It was cold and snow was on the ground when I cracked the cover of The Great Texas Oil Heist written by Robert Cargill. The clincher is found upon the cover, although clinchers were found throughout the book. The author, whose surname is synonymous with Longview notoriety and more importantly oil and gas, grew up in East Texas. And it was his father, along with others, who was caught up in one of the notorious stories about the East Texas Oil Boom and slant-oil scandals. It is this story that pulls you right into the heart of yesteryear.
“There are no heroes in this story,” he wrote. Then step-by-step he leads you through his first inkling of something amiss and the reasoning behind the outcome.
The book took him over 30 years to write. Robert said, “I did do a lot of research. The Dallas Public Library had a data base that was very useful. My mom kept newspaper clippings and a friend of ours had over 300 articles on a flip chart. But, you have to understand I was a chemistry professor at the University of South Carolina when I returned home in 1980 for my Dad’s birthday. He told me he needed my help. I wanted to protect my inheritance and I didn’t know a thing about it. I never took a business course. I could add and subtract and thought that would be all I needed to know to help.
“But, Dad was into everything. He had business ventures of all kinds and was good at delegating the work,” Robert said. “When I first came he had 52 employees, which were scaled down to a dozen during the six years after my return. I wasn’t interested in all those things. I was interested in the oil and gas and was really so busy trying to learn that I never found the opportunity to ask about the slant-hole drilling.
My biggest worry was his health. He had suffered a heart attack before I came back and two after. We had six good years together before he died. The second worry was his business empire.”
Robert received some threats when he asked people for information. “There will be people gunning for you,” he was told. Along with “you would be better to let dead dogs lie.”
Robert said, “I really enjoyed writing the book, and now most people say thanks for telling the story. Now that it has been released I have not yet received any unpleasantness.”
Throughout the book, he acknowledges the help in gathering material — one of whom was Charla Rolph who worked for the Railroad Commission for 10 years before she became owner of Bob Watson’s Report Service.
Charla said, “I have his book in my hand, and it is such an interesting read. Yes, I saw ‘Bob’ many a day and helped him search for the skeletons in the closet sort-of-speak. He unearthed a lot of things I didn’t know about and turned it into such a good book. Each chapter stood alone and you don’t have to read the entire book to catch on. He tied all the names and family together and turned it into a good historical novel. It is just enough little Peyton Place to make it juicy,” she laughed.
The thieves continue to work — not just in the oilfield but wherever you find gluttony, envy and greed. Recognize it for what it’s worth. The Great Texas Oil Heist is a magnificent read filled with facts, unquestionable details and documentation.
This book is highly recommended for those who have lived in Texas or wished they had; those who work in the oilfield and those who just want to know the truth behind the scandals. It is a valuable learning tool from slant-hole drilling to Big Oil and Little Oil.
Robert and his wife, Martha, live in Dallas but continue to keep an office in Longview. It is under the capable hands of Marianne Edwards. The Great Texas Oil Heist can be purchased on Amazon, Louis Morgan Drug Store or Barron’s Books in Longview.
May His love and laughter fill your hearts and your homes throughout the week. In the meantime, we may be reached at email@example.com or (903) 984-2593.