In my younger years and during World War II, my father, Porky Cutter Sr., was a tool pusher for an oil company. My parents traveled with the drilling equipment, the employees and their families around the United States, drilling for oil. When they arrived at a new location, it was Dad’s responsibility to get the families located in homes and to get the drills on site, drilling. When an employee or family member had a problem, it was his job to assist in solving that problem. Many times, he bailed employees out of jail on Monday morning after they had gotten in fights and had torn up a club on Saturday night. Dad was like a father to everyone.
Back then, families were much closer – they worked and played together, and helped each other in times of need. When the company moved to a new location with a rig, related equipment and as many as 25 families with their cars and trailers traveled in a caravan. In some areas of the country, drillers and their families were looked on as transients, and weren’t well accepted when they moved into a new area.
On holidays, being unable to travel to respective home bases, the employees and their families would get together – usually at our home – to celebrate.
One Christmas in Pensacola, Fla., all the families gathered at our home for dinner and to exchange gifts. Most of the individual families couldn’t afford Christmas trees and decorations. Each of the men had purchased Tinker Toy sets, put them all together and proceeded to build a drilling rig on our living room floor. They took my mother’s electric fans apart to use the motors as power units. The men spent all of one day and most of the next building the rig. It was about 6 feet tall and took up most of the living room floor. They put some of our tree lights on the rig for rig lights. Once it was completed and they had a working model, the men wouldn’t allow their kids or myself to play with it, and my mother didn’t get her living room back for several weeks.
On weekends, the fellows would return to play with the rig, add to it, and improve on their design. They did everything except drill a well through the floor. After a few months, when the fan motors finally wore out, they took it all down and finally let their kids have the Tinker Toys. Dad had replaced Mom’s fans months before. To say the least, my folks were happy to have their living room back!