Meanwhile, back in Kansas…
After barking orders to Luke and Roy to fix whatever was wrong with the non-working pump jack, Bobby Edwards proceeded to drive me around southeastern Kansas to the other leases. As it was a half hour to 45 minutes to any of the others, Bobby and me spent the rest of the week in the truck driving around the stark landscape.
Typically, we would arrive at some desolate farmland, turn off the paved road, and then drive around farm roads for a while, with Bobby looking here and there for familiar markers. Occasionally, we were at risk for getting stuck in the mud in the middle of nowhere. If the truck started to slip and spin, Bobby would mutter “cocksucker!” in his raspy voice, jam the truck into reverse, slam back into drive, and rock the truck out of the mud. The mud, thus insulted, would always relent. (And I survived to write the tale!)
Then, suddenly, Bobby would say, “We’re here!” put the truck in park, and lurch out of the truck. I would study the outside, quizzically. Just empty fields, maybe a tree line marking a boundary. Then I would hop out and walk around the truck to see Bobby pointing downwards at a hole in the ground. There would be an eight inch well casing or pipe extending several inches up off the ground. Looking down the casing, it would be just a dark hole running towards the center of the earth; the average depth of oil wells in this area would run maybe 1,000 feet. Bobby would explain how, to start with, these abandoned holes had to be cleaned out due to “kids throwing stones and bottles down them.” Once cleared and re-drilled to find the oil reservoir, only then could a pump jack and piping be set up to bring up, hopefully, as the Beverly Hillbillies would say, the “black gold.”
The extraction process had not been started for the first hole. Nor for about 39 others.