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Readers Write - Old Tyme Fulltiming

Andy’s note: Ken made some interesting comments on the post about Texas Oil Camps and this post is a continuation. Please re-visit the original post; the comments alone are much better than  my article.


By Ken H.

I hate to be the one to break the news, but full timing is not that new or novel.  I began full-timing in about 1944.  My dad was a driller, and as such was exempt from the draft as his work was considered vital to the war effort.  We moved every six weeks or so for the most part.  Part of the moving was to find a place to rent, often in a town that did not know how to deal with transient workers, especially “those roughnecks”.  During the early days of the oilfield, new fields or wildcats were being developed in areas that had no foreknowledge of the oil business.  Often, furnished housing was difficult or nearly impossible to find (or fit for habitation).  We learned to adapt and accept.

Mom grew tired of, as she put it, cleaning up somebody else’s mess.  I remember a couple of times we slept in the car with our belongings until mom could clean up the house enough to live in.

Upshot of that was to buy a twenty (20) foot Columbia trailer house.  A single axle, masonite sided and roofed, wood framed new house.  Mother was overjoyed. No more living in somebody else’s dirt.  Dad was concerned about making the payments.  I think it cost in the neighborhood of $1200.00.  An astronomical sum for a wage earner making less than a dollar an hour.  Remember, I said it was in 1944.  Thank goodness dad was a driller, not a roughneck.  He was one of the higher paid employees.

1942 Mercury

We pulled it with the car mom and dad owned at the time.  A 1942 Mercury 4 door sedan with the mighty 80 horsepower flathead V 8.  Believe me, that can make one appreciate the new turbo charged diesel pickups.  Struggling up Raton Pass at 10 to 15 miles an hour puts a new face on towing.

As I remember, the cookstove was kerosene, as was the furnace.  There were no holding tanks.   Tanks were not required, since there was no toilet or shower.  We did have a kitchen sink.  Connection to the sewer was accomplished using a length of four inch stove pipe with the seam on top.  Water was furnished through a rubber garden hose.  Using that will remind you how nice the potable water grade hoses are today.  No rubber smell or taste.  I think we heated dishwater on the stove, because I cannot recall a water heater anywhere.

Sleeping arrangements put me on the jackknife couch.  I can’t recall where my younger sister bedded down.

Bath facilities were in the “trailer park”, and sometimes the stroll in winter was a little bit brisk, depending on the relative location of our home to the bathhouse.

All in all, fulltiming has changed just a bit.  We tend to complain about all the things that click our button.  Narrow sites, too far to the shower house, unpaved sites, narrow access roads, wind too high to put out the awning and other things we concern ourselves with.  For one, I am perfectly happy with our rig with triple slides, 35 feet long and a turbo-charged diesel to pull it down the road.  Nostalgia only takes you so far.  We need to concentrate on the good times we have and enjoy the lifestyle.  Having the opportunity to see a new place when you get a tad rusty is a good thing.

Mother used to say, everyone looks back to the “good old days” and wants to return.  Not me.  I like my roughing it in comfort with king size bed and two air conditioners.

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