My mother was a full-time school teacher. I was the only child, therefore I went with my dad everywhere, probably from the day I was out of diapers.
I can remember when my dad was working for George E. Failing Company as a salesman and troubleshooter. He usually hung out at Failing Plant No. 2 in South Enid, Okla., where the original Failing drill sat outside for many years. That rig was my playground. I’d climb all over that drill pretending to drill and drive the truck that it was mounted on. My sons had a gym set. I was lucky.
My memory tells me that it was then mounted on a Plymouth truck, but all of Failing history says it was mounted on a Model A Ford. Nevertheless, it was still my playground.
Many years later, when we had our two sons, we went out to the Failing Plantation north of Enid to introduce my family to Mr. Failing. In our conversation, I asked Mr. Failing what ever happened to the original drill. He said it had been sheltered in a shed on the plantation until the shed caught fire and burned up the rig.
Before knowing this, I had hoped to negotiate with Mr. Failing to restore that rig but, after it burned, I thought that there was probably nothing left to restore, and just tried to forget about it.
Years later, I wrote a story about Mr. George E. Failing and one day someone called me after reading the story and said, “I’m George Failing.” I responded with “Yeah, Right,” as I knew Mr. Failing had passed away many years before. He continued: “Let me explain, I’m George E. Failing’s grandson.” We talked for some length, and then I asked him whatever happened to the original drill. He advised me that a car club in Enid was restoring it and, once restored, it would be placed on display in the Cherokee Museum on Market Street.
Some years later, Bess and I were visiting Enid and went by to see the drill. At that time, it was stored in that Cherokee Museum warehouse. I did take some pictures, however the warehouse was dark, the rig is painted black and the photos didn’t turn out well.
A couple years ago, I was advised that the New Cherokee Museum had been completed and the drill was now on display. Hence, the included photos of it being moved into the new museum!
If you’re ever in Enid and if you want to see the drill on display, make it a point to visit the Cherokee Strip Regional Heritage Center at 507 S. Fourth St., Enid, Okla. I promise you’ll enjoy it.
If you like drilling history and are ever in Oklahoma City, go to the Oil Museum somewhere near the state capital. There are old wooden drills up to the late-model electric motor driven drills on display outside. I promise you’ll love it as well. Oklahoma City is a great place too!
Should you ever visit either site, please feel to share any photos with Porky!