The Old Oil Well

It is worth mentioning that I lived in an area that had at one time been in the middle of an oil boom. Scotty McBride’s field was a mile from my house. It was the southernmost oil field in Western Pennsylvania. For a short period of time, it was one of the richest oil fields in the world. All of this was quiet and distant background to my childhood. The boom towns were gone. The once-grand opera house at Renfrew was, in my childhood, a warehouse. My most concrete souvenir of the period was old iron that was among the ruins of an old house foundation from the time. I lugged that back to my house a mile distant like it was bullion.

There was a living exception, however. The Georgics, our neighbors just up the road, had an honest- to- god Nineteenth Century oil well in their backyard near the two-story clubhouse that Norm, Sr. had built using some oversize garage doors. And the well was still pumping. We sometimes wandered into the works of the well which was certainly stupid and dangerous. The smell of crude was over powering. Wooden barrels of crude mixed with water were inside and the tops were open so they could continue to receive the meager output.

At night when I could leave my bedroom window open, the well could be heard as it dreamily labored. Paa…Puh..Puh…Paa…Puh…Puh. Never an annoyance, it helped rock me to sleep.