The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 50, July 1946 - April, 1947 Page: 27
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Reminiscences of Sour Lake
Saturday, and an unusual number of people were on the streets;
I continued walking around, looking through them, hunting for
someone I knew. I was becoming bothered by this time. Two
days without anything like a square meal and with little pros-
pect of a place to stay that night were making an impression
on a young fellow not too well acquainted with hoboing.
Tired and feeling bad, I gave up walking after a time. Rea-
soning that I could look people over as well sitting down as
moving around, I took a seat on a syrup barrel out in front
of a store. There I watched the people go by. They went by
in a stream, hundreds and hundreds of them; I scanned every
face that came in view. In my recollection of the many things
I experienced at Sour Lake nothing is more strong than the
memory of sitting on the barrel that Saturday evening and
watching for someone that I knew.
Finally, about sundown, my attention was attracted to a man
ambling along down the sidewalk. I had probably become some-
what weary from glancing at so many faces, and the first thing
I noticed about this man was that his hand was in a sling. In
a subconscious sort of way, at the same time, I noticed that
the ambling gait was familiar. These little acts of perception,
of course, took the briefest amount of time; and when I took
a square look at the man's face, I saw that he was George
Wentz, another one of the boys from home. In my whole life,
I do not remember having been so glad to see a person as I
was that evening to see George Wentz.
George was really glad to see me too. He and his brother
John owned a tent and a complete batching outfit, and they
took me in.
For surging energy, unrestrained openness, and diabolical
conditions otherwise, Sour Lake was head and shoulders above
anything Texas had seen up until that time or perhaps has seen
since. The site is on low ground. At that time little effort was
made at drainage; and a short while after operations began, a
large part of the field was worked up into such a mess of mud as
can hardly be imagined.
One thing that made the mud so bad and rendered the place
such an inferno in other ways was the crowded condition. There
were few, if any, laws governing oil field operations; no such
thing as restrictions on drilling existed. Landowners sold their
land to anyone who came to buy it and in as small amounts as
the buyer's purse spoke for. Aided by the ignorance of the
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 50, July 1946 - April, 1947, periodical, 1947; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101117/m1/43/: accessed June 25, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.