Chasing History: Update #2

I just got back from Texas with a treasure trove of photos and other items to sort through and put away for safe keeping. One is a 1957 Sabine Pass High School yearbook. My dad went to school there and is in the 1960 yearbook, which I also brought back, as is the name of my grandfather’s cafe that he owned in Sabine Pass back then, a name no one could recall.

We’re keeping the 1960 yearbook obviously, but since he’s not in the 1957 book (pictured) and there’s no real reason to keep it, the family decided to send it down to Sabine Pass High for them to add to their library. You see, a few years back, Sabine Pass was nearly scoured from the face of the Earth by Katrina. I’m told they have never found a trace of the old high school building or any of its contents.

When this yearbook arrives it will be the oldest yearbook they have a physical copy of. It will also give them some photos of the old school and the teachers and students from that time that they no longer have. Needless to say, they were thrilled when I called to ask them if they wanted the book. It seems only fitting, with all of the people helping me recover some of my family’s history, that we should pay it forward and help others recover even a small bit of theirs.

I also found among the photos, one of the best interior shots – quality wise – of Rodeo Lanes in Winnemucca, where Dad was a house pro. The photo is of his league championship winning team and doesn’t show a lot of the lanes, but it gives me another idea of what the place looked like even as I hope to find more photos. We have received copies from a microfilm reel of photos taken for the local paper when Rodeo Lanes first opened in the late 1950s.

The trip to Texas also took me past some of the places he and I spent a lot of time at work and at play. Most of it has changed, some of it seems like it went untouched by time. I didn’t have time to stop by and visit with anyone, I’m hoping to do that the next trip when I won’t be so pressed for time.

I’m glad I did go by those places. The old bowling alleys in Odessa are gone, aside from the buildings they were once within. The golf courses are still there, the clubhouses have been updated  – as is to be expected after 40 years – but the courses looked very much the same. The old yard where our rig was based out of is there, but the buildings are gone and it has been flattened and is now filled with drill pipes only.

Dad at the West Crockett Brine Station in 2013.

The last brine station – brine water created by pumping water into salt caverns 400 feet below until the water is 100% saturated with salt then brought to the surface and taken to the big oil rigs which need the heavy water to bring the drill cutting thousands of feet up to the surface – that we built was located just off the Live Oak Road exit on I-10 about 25 miles west of Ozona, TX, no longer exists.

I stopped at the location and looked around, finding some old broken pieces of PVC pipe and an anchor used tor the storage tanks when they were there. But the two wells we drilled, the huge tanks and the overhead pipes to load the brine water into the tanker trucks were gone and, as you can see from the picture I took from the road, the area has been scraped clean as if nothing had ever been there.

How the area where the station used to be looked on Jan. 22, 2022.

It was a bittersweet moment, but one filled with a lot of memories. The time one of the space shuttles, atop the 747 plane carrying it to a nearby Air Force Base after a mission, flew directly overhead. I turned to grab my camera and snap a picture, only to remember that this was the one – and only time – I hadn’t brought my camera with me. Even my oil field co-workers blushed at the language that flowed as we watched the shuttle fly over the horizon and out of sight. 

There were many other moments, and all of them came to mind as I stood there looking around, seeing the place as it looked the last time I had been there. 

As I sort through the material, I’m sure there will be other nuggets and memories. There’s been a few discoveries so far and I look forward to those to come.

For now, on with the chase…

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: