At age 16, I was working for a water well driller friend in Enid, Okla. Then work got slow, and I was laid off. My dad and mom both were in the hospital.

I located an ELI drill, a small truck-mounted drill manufactured by Engine-ering Laboratories Inc. in Texas. It had been sitting at the Enid water plant for years because the city purchased a new Franks drill, and Franks would not take the old ELI drill in trade.

My dad was recovering in the hospital from a bad burn to his legs he suffered while on a jobsite in Nebraska. I told him about the drill, so he slipped out of the hospital and went with me to look at the drill. The hospital didn’t miss him because they thought he was visiting my mother in another room.

The city engineer offered to sell me the drill without the 1942 Ford truck it was mounted on for $600 cash. I didn’t have the $600, so he loaned me the rig without the truck for one month. I located a similar truck from a used truck dealer. He wanted $600 for it, but since I didn’t have the money, he loaned it to me for a month. I was only 16, so he couldn’t legally finance it for me.

A farmer friend and I managed to mount the borrowed rig on the borrowed truck and drilled enough wells in that month to pay for them both. I drilled the farmer friend a water well for his assistance.

I needed a water truck, so Dad let me trade his 1947 Lincoln for a 1950 Ford pickup, which served as a water truck for a time.

A short time later, I borrowed – and later bought – another 1942 Ford truck from the same truck dealer. In the following years, I bought many vehicles from that dealer. A friend sold me an old Griffin vacuum tank for the truck.

Now that I was in business, I named the business H.C. Drilling Co. (standing for Howard Cutter Drilling Co.). Later, I talked my Dad into quitting George E. Failing Co., and going into partnership with me. He did, and we changed the company name to H.E. Cutter & Dad Drilling Co. – my mom’s idea. Several years later, we changed the name to just Cutter & Dad Drilling Co.

Our company grew pretty fast, and soon we purchased a burnt up Mayhew 600 from George E. Failing Co. We rebuilt the International L-180 truck and the rig. Shortly after, we opened a branch in Alma, Ark., where we drilled irrigation wells along the Arkansas River bottoms.

We eventually moved our business to Chanute, Kan., and expanded into the contract drilling of shallow oil wells. At one time, we had four rigs working 24/7. Then I was drafted into the U.S. Army.

My dad continued to run the business until he had a heart attack, and I was immediately released from active duty to return to operate Cutter and Dad until he recovered. We continued the company until his death some 6 years later.

Bess, our sons and I moved to Adel, Ga., and I worked for Georgia Institute of Technology for several years. Then we reinstated Cutter and Dad Drilling Co., and drilled water wells around Adel for several years. In the 1980s, we closed the business, and returned to Enid, Okla., where I worked for George E. Failing. I had come full circle!

If I were to do it over again, I still would be involved in drilling, but I’m sure the story would be quite different. I love drilling, and God willing, I have no plans on ever retiring. Today, Bess and I travel, write stories and assist others in drilling – both domestically and internationally.