Ray Govett

RayGovettEarth has always fascinated me. I grew up in Bartlesville, Oklahoma about five blocks from the river. What we called the, “Woods,” was about two blocks from the house on our side of the river, and my brothers and I often went there to play. Most of the bottom of the river seemed to be covered with mud, but spots along the river had rapids with a hard rock bottom. My mother managed to retain part of the family farm on which she had been raised and my grandfather continued to live there. We kept a cow there which had to be milked every day, and we farmed part of it until I was in junior high school. I went to the farm daily until I was about fifteen, and continued to go regularly until I left home. My other grandparents lived outside Seguin, Texas and we visited that farm every summer until I was nine years old. We visited relatives in Colorado shortly before World War II and relatives in Oregon and California after the war.

The, “Woods,” had oil wells, with sucker rods connecting pump jacks to the central pump station, which we had to step over while playing there. Oil wells were on land adjoining the farm, but none on our land. The hill above the farm was called, “Circle Mountain,” because of its crescent shape. I collected arrow heads and fossils from the farm and other areas. An isolated mound was on the west side of town near the airport. Traveling back and forth to Texas we passed oil fields with so many flares burning at night it was almost like day light near some fields. Traveling through the west raised my curiosity about the mountains, valleys, lava flows, volcanic cones, rivers and other natural phenomena that were seen. Before I graduated from high school, I had seen many things about the earth I could not explain, and still can’t.

Sometime early in life, I had decided I wanted to be an engineer. Bartlesville was headquarters for Phillips and Cities Service oil companies, Reda Pump Company and H. C. Price Pipeline Construction Company while I was young. My grandfather worked at the zinc smelters, and I knew I didn’t want to work there. One evening, a geologist who had worked mapping geology in conjunction with construction of the Alcan Highway through Canada and part of Alaska gave a talk to a group of us, and that aroused my interest. His talk led me to believe geology might be able to answer some of my questions about what I had seen on Earth.

Bud Wilkinson had offered me a football scholarship to Oklahoma University, but I didn’t think his offer was serious and they had so many veterans playing football I wasn’t sure about making the team, so I continued to look. Some alumni from Colorado School of Mines talked to me about playing football there, and after checking a little, I decided to go there. I could study geology and engineering at the same time at the Colorado School of Mines.

After graduation from Mines, I served as a Military Engineer Pipeline officer in Korea during that conflict. Even my military service was connected to the oil industry.

All of my questions about our Earth haven’t been answered, but I am still working on it.

Ray Govett