In my travels around the world, I find that many farmers are also the local well digger (that is, the person who digs wells by hand). Years ago, many farmers in the U.S. also became the local well digger, and later the driller.
My granddad (on my mother’s side) was a farmer, the local blacksmith and well digger near Covington, Okla. My granddad Cutter was a farmer and local fix-it/repairman in the Covington area. My grandmother Cutter was a housewife, with her hands full raising four girls and three boys. My mother was a Realtor, a school teacher, Cub Scout den mother and housewife. My dad Ellis, “Porky Sr.,” was a first-generation well driller. He was a salesman and troubleshooter for George E. Failing Company. Dad traveled all over the United States starting up new drills for Failing. I was an only child and they had their hands full raising me.
I traveled with dad much of the time when he was home or at the Failing plant in Enid, Okla. We were known at Failing as the “Cutter guys.” I can remember playing on Failing’s original drill when my dad was at Failing’s Plant #2. My dad and I did everything together, from being on a drilling rig to mechanics; from building the “Cutter 2000,” a 2,000-foot mud rotary rig that we sold to a driller in North Dakota before it was completed, to farming and hunting and fishing. That makes me a second-generation well driller, and my sons Randall and Chris (“Piglet”) third-generation drillers.
When Randy was very small, often he would ride on the bulldozer with me while I was digging mud pits or cleaning up the mud sediments from ponds. Occasionally, he would go to sleep while sitting (wedged in) beside me. I’d wake him up and encourage him to take a nap in the truck. He’d refuse, saying he wanted to ride with me. Of course, OSHA would frown on this today.
Bess, myself and our sons did almost everything together, from school to Boy Scouts. We were all involved in building go carts and dune buggies. We built and rebuilt well drilling rigs. We built trailers for the boys to pull behind their motorcycles.
This was all before cellular phones and computers. Our boys kept busy building things and repairing lawnmower engines for our neighbors. # When it was time to mow our lawn, Bess would have them start mowing the front yard first, knowing that if they didn’t they would soon be working on the lawnmower instead of mowing.
Today, both of our sons are involved in drilling. Randy is a drilling supervisor. Piglet is an international drilling teacher, instructor and consultant. Both of our boys are experts in the drilling field. They work together even though their personalities are totally different. Both live in Virginia Beach, Va. When not at home in Virginia Beach, Piglet is in developing countries teaching and consulting drilling — Haiti being his favorite developing country.
Randy has two sons that are mechanical and electrical experts. They can fix or repair almost anything. One grandson is a well driller. That makes him a fourth-generation driller.
Since a very early age, well drilling has been my life. My college education was electronics. I was a Foreman Engineer for the U.S. Army Engineers.
In 1984 I was the fourth person to be certified as a Master Ground Water Contractor by the National Ground Water Association. Today, I believe I am the oldest and longest serving MGWC.
If you want your children to follow in your footsteps, grow up with them. Take them to work with you, when possible, and teach them the trade. Get involved with what they like to do.
Let them learn about computers, but limit their use of the Internet, email and Facebook. Monitor what they do. Know their friends, both on and off the Internet. Our children get into trouble today because they have little guidance and not enough to do. Today, the world comes into our homes and lives through computers and smartphones.
For more Porky columns, visit www.thedriller.com/porky.