided to have one for the road. One turned into a few. Here I was a 14 year old kid, sitting in the bar and drinking beer with the crew. Of course at 14 I was nearly 6’ tall and weighed about 190 so I passed for a lot older. After a while dad said “Well we are probably run off so we might as well go out to the rig and get our clothes.”

    We got to the cattle guard about 3 hours after we were supposed to be on tour. Buck was sitting there in his truck. It still had the bent in sides! Dad pulls up and Buck says “Where you boys been?” Dad said we had been at the bar drinking and were going to go back. Buck said “Are you going to come to work tomorrow?” Dad said “Do you still want us?” Buck said hell yes, he needed a crew. So my dad told him “All right Buck we’ll be here tomorrow.” So we went back to the bar and finished getting drunk.

    That was my introduction to the oil patch. I worked maybe a month or two that summer but I don’t count that as my breaking out. But it was in my blood and I was hooked, or doomed my Mom would say. My dad moved out to Nevada just after that summer and I couldn’t wait to get my driver’s license. As soon as I turned 16 and could drive I quit school and went out and got myself my first real roughnecking job.
     
  3. Minuteman

    Minuteman Chaplain Moderator Founding Member

    CHAPTER ONE

    BREAKING OUT

    I turned 16 the summer of 1977. I went to school that fall but never finished the year. I just wasn’t interested. I remember one day sitting in the back of the class room with a bunch of my friends. We were talking about what we wanted to do and what we wanted to be when we got out of school. When it was my turn I said “I’m going to be a roughneck.”

    I didn’t realize that would come to pass much sooner than I had imagined then. I got expelled in the spring of ’78 for skipping school and partying with my friends. They said I couldn’t come back until my Mom came up there and had a meeting with them. In 1978 in Oklahoma if you were 16 years old and one parent signed a form at the courthouse you could get a state issued work release that allowed you to work just like any adult. I told my mom I wasn’t going back to school I was going to go get a job in the oilfield. I already had “experience” and I had a car and a license. She tried her best to talk me out of it. She told me “Nobody has ever made a good living chasing rigs.” She had grown up with my grandpa chasing rigs all over Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas during the early days. I remember the story grandmother always told about them living in a duck back tent on the edge of location. Her and the 7 kids while Pa worked the rig and would come over to the tent for lunch. He moved them all around the country chasing rigs and trying to keep working. Him and his brothers were all oilfiled trash and they all had done the same rambling around. My grandpa’s cousin Buck ****** had made a couple of country and western records in the 50’s. One song he had written and recorded was “Greener Pastures”. He sings about moving around from town to town and his little girl coming home one day from school and the kids were calling them oilfield trash. He tells her “We’ll pack the car right this evening, and go searching for greener pastures over that hill.”

    So her view of the patch wasn’t a very good one. But I knew it was my calling and what I wanted to do, so after a lot of cajoling I talked her into signing the form for me to get a work release. I ended up never needing it anyway. It was the height of the great oil boom and hands were so scarce that if you were big enough to do the job, you could get hired. I hit 6’3” the summer I turned 16 and passed 200lbs, which I have never seen since. So I was plenty big enough and had a little bit of experience to boot.

    So April 1978, while my classmates were enjoying spring break I was out hunting a job. Back then every gas station, store and bar had a bulletin board. I made up a bunch of recipe cards saying roughneck looking for a job, with my name and number and starting putting them up all over town. It wasn’t no time before I got a call.

    Back then a lot of oilfield crews were running out of ****** and a local driller, Shorty ****** called me and needed a hand. I told him I lived in ******* about 12 miles away and he asked if I had a car, I did. He said that I would have to meet him in ****** every morning at 5am and ride to the rig with him. I was hired!

    I worked for Shorty all that spring. We were on a little double working west of ******. I didn’t know a thing, I was a stone cold worm but he kept me working. He had a few hands come and go. Back then jobs were a dime a dozen and these young guys would get drunk and not show up or hire on somewhere else. Shorty liked it that I was there every day. One time our torque convertors were shot and we were waiting for new ones to arrive from Louisiana. We came to work every day but had nothing to do. Every morning it was my job to make sure we had my girlfriend. A worms girlfriend is the big igloo water can. It’s his job to fill it up with ice and water every morning at the store on the way to work. I would be filling the water can up and the derrickman would come out of the store with a 12 pack of beer. He would put it in the can with the ice. I asked him “That for the ride home?” He told me not to touch it, it wasn’t for me. One day we were sitting out under the pipe rack in the shade and I asked him about the beer. He said “Watch ole shorty up there in the doghouse. He’ll come to the door every once in a while and look around to see if anybody’s watching. He knows that beers in the water can and he’ll sit up there and drink it all day if we stay away. That way he’ll leave us alone and won’t be having us do a bunch of work.”

    He bought that twelve pack everyday and we never did a lick of work that whole week while we waited for parts.

    One day the weather was turning bad. We had some nasty looking clouds moving in and the wind was getting up. We had about 4 thousand feet of drill pipe in the derrick. Shorty told the derrickhand to go up there and tie it all in real good so none of it would blow out of the fingers. He looked at me and said “You ever been up in the derrick before?” I said I hadn’t so he told me to go help him. The wind had really picked up by then and that derrick was swaying in the wind. I climbed up the ladder after the derrickhand. Of course we didn’t have any derrick climbing device or fall protection back then. When we got to the board you had to get off the ladder and climb over a handrail to get inside the board. I was having trouble letting go of that ladder. The derrickhand seen I was scared and he told me to just wait there he didn’t need any help. He tied off all the pipe and said “Ok, let’s go down.” I started down that ladder and I was holding on to the rungs so tight I’m surprised I wasn’t putting finger grooves in them. My forearms hurt for 3 days afterwards from squeezing so tight. We had 3 tornados hit that afternoon all around us. One tore up a barn just a mile away. It come so close to the rig that the motor shed on top of the floor engines ripped loose and wrapped up around the A legs. So I tell people that the first time I ever climbed a derrick was during a tornado.

    I worked for shorty for a couple of months until my nightlife started interfering with my work. I wound up twisting off and partying for a while. A pattern that I followed pretty much the rest of the 70’s. I had drillers calling the house every few days looking for a hand. Jobs were a dime a dozen. I would work long enough to get some money in the bank then I would twist off and just live it up for a while until the money got low. Then I would hire out again. I was mainly working on the smaller rigs around central Oklahoma. Little shallow hole oil wells. 3000 to 5000 foot deep mostly. Everybody and their brother owned a rig back then and there were some real poor boy outfits.

    We usually had earth pits The caustic barrel was a 55 gallon drum laid on its side with a slot cut in the top and a gate vale in the bung hole. You poured your caustic in the barrel and stirred it up with a shovel. I worked one time with a barrel shaker. Not a lot of guys have ever seen one. The flow line came down and there was a big tube with a metal corkscrew inside of it. On the outside you fastened your screens and the force of the mud flowing into it would turn the thing and the clean mud would fall out the screens and run down a ditch back into the pits while the cuttings would run down the corkscrew and out the end. A pretty effective “shale shaker”.

    The mud pump sat on a skid next to the earth pit and had a boat winch that raised and lowered the suction line. When we came out of the hole we would stack up about 10 or 12 sacks of barite next to the pump and just dump it into the pit on top of the suction for a slug.

    One thing I did during those days is something that I have been accused, more than once, of making up. But I swear it is a true story. I worked for years before I ran across someone else who knew about it. Since then I have only come across two other people in my career that have ever done it. One of my first jobs I remember was on a rig up. We had a kelly that had a bend in it and it would rattle around when we were rotating. When we moved to the next location we set the catwalk and they brought that Kelly over. Me and another hand went and got a railroad tie and they picked the Kelly up. We slid the railroad tie under the Kelly and we chained and boomered down the shorter end of it. The bend in the Kelly was on the bottom and setting on the railroad tie. My driller told me to go get a 5 gallon bucket and a ballpeen hammer. When I got back he told me to hop up on the catwalk and he wanted me to sit there on that bucket and tap on that Kelly with the ballpeen hammer. He said “Now don’t beat the hell out of it, just tap on it, but keep up a steady rhythm.” So I was sitting there and hitting that Kelly, Ping, Ping, Ping. Now I had heard from my relatives all of the oilfield pranks that they pulled on worms and I was beginning to wonder if that was what they were doing. But everyone else had gone back to rigging up. The driller would come over every once in a while and look at the Kelly. He would say “Keep it up.” I must have pinged on that Kelly for 3 or 4 hours. Finally the driller came over and stood back and looked it over and said Ok that was good. What happens is all the weight of the Kelly itself is sitting on the bend in it. When you are pinging on the metal it causes it to vibrate. Eventually that vibration starts to warm up the metal and the heavy end will start to come down. It takes a while and the secret is to keep a steady rhythm but after a while that Kelly will be as straight as the day it was made! So, not many people in this business can claim to have straightened a bent Kelly with a ballpeen hammer. But I have done it!!

    That was the way it was back then. Poor boy outfits that didn’t spend a nickel they didn’t have to. I have “cold welded” many a leaking gooseneck or mud line. Every so often the old washed out goosenecks or mud lines would get a pin hole in it and start spraying out mud. We didn’t call out a welder and certainly didn’t get anything new to replace the old worn out crap. We fixed it ourselves. Take a cold chisel and a hammer. You hammer the chisel into the metal just beside the leak and when you get a lip of metal you bend it over the hole and hammer it down. Leaks fixed and you go back to pumping. You may have to do it again in a few hours but you kept on drilling.

    Another poor boy fix that a lot of guys don’t believe is homemade gaskets. Now most rigs had a roll of gasket material. A roll of thin rubber that we would cut to fit whatever gasket was leaking. I was working on one rig and it was the poster boy for poor boy outfits. Two brothers from ******* Oklahoma had bought a couple of old, junky rigs and started a business, ****** Drilling Company. They may have hoped to make a fortune, but they sure weren’t spending one. Not on supplies or parts anyway. I was working motorman for an Indian driller out of *******. We had an old duplex pump set up at a farm pond about a half mile from the rig to pump our drill water. But there wasn’t a road to get to it. I had to hop the fence and hike across the pasture to go check the oil and service the engine every day. One day I went down there and one of the cap gaskets had washed out and it was spraying water everywhere. I shut the pump down and there was a metal box on the skid that had a few filters and such in it. But no gaskets. So I hike back to the rig and go through the parts house, nothing. I went to the driller and told him we didn’t have any gaskets for the pump. He said just find a roll of gasket material and make one. I looked all over the rig but couldn’t find any. So I went back to the driller and told him, nope, didn’t have any gasket material either. He told me that the derrickhand had been the motorman before me and he knew where the gaskets were to go get him to show me where they were. So I go out to the mud house and told the derrickhand what was going on. He said alright, grab a sledgehammer and come on. So we start the hike back to the water pump. When we got there he told me to go ahead and knock the cap off and he would go get some gasket material. He took off into the woods. I thought to myself that maybe they hid the material somewhere to keep it from getting stolen or something. I looked up and here he came back with an armload of cedar tree branches. He laid them down and said “Here start stripping these.” So we took those slender branches and stripped all the leaves off them. We wound them around and around inside that valve pot, put the cap back on and hammered it up. It held like a champ! I never replaced that same “gasket” again the whole time I worked on that rig. It actually made a pretty good seal. The wood would swell up when it got wet and seal tighter than any rubber one. Only problem was trying to get those caps back off again!! Now that’s roughneckin there!!

    July 1978, I know it was July because it was right around my birthday that I hired on for a local driller out of ****, Jimmy ******. ***** is a little, and I mean tiny little farm town in central Oklahoma. I don’t recall how my grandpa ***** ended up there but that is where he settled and lived the rest of his life. Everybody knows everybody and Jimmy had grown up with my uncle Randy ***** and my soon to be Uncle ****(Dob)****. They were all 3 wild and crazy and Jimmy hired me on that summer. I credit him for breaking me out. I had only worked for Shorty ******* up until that time and that was only for a few months. Jim took me under his wing and really taught me how to roughneck.

    We were working for ****** Drilling Company, owned by **** ****. I don’t know what he was doing, other than the oil business back then but he is still around today in local politics. And I don’t really think it is fair to say he was in the oil business. He was mainly in the rig building business. We would build a rig, take it out and drill one or two wells with it just to work the bugs out. Then he would sell it.

    The first rig we worked on was just north of El Reno. I remember standing on the floor of that rig one night and counting 21 derricks just from what I could see around us. We were working morning tour, Jim liked morning tour and wouldn’t hardly work anything else. We would stop at a pay phone on our way through El Reno every morning and Jim would call in the morning report to the drilling superintendent.

    There of course weren’t cell phones back then and our rig didn’t even have a radio. One day we were getting close to TD so Jim gets out his card book, pulls out a card for the casing company and gives it to me. He told me to take his truck and drive up to the nearest farm house and ask to use their phone. He said to call the casing crew and tell them to be out in 4 hours.

    That’s how it was back then. The driller was in charge of everything. He decided when to pull the bit, what bit to run. He called out the service companies. We worked on turnkey jobs, meaning the oil companies paid the drilling contractor to drill the well. They got paid one price when the job was done. It was great because we didn’t have a company man on location, the toolpusher was a drive-by that might have 2 or 3 rigs. He would come by every few days and see if you needed any supplies. The mud engineer was drive-by. He would come by once a day and check the mud. He would leave a tour treatment and be gone. Those drillers then were real drillers. Not the brake weights that are so common nowadays. You had better not pull a green bit and you better not wait too long and run a cone off. And we drilled them wells fast. When they started putting rigs on day rate it changed the oilfield. Now you have drillers who wait for orders from the company man and won’t change their drilling parameters unless they’re told too. I’ve seen drillers set there for hours grinding away on a balled up bit. I go up to the doghouse and tell them the bits balled up. “Don’t you remember how I taught you to clean it off?” “Yes.” “Then why the hell didn’t you do it?” “You didn’t tell me to.” Yep, not the same patch I grew up in.

    After ***** sold that rig he brought us into the yard in ********* to build another one. We were working straight days and Jim hated it. Jim, Randy and Dob had all grown up together and you couldn’t imagine a wilder, crazier bunch of guys. They were always doing something to get a laugh. We would ride to work in Jims crew cab pickup. Old **** road would take us up to Highway ** where we would head west to ******. There was this one place on that road that had a pretty good bump. The road inclined up and the topped out on this little hill. If you were going too fast it would lift you out of your seat when you topped the hill. Like a good roller coaster. One day we are heading to work and as usual Randy had been out late running around. He was curled up asleep in the front seat and I me and Dob were in the back. Jim motioned to us in the rearview mirror and mouthed the words “Hold on”.

    He started going faster and faster, we had our hands on the roof of the cab because we knew what was coming. He hit that big bump and Randy flew up out of that seat and hit the ceiling! Later Jim said it scared him, he didn’t realize he was going to hit it that hard. He came down and was cussing Jim and he quit a dozen times before we got to work.

    That was the job and the crew that really cemented the oilfield bug in me. It was fun. I looked forward to getting up and going to work. We just had a blast everyday. We worked hard, and Jimmy is still today one of the best drillers I have ever worked for or with. I had an aunt tell me a few years ago that she didn’t realize I was working with those three back then. That a 16 year old boy had no business with those guys. Well, business or not that summer they taught me not only how to be a “Hand” but how to be a man too. We had some crazy times, but when I think of the “Good ole days” of my career, that summer is some of my favorite memories.

    One day we were coming out of the hole. Dob had let Randy work derricks for the trip. Jimmy chains the brake handle down and tells me to dig in the trash can and find a pop bottle. They still came in bottles back then. He went in the doghouse and got in his locker. He comes back out with a whole package of pop bottle rockets that he had left over from the 4th of July.

    We set that pop bottle on the racking board just under the derrick board where Randy was, about 60’ in the air. We commenced to shooting pop bottle rockets at him and we chased him all over the board.

    We got put on daylight tour on one rig and as I mentioned Jim hated working days. This was the 70’s, sex, drugs and rock and roll. We would change clothes and as soon as the morning tour crew would leave we would meet in the top doghouse. Jimmy kept a big bottle full of little white cross top speed. He would pass out a handful to each of us, we would swallow them and get to work. We got more done in 8 hours than the other two crews combined. We worked our tails off. One day it was pouring rain. One of those Oklahoma turd floaters. Randy got a 5 gallon bucket of soapy water and was on top of the draw works scrubbing. He would scrub a place and the rain would rinse it off. The toolpusher stopped by the rig and he was standing in the doghouse looking out and watching Randy. He turned to Jim and said “Now that’s a hand you got there!” After he left Jimmy looked at me and said “Yeah, he’s a hand alright. He’s so wired up he couldn’t stop working if you paid him to!”

    We built a rig in the yard for ****** that summer and we took it out and was drilling a well right beside a major state highway. (I don’t remember exactly where it was.) But ****** took the job just for that reason. We had the side of the top doghouse facing the road so ****** has a painter come out and he paints a big “FOR SALE” on the side of it. We come to work one morning and one of the roughnecks had got up there and underneath the FOR SALE he had painted CALL BR-549. Now there may be some of you reading this who don’t know what that means. Google Hee-Haw and Junior Samples and you’ll understand. When ****** saw that he come unwound. He didn’t see the humor in it!

    Back then the driller hired his own crew. When ***** had brought us in the yard he told Jimmy that he had a worm on his crew (meaning me) and to leave him at home and just work the others. Jimmy told him he didn’t have any worms on his crew and that he had hired him and his whole crew and by God he would work his whole crew. Jimmy got fed up with ***** selling the rigs out from under us so he quit and hired us out to another company.

    I don’t recall the name of it but it was one of those poor boy outfits that were everywhere back then. We went out and were rigging up North of Hennessey and as the morning tour crew it was our job to dig the cellar. There wasn’t any pre-dug cellars, no pre-drilled mouse or rat holes either. We did it ourselves. We all had shovels and we were under the rig floor digging this big hole. It was a hot summer day and the other crews were out in the heat, sweating. Jimmy had us square up the corners, smooth out the floor, anything to keep working on that cellar so we could stay under the floor in the shade. That was probably one of the prettiest cellars ever dug in the oil patch! Another job of morning tour’s was to lay the water line from the water pump to the rig. That was one job I really hated. We would take pipe wrenches and screw together 20 foot lengths of 2 7/8” tubing and lay it along the ditch on the side of the road, or across some farmers pasture, all the way to the rig. It may be a few hundred yards or a mile or two. The mosquitoes would eat you up and you had to watch tromping around in those bar ditches or you’d get snake bit. We killed a bunch of rattlers and copperheads laying water line. And it would take all day and most of another usually. It was on that rig up that I saw what I thought was the greatest invention man had ever dreamed up. In the oil patch anyway. They sent this truck out and it had this big roll of plastic pipe on the back of it. They unrolled that pipe all the way from the water pump to the rig. Cut it off and hooked it up to our water tank and all in a matter of hours. Man life in the patch just got a whole lot easier!!

    Later when I started working on the big deep hole rigs out in western Oklahoma I saw all kinds of things I never dreamed of when I first broke out on them poor boy rigs.
     
    Yard Dart, STANGF150 and Sapper John like this.
  4. ghrit

    ghrit Ambulatory anachronism Administrator Founding Member

    There's some potential there. Change the names to protect the innocent, both of the hands and the locations, make 'em up if you have to. No sense in taking a chance on someone getting testy.

    If you publish, maybe even if not, including a glossary would be highly beneficial. Also, referring to your earlier work here on SM where you described the current drill rigs and taking appropriate parts out of that and sticking them in this would also be helpful.

    Don't forget the peaceful dawns and star lit nights, few tho' they may be, when everything was running right and Murphy was napping.
     
  5. Minuteman

    Minuteman Chaplain Moderator Founding Member

    Thanks G. Yeah I had thought of a glossary of terms. I have Chapter 2 and 3 a good ways along. Each chapter covers a different period in my career and whenever I remember a story about that time I write it down. Going to have some editing to do when all the words are down on paper, or page I guess. The University of Texas has a publishing firm that publishes a lot of of these small industry related books. That is where I will submit it first.
    And all the real names will be included. That is what I liked about the book I read from another Oily. He mentions my grandfathers brother working with him in W. Texas.
    I was mainly curious if it would have any appeal to people who are outside the "Patch". A lot of these oilfield war story books never get widely circulated outside the industry. Probably the best book I ever read, of any genre, or the one I most enjoyed reading I guess I should say, was " An American Hero" the official biography of Red Adair. But even people in our industry have never heard of it.
    But like I said if I can just get a few copies printed for my family and friends I would be happy with that.
     
  6. Yard Dart

    Yard Dart Vigilant Monkey..... Moderator Site Supporter++

    A worthy endeavorer @Minuteman .... I would definitely read that book!!
     
    Minuteman likes this.
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