Seismic Crew

After Jean got out of the army he went to work for General Geophysical Company. The company was looking for oil in west Texas and the rocky mountains. Jean went to work as a geophysicist on a seismic crew. A seismic crew looked for formations in the earth that might produce oil General Geophysical company worked for several oil companies. The companies sent out maps to show the company what areas they were interested in. A drilling truck would set up in a predetermined area. A hole was dug and dynamite was place in the hole. Sensors were set out in different areas around the hole. These sensors were connected to the seismic truck. When everything was set up and ready, dynamite was exploded in the hole which made the earth shake and this vibration was recorded on a seismic machine inside the truck. By reading these recordings they could see what was under the top layer of the earth and possibly determine where there just might be oil Jean was sent to West Texas, around Seymore to begin work but we were not in that area very long. After a short stay in Texas they sent us to the Rocky Mountains.

The crew of men who all worked together were known as doodle bug crews. All of the married men had their wives and families traveling with them so we really did become one big family. Jean and I kept in touch with a lot of them long after our doodle bug days were over.

The rocky mountains were a real eye opener for me. I loved the beautiful mountains and I remember seeing the first really big pine tree that looked to me like it was growing out of solid rock. I never thought that was possible. The first state we were sent to was Wyoming. Wyoming was memorable because they still used silver dollars. I liked the feel of those big coins but the men hated them because they said it made their pockets to heavy. A dollar was worth a dollar back then and nobody had very many.

We lived in many towns in Wyoming. I remember Greybull, Medicine Bow, Baggs, Rawlins, Riverton and Lander. I'm sure I've forgotten some of them. The first town I remember much about was Rawlins. We moved into a basement apartment in the fall of the year and as they say ignorance is bliss because we didn't realize just how cold it could get in this part of the world. I washed the clothes in the bath tub which was Ok because I didn't have to many to wash. Hanging the clothes on the clothesline to dry as winter set in was another eye opener. As I'd walk outside to take the wet clothes to the clothesline they would be steaming in the basket. By the time I'd get about half of the clothes hung on line the rest would be frozen solid. The winter underwear looked pretty grotesque with the arms and legs askew and frozen in that position. The clothes froze dry pretty fast.

Greybull Wyoming was also interesting. Several of the families including us found apartments in a large ( for those days) apartment building. Everywhere we had lived before welcomed us with open arms but not here. None of the neighbors in the surrounding areas would let their children play with ours. We kept wondering why. We found out later that we were living in a whore house...

We bought our first home in Rawlins We bought a trailer house because we knew we'd be moving a lot so a trailer seemed a logical thing to do. Several other families did the same thing. I liked the trailer. It was pretty inside with birch paneling throughout. It had one bedroom so Jean and I slept in it while Pat slept on the pullout divan in the living room. The trailer had no running water. We parked the trailer in a park with baths and toilets in a central building.. Everyone carried their own water and walked across the park for their baths. We did fine in the summer but when winter came it was another story. The little heater in the living room was not big enough to heat the place. In the mornings when we got up we'd see frost waist high on all the walls. Jean went to the store and bought an auxiliary kerosene stove. It helped a little, at least it kept us from freezing. The natives warned us about freezing ears and fingers. They said it might not feel to cold because the air was so dry but to remember to cover your ears because they could freeze in a hurry.

I got my first drivers license in Medicine Bow Wyo. They had just made it a law that everyone had to have a license. Jean and I were at the local gasoline station when we met the highway patrolman. I told him I'd be down to take my drivers license test the next day. He said" That's not necessary, We'll just do it right now. How long have you been driving?" I said" Oh! Probably five of six years." and he said" I think you know how to drive by now" I gave him a silver dollar and he gave me my drivers license.

We bought our first little washing machine while we were living in Medicine Bow. It was a small machine that I think was probably for lingerie but it worked great for the diapers and the small little girl things. I had the machine running one day when Pat came by and said. " I know what that washing machine is saying mom, it's saying PEANUT butter, PEANUT butter, PEANUT butter."

Jean loved to hunt and fish and Wyoming was the ultimate hunting and fishing paradise. He and several men on the crew went hunting almost every weekend. They shot deer, elk and rabbits. They butchered and kept all the carcasses for us to eat so we had meat the whole time we were in that part of the country. Our freezer was an army ammunition box set out beside the trailer. Jean took the cleaned meat and put it in the box and it froze immediately. We didn't like deer meat as it had a distinct wild taste. Jean always tried to shoot an elk because elk meat tasted almost identical to cow meat. Jean and I and the kids did a lot of fishing in the summer time. We would go up to some mountain stream and we would always come home with enough trout for a couple of meals.

It was the winter of 1947 we were transferred to Riverton Wyoming! We didn't realize that we would survive one of the coldest winters on record. Ranchers couldn't get to their fields and many of their cattle were found frozen in a standing position. The army sent planes to drop hay to as many cattle as they could find but many of them were covered with snow and could not be seen from the air and did not survive.

Trying to keep all the tracks and equipment in running condition for the men on the crew. They set kerosene lamps under the trucks to try to get the wheels to turn. The guys would take a tractor and pull the trucks but the wheels were frozen and would just slide along on the snow and ice. I think it was kind of a fun challenge for the guys. It was a good way for them to get out of the house and see if they could figure out a way to get the equipment moving..

Jean's Uncle Arwid lived in Riverton. He and his wife Anna homesteaded in Riverton in he had some very interesting stories to tell He said they chose their homestead land at the end of the railroad line so if they wanted to go back home to Kansas they could hop on the train and go.

They built and lived in a one room log cabin. Their cabin was at the edge of town. Uncle Arwid got a job at the General Store in town and walked down the railroad tracks to work. He said he picked up coal that had fallen from the train to heat their cabin. The cabin had one window. Aunt Anna was afraid to stay by herself because Indians were always coming by and looking in the window. Her mother was a widower so they asked her to come out from Kansas to live with them. A couple years later when Arwid got to know some of the Indians he found out that they didn't want to hurt anyone but were very interested in the cooking utensils that Anna and her mother used.

I also got my first sewing machine while we were living in Riverton. Geneiva Staves was from Joplin Missouri and before she and her husband came to work on the crew in Wyoming she had put her name on the list at the local department store back in Joplin to be called if a sewing machine became available. Sewing machines were made of steel and because of the war, not many were made. She happened to be on vacation in Joplin when they called to let her know she was finally getting a machine. She bought the machine back to Wyoming with her. She was pregnant and thought she might have a girl and could use the machine. She had a baby boy and decided to sell the machine and asked me if I'd be interested in it. I said Yes! Yes! Yes!. The machine was so tight, the wheel would hardly turn, but I thought with enough use, it would loosen up. I used lots of oil on all the moveable parts and slowly but surely it began to run like as the saying goes "a well oiled machine".

Jean was going to be working out of town so he sent Pat, Mickie, and me on our first trip by plane from Riveton Wyoming to Yakima Washington. The plane we rode in was a converted army transport plane. It was a really rough ride. Pat and Mickie slept most of the way while I spent most of the trip with my mouth in a barf bag. The stewardess asked some man on the back of the plane to trade places with me because it was supposed to be a smoother ride back there. I don't remember if it helped any or not. Plane trips were a lot different back then. Everyone dressed up in their Sunday best for the trip. We were pampered with 3 course dinners and anything you wanted to drink anytime.

Sometime later the crew was moved to Lander Wyoming. Mickie was born there on August 7th 1948. It was summertime and things looked pretty and green. Lander was a little town at the foothills of the mountains. We enjoyed lots of company that summer with friends and relatives stopping by on their way to Yellowstone Park. I took people through Yellowstone about every two weeks all summer long. Jean's uncle Carol and his family from Strong City were visiting the day Mickie was born. That day we took a trip up the local mountain and did some fishing in the Popo Aggie river. We caught enough nice trout to have for supper. I went to the hospital later that night and Mickie was born. She also was a pretty baby and a good baby. My sister Alice came out from Seneca to stay with Pat while I was in the hospital. (Thanks Alice)

In September we were being moved again. We decided the trailer house was to cold for two little ones to spend another cold Wyoming winter in so we sold the trailer.

Our next move was to Baggs Wyoming. Baggs was a very small but very interesting town. When we moved there it was like moving back in time to the early west. We moved into the local hotel. The hotel was a two story building and looked like an old fashioned farm house. Our room was upstairs, very clean but sparsely furnished. Winter was setting in and the only heat was a pot bellied stove in the middle of the upstairs hallway. We had to have our door open all the time or we didn't have heat. I never saw a man around the place so the only person we saw was the person we rented from. She was about fifty years old and did all the work. She carried buckets of coal up the stairs to fuel the pot bellied stove. I could tell she had been doing this for a long time. Every time I'd think Oh Oh we're gonna run out of heat she'd be there with the coal. She also did all the cleaning and the laundry. The laundry reminded me of my childhood. She heated the water on an old fashioned cook stove and did the washing in an old gasoline washer and hung them on a line behind the hotel.

We were in the hotel about three weeks when we found a house for rent. We were told that it was one of only three houses in town with indoor plumbing. We thought we were so lucky but as we were moving in we wondered why they still had the outhouse out back. In early November we found out why. The pipes in the house were frozen solid. The landlord told us to go across the street and get one of the high school boys to come over with a blowtorch and thaw out the pipes. I guess this was an ongoing thing because the boys knew exactly what to do.

The house was always cold. When it snowed the fine snow would blow through the keyhole in the front door and we would find a pile of snow on the lining room floor the next morning. I could not seem to get the house to warm up so I decided I wasn't doing something right with the pot bellied stove so I put in lots of coal. I opened the dampers as far as they would go to give the fire lots of oxygen. The fire took off The fire got so hot that I began to worry about burning the house down. Even the wall behind the stove was getting hot. I shut the dampers down but that didn't seem to be helping very much so I went to the kitchen, got a saucepan, filled it with water, took it to the stove, opened the door and threw the water on the flames. Whoa! Wrong thing to do. The pipe exploded and spewed soot all over the living room. I tried to wash it off without to much success so finally repainted the room.

The people in the community were very friendly. We. were invited to all the local activities. Wedding dances or 50th wedding anniversary dances seemed to on the top of the list. There were no movie theaters or things like that so any excuse for a dance was welcome. The dances were held in the local bar in Dixon Wyoming. This place was fairly large with an open space on one end to dance in and a long bar at the other. Everyone brought their whole families to these dances so I took Pat and Mickie with us. When the kids got sleepy they were placed on a shelf under the bar. The shelf was made especially for the young children with pallets and pillow. The kids usually went to sleep but if they woke up and started to cry the bartender came out from behind the bar to tell the parent.

General Geophysical company sold out to Cities Service Oil company. They moved us to Roundup Montana. Roundup was not a very exciting town and nothing very exciting around this place. I was pregnant with Judy and the only hospital was fifty miles away in Billings. Since Pat and Mickie came into this world pretty fast, the doctor thought I should have this baby closer to home. The local old folk home had once been a hospital and the doctor still had his office on the first floor. When the time came to have this baby I went to the Doctors office. He told me to go upstairs and the nurse would take care of me. She took me into the operating room while Jean had to stay in the hallway since men weren't allowed into the room where their wives were having the baby because they might contaminate or touch something and spread germs. The operating room didn't have much in it. The only thing I remember about it was that it had a phone on the wall right above my head while I was on the operating table. The doctor came up to check on my progress. He told me I had some time to go before the baby would arrive. I told him I didn't think so. He said he had a little boy in his office with a broken arm and he said "You wouldn't want me to be up here with you while the little boy is downstairs waiting for me to fix his arm would you?" I said "Of course not". The doctor went back downstairs. I wasn't there long before Judy decided to come into this world. The nurse was on the phone calling the doctor. The nurse was so scared and excited. I had to keep her calm. So Judy was born on august 9th 1951 in an old folks home and the doctor wasn't there. He only charged me $15.00.

Three weeks after Judy was born we were on our way to Houston Texas.