Oil Boom: Gambling on Oil

My Boom Town Saga is based loosely on the true stories surrounding the discovery of oil in my home town.

They might as well bet on Dad Joiner. He was looking for oil, and nothing could save the country except oil. Here is part 2 of a continuing series of the true Story.

Marion Joiner rode into East Texas by train, quoting the Bible as passionately as any brush arbor evangelist, sprinkling his language with a verse or two of poetry, searching for oil, and vowing that he would tap a “treasure trove that all the kings of the earth might covet.”

He had forty-five dollars in his pocket, and he was quietly buying up oil leases from hungry farmers and homesteaders who thought that a dollar an acre was big money.

After all, a dollar an acre separated the poor from the dirt poor, and maybe a tired old man with slumped shoulders actually did have the ability to find enough oil to lighten their load and wash away the harsh times.  None ever expected to be rich.

Some believed in the poet, the dreamer, the oil speculator they called Dad.

He’s a good man, they said, a just man.

He doesn’t smoke, curse, or let the evil curses of alcohol pass his lips.

His was the only chance they dared possess.  If he failed, they were no worse off.

Dad Joiner

Dad Joiner quoted poetry to the ladies and scriptures to the men, and slowly he put together leases on three hundred and twenty acres, enough land for him to get a precarious foothold in the soil of East Texas.

Now all he had to do was dig, but digging took a lot more money than he had.

Gus Glasscock drove down the dirt backcountry roads around Kilgore, and all around him were clusters of stunted pines, wilted cotton, burnt cornstalks, and farmers whose sunken eyes were as empty as their pockets.

The whole countryside was gambling on Dad Joiner.  And Dad Joiner, bless his heart, was gambling on oil.

The crippled old wildcatter, who was working his way through East Texas with the energy of a whirling dervish, bought his supplies at a country store, paying for them with coupons that bore his written IOUs. “I’ll redeem them as soon as the well comes in,” he said.  The storekeeper simply nodded.

The coupons might be worthless, but, during bad times, they offered the only hope he had, which was better than no hope at all.

Gus Glasscock walked into the country store and paid for his groceries with a ten-dollar bill, probably his last one.

The man behind the counter looked up and shrugged.  “I don’t have change for a ten,” he said.

“That’s all right,” Gus told him.  “I’ll take my change in Dad Joiner’s scrip.”

Gus Glasscock firmly believed: “Nothing can save this country except oil.”

There was no reason why he shouldn’t bet on Dad Joiner.

He couldn’t lose any more money than he’d already lost.

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