Sam was working in South Texas in 1931 when Sammie was born. Floradora and Sam lived in Austin, but Sam drove Floradora back to Natchitoches one month before Sammie was due. Sam was in Texas when she was born. Their first child (a girl) was named Sammie because Sam really wanted a boy to carry on his name.
1930 Census (Austin TX, Precinct 1, District 4): Sam E. and Flora D. were recently married (he was 23, she was 17). At census date April 23, 1930, he was 24 and she was 17.
Stories from Ann Norfleet Viverette's journal:
Granddad, Samuel Evertte Wallette was born April 6, 1906, in Campti, Louisiana. He was the fourth of seven children, right in the middle. There were 3 girls and 4 boys in the family. Campti was a nice size town, Granddad and Mary Lou counted 30 stores in town. It was a farm town and had the largest sawmill in the south at that time. Frost Johnson Lumber Co. built in 1906, the year that Sam was born.
There wasn't much to do there so you had to be imaginative. I asked what he did and he said "Played and fought." He lived 1 1/2 miles from the school and began running until he could run the whole distance to and from school. It was a Catholic school, Father Plus was the priest.
His mother's name was "Miss Emmy" Wallette. A newspaper article form 1978 reads, "Miss Emmy" as everyone called her, was a tough but lovable old gal. She could shoot a rifle while riding full gallop on her old white horse and hit a turkey right in the eye. When she told you something you could believe it. Her word was her bond. Her old house was torn down several years ago. It stood where a grocery store stands now out on Highway 71." [I've left in stray quote marks as seen in my journal] His daddy was a deputy sheriff, not a paid job. Miss Emmy and his dad, Louis Lemell, (Tool), owned separate farms on either side of the Red River. Mrs. Tool used to ask Mr. Tool what he'd do about a certain thing just to see if he'd do the same thing she was gonna do. They shipped cattle down to New Orleans and Ft. Worth and would ride in the train with them.
Granddad left home at the age of 16. He realized farming wasn't for him and wanted to do something else. His older brother, Jesse Lambert (J.L. or Bug) was in Smackover, Arkansas working for Humble and so Sam went to stay with him. His parents understood but his younger brother, Henry, was upset. He was 5 years younger and Sam's job of tending the cattle would fall on him. Sam arrived in Arkansas by train from Campti. It was on a mixed train going to Winfield then he took another to Arkansas from there. He got there in the evening and started work as a roustabout. The he started pushing a roustabout gang in late 1926 (?). Then he went to Raccoon Bend, Texas, (Bellville, Tex) This was a big oil field then.
This is where Sam was when the Depression hit. He was a gang pusher then, had 19 men working for him generally. There were rumors that something was gonna happen but no one was really sure. Sam had taken 3 days off and when he got back all but one of his men had been let go. Humble had 23 drilling rigs that it owned, all but 3 were shut down. The last man in Sam's crew was sent elsewhere and Sam moved to a workover rig. When this happened most everyone got moved down a notch or two in position if they had any job left at all.
//insert: when Standard took over Humble in Arkansas, they took over 60% of the employees and sent them to Texas. Sam went to Bellville. Sam stayed in Shreveport 3 to 4 weeks waiting for transfer. In 1923, he got paid $60 and quit 'til he spent all his money (in Arkansas). [as I recall the story now, this was the first paycheck he got in Arkansas, he went up there, worked until payday then thought he had so much money he'd never have to work again, so he quit and bought a suit and when the money ran out he went back to work -- Mom]
Sam had just gotten married to Floradora Rachal before the Depression. They were living in a company house, rent was $15/month. He had just bought a Ford. When the man came to repossess the car, Sam explained that he would pay when he could but he wouldn't commit himself to anything. Payments were $30/month. Sometimes he paid $20, sometimes $10, sometimes none but he paid off the car and got a real nice letter from the company when he did pay it off. Eventually they went to half time, 15 days on, 15 days off. Everyone lived close to the edge but they made it. Sam had some Humble stock and they got dividends from that which helped. On the 15 days off he stayed home and worked in the yard, in the garden. They had a milk cow, too.
he left Belleville in about '38 or '39 for Lover's Lake, Texas (near Beaumont.) He was back to pushing a gang then.
My mother was born in 1931 in Natchitoches Parish in Natchez in her mother's house. Sam was working in S. Texas and Flora came home to her family to have her first baby. Sam drove Flora home about a month early and went back to Texas before Sammie was born. Don was born in Texas, in Belleville.
Everything was moved by wagon. Humble had 1 truck and 2 cars in the district. All the men had wagons or teams. Pumpers walked their own beat. Wells weren't spaced so I couldn't tell you how big a beat was. Production foremen rode horses. Pipelines were laid by manual labor -- all screwed, no welds. Hand dug ditches.
District superintendent and assistant, production foremen, mechanic crews to repair rigs or else gang pusher did own repair. [My handwriting is getting a bit worse here, I was tired and starting to take poor notes but I will type it as I see it now -- Mom]
Always had a lot of trouble, farmers wanted money but didn't want land messed up.
The company had tents or a bunkhouse. You walked to town after payday, 5 hours in Smackover. Married men lived in tents with wives or built little houses. Tent with wooden floor and walled up sides, tent over top, often with extra water sheet top. Usually 2 rooms, with heater and stove. Lots of board roads or corduroy roads (round 4 -5" posts together)
"We was working 6 miles out of N...[never got that name clearly] working 10 hours a day, walk 6 miles in. Where I learned how to cook, 4 men each cooked a week a piece. One Ole boy taught the rest of us. You learn pretty fast 'specially when it comes to eatin'."
"You didn't have any help -- you were scattered. Every now and then Asst. Supt. Leo Peters would tell some guy to call him back. You rang it so many times to call each times. One short, 3 long, etc. You could hear everyone listening as he got chewed out. Leo'd say. "All you bastards get off the phone so I can talk to so and so. And you'd hear all the clicks go."
We had some wells on each side of Smackover Creek, had a swinging bridge. [drawn picture of wooden walkway with a single rope handrail on each side] It would [drawn picture of bouncing line] flop. After you learn it you would walk it good. I seen guys lay down and grab on to it.
Pete came down there and set the oil and the creek on fire. We thought it was our rig and came running. Pete died laughing. [I recall Sam telling me that there were no pollution controls, lots of oil and fuel spilled in the creeks and rivers and it was common enough for rivers to catch on fire -- mom]
When I first pushed a gang, Rice and Peters came down to find a lease. I told 'em I knew where it was. They said to be there at 8 and wait for them. After a couple of hours they drove up with a man from Shreveport. The got to talking so I sat down under a tree. They stayed 'till noon. The fellow from Houston was Weatherly, a lawyer. They wanted to buy this lease from the two independents. I could hear them talking about buying it. Lawyer wanted to call Houston about price. Hell, I'll buy it. [I think that was Sam trying to get them to hurry up -- mom] they bought the lease there under the trees. They worked up the papers.
I was told to be there at 7 to gage the tanks -- what's in the tanks belongs to them. I was to look after it 'till morning. In the evening 3 men arrived with a wagon and mules. We set to work rebuilding the mule pen that night. After about 5 days Peters came by and asked for my time sheet and I didn't have it. 'Course I didn't know that I'd been made the gang pusher until then either. You see, they didn't go through any big thing when they gave you a new position. Well I told him I didn't have it but I would in a little while. He rode up the road and I made up a time sheet as best I could for what had been done the last 5 days.
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