A travelling salesman

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Their first child was a little white-haired kid named Frances, who arrived in Centralia, Illinois, where her father was based while he worked for Shell. Centralia was as rough as a frontier town, but “gone sour.” Much of what happened there offended David’s sense of fair play. In his words: “It was a boomtown, full of run-out seed. There hadn’t been a fair killing there since i823.” There was union trouble. The hod carriers were trying to organize the oil drillers. The drillers resisted, and had no intention of paying what they regarded as tribute. The hod carriers attacked. They scalped a driller with a hunting knife and then broke his bones with hammers. “That was macho stuff, to them,” David comments. “They played rough. They were a mean bunch of bastards.” In some of the towns he visited were signs that said “No DOGS OR OILMEN.” He posed as a travelling salesman. In Tennessee, he was sometimes mistaken zakelijke energie vergelijken for a revenue agent, which could have led to an unpleasant fate. And on one occasion he was taken for a railroad detective by some fugitives from the law. Jane happened to be vvith him, and as they made their way along the tracks, pausing like detectives to examine the rock, the fugitives-who had dumped into a railroad cut a corpse that had needed killing-were watching from the woods. They drew beads with their rifles but held their fire. They didn’t want to include Jane. Eventually, David learned all this from the fugitives themselves, and he asked them if they were not made uneasy by the discovery that they might have killed an innocent man. They gave him a jug of sorghum. In the evening in Centralia, David zakelijke energie could read his newspaper by the light of gas flares over the oil fields. The company was burning off the gas because, at the time, it lacked economic value. This impinged his Scottish temper. “I don’t consider that good stewardship,” he explains. “We’re stewards here-of land and resources. If you gut the irreplaceable resources, you’re not doing your job. There were thousands of flares in Centralia. You could see them for a hundred miles.” He was troubled as well by the secrecy of the oil company, which was otherwise an agreeable employer. As a scientist, he believed in the open publication of research, and meanwhile his work was being locked in a safe for the benefit of one commercial interest. Moreover, he moved around so much that in the first two years of his daughter’s life she had been in thirteen states, while he was “looking for oil for some damn fool to bum up on the road.” With Jane, he reached an obvious conclusion: “There has to be more to life than this.”

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