Coming from a first generation family with no professionals or college graduates on either side except for an aunt and a cousin who were registered nurses, I had no inkling of what college was all about or any thought of study beyond high school. We lived in a grocery store and my sole ambition was to own and operate a modern facility with my dad.
However, some sense deep within my makeup made me very interested in oil. There were no oil fields near Del Rio, Texas where I was born and raised. There was an oil pipeline from West Texas ending at a tank farm near the railroad. We knew about this because in the early 30’s a tornado destroyed many of the tanks. I do remember seeing an oil derrick near the highway on one of our trips to San Antonio and being very excited and curious about it.
In 1948 when I graduated from high school, my dad offered to loan me the money to attend college if I would pay it back after graduation so that my younger siblings would also have the opportunity. I countered with the idea that he build a new modern store across the street where I could become a merchant. So I went to work full time in the family business. After a couple of months he informed me that he had never borrowed money and wasn’t inclined to do so now in order to build a store, and further that the chain stores were coming, and we would be wiped out. He also suggested that with my persistence I should become a lawyer.
A very exciting thing happened during my time as a grocery clerk. Philips Petroleum Co. decided to shoot a regional seismic survey designed to explore for the Ellenburger below the metamorphic ridge running along the west end of the Balcones Fault line. The crew was headquartered in Del Rio, and one of the party chiefs began trading at our store. Needless to say this event re-kindled my curiosity and interest in oil, and I constantly questioned him about the subject when he was buying groceries.
Finally one day he said “son if you want to get into the oil business and have it made be a Geologist.” At that moment I knew that I was gong to be a geologist. I went back to my dad and asked him if he would still loan me money, even though I did not intend to become a lawyer. He was disappointed and pointed out that it would probably take me a lot longer to pay him back and thus delay the opportunities for my siblings to also attend college, but he agreed. I enrolled at St. Edwards University for the fall semester of 1949 with the understanding that I could get a degree in geology. However by mid-term I realized they could not offer such a degree and transferred to Texas A&M in the fall of 1950, and I received my B.S. in geology in May of 1953. I spent the next three years flying fighter jets for the USAF, and in 1956 I went back to A&M and completed my studies and thesis for a Master of Science Degree. Finally in 1958 my goal was reached when I went to work for The Texas Company in Corpus Christi as a junior Geologist.
Daniel A. Pedrotti—Geologist