Oklahoma journalist who became top voice of independent producers in Washington, D.C.


Lloyd N. Unsell (1923-2007), a founding member of the American Oil & Gas Historical Society, was the long-time president of the Independent Petroleum Association of America in Washington, D.C. In 1986, he received the industry’s prestigious Chief Roughneck Award in 1986 — the only person not affiliated with an oil company to do so since the award began in 1955. In December 2004, Unsell gave AOGHS exclusive permission to publish the draft forward and early chapters of his then in-progress memoirs, Recollections of Lloyd N. Unsell. His writing in the forward alone reveals (and preserves) a skilled Oklahoma journalist’s inside view of the tumultuous politics of the industry for half a century. This opening chapter describes his youthful introduction to the industry, his early newspaper reporting, meeting and marrying the love of his life, Nettie, and his Army service during World War II.

Chapter One: “Oil on My Boots”


Lloyd N. Unsell in 1948 joined the staff of Independent Monthly magazine, official publication of the Independent Petroleum Association of America, established in 1929.

It is not true that I left journalism in 1948 to join the staff of the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) because my wife wanted me to have a day job, which was one of her favorite stories. I took the job because I had done most of my growing up in Seminole, Oklahoma, one of the last and wildest of the oil boom towns in America, and this was where I acquired an appreciation of the oil industry and an affection for its people. Famed Oklahoman Will Rogers said he never met a man he didn’t like. I never met an oilman I didn’t like, and oilmen and women that I knew came in many types and sizes, and found their niche in the business in a wide variety of roles. I also cultivated my interest in journalism, my first choice career, among the colorful characters who worked on The Seminole Producer, the local daily newspaper spudded by James T. Jackson not long after the Greater Seminole oil discovery.

Seminole roared to life on July 16, 1926, when a rank wildcatter named Robert F. (Bob) Garland drilled an exploratory well about six miles east of town that flowed 6,000 barrels a day from the Wilcox formation. He had a silent partner named Edward H. Moore, who would later become the first-ever Republican elected to the Senate from Oklahoma. Garland-Moore’s Fixico No. l ushered in the madcap development of the Greater Seminole Field that in the very next year, 1927, accounted for five of every seven barrels of the oil produced in the state of Oklahoma.

Oklahoma had seen oil booms before, at Cushing, Drumright, Glenn Pool in Tulsa County, Earlsoro, Healdton, and others, but none of these measured up to Seminole, not in the quantity of oil found, nor in the instant population growth from sleepy village to 40,000 strangers representing the best and the worst of humanity, all there to somehow get their slice of the pie. The con artists, gamblers, small time crooks, pimps and prostitutes soon established their own sub-culture in a strip of tents and lean-to emporiums called “Bishop’s Alley,” so-named for a local attorney who had owned the land. It was routine for drillers and roughnecks and some even in the oil management echelons, seeking their kicks in Bishop’s Alley, to wind up in a ditch somewhere, doped, and stripped of their possessions. Some of oil’s industrial leaders cut their first swath in Seminole, including two then-future Presidents of the Independent Petroleum Association of America, William M. Vaughey and Harold Decker.

The integrated oil companies, in order to keep competent help around, all established large company “camps” where they put up acceptable housing, built offices and maintenance shops for their trucks and equipment, installed multiple racks for their casing, tubing and drill pipe inventories, and sturdy warehouses where they could lock down all the fittings, valves and wellhead equipment that were frequent targets of oilfield thieves. Most of these compounds were encircled by high chain link fences These well-planned mini-communities were put in place with incredible swiftness by companies such as Gulf, Phillips, Amerada, Pure Oil, Cities Service, Sinclair, the old Standard Oil Co. (N. J.) production affiliate, Carter Oil Co., and others.

I discovered Seminole in the summer of 1933, when my parents moved there from Henryetta, my birthplace, a town unblessed by oil. Henryetta had a half dozen coal mines, a glass plant operated by Pittsburgh Plate, and an Eagle-Picher lead and zinc smelter. All of these enterprises had quickly closed down after the onset of the depression. Jobs were not to be had, and it was a given that in a state afflicted simultaneously by the Great Depression and the Great Dust Bowl, Henryetta had become one of the poorest of the poor towns. An older sister, Cleo, had married a Henryetta native named Herbert G. (Hub) Hazelrigg, who had joined his brother Sid in the oilfield trucking business in Seminole, and she persuaded my father to come there and open a small restaurant amidst the oil and truck camps east of the town.

From the beginning, Seminole was a captivating place to a not quite 12-year-old boy. Most of all, I was fascinated by the oilfield trucking business. Sidney Ross Hazelrigg, one of the most personable men I have ever known, the elder of the two Hazelrigg boys from Henryetta, had formed with O. L. Harvey the H & H Trucking Company, and together these two men literally invented the mechanical means of moving drilling rigs and equipment that elevated oilfield hauling out of the mule-team stage. After some four years together, Hazelrigg and Harvey parted amiably over differences never defined, and became competitors, but Sid Hazelrigg got the oil trucking camp that H & H had established on a 20-acre parcel between Highway 270 and the Frisco railroad, not quite a mile east of Seminole proper.

H & H had emulated the big oil companies. To keep competent drivers, welders and truck mechanics they built or moved in about 15 small “shotgun” houses which bordered the south and west perimeters of the truck camp, all occupied by the families of their best hands for very nominal rent. They bought trucks, mostly GM models, and Whites, that had nothing but the cabs, frames and the wheels underneath. The vehicles with short wheel bases were converted to haul pipe, and the long wheel-based Whites were equipped with heavy duty winches mounted just behind the cabs, under a welded steel structure called a “headache post,” then a long flat bed with a rolling tailgate. These trucks were used to move draw-works for drilling rigs, and the familiar heavy steel “dog houses” in which small tools and fittings were locked down at every drilling site.

In my first few years at Seminole, the Hazelrigg truck camp was my favorite place on this earth. It was a beehive of activity in which welders, mechanics, men adept at shaping thick oak timbers into fifth wheel and trailer bolsters for pipe hauling, and heavy duty oak flatbeds, all constantly innovating to do things better, make winches and draw lines safer, turning out an expanding fleet of trucks that looked good in addition to being equipped for the heaviest duty an often mud-covered oilfield could demand of any vehicle. While the truck yard remained my favorite place, at age 13 I was attracted to the idea of making a little pocket change, so became a carrier for the local newspaper.

After awhile, I began hanging around the newspaper more and more, and came to know all the teletype operators, the printers who ran the old flatbed presses, and the reporters and ad salesman for a small town daily newspaper that had prospered from its beginning. When James T. Jackson decided to start a newspaper in Seminole in 1927, he quickly decided that “good news” in the oilfield was a producing well, bad news a dry hole, so what better name for an oil town newspaper than The Seminole Producer. James T. hadn’t come to town to drill a dry hole, and he didn’t. He was an easy-going, likable man, and a natural promoter who was always thinking of ways to enhance the Producer’s fortunes. In 1936, my 14th year, he decided that Seminole should have a real “blowout” to commemorate the Tenth Anniversary of its discovery well. Among other things, the whole Producer staff set about the task of publishing an oil anniversary edition that had to be printed in eight-page sections, over time. When delivered to the community on July 16, the newspaper was more than 200 pages, comprised mostly of all the true and mythical tales of the Seminole oil patch, and perhaps 150 pages of advertising.

James T. Jackson had given me the “journalism bug” during my service as a carrier of the newspaper, but the Tenth Anniversary edition of his newspaper coincidentally provided me an opportunity to “get published.” I was hanging out at the Hazelrigg truck camp on a Saturday in June, after school was out, when one of Jackson’s ad salesmen came to sell Sid Hazelrigg an ad in the 10th anniversary edition. At that time, two of the dance crazes of the day were “The Big Apple,” and a zany thing called “Truckin’” in which one sort of shuffled along waving the index finger of the right hand in the air. When the Producer ad salesman braced Sid Hazelrigg, the truck operator was putting forth his best resistance. “I have more business than I can handle, I don’t have anything to advertise to your readers, and I don’t know what I’d say in a damned ad anyway,” was the sum of his argument.

Somehow inspired in my age 14 mind, I piped up and said, “I know what you could say.”

Sid looked at me and said, “You stay out of this kid.”

The ad salesman had argued that this was an industry “salute” edition of the newspaper in which all successful oil-connected businesses ought to be represented. Perhaps seeing a chance to press his case, he said “Let’s see what the kid has in mind. What are you talking about, boy?”

I looked sheepishly at Sid, and being a nice guy, he lifted both hands palms up, waved them up and down a time or two, and said, “Okay, what would you say?”

I shrugged my shoulders and said, “Well, I’d say ‘We can’t do The Big Apple, but boy can we truck!’”

The owner of Hazelrigg trucks broke into a wide grin, and said, “Hell, that ain’t bad.” He bought a full-page ad with those eleven words in large type in the center of the page and the company name and phone number at the bottom of the page. I had the notion that somebody should give me a small commission, but that never happened.

Aside from publishing an immensely fat edition of his newspaper, the rest of James T. Jackson’s Tenth Anniversary “blowout” consisted of a 10-mile parade featuring oil company floats, public speeches by oil
industry leaders and politicians, and an “Oilman’s Blast,” in other words a stag affair on the local baseball field, Red Bird Park, south of the town. The park was encircled by an eight-foot wood fence, and by the time the big party got well under way, I (and a dozen other boys of like-age) had found a knothole through which to observe the goings on. Alcohol flowed freely in that part of dry Oklahoma, and after the crowd estimated at 12,000 had gotten itself “properly oiled,” the entertainment commenced, consisting of perhaps a dozen female wrestlers imported from Kansas City. The object of these women, paired off two at a time in the makeshift ring complete with referee, was to reduce each other to stark nakedness as quickly as possible.

One of the up-and-coming young lawyers in Seminole was Richard Bell. He had announced his candidacy for the state legislature, and was considered a shoo-in for the seat in the 1936 fall elections. But James T. Jackson persuaded Dick Bell to be one of the “referees,” and the naive young lawyer abandoned his judgment and took on the chore. In his particular “match,” the two women not only quickly disrobed each other, but then turned on Candidate Bell and removed everything he was wearing except his undershorts. By 1936, Seminole had gotten its raucous years behind it, most of the major church denominations had built places of worship, and the town had progressed from its “Bishop’s Alley” phase into a “Bible Belt” sort of mentality. It took no time for the whole town, and especially the church women, to become aware of the debauchery in which Dick Bell had participated in Red Bird Ball Park, and that was enough to end his political career. Years later, during my newspaper days, Bell and I became friends, but he never again ran for public office. And I don’t think I ever told him that I had watched his attempt at “refereeing” a female wrestling match through a knothole in the fence.

The Seminole Producer, for its first few years, had a very large cadre of reporters committed to putting as much “local color” as possible in each edition. All these reporters were needed because the newspaper had no wire service supplying statewide and national news, so a “stringer” was hired to cover the doings of Seminole county representatives in the state legislature in Oklahoma City, and a reporter was assigned to the Court House at Wewoka, the county seat eleven miles to the east.

The staff worked diligently on developing local “color,” and one example of this occurred during the Holiday Season each year when the paper would publish on page one a huge table of illegal liquor prices, along with the available brands and phone numbers of the bootleggers, most of whom ran taxicab companies for the primary purpose of delivering booze. This was an embarrassment to local police and the county sheriff, which pleaded that they had bigger fish to fry than chasing down every half-pint liquor sale. There were other reasons, of course: Seminole’s kingpin bootleggers were known for their generosity to the local constabulary. But the police chief and sheriff were elected every two years, and nobody knew better than they that if illegal liquor was denied to a town as thirsty as Seminole, they could forget about re-election.

As the decade of the 1930’s was coming to an end, times were improving nominally, and opportunity knocked for many of James T. Jackson’s well-trained reporters. The turnover was chronic by 1940, and though the newspaper had long since acquired the United Press’s wire service, vacancies were frequent. When Danny Harbour, a popular reporter whose beat included high school athletic contests, joined the Kiplinger organization and left for the Nation’s Capital, this left the paper without a sports reporter. My high school journalism teacher, Orville Dee, mentioned this out loud – so I made a deal to report high school football games, providing a box score along with the copy, until Harbour’s replacement could be found. I never got a “byline” for any of this, and felt cheated, but when I finished high school in the spring of 1941, James T. Jackson offered to take me on as a “trainee” reporter at the lofty pay of $12 a week.

I had plans to go to the University of Oklahoma, but knew I had to earn and save some money in order to accomplish this, and when I heard of an opening at the Hinderliter Tool Co., in Tulsa, paying 60 cents an hour, I couldn’t believe my good fortune when they hired me. Saying no to a reporting job, however low paying, was tough, but Hinderliter Tool, whose founder, the legendary Frank Hinderliter, had more than 80 patents for oil tools, offered the best financial opportunity – and put me in touch with another endeavor that was closely related to the oil business. I would hustle steel billets from a vast open air lot stocked with “stalks” of unfinished steel weighing from a few hundred pounds to as much as a ton. Through a system of overhead cranes, it was my job to deliver on order the billets needed by blacksmiths in Hinderliter’s huge forge shop.

This enormous shop, 200 feet long and 80 feet wide, had four blacksmith crews at work in 1941,primarily forging oil tools on order and passing them on to the machinists to be threaded and finished. The lead blacksmith was Walter Prater, a blocky little man with a muscular torso, who wore thick rimmed glasses, had an ever-present cigar in the corner of his mouth, and went about his work with the care and precision of an artist. His crew included Tom Miller, the “heater” who watched a steel billet in the mouth of a gas-fired blast furnace and could tell instinctively when it was ready to shape. Walt Prater would grasp the hot billet with a huge pair of tongs 12 feet long, suspended from an overhead crane at the clamp which held the billet. A steel handle with an oval center was driven by sledge onto the long handles of the tongs, and locked in place with a steel wedge. The blacksmith would then nod to his chain man who would lift the whole thing enough that Prater could swing it out of the furnace and onto the flat shaping surface under a 3600 pound air hammer. With a nod of the head, Prater orchestrated the shaping of the hot steel, letting the hammer driver know with the variation of his gestures, how hard – or how gently – he wanted the hot steel pounded. A ballerina on the fly at the Bolshoi was no more fascinating to watch than Walt Prater at work.

Outside the main gate at its huge plant on North Peoria in Tulsa, Hinderliter had a tool repair shop, equipped with a small (1200 pound) hammer and a coke fire for heating cable bits to be sharpened. An old blacksmith named Harris did this work, and during lunch breaks he would give me instruction on the operation of a blacksmithing hammer, which was operated by two long handles, one to control the air pressure, the other to control the downward stroke of the hammer. Harris had a dollar watch, and could remove the lens, lay it on the hammer block, and close the lens with the 1200 pound hammer. He would stand a Prince Albert tobacco can on the block, its lid open at a 30-degree angle, and close it with the hammer. “A good hammer driver can smash things to hell and gone, or hit whatever is there with a feather touch,” he would say. Simply for the asking, he gave me instruction on the hammer and taught me to finesse the controls to obtain the desired stroke, and on many days I would go to this little repair shop and practice on the air hammer after a very quick lunch from a brown paper bag.

When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, I was in peak physical condition, and knew I could kiss college goodbye until after the war. On Saturday, December 20, 1941, the blacksmith Walt Prater called me at the home of Tom Miller’s cousin where I rented a room. “I understand that you’ve been practicing on the
blackie’s hammer out in the repair shop and have gotten pretty good at it. I need you to run my hammer beginning Monday.”

Walt Prater played polo for relaxation. He boarded four polo ponies at the Tulsa fairgrounds, and several times I had gone with him in the evening to help feed them. I told him I was not good enough for his crew, so he said he would pick me up, we would go feed his horses, then stop for a beer and talk about it. When we finally entered the neighborhood bar not far from his home in East Tulsa, and climbed onto a bar stool, he said the magic words, “I’ll pay you 90 cents an hour.” Such an income was unheard of for a new high school graduate in 1941.

Then he told me why I had to help him. All the hammer drivers at Hinderliter Tool Co. had quit en masse on Friday evening and were headed for the Drop Forge Corp. in Chicago, a company that had a new contract to make cannon barrels for the army. Their Hinderliter pay would be at least doubled, and there were other benefits, including insurance and retirement benefits.

I told Walt Prater I planned to quit work and enlist in the army after the Christmas Holidays… He said, “Well, we have a rush order for a whipstock. A guy has some tools lost in a well in Pontotoc county and is shut down until we can deliver a whipstock.” I agreed to come in Monday and try to operate the hammer for him, but warned him that he would have to be extremely patient with me. The company had promised delivery on the whipstock the following Friday. With luck and the blacksmith’s forbearance, we delivered the whipstock on time. The 90 cents Walt Prater had promised was increased to $1.50, and when he handed me the check on Friday evening, he said, “Don Hinderliter wants you to come by the office. He wants to see you.” The son of the company founder, Donald R. Hinderliter was the general manager of the pioneer oil tool company. When I reported to him, he asked me to take a seat, then grinned across his desk, and said, “Walt Prater tells me you saved us this week, and I wanted to thank you for stepping into the breech. Now, I have some news for you.” He slid a sheaf of papers across the desk. “If you will sign these, we will have a long-term relationship in the making.”

I picked up the papers, and noticed right away that they had come from the Federal Government. “What are these?” I asked.

“Well,” Hinderliter said, “as of today we have a contract to make 75 millimeter gun barrels. This is critical work essential to the war effort. Your signature on these forms will get you a deferral from military service to help us do this essential work.”

“I can’t do it, Mr. Hinderliter,” I said.

“For Heaven’s sake, why not,” he gave me a puzzled look.

I told him the truth. Here I was six feet, one-inch tall, just 19, and the picture of health. Every time I walked down a street, women in their 40’s and 50’s who I felt had sons in the military, would eye me as if wondering why I was not in uniform. More than once, I had been bluntly asked why I was not in the armed services, and my limp explanation was that I had not received a draft notice, which was true. I told Hinderliter that I felt compelled to enlist, and would sign no deferral papers, but would stay until he found a hammer man, but no longer than three months. “I could get a draft notice next week,” I told him.

He argued that working on the fulfillment of the gun barrel contract would be more important to the war effort than military service, but even if true, that did nothing for my personal feelings in the matter. I repeated that I would stay until he could find a hammer driver, or until I was drafted, whichever came first, but I did remember to thank him for the pay increase.

On March 30, 1942, I gave up the job at Hinderliter to decide what service branch would be most to my liking, so I returned home to Seminole to spend some time with my parents before enlisting. But something happened on the way to the recruiting office, and her name was Nettie Marie Rogers. On Saturday, April 10, I walked into the NK Café, Seminole’s better appointed restaurant which was tastefully finished in all respects. The NK had about 30 comfortable stools, and on a single stool sat this beautiful young woman. She was reading the Sunday state edition of Oklahoma’s largest newspaper, The Oklahoman, which was printed first and delivered early state wide. It was summery for April, and she had dressed accordingly, and wore a broadbrimmed white hat, with a multi-colored band set off by a simulated bow at the back. She had cascades of auburn hair, shoulder length, and the most beautiful face I had ever seen, tastefully made up.

Though all the other stools were vacant, I summoned my courage and took one next to this lovely young woman. I ordered coffee, and asked her if I could borrow the comics section, then known as “funny papers.” She glanced at me, smiled, and asked if I was unable to afford a newspaper. I took a wad of bills from my pocket, laid them on the counter, and said, “If I’d have bought a newspaper I wouldn’t have had an excuse to start this conversation.” She looked at me and laughed, and I was hooked for life. It was a short walk to her home, and she agreed to permit me to walk her there. Nettie and I were instantly attracted to each other, and in the summer days to follow we were inseparable, spending as much time as possible together. I knew I would one day marry her, and we discussed this many times, our dilemma the same as that facing countless young people at the time – marry now, or after the war. We decided on the latter, an agreement that would later be abandoned.

The summer of ‘42 passed so quickly. What little money I had saved was going fast, and the inevitability of a draft notice was a constant reality. So in late August, I made a trip to Norman, Oklahoma, to explore whether there may be service-connected educational opportunities available. There were none, but I wandered into an army enlistment office and found a Captain Horn who was trying to put together an all-Oklahoma maintenance (ordnance) battalion for the 13th Armored Division. When he found I had just quit work forging gun barrels, he offered me a T-5 rating (corporal). This didn’t sound very exciting, and I explained that I was hoping to find some means of advancing my education. He asked if I had graduated from high school, and I confirmed that I had.

“Tell you what, I will put in your service record that you have an option to be tested for the Army Specialist Training Program (ASTP). If you pass the test, you’ll be sent to a major University and can choose from four courses.” As I recall, the remainder of the conversation went as follows:

“Does that include journalism?”

“Sure does.”

“Where do I sign?”

The maintenance battalion was the first unit formed in the 13th (Black Cat) Armored Division. I reported to Ft. Sill, where most of those recruited for the battalion were already on the ground. In early September 1942, the battalion was completed and comprised a full train load of troops headed for basic training
at Camp Perry, OH. After that, we took a six-day trip to Camp Beale, California, where we again found not a single new unit of the division had been formed, so we took basic training again. In early summer, I called on my company commander and told him I was ready to take the exam for the ASTP. He agreed, and I had enough right answers, so was shipped to the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana.

About 600 ASTP applicants were on campus, and turned out to take further aptitude tests and apply for specific courses, my choice being journalism. Three days later I was called to the Armory office by a first lieutenant who informed me that the journalism course was closed to further applicants, and said the testing indicated that I was more suited to the engineering course anyway. The only other option being to return to Camp Beale, I quickly signed, and the next day began a course that the professor in charged call “mathematics renewal.” It was six hours a day, preceded by an hour of calisthenics, a schedule that lasted until September when 225 privates, of whom I was one, having given up my T-5 rating to enter the ASTP program, were assembled at Kalamazoo College, Michigan, to begin the regular engineering course. Ninety-five percent of the group consisted of raw recruits, 18 years of age. I was a “veteran,” 20 years old, so I was quickly nicknamed “pop.”

The program was not superficial. It consisted of 32 hours of academic class work, plus six hours of physical education including rigorous calisthenics. It was not easy for one whose last math course had been high school algebra, four years in the distant past, so “pop” found himself leaning heavily on the bright young recruits to whom advanced geometry, trigonometry and calculus presented no particular problem. We took mechanical drawing, and the required courses of English, world geography and American history. I would later decide that my continuous cramming experience at Kalamazoo College, added to my Army experience generally, equipped me far better to be a journalist than standard university journalism training; I already knew how to spell and how to write.

From the ASTP program, I transferred directly into the Army’s aviation cadet program, but as in much else that it did, the Army over-subscribed its training programs for pilots, bombardiers and navigators. After I had spent four months of comfort in Miami Beach where the Army Air Corp. had taken all the hotels, Air Corps Commander Gen. Henry “Hap” Arnold shipped all aspiring pilots who were not in or beyond primary training back to the ground forces. More than 40,000 would-be pilots, bombardiers and navigators were moved from their posh hotels, loaded into box cars, and packed off to Ft. Bragg, North Carolina, for reassignment, a letdown never to be forgotten.

By this time I was getting a large guilt complex because I had friends who had been in the thick of the fight for many months, a few paying the ultimate sacrifice in the service of the country. There were times when I wondered if I wouldn’t have contributed more to the war effort making gun barrels at Hinderliter Tool. But the greatest event of my life occurred when the love of my life, Nettie Marie Rogers, caught a train to Atlanta, GA., to become my wife in September 1944 – just 31 days before I was shipped off to Europe. My war experience consisted of delivering Sherman tanks to France, from our largest ordnance center,
designated U.S. Depot G-25, near Cheltenham, England. The monster rig for tank transportation, called a prime mover, was powered by five Chrysler engines, and had a cab encased with quarter-inch steel armor. The tank rode on a low-boy trailer sporting 32 wheels, 16 front and back. I would drive this rig to Plymouth or Weymouth, back it aboard a landing ship, and drive it off on a pier constructed by army engineers near LeHarve, on the Normandy coast.

Delivering fresh tanks to Patton’s armored force was not especially dangerous, but I was strafed by German fighter pilots on occasion, and I can still recall their bullets pinging off my hard-shelled rig. When the tank was unloaded, I would head back to G-25 to await another delivery, and as an assignee to the post’s motor pool, I was on call evenings to drive GI’s on pass to Cheltenham, Gloucester or Worcester, certainly not the most glamorous war-time job in the European theater. After Germany surrendered, my ordnance unit was sent to Southeast Asia, and I spent five months after the Japanese capitulation cooling my heels in Manila, the Philippines.

Happiness was getting off a train in Tulsa, at the end of December 1945, to be greeted by a wife who I was convinced was the most beautiful girl in Oklahoma. I was never very good Army material, but the experiences the Army gave me were of immense value. I had the feeling that I had matured, had acquired a broad base of knowledge that equipped me for life, and like most hopeful young men back from the war, I was ready and able to take on anything. After Nettie and I spent my mustering out pay for civilian clothing in downtown Tulsa, (I left my Army uniform with its seven service ribbons on a box at the haberdashery, S. G. Holmes & Sons) we “hid out” for a week before anyone in my family or hers knew I was once again a civilian. After all, we had never had a honeymoon.

When I finally called my parents home in Seminole, my sister was visiting there and answered the phone. After excitedly announcing to the household that her kid brother was home, her first statement to me was, “Hey, get yourself down here. James T. Jackson is advertising for a reporter.” I was about to begin my long-postponed journalism career.

End of Chapter One. Read Chapters Two and Three, and visit AOGHS again for more chapter postings in 2019.


The American Oil & Gas Historical Society preserves U.S. petroleum history. Support this AOGHS.ORG energy education website with a contribution today. For membership information, contact bawells@aoghs.org. © 2019-2023 Bruce A. Wells.

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