Places Called Home: Odessa, Texas

West Texas has two seasons: Boom or Bust.

If you’ve seen the movie “Friday Night Lights” you already have a pretty clear picture of what Odessa looks like and is. Football and oil are the two biggest things in that part of the state, and Odessa is right in the middle of it. In 1982 Odessa built a high school football stadium for its two 29296790teams that put many D-I college stadiums to shame at the time.

Midland (20 miles to the east) might be where the money is, but Odessa is where the work gets done in the Petroplex (the local name for Midland-Odessa). By the way, Midland hates Odessa as much as Odessa hates Midland.

The company we worked for drilled brine water stations – brine water is 100% saturated with salt and used by the big oil rigs to drill with. The thicker water is needed to lift the cuttings thousands of feet back up to the surface. And there is a LOT of salt buried about 400 feet below the surface of west Texas. The place is known as the Permian Basin now. Not too long ago it was the Permian Sea.

Ozona_First_RigWe poked holes and started circulating fresh water into salt caverns all over the place: Andrews, Snyder, Lamesa, Odessa, Big Springs, Ozona, Monahans, Pecos, Kermit, Orla, Mentone, Crane and even up in Jal, New Mexico. I could probably write a month of blog posts on those days. Maybe I’ll save it for my memoirs.

But even as I made my living on the rigs, I was starting to get into writing and photography. As it turned out, photography became a hobby. Writing became a profession.

I wrote for local magazines, covered my first two sporting events for publication as a freelance writer, wrote a story about the Odessa Meteor Crater (it looks like a buffalo wallow to me but at one time it was much deeper) and landed my first two fiction writing credits as lead writer for indexthe comic book series, Seadragon.

I also won my first bowling tournament that I entered, an amateur event that was a monthly series that was held at different houses each month. I kept the ball that I used for the longest time, until I got tired of lugging it around. I do have a picture of it. Its much easier to carry around. I still have the ring that was given to the winner. The prize money is long gone, but not the memory of that weekend.

I got to make several weekend flights from Odessa to Dallas to catch Cowboys games at Texas Stadium, which was a treat, My first Texas Stadium game was also the first NFL game from some new rookie for the Miami Dolphins. Some guy named Dan Marino. I wonder what ever became of him?

A lot happened during the 4+ years in Odessa. Much of it was pretty good. Some, not so much. But isn’t that true of every place we call home?

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