It was October 3, 1930 and 8,000 people were gathered in a field on widow Daisy Bradford's East Texas farm.
A beautiful early fall day it was, and the crowd was in a festive mood, enjoying hamburgers sold from make-shift stands. Some would go off behind the trees for a nip of moonshine, which might explain why a barnstorming pilot was kept busy giving two dollar rides in his open cockpit bi-plane.
But the main attraction was Dad Joiner and his rickety, rusty drilling rig. The pipe was turned by an old sawmill boiler fueled with brush wood and discarded tires. The whole thing was kept running by a crew of farmhands under the command of a 'creative' driller.
This was the day Dad Joiner had proclaimed he would strike oil in a place all the experts said there wasn't any. Dad had already drilled two dry holes on the widow Bradford's place, but Daisy Bradford No.3 would be different. It had to be.
Dad was 70 years old. He was a dreamer and promoter (some said swindler), but by all objective measures he was a failure as a wildcatter. But that was all about to change. It had to.
The farmhands kept the bit turning while the crowd munched their burgers and drank their illicit liquor.
And nothing happened.
Folks felt bad for Dad, but he should have listened. Everybody said there was no oil there. Dusk came and they headed for home, mumbling about fools and their dreams.
A couple hours later, Daisy Bradford No. 3 came in.
Dad Joiner's impossible dream had come true. He had discovered the East Texas Oil Field.
And that discovery may well have saved democracy. Nearly one out of every ten barrels of oil used by the Allies in World War II came out of the East Texas Oil Field.
As General George C. Marshall later said, "No plane failed to fly, no ship failed to sail, and no truck was ever delayed for want of oil."
Dad Joiner and his crew
The history of Texas oil and gas was almost lost. It would have been, if not for Charlie Warner. His Texas Oil & Gas Since 1543 is still considered the best book on the early history of the industry.