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This is a joint on the southeast side of Breckenridge, Texas, 1923. The famous Bankhead Highway, 850 miles of highway from El Paso all the way to Texarkana, all concrete, was being built in 1923 not far from this place.

I remember my father telling me about Triple X Root Beer from when I was just a kid; it would plum knock your socks off it was so good, he said. You can see an oak barrel full of the stuff on the counter behind the lady. To the left of that is a stinking drilling rig, naturally. Breckenridge was a boomin' in the early 20's.

Every empty lot, every backyard, had a Strawn formation well on it. The boom went on for almost three years before somebody drilled the first dry hole. The town grew from 800 to over 30,000 in a little under a year and in 1921, the height of the chaos, Breckenridge Field produced over 31 MM BO. Even today Breckenridge and nearby Ranger and Desdemona Fields still have a few stripper wells in them.

At this joint in the first photograph you can get ice cream that was hand turned every morning, in a cone, for a nickel and a slice of ice cold watermelon, probably for less than that. There would be a salt shaker on the picnic table for the watermelon, seeds spit 20 feet out into the dirt parking lot and a fly swatter nearby.

In this part of Texas it gets colder than a well diggers ass in the winter and hot enough to fry an egg on the hood of your pickup truck in the summer. In the oilfield a joint's a joint and this one brought lots or cool relief to overheated roughnecks and hands, that's a BIG 10-4.

Silent picture shows at the Ruby, Breckenridge, Texas; 1920


Top photograph by the renown North Texas photographer, Basil Clemmons.

Basil Clemmons also took this photograph in 1924 right outside Cisco, a few miles down Bankhead Highway from Breckenridge. In the bottom of this hole are some boot heels from all that was left of young, Chigger Brown. There are also a few leaf springs off of Chiggers truck.

Chigger was 19 years old. He was hauling nitroglycerin to shoot oil wells with when he hit his first, and last bump, in life's long road of bumps and bruises; sadly the first one he hit blew him to Kingdom Come.


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