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Wharton County; 1953

This is Adair; in 1953; he is 38 years old. He's been with Myron Kinley since 1946 and is an old well control hand now, capable of leading off on any sort of job, anywhere in the world.

He is with a fella named Mansell Rake, who has been over in Louisiana with Myron on a big complicated job for Pure Oil, south of Morgan City and when this job In Wharton County, southwest of Houston came in on April 12, 1953. Rake drove over to meet Red to help. Red hurt his right leg by jumping off a rig floor two months earlier somewhere in S. Texas; he is able to get around fine, it appears. Rake was a reliable hand and helped Myron and Red often.

This was a production well being re-perforated via a mast truck. When they shot the well things got a little wild, the wireline folks rigged down and hauled ass and I think the lubricator got ejected from the well head. When it did the well caught fire. No rig debris to clean up, just a nice little fire already going straight up, even has a master valve on it, ready to be closed. Fun stuff !! Adair and Rake are spraying a little water trying to keep the tree cool. At 0.42 they have moved their water in close to the WH and have it going straight up, into the fire; the water line is braced with 2x4's.

This was a quickie so there was no dicking around with water too much. Adair decides to shoot the fire out with something like a 100 pounds of cake glycerin; a small shot. No Athey wagon, no time for that shit; notice how the shot can is mounted at the proper height above the top of the tree with a sort of skid mounted barrel rack. They are able to push the shot into the well head and I suspect that Red has shaped this charge a little to allow for the fact that it cannot be placed directly over the flow. This is pure old school, Kinley stuff. That small a shot still blew the end of the boom to pieces and the valve handle off the tree. I don't know how they capped it, but I assure you, Red had it on the hip and was back in Houston the next afternoon.

You bump into little films like this all the time, mostly from local outlets. Most of them don't have sound and when you try and research the job, there's nothing. In the 50's and 60's Kinley and Patton, then Adair and Boots and Coots might catch as many as 50-60 jobs per year, all over the world.

Adair was very special around blowouts and fires, never excited, always calculated, very mindful of safety and respectful and kind to others. Not a lot of hollering, that sort of thing. Several people have told me that. I worked with him once, as a roughneck, on a well in the Rio Grande Valley; I was 22 years old. He was always putting his hand on your shoulder, reassuring you and making you smile, even though you are pretty much peeing down your pants leg with fear.

Whatever Red asked you to do, you did. It would have been too damn embarrassing not to. What are you going to say, 'gee Mr. Adair, I don't think I wanna go do that, it looks kind of dangerous to me.'

Hell no. You sucked it up and, by God, did it.

Enjoy this film; its terrific. Courtesy University of North Texas Digital Archives.


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