TALCO DURING THE OIL BOOM
of my earliest memories are of times when I heard the grown-ups talk of boom towns
in East Texas. They spoke of the wealth that came to landowners after oil was
discovered on their property. |
In 1936 oil was discovered in northwestern
Titus County. According to Jone Clemmons, who was City Secretary of Talco in 1999,
the first well was drilled there on the C. M. Carr Lease # 1. The lease was held
by Magnolia Oil and Tidewater Oil.
experienced a boom somewhat comparable to those experienced earlier by Kilgore
and Gladewater and other towns
to the south. Entrepreneurs built flop houses, charging roughnecks and others
50 cents a night to sleep on beds with mattresses covered only with cotton ticking.
Xanthus Carson of Hopkins County, husband of my oldest sister, leased a small
frame building that served as a flophouse. He bought iron bedsteads as well as
mattresses and feather pillows so that he could furnish the establishment.
began to work for Magnolia Oil, and my sister worked as a waitress in a café owned
by Mud Williams of Mt. Vernon.
There was a housing shortage, so the Carsons lived in a furnished room at the
back of Williams' café. Later they rented a house on Hwy. 271 south of Talco.
It was one of six or eight identical houses built in a row on the west side of
Meadows Curve, a section of the highway. Each house was a boxed house with three
small rooms, one of which was a lean-to attached to the back.
spring of 1937 there were heavy rains. When White Oak Creek flooded, the water
flowed into the Carsons' backyard and lapped against the steps at the backdoor.
There was also serious flooding on the Sulphur River.
in the precinct where the oil field was located voted to allow the sale of beer.
One business that flourished after the sale of beer was made legal was called
the Country Hotel. It was located near Winfield on Highway 67. Several Saltillo
residents, as well as residents of communities surrounding Winfield, frequented
the honky tonks that sprang up.
One Sunday afternoon when I was five or
six years old, Lonnie McCoy, a neighbor, came to visit my family. As my parents,
my younger brother and I sat on our front porch, the neighbor told us that on
the previous Saturday night, the customers at the Country Hotel were startled
by the appearance of the Devil himself. Walking on his cloven hooves, the Devil
allegedly entered the front door of the establishment and walked the length of
the bar room, exiting at the back door. Lonnie was not present, but he said that
he received the information on good authority.
During mild weather tents
covered platforms where dancing was allowed, even on Sunday afternoons. Beer and
soft drinks were cooled in galvanized tubs filled with ice. In 100 -degree heat
the ice melted quickly, of course, and the beer and sodas were served lukewarm.
At the height of the boom in Talco
the population reached 2,000, but by 1940 the official census gave 912 as the
number of people residing there.