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are in the Houston-Beaumont-New Orleans petrochemical complex, not in wildcatting for new oil, even less in playing nurse to old wells and leases long past their prime. Time was when a man in a tin hat and the right amount of grime on his clothes could walk into any of those places and load up three or four pieces of iron on his truck, scribble his initials, and drive off. Five thousand dollars worth of oil field hardware often changed hands this way, with no purchase order, no requisition number, no credit card or identification. Just one of the roughnecks, he would say, “I’m with Hank Brown. Down near Anadarko on Number 27. Need one a them ‘ere polish rods, and gimme a number two pump jack with a 15 horse motor. And some 4-inch gate valves.” Today most deliveries come and go by motor freight. The paperwork is handled downtown in office buildings by an army of well-scrubbed kids who have been to junior college and who wear dark business suits and live in neat little brick houses and apartments. Some of them even drive Volkswagens to work. Sons and grandsons of the oil patch, but a different breed. There is also a street of stores and yards in Odessa, Highway 80 West alongside the T&P Railroad tracks. Like 29th Street, the one in Odessa goes through the middle of an oil field. Monahans used to have some stores, but today it is sad, sad. Fort Stockton still has some. Houston has a big district but it’s lost among so many other industries. Kilgore, Amarillo, Wichita Falls, Incorporating the State Observer and the East Texas Democrat, which in turn incorported the State Week and Austin ForumAclvoca t e. We will serve no group or party but will hew hard to the truth as we find it and the right as we see it. We are dedicated to the whole truth. to human values above all interests, to the rights or man as the foundation of democracy; we will take orders from none but our own conscience. and never will we overlook or misrepresent the truth to serve the interests of the powerful or cater to the ignoble in the human spirit. Editor. Greg Olds. Partner, Mrs. R. D. Randolph. Editor-at-large, Ronnie Dugger. Business Manager, Sarah Payne. Associate Manager, C. R. Olofson. Staff Artist, Charles Erickson. Contributing Editors, Elroy Bode, Winston Bode, Bill Brammer, Larry Goodwyn, Harris Green, Bill Helmer, Dave Hickey, Franklin Jones, Lyman Jones, Larry L. King, Georgia Earnest Klipple, Al Melinger, Robert L. Montgomery, Willie Morris, James Presley, Charles Ramsdell, Roger Shattuck, Robert Sherrill, Dan Strawn, Tom Sutherland, Charles Alan Wright. Contributing Photographer, Russell Lee. The Observer publishes articles, essays, and Creative work of the shorter forms having to do in various ways with this area. The pay depends; at present it is token. Unsolicited manuscripts must be accompanied by return postage. The editor has exclusive control over the editorial policies and contents of the Observer. Abilene, Alice, Lubbock have been oil equipment centers for many years. The counter man wears bifocals now.. Most of the sunburnt, horny-handed old boys shuffling in to get a U-joint or a bearing or a few joints of 2-inch pipe don’t go fishing and hunting like they used to. They have married sons and daughters now, and a touch of rheumatism or arthritis, or maybe a heart condition. Old man Hatley is still there, downtown on the 14th floor. He is a fixture in the oil industry. He comes down every morning, makes half a dozen phone calls and sells so many tank cars of “product.” In marketing now, he used to be a land man. Born in Oklahoma way back when it was Indian Territory, he knew every county seat, every county judge and county clerk in Oklahoma, back when it took all of a 12hour day to drive from the courthouse out to find some farmer, talk two hours, and drive your buggy or flivver back to town, bone weary, for the night. Many an Oklahoma dirt farmer blessed the day old Hatley first stepped on his front porch with that fancy-edged oil lease paper in his hand for to sign. IV Forty years ago Corsicana was a booming refinery town. What old-timer there can forget the great refinery fire, with its None of the other people who are associated with the enterprise shares this responsibility with him. Writers are responsible for their own work, but not for anything they have not themselves written, and in publishing them the editor does not necessarily imply that he agrees with them, because this is a journal of free voices. Unsigned articles are the editor’s. Subscription Representatives: Arlington, George N. Green, 300 E. South College St., CR 70080; Austin, Mrs. Helen C. Spear, 2615 Pecos, HO 5-1805; Corpus Christi, Penny Dudley, 1224142 Second St., TU 4-1460; Dallas, Mrs. Cordye Hall, 5835 Ellsworth, TA 1-1205; Denton. Fred Lusk, Box 8134 NTS, 387-3119; Ft. Worth, Dolores Jacobsen, 3025 Greene Ave., WA 4-9655; Houston, Mrs. Shirley Jay, 10306 Cliffwood Dr., PA 3-8682; Lubbock, Doris Blaisdell, 2515 24th St.. Midland, Eva Dennis, 4306 Douglas, OX 42825; Snyder, Enid Turner, 2210 30th St., HI 39497 or HI 3-6061; San Antonio, Mrs. Mae B. Tuggle, 531 Elmhurst, TA 6-3583; Cambridge, Mass., Victor Emanuel, Adams House C112. The Observer is published by Texas Observer Co., Ltd.. biweekly from Austin, Texas. Entered as second-class matter April 26, 1937, at the Post Office at Austin, Texas, under the Act of March 3, 1879. Second class postage paid at Austin, Texas. Delivered postage prepaid $6.00 a year; two years, $11.00; three years, $15.00. Foreign rates on request. Single copies 25c; prices for ten or more for students, or bulk orders, on request. Editorial and Business Offices: The Texas Observer, 504 West 24th St.. Austin. Texas 78705. Telephone GR 7-0746. Change of Address: Please give old and new address and allow three weeks. black smoke that blotted out the sun all day, then all the next day! Corsicana had one of the early Texas fields. The book says 1894 and shows hundreds of millions of barrels produced in Navarro County. With its foundry and machine shops, for half a century Corsicana sent forth wellheads, pump jacks, christmas trees, rig hardware. Magnolia Petroleum Company got started in Corsicana as merely a name on a ledger in the back of a hardware store, Before my time they had the steam engine and the cable-tool rig, and they swore by the smooth power of the steam engines. You could burn anything for fuel under those boilers, kerosene, casinghead gas, muck from some pit, natural gas. On remote wildcat rigs you could stoke them with cordwood. The real worry was hauling water to them, because they drank water. You had to have teams and wagons and mule-skinners for that. Of course sometimes those boilers blew up. The steam rigs were all stacked and rusting by the time I came along. The mule teams and their drivers had been replaced by the solid-tire, chain-drive Mack trucks, and the Wichita trucks, made in Wichita Falls and tailored to the needs of Texas-Oklahoma oil fields, and these in turn had been replaced by the White trucks and the Reos and Internationals, mammoths that could wade mud with their four tires on each rear axle. The swamper was the worker who served as a kind of footman or flunky for the truck driver, pulling at the winch line, wrapping it around bundles of pipe or rig timber or junk. He came by his name honestly: most often he waded mud up to his boot-tops. It’s a stock saying that the whole section \(square have good drainage except for one small soggy corner, and that corner is exactly where they decide to drill the oil well. Not having enough native mud, the oil company buys drilling mud in sacks or in bulk and trucks it in. This is a special kind of clay, slimy stuff that spills out of the drill pipe onto the derrick floor, and you lose your footing wrestling with the heavy tongs or slips, or you get crushed between tons of drillstem and a stand of pipe, or you step on the rotary table and get a foot twisted off. Or if you work up in the derrick, in a high wind, only your safety belt keeps you from hurtling down a hundred feet to the floor or the ground. It’s climbing up or back down when no belt saves you, or crawling around slippery girders to change light bulbs or do other chores. A hardy crew, these rough-and-tumble men, and the pipeline workers, too. Salt of the earth, and many a man a hero who risks his own safety to save another crew member from danger. The cry of “headache!” means somebody has dropped a wrench, or a steel cable or bolt is coming down, or other iron is falling, and all hands duck and run with a sidelong upward glance. I once knew a derrick man named Watson who always brought a piece of pie in his lunch. Every day the first thing he did was sit down and eat the pie. We asked t t r , THE TEXAS OBSERVER Texas Observer Co., Ltd. 1967 A .Journal of Free Voices A Window to the South 61st YEARESTABLISHED 1906 July 7, 1967