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Main street in Crane, Texas, 1935; one joint after another.

Same town, different joint(s). Every cafe had cold beer in it and was considered a "joint" also. A hand could go up to the Texan Club and get him a cold beer, take it down to Bens and drink it while he was getting a haircut. That's Ben out front, I'm sure he didn't mind a bit.

...and even more joints. Big jugs of aspirin could be bought at the drug store, between joints.

This is Crane, Texas in 1935, looking north along main street, or SH385, the highway that takes you straight to Odessa. Folks called this the Andrews highway back then.

That's dust, by the way, rolling down the highway. In times of drought there is very little to hold West Texas together so when the wind blows, West Texas blows with it. A large portion of Crane County will get picked up and re-deposited over in Upton County, that sort of thing. Least you start thinking Crane County might just dry up and blow plum away, here comes a big dust storm full of Winkler County and, well, it all works out in the end.

It can take lots of air filters to live in West Texas.

To the east of the town of Crane, just a few football fields away, the great McElroy Oil Field was discovered in 1926. I've written about McElroy Field before, here.

Oil fields and joints go hand and hand so Main Street in Crane in the late 1920's, 30's and 40's had its share of wine shops and beer joints; in fact you could almost walk, or stumble, from one joint to another along one side of the highway, look both ways before crossing the street to keep from getting run over by a Halliburton truck, then work your way from one joint to another back down the other side of the highway. Your were bound to bump into buddies, have some fun, and get plum hammered.

Lots of Lone Stars and ice cold Pearls were drained in Crane in this era, all times of day. If you worked the evening tower, come daylight it was not likely you wanted to go eat waffles when you got off; you were going to go find a place to have a damn ice cold beer. Its sort of instinctual for an oilfield hand to want a beer after work... like elephants migrating to water holes. If you had a pang of guilt come over you for drinking cold ones that time of morning you could always eat a couple of pickled eggs with your beer and call it breakfast.

Here is an old map of Crane County; just south of University Block 31 is the Ed Landreth vacancy I loved telling about on Oily Stuff, here.

Claytie Sr. was born and raised in Crane, by the way.

On the far west end of the Landreth Strip, near what is now the Crane Country Club (not to be confused with Augusta), along Golf Course Road, is an old refinery, I think. I can't find much about it, truthfully. It has five enormous kilns in it, like a still, and I felt like I was about to get it sorted out when a rattlesnake the size of a 6 foot, 2 3/8ths OD pump joint ran me out, back to the truck. That was his 'hood and I wasn't going to argue with him.

I suspect this refinery was built in the late 30's; the kilns were made of old Abilene Bricks from Elm Creek in Abilene, themselves a bit of neat history. The Abilene Brick Company was formed in 1909. I snatched a couple.

I am always surprised how junky McElroy Field is whenever I visit Crane; in fact how sort of junky most of West Texas's old, great oil fields are, even Yates Field. Those hands out there take it off, and drop it; nobody picks up shit. I wonder if they do the same thing at home with their underwear. Chevron operates the McElroy Unit and well, its a little embarrassing how all that looks.

Anyway, if you were living in Gulf's camp in Crane in the 30's and got tired of looking at the same beer joints up there, you could jump in the car and drive down to McCamey and visit TP's Tavern, seen below, for some change in scenery. The girls might have been a little prettier and there was somebody different to pick a fight with. And hell, if you had too many and needed to get back to Crane it wasn't like you are going to get lost or anything like that.

Or, you could just drink this stuff. Its better for you anyway.


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