Howard "Porky" Cutter's recollections of his days as a travelling salesman.

Driving down the dry riverbed wasn't the best idea.
Back in the 1979, I sold our drilling business in Georgia and we moved back to our home near Enid, Okla. I went to work for Ewbanks Manufacturing Co. in Fairview, Okla., and later for the George E. Failing Co. in Enid.

After training for sales for a time, I was transferred to Casper, Wyo., to be a field salesperson for Failing. There I worked with Mr. Oliver Kucera, the Casper branch manager for Failing. Kucera once told me that Failing sent him to Casper some 30 years earlier and told him that it would just be the first step up the ladder. However, they didn't tell him it was the only step on the ladder.

I was a field sales representative training to be branch manager when Mr. Kucera retired. During that time, I traveled all across Wyoming, Montana, North and South Dakota, and Idaho. I called on the water well drillers and seismograph drillers. I usually was traveling in the field one to two weeks out of a month.

I find that drillers and their families everywhere are some of the nicest people in the world. Today, if I run into difficulty anywhere and need assistance, I just locate a driller in the area. They always have been willing to assist me and/or my family.

Since I traveled many miles, I always looked for shortcuts from place to place. Once I was traveling in southern Wyoming, calling on oil drillers. On one location, I had to drive some 70 miles from the highway to the job site, then drive back out, and drive some 30 miles down the highway and then back some 70 miles back into another drill site. The drill sites were only about 30 miles apart and along a dry riverbed. As usual, I was looking for that shortcut so I had an idea - why not travel down this dry riverbed 30 miles from job to job. Great idea - not! I drove for miles and miles down the dry riverbed, sometimes coming up on herds of wild horses and they would run along with me for a time. I wasn't coming up on the other drill site when I thought I should and the dry riverbed was becoming soft and wet. Off in the distance I saw the dust flying from another pickup so I decided I had better get out of the riverbed and see if the other pickup knew where I was. We pulled side-by-side and rolled down our windows. Before I could say anything the other person said, “I hope the $%^& you know where we're at.” This was another salesperson who had the same idea that I had had, and he was coming from the rig I was looking for. We exchanged driving directions and headed our different ways.

In Wyoming, travelers are advised to carry plenty of water, food and warm clothes, and if you get lost, to never leave your vehicle. Airplanes can find a vehicle easier and quicker than just a person. Can you imagine someone thinking to look for me and my vehicle some 30 to 70 miles from where I should have been, in a riverbed where I shouldn't have been in the first place? Not a good idea.

Another time in the winter, I was taking a shortcut over a pass somewhere near Steamboat Springs, Colo. I ran into snowdrifts and had a flat tire. I was stranded and stuck in the snow with a limited amount of food and some 90 gallons of fuel. I could stay warm but I could get very hungry before someone found me. A search party wouldn't think of looking for me where I was. I was lucky, as some hunters came by and pulled me from the snow and helped me change the tire.

Once a rancher called to advise his well pump was broken and his cattle were out of water. He chartered a two-engine plane to deliver the pump to him at his ranch some 300 miles south of Casper. When I arrived at the Casper airport with the pump, I found the pilot was going to deliver the pump and return. I asked the pilot if I could ride along, he said sure. I called my boss and told him I was going on the trip to deliver the pump personally. We had trouble finding the airport while delivering the pump. The airport was just over another mountain. It was then I realized how hard it could be to locate a person or a vehicle from the air.

One July 4th, I was calling on some drillers near Old Faithful, Wyo., and ran into a wind blizzard. This is where existing snow was blowing and blocking the road to where it required a snowplow to clear the road.

On one occasion, while headed home from a weekly sales trip, I met our truck driver in Medicine Bow, Wyo., and he was delivering a Living Quarters - a portable living quarters on skids for an oil rig - to an oil rig and asked if I wanted to go. He advised me that there was a lot of snow at the job site, and I always had wanted to see big snow. I called my wife on the mobile radio and told her I would be about four hours late.

This was the most snow I had ever seen in my life. The snow was 10-plus feet high on each side of the truck with just enough room to open the truck doors and it seemed like it was nighttime. There were two bulldozers and a grader clearing the road just in front of us. Many times, the road almost drifted shut between us and the grader. I arrived home some 52 hours later. Needless to say, I saw enough snow.

We loved Wyoming but didn't really like the winters. We like Virginia Beach, Va., and probably will stay here for a while longer - then who knows. We're nearing 70 and only the Almighty knows where we'll be and what we'll be doing next.