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
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
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
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
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
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.
Porky's Hole Thoughts: My First Drill
January 4, 2010