Texas Historical Documents

Sharing Your Baloney

By Tina Hare

My dad started working in the oilfields of West Texas in the late fifties. He was a coal miner from West Virginia, when the mines went on strike my dad and Uncle went looking for work elsewhere. In a café in Mississippi a waitress told them there was something called an "oil boom" happening in a place called Odessa, Texas. If they would pay for the long distance call to Odessa she was sure she could get them a job. She did get them a job. By the time they got to Odessa they were broke but they had a job.

My dad and uncle lived in a horse barn until they had enough money to send to West Virginia for my mom and brothers to come to Texas. He said he would stop by a gas station and get a bucket of water every night so that he could wash up every morning.

My favorite story that my dad talks about every now and then is about the time he was working on a rig for Gulf Oil. They were drilling in Odessa in a pasture which is now 42nd Street and Grandview – it is the H.E.B. parking lot now. My dad and uncle were on a lunch break in the doghouse having their typical baloney sandwich and cup of coke. They seen what appeared to be a "company man" show up on site but they continue with lunch. The man stepped inside the doghouse and started conversation with my dad and the rest of his crew. Dad said they invited the man inside the doghouse and offered him a bologna sandwich and cup of coke – the man gladly accepted it – he sat down and had lunch with him. They talked about the oil patch and the current job – then the man thanked them and left. As soon as the man left a foreman with Gulf Oil went to my dad with a very shocked look on his face. The foreman asked my dad what did they just do and say to that man in the doghouse.

Dad said, "Nothing…he looked hungry so we gave him a baloney sandwich and cup of coke…then we talked about the oilfield."

"Why?" The Gulf foreman said…"That was J. Paul Getty you just fed a baloney sandwich to!!!"

Dad said "So…he looked hungry and he was friendly.

My dad loves this story too. Here was one of the most powerful men in the oilfield but he did not act like it. Mr. Getty was just another oilfield worker that day in that doghouse.