The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 50, July 1946 - April, 1947 Page: 31
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Reminiscences of Sour Lake
strong dose and keep breathing it for some time for it actually
to kill him; experienced workers in the field understood its ways
and were constantly on guard against it. They knew when they
were breathing gas, and they knew about how much they could
stand. When one felt that he was getting too much, he would go
away a short distance and breathe fresh air till refreshed. Still
sometimes, in spite of every precaution, one would be overcome,
and if help were not at hand, his life would be the forfeit.
One evening we were working at a bad well. We were,
I think, pulling pipe, and the gas was coming out of the hole,
not in the strong pressure of a newly-made well, but plainly
visible, looking like hot air rising from a boiler. We would work
awhile, bucking the chain tongs till we got as much of the
poison as we could stand, then go away a few yards and breathe
good air awhile, and then come back and go to work again. I
had done this many times during the evening, and after a while,
on getting an extra strong dose, I started for air again. It
happened that as I walked away, a little breeze blew the gas
straight after me, and I drew in another breath or two. That
proved too much. I got to the edge of the derrick floor, and I
remember putting out my hand, trying to reach a post for sup-
port, but I could not reach it. Consciousness left me, and over
into the mud I went. When I came to, the well crew was carry-
ing me out to safety.
Another bad effect of the gas, while not so dangerous but
much more painful, occurred when a person got it in his eyes.
This affliction did not give much warning of approach. A man
might be working along in a gassy place, thinking he was doing
well; then perhaps late in the evening, his eyes would begin to
itch a little and feel as if they had dust in them. That would
be a signal that he had better quit and get away from that
place. If he did not quit immediately, the chances were that
he was in for some days of near blindness and about as keen
pain as he ever felt.
We had been working on a well two or three days. The gas
had been rather bad, but we had managed to keep clear of it.
Then on the third day, awhile before quitting time, my eyes
began to bother me a little. I did not know much about gas at
the time and paid little attention to this warning. The work
was dirty; my hands were covered with black oil, and for-
tunately I could not rub my eyes, but kept working, like one in
a smoky room, till the end of the day. When I reached the
Here’s what’s next.
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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/m1/47/: accessed June 29, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.