Saturday, July 24, 2021

More From the 1953 Tulsa State Fair

Here are the last five photos from a batch featuring the 1953 Tulsa (Oklahoma) State Fair. It was all about oil and drilling and pumping! Maybe you will strike it rich when you find a gusher on your property.

There's the US Steel pavilion, with one of those pumps known as "mules" (in orange) out front. That hypnotic movement used to be a familiar sight when I lived in Huntington Beach, those things were all over. I assume that the tall structure is a drilling platform or derrick, or whatever the correct term is. "Drill thingy"? 

This is a neat one because it shows a rare photo of an early version (possibly the first version?) of the famous "Golden Driller" statue, commissioned by Mid-Continent Supply Company in 1952. Several different Golden Drillers have been built over the decades, including one in 1959, and another in 1966, but photos of this version seem to be hard to come by. This one is my favorite, not that I am biased or anything. Judging from his gesture, he has just enjoyed a spicy meatball.

Another drilling derrick. It might not be beautiful, but it's kind of impressive anyway. And when the black gold (or you may know it as Texas Tea!) comes rocketing out, you'll do a little dance that would make Gabby Hayes proud. By cracky! 

You know what color I'm going to paint my equipment if I am in the oil biz? Spotless white! And my crews are going to wear all white, as if they were selling Good Humor ice cream.

And here's one last photo with some beautiful cars (looks like the ride on more than a few dirt roads). In the distance we can see the General Motors had a presence at the Fair, as did Bethlehem Steel. The long white building nearest to us is a rifle range because Oklahoma

 I hope you have enjoyed your visit to the 1953 Tulsa State Fair!

FYI, my poor old computer died on Thursday night. That's bad enough, but I went to order a new one, and due to popular demand, I may not get it until mid-August. UGH. That's gonna be torture. So I will try to respond to comments the best I can, but am not nuts about typing long responses on my phone! Maybe I'll figure out a workaround. I'm just telling you this so that you won't think I'm ignoring all of you.


TokyoMagic! said...

That U.S. Steel Pavilion (first pic) looks pretty chintzy. They could have at least put a Unisphere on the roof.

Major, I know exactly what you mean. I hate typing anything more than "Yes," "No," "Ok," or "Good," on my phone. The thing is, I know how to type and I can do it very quickly, so I have always preferred a full-size keyboard when communicating electronically. Good luck! I hope your computer arrives sooner than expected.

JC Shannon said...

Wow, you can't swing a lasso without hitting a fedora. I look especially dashing in one, dipped below my left eye. And look, nobody has their head buried in a smart phone. Just think, in 1953, your new computer would be the size of a Buick. Thanks Major.

Stu29573 said...

As a kid growing up in Texas, I wondered why the oil wells on tv had big towers while real wells had the "drinking bird" pumps. Yeah, I was a stupid kid.

You know why you make all your employees wear white and drive white cars? So they can't steal oil by stuffing in their pockets! Brilliant!

I'm sorry about your 'puter. My graphics card died (I think) so I have my work computer at home. I do most of my writing (even my blog) on my phone, though. It can be frustrating with the stupid, tiny keyboard, but I always have it with me!

"Lou and Sue" said...

Who would name their company “Failing”?! I don’t care if it’s someone’s last name, it’s doomed from the start.

Major, that’s awful to hear about your computer. I sure hope it’s not held up due to chips from China.

You forgot the accent. It’s a “spicy meat-a ball-a”!

zach said...

Mr Driller may have gotten his meatball across the street at GASO. That would explain things. Did he move on and hold axes and mufflers later in his career?

Lady in black is telling that guy to quit mansplanning. She knows a Failing company when she sees one.

See the gangster who's double parked with his car door open? He's doing 'business'.

Thanks, Major, for the trip to Tulsa. I went through part of OK on a train once. That's about it.


Nanook said...

'Gaso'-?? Hmmm... Is it an antacid pill-? (Actually, I think they make pumps).

Not a lot of details for accurate ID-ing, but - that grouping of five cars could be the following: a light blue 1951 or 1952 DeSoto; an early 1950's Cadillac; a 1953 Chevrolet; a 1951 or 1952 Buick; and finally a 1951 or 1952 two-tone Oldsmobile. To the Oldsmobile's right, is a 1953 Pontiac, possibly in Linden Green. To its right is possibly a 1949 Chevrolet Fleetline.

I think I need a hat. Thanks, Major. (Maybe it's time to dust-off that 'ol BlackBerry-!)

JG said...

These are really fascinating pictures, Major.

So much stuff completely outside my experience. And the cars, clothes, advertising etc. Amazing.

Thank you.


Bu said...

I am grateful that I grew up where I grew up...these photos are a slice of Americana that I only saw when traveling through LA (in some neighborhoods) as a kid when these oil pumps seemed to be all over the place. Golden Driller is awesome! I looked him up and this version is way better than the "Jolly Green Giant" pose. He seems to be some kind of cultural monument as well. Very cool. Ladies in sun dresses and guys with suit jackets and hats...I'm sweating just looking at them. Looks like a dry dusty day- this must have been a "grown up" kids in sight. I can see how Mr. Disney would want to make the most mundane a bathroom...into "THE BATHROOM OF THE FUTURE"! Perhaps with Disney's involvement this could have been "THE OIL RIG OF THE FUTURE" designed by Rolly Crump. That would be cool :)

Major Pepperidge said...

TokyoMagic!, I’m sure the budget for the Tulsa State Fair was a tiny fraction of the one for the NY World’s Fair! BTW, I’m at my mom’s today, so I can use her computer for at least some comment responses. I have used my iPad for typing longer replies, but even that is a real pain.

Jonathan, I like to keep my fedora dipped below both eyes. What can be cooler than not caring where you are walking? I think in 1953 you’d need a whole large room to house a computer!

Stu29573, I don’t think your questions about the different oil pumps is stupid. Somebody just had to explain the difference! I never thought about stealing a pocketful of oil. What about a mouthful? I just can’t write anything of any length on my phone - I rely on the dictation function a LOT.

Lou and Sue, I admit that IS a bad name for a company. Not far from me is an old apartment complex called the Crappi Apartments. Truth in advertising?

zach, I would love to know why this version of the Golden Driller didn’t last very long. Was he made of plaster? All that work, only to fall apart after two years (I think). I could be wrong, but all that oil equipment might not have been very interesting to the average housewife. I guess they just went because they knew their husbands wanted to see it. Was the rest of the fair more typical, with farm animals, concession stands, and rides?

Nanook, I’m liking the two-tone Olds personally. Red and black, very nice. I’m unfamiliar with hats called BlackBerries! ;-)

JG, I love almost any photos from this period, it’s like another world.

Bu, you make a good point… I don’t see ANY children at all! You’d think that a State Fair would be full of kids. And I love your idea of the “Oil Rig of the Future”, I’ll bet Walt would have wanted that.

Chuck said...

Really wish I could have seen this in person. So many neat things to see.

I think the rifle range is less explained by "Oklahoma" than by "1953." Firearms were found in a larger percentage of households than they are today (although the total number of privately-owned firearms is actually larger today than in 1953), and a large percentage of the population had grown up in rural environments. A friend's father once told me of the time his father came home in the late '40s after a ramble with his .22 rifle outside of his small Ohio town. He was absolutely disgusted that there were now so many houses in so many directions on the outskirts of town that he didn't feel as though he could safely shoot anymore for fear of accidentally hitting someone or a car or house window. He never hunted again, although my friend still has (but has never fired) his grandfather's rifle.

On top of that, the recent memory of both World Wars and Korea (which had ended in an armistice earlier that summer on July 27th) created a different perception of the need for marksmanship skill throughout the general population. Remember that many schools and youth clubs had competitive shooting programs, many lasting long beyond the early-to-mid Cold War-era. I have a friend who was on his high school rifle team in suburban Pennsylvania in the early '80s that practiced after class inside the school; they would drag shooting stands and target backstops into a long hallway, lock the side doors and ensure classrooms were clear, and shoot pellet guns at paper targets.

And let's not forget that there is a long, looong tradition of shooting galleries at fairs, carnivals, and amusement parks, including a couple that we are all fairly familiar with.

Sorry for the rant, but after living in small-town Oklahoma for five years and graduating from high school and junior college there, I may be a tad sensitive to stereotypes. :-)

Sorry to hear about your computer. Trying to type on your phone is the worst, particularly on a rotary phone.

Stu29573 said...

Chuck, as you know, my hometown was Denison. It's on the Red River. I could literally throw a rock into Oklahoma any time I wanted (which, I guess, would make Oklahoma slighty bigger and Texas slightly smaller).

Omnispace said...

I'm not so sure this is the actual Tulsa State Fair. According to the American Oil & Gas Historical Society the Golden Driller debuted at the 1953 International Petroleum Exposition. It would explain why it's all adults in the photos and no children. I'd expect more roustabouts in their oily dungarees and hardhats checking out the derricks, though perhaps this was a Sunday.

As a kid I remember seeing the pumping "mules" scattered about California on our vacation travels. We referred to them as "pecky pumpers" - most likely because they looked like they had birds' heads. There were even some outside Santa Maria that were painted with googly eyes. Oh, the things you look forward to seeing when you are a kid.

Sorry about your computer, Major, and having to type on your phone. Fortunately, 98% of messages can be answered with a "Thumb's Up" emoji.

JG said...

Major, sorry to hear about your PC, hope you didn’t lose data, or any precious Disneyland pics!

FWIW, I type many of my responses on an iPad.
Auto correct is fairly helpful. I couldn’t do it on a phone, though. Too small.

Hope you are back online soon. Thanks for letting us know, we would worry.


Chuck said...

Major, in light of my previous comment, I want to make sure you know that I know that no offense was intended and also that you know no offense was taken. I held the same stereotypes when I moved there. And your joke did make me smile.

Stu, I lived in what had been Greer County, Texas, the largest set of rocks Oklahoma ever got from Texas. :-)

Melissa said...

You’re doin’ fine, Oklahoma,
Oklahoma, OK!

So sorry to hear about your computer troubles, Major. I never realize how much I’ve come to depend on some piece of technology until it breaks down.

Anonymous said...

Hang in there Major. We will!! KS