Wednesday, April 26, 2006
Alta, Oklahoma circa 1952.
My Daddy is the good looking one.
He would be critically injured on a rig just like this one two years after this picture was taken. The company, Viersen-Cochran Drilling Co. had neglected to replace a chain holding the block used a counter balance. The chain broke, the block fell and my father was the man it hit. It cracked his skull, broke 6 ribs, punctured a lung, broke his collarbone, broke his pelvis, broke his right leg, shattered his knee cap and split his foot in half. He was 28 years old. That is what saved his life. The company told my terrified 23 year old mother they would get him the best of medical help if she signed a form saying the family would not sue. She did and they brought doctors from all over the country to Oklahoma City to work on Daddy. He survived and they called him the Walking Miracle.
But he was never the same. I was a very young at the time, not quite three..but I can remember going to the hospital and seeing the nuns in the black habits gliding down the halls like great black birds and seeing my father in that white bed with the crucifix on the wall. I did not recognize him until he began to weep.
Later when my Daddy went to work selling oil tools I would go to the rigs with him. He would take a box of work gloves and a cooler of Orange pop and crushed ice with him and I would sit in the dog house with the men and watch them put out cigarettes on the palms of their work worn hands. To this day I can still remember the smell of crude oil and hot metal and sweat.
These are the kind of men who worked the oil fields back in the day when they called such people oil field trash. God bless them. We may never see their kind again.