Having lived for over 70 years your Granpa has "Been There -- Done That" in lots of areas.
I reckon one of the not so ordinary "Been There -- Done That" things is when I helped my father shoot an oil well with nitroglycerin.
One means of making an oilwell produce more oil is to fracture the oil producing zone of the earth with dynamite or nitroglycerin.
Nitroglycerin comes in either a liquid or a solidified form.
When I was about 12 years old my father purchased an oil well on the W. C. Herrington Farm in the Post Oak Community 3 miles east of Lueders, Texas.
The Herrington well was an old stripper oilwell making about a barrel a day and Daddy learned he could pump it about once a week for a few hours and it produced as much oil as if you pumped it all the time. This was because it had a very large shot hole and the oil would trickle in and fill up the shot hole and then you could pump out the shot hole and let it trickle in again for a few days before pumping.
A shot hole is the area in the bottom of the well that is left after it has been shot with dynamite or nitroglycerin. A shot hole might be an area as big as a house depending on the amount of open hole below where the pipe was set as well as other factors such as size of the shot.
One summer when I was about 16 years old, I helped Daddy shoot the Herrington well with solidified nitroglycerin. Solidified nitro is like a really thick jelo like substance and what we used came in a 3 inch round tube about 3 feet long wrapped in heavy wax paper.
We very carefully unwrapped the nitro because Daddy had to cut the nitro in half to get it into the shot can ( A shot can is similar to a round rain gutter pipe ) and in this case our pipe was less then the 3 inches in diameter and about 10 feet long.
The shot can could have been larger depending on the size of the casing in the well but, the Herrington had a joint of casing off in the bottom of the hole and you could only get a 2 inch string of tools inside the well down at the bottom because that joint had moved over. The joint of pipe was knocked off when the well was shot the first time right after being drilled.
We therefore had to make the shot can smaller then normal which meant we had to take the 3 inch round nitro and cut it into narrow strips to get it inside the shot can.
As daddy cut the nitro, he had me take an oil can and keep putting oil on the knife as he sliced it from one end to the other. I remember Daddy's hand shaking as he sliced the stuff in half.
My Dad's hand was shaking because friction is one of the things which can set nitro off and here he was cutting into it with a knife and that is also why he was having me keep it oiled really good.
We shot the well after the spudder attachment was installed on the rod and tubing machine in 1950 so, I was probable 15 or 16 at the time. I told about adding the spudder attachment in the story, "Growing up with a WichTex".
Handling the nitro, didn't bother me any because at that age you will live forever but, had that stuff blown up, they wouldn't have been able to find either one of us.
After we got it sliced into smaller strips we slid the nitro down into the tube which I had oiled down inside real good.
Next step after loading the tube with the nitro was to hook the tube to the bottom of the bailer and gentle lower it into the oil well using the sand line cable of the rod and tubing machine. A bailer is a long section of pipe with a check valve type device built into the bottom which when lowered to the bottom of the hole will let the fluid and cuttings in and then when lifted off the bottom of the hole the check valve closes trapping the cuttings and this is how you clean out the oil well.
In this case, a trip hook was fastened to the bottom of the bailer which would release when the shot can touched bottom and this left the shot can in the oil well when we pulled the cable and bailer out.
After the shot can was sitting at the bottom of the oil well, we then taped a fuse and shot cap on the sides of two sticks of dynamite and placed them one on top of the other into a very small shot can about 30 inches long and we then filled the can with sand around the 2 sticks of dynamite.
The sand was to add weight to the can and keep fluid away for the fuses -- Using two sticks of dynamite was in case one didn't work.
I then held the small tube over the well while Daddy lit both fuses with his cigar.
After lighting, Daddy pinched the fuses a little ways down with his fingers so he could feel both fuses burning ok and then told me, "turn her loose" and I dropped it in the hole.
We then sit there for about 15 or 20 minutes and Daddy started worrying it wasn't going to go off and about that time we actually felt a pretty good bump of the ground which was 1600 feet above where the shot went off and Daddy said "There it goes" and then a big gush of air blew out of the hole.
So, GranPa can lay claim he "BLEW the NITRO" because it was he who dropped the dynamite into the hole which then set off the Nitro. All at the age of 16.
After the Nitro had fractured the pay zone which literally blew the earth apart 1600 feet below ground we had to clean it all out of the hole and this took us over a week drilling and washing and bailing.
However, the fracturing and clean out of the well did not increase the oil production so later on my Dad plugged the well to use the pipe in an offset well.
Offset wells had been drilled to the north, east and south but, were all dry holes and my Dad thought surely the oil zone lay to the west. So, he decided to drill an offset well to the west.
The original oil well had produced oil for a very long time and it was thought the pay zone had to be draining in from some other area.
But alas, the well to the west was also a dry hole and thus ended the Herrington operation.
Actually by this time the farm was owned by Delbert Moore who had children GranPa went to school with.
It was always a mystery how the Herrington was a producer for such a long time while on all 4 sides the wells were dry.
But, then there are lots of mysteries in the Oil Patch