Haskell Atchley
Oil & Gas
Audio Samples

Haskell was born in Purcell, Oklahoma, "several miles on a farm down a dirt road," he recalls, and one day after the stock market crash in 1929. He was next to the youngest of 11 children of his father (whom he did not name) and Pearl Elizabeth Hughbanks, whose family was also in the dairy business. His father purchased land for a dairy farm near Purcell from "an old Indian we used to call Choc. Choc owned a lot of land around there and he was Choctaw." He recalls that his family entered the oil business when his grandfather moved from Arkansas to Pearson Switch in 1889 and purchased land "that was part of the Skelly Oil Company finding in the Wilcox in eastern Oklahoma. I still get an oil check every month," he relates. The royalty checks helped during the Depression, adding to the family's dairy income. The family grew all their food. They lived in a house heated with wood and lit by kerosene lamps. At age six, Haskell almost died when, with the help of a brother, he rode a Jersey bull with his feet secured through a rope around the bull. The animal, as Haskell recalls, "went crazy." It dragged the boy for about 20 minutes, breaking several of Haskell's ribs, both legs, and arms. The long recuperation delayed by a year his starting school - a two-room, one-teacher school at Midway Baptist Church. With school consolidation, he then entered school in Purcell, where he participated in several sports. Of the 11 children, five were boys. Three served in World War II, while another, Boyd, joined in 1946. Haskell graduated from high school in 1948 and enlisted in the U.S. Air Force, serving one year of active duty. He then worked as a roughneck in an oil field near Snyder, Texas, earning $1.85 an hour. Then he entered Oklahoma A&M where he earned a degree in agriculture education, and graduated in 1954 paying his way through by roughnecking. In 1955 he began work for Continental Oil Company, unloading pipe from railroad cars in Oklahoma City. On July 27, 1956 he married Lucille Ann Hess. (They would have four children: Anita Gail, Sandra Rae, Cheryl Lyn and Daryl Ray. Lucille passed away on September 28, 2005.) Haskell became a junior engineer, was promoted to district manager and in 1963 was transferred to Shreveport. His final job was vice president of manufacturing at the Houston facility for Continental. The name was changed to Ling Temco Vought, better known as LTV. The company went bankrupt in 1991 and Haskell started his own company, Maritime Hydraulics, joint owned by Haskell, Maritime Hydraulics Christiansen, Norway. He had a contract to sell their products in the US and to develop additional products. In 1997 he bought Pyramid, a structural manufacturer. Throughout his life, Haskell has worked in Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, Peru, Canada, Alaska and most of Europe and the Middle East. Haskell urged all of his children not to enter the oil business. "The oil field is an up and down business. And it can absolutely destroy people's lives," he remarks. Haskell's life in the petroleum industry has spanned from its earliest technology to its latest. Already he had learned horizontal drilling, helped by such drillers as one in Bryan, Texas who said he could "write your name horizontally." In witnessing the improvement of energy technology, he remarks: "In my lifetime, it's gone from steam driven rigs and wooden derricks. By the mid 1950s he was "shooting a well south of Wichita, Kansas for which Halliburton was ready to frack. "Fracking is not new to the oil field," he claims. "Fracking," he says, "releases thousands of times what would be attainable with a straight bore." He also says fracking contamination "is limited to spillage around the well." He has also seen the steel derricks pass from the oilfields in favor of portable masts invented by Lee C. Moore of Tulsa, OK. Haskell retired 1 June 1999, completely removing himself, even from serving on boards, from the industry. "I'd worked starting in 1949 and that was long enough," he says. Haskell sees automated rigs in the future, eliminating the dangerous jobs of roughnecks. "The key to being a roughneck is staying out of the path of anything that can hit you. That's the first thing you have to learn." 2