Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.


When I was Just–

–a little girl . . .  Remember “Que Sera, Sera?” This is one of those days. 🙂

Know what this is? It’s old, but it did the trick.

It’s a hard hat. This is what they look like today. The top one was my dad’s, back when he worked in the field a lot.

This is back in the day. See on the left? Uncle Paul has his on. That’s Frank next to him, Dad and Granddad on the right. They’re standing in front of their Walker-Neer Spudder.

The picture was an ad in a magazine, published long ago. So many years ago, I don’t even remember it. (And I practically remember when the Mayflower landed.)

A few things have changed since then. For instance, our phone number isn’t 2161 anymore, our office isn’t located in the Ford, and the guys in the picture have aged just a bit–

And Granddad has gone to heaven. He’d be 111 if he were still alive.

But the other three–especially my dad–are still hanging around, coming to work every day, teaching us what they’ve learned over the past eighty-something years.

We used that spudder when I was a little girl. I have wonderful memories of being on the well site during the weeks it took to drill in this area.

One of my favorite things was to race the stuff to the pond when the bailer dumped after coming out of the hole.

I have wonderful memories of us taking bacon and potatoes out to the well site, Dad building a fire, and Mom and Grandmother cooking dinner. Meat and potatoes fried over an open fire tasted so good! I just wanted to eat and eat and eat. (Oink.)

In one dim memory, we’re sitting in the car with Mom, it’s pitch black outside, and there’s an orange glow coming from what looked like a giant oven on the rig floor.

I had no idea what it was, and knowing gas from the hole can cause explosions and killer fires, I thought maybe I’d dreamed it. (I had some pretty vivid dreams.)

Finally, I asked my man what in the world that could have been. He said it was probably a ford, used to heat the bit so they could sharpen it. Who knew?

Every time I drive down Highway 20, near Claremore, I have the same memory come back. The memory is an early morning ride after being all night at a rig. We drove into Claremore and had breakfast at what I think was the Will Rogers Hotel. I remember walking in to the hotel and sitting between Sister Debbie and Dad. And eating waffles. 🙂 Oink, again.


Once when Mom took Sister Debbie and me to the well, I followed Dad into the doghouse, where he very quickly turned “girlie” calendars the roughnecks had hung there so they faced the wall.

After I was grown, I reminded him of that day and asked him if it was so Mom wouldn’t see them. Nope. He was trying to keep Deb and me from seeing them. This sits on a shelf in my family room, with a tobacco tin and several cigar boxes I’ve collected over the years. (No, I don’t smoke. I just think they’re pretty.) The lighter says, “Walker-Neer Spudders Around the World. Wichita Falls, Texas.”

Pretty cool, huh?