Who the heck is Richard Mason?

Part One: I'm sure some of my readers have mumbled that question. Well, I'm going to do the best I can to clear things up. There are a lot of "Richard Mason's" out there, and my mother absolutely forbid "Dick" or for my younger brother, William, "Bill", who is Dr. William Mason of Little Rock.

I'm the third child my mother gave birth to, but the first one to live. That sure doesn't say much about Arkansas's prenatal care, does it? William and I were born in El Dorado, but later, during World War II, the family moved to Norphlet closer to my father's job with Macmillan Petroleum, because gasoline was rationed during the War.

When I was eight years old, we moved to a small 20-acre farm about a mile out of Norphlet. Our house was less than 100 yards from Goodwin Creek, and a vast swamp, which covers several thousand acres and ultimately connects to the Ouachita River. I didn't know it then, but the daily forays to the Creek, tramping through the woods, fishing, and swimming in the creek, would influence my adult life as much as it has. I developed a love for nature that is still with me today, and it shows up in simple things such as stopping the car, when I see a terrapin trying to cross the road, or more seriously, seeing our wonderful planet abused.

As a teen in High School, I had other things on my mind, and studying wasn't one of them. I never took a book home, and I finished High School with a middle C average. Why do better? I thought. But my mother had other thoughts, "Richard, you're going to college." Well, why not go to the biggest one?" I thought, and I entered the University. Well, not preparing in High School almost flunked me out, but I did manage a 2.00 that first year. After that tough year, I should have done better, but I just coasted to a 2.4 + and a B.S. Degree in Geology, and figured I'd get married and find a job.

After marrying Vertis, the love of my life, and after a several days of knocking on oil company doors in Houston, without even a hint of a job...." We only hire geologist with master's degree." I panicked and begged my way into Graduate School...on probation, and for the first time, I hit the books. I had never even made a 3.00 as an undergraduate, but being married and desperate for a job, I made straight As.

Then it was off to Houston again where, after four more days of going door-to-door to oil company offices, I finally stumbled off the elevator on the wrong floor, went into an EXXON District Office, and was hired by Exxon as a wellsite geologist to work on the King Ranch in Kingsville, Texas. I only got the job because several Exxon Geologists in Denver refused to transfer to Kingsville. I didn't have a clue where Kingsville was located. I just knew I desperately needed a job. The job with Exxon was developing one of the largest oil and gas fields on the King Ranch, and after two years of on-the-job training and several sessions at the EXXON Research Center in Houston, I had over 100 well drilled---all producers. I couldn't miss since I was proposing wells I the middle of a 100-million-barrel oil and gas field. I got a couple of nice raises and things were going great when the District Geologist called me into his office.

"Richard, the main office in Houston is trying to get several geologists to work in the Benghazi, Libya office, and they are offering you a transfer. Are you interested?"

I'm good at geography, and my brain clicked, North Africa. I was shaking my head as I started to leave the room, when Doug said, "And they will double your salary." That stopped me dead in my tracks. We were still in a 10' X 35' foot trailer from college, and up to our ears in debt. Two days later, after a string of "Don't go's," from geologists who had worked in Libya, I took the job. It was everything bad they said it was and more, but you couldn't spend much money and my check was deposited in my home bank account. Two years was about all I could take, and I transferred back to Corpus Christi, Texas, where I worked as an EXXON Subsurface Exploration Geologist. After two years I was doing great. Getting raises and noted as a "Fair Haired Boy", which meant I was being groomed for management. I loved working for EXXON, but for some reason, I started thinking about venturing out on my own, and when I heard of a job in a small oil company where I would be the whole Exploration Department, and I would get a percentage of any oil or gas we found, I quit a great job, and went to work for an alcoholic womanizer. Of course, I didn't know that until it was too late, but I only put up with it for a year. However, in that year, I learned how independent oil and geologists work and make money. I hit the ground running, rented a one room downtown office, and after a couple of years working as an independent, I had sold 15 drilling prospects that I had come up with, and cleared a significant amount of cash plus a 1/32 royalty interest in the well. I was on my way to being a successful Independent Oil and Gas Geologist.

Then I met Joe Baria, another successful independent, and we became partners. Joe was 15 years older than me, and he helped by raising money to drill wells and buy the acreage on drilling deals I produced. We formed Gibraltar Oil Company and started raising money to drill wells. We were doing great until a string of dry holes put us on the ropes. Then we took a deal in north Mississippi from an old Mississippi State classmate of Joe's and .... well, you know...out in West Texas there is a saying, "All you need is one good well." Well, that wasn't it. but.....

End of part one.

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