County, Texas, 1957.
The town of Friendship was spending its last few months above water
before being flooded to form Lake Granger. Seven miles east of Friendship,
in the actual town of Granger,
Bob Mohel and Raymond Hajda were hanging around the Humble Gas Station
wondering what the odds were of a stranger appearing and offering
them a job. It turned out they were pretty good.
About this time, Rudy Vaclavick, a driller, was visiting relatives
across the street from the station and recognized the two young
men as friends of his niece. His drilling crew was short one man
so he approached the two and asked if one of them was looking for
work. They said they both were, and that any deal made would be
“both - or nothing.” He told them to pack their bags and meet him
the next morning at Eddy - a small town midway between Waco and
Temple on Highway 35.
They arrived at Eddy at 9:00 sharp and had no trouble finding the
drilling rig. It was already hard at it - making holes for a bridge
in the median of Highway 35. Their first job, however, was to drive
to DeLeon to pick up another rig and drive it to Corsicana. This
initial moving of equipment to the next job was just a taste of
what was yet to come. But at the heady wage of $1.60 an hour, it
sure beat the hell out of emptying Coke bottles in Granger.
Bob would eventually get to know Texas like few people ever will.
From Casa Piedra in deep West Texas to Toledo Bend on the Louisiana
side of the Sabine.
Raymond, a few years older than Bob, died young. He was asphyxiated
one winter day when he showed up for work early and was keeping
warm in a truck with a faulty exhaust system. The work was indeed
rough, and faulty equipment, human error and the suicide of his
boss trimmed the rolls until Bob is now the last man standing and
is truly "the last of the True road hands."
of his suitcase in cheap hotels and sometimes sleeping on quilts
alongside the equipment, Bob had his share of close calls, which
he’ll be relating in his own words. Sleeping outside had it's drawbacks
as Bob soon learned when his work boots were stolen one night while
he slept. Bob suspects either a dog or a hobo. He spent the day
working in his dress shoes until he could get into town to buy a