Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Way We Were

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Back in the day, when we lived here in Southern California, we operated our own business.  It was known as Ideco Sales and Service and we sold and repaired oil well servicing rigs.  We also sold the spare parts for the well servicing rigs.  Although we did not own any of the oil wells, we had a good enough business to support our family.  That is....until 1985 when the oil industry began going south, and quick!  The entire industry throughout the country tanked in a BIG way.  Long story short....with our discounts being eliminated from the company we bought our inventory from and the product liability insurance skyrocketing through the roof, we could no longer even pay ourselves a salary.  Hard to raise a family with no paycheck.  We closed our business in late 1986.  

Our business was located in the town of Signal Hill, California.  Signal Hill is a unique city in that it is entirely surrounded by the city of Long Beach.  It's like a little island within the town limits of Long Beach.  We took a driving tour of Signal Hill the other day to sort of remember "The Way We Were."  This is the actual hill that is the focus of Signal Hill, as seen from downtown Long Beach.  (click on photos for larger view)

Signal Hill was largely a ranching and agricultural area back in the early part of the last century.  Then in 1922 as they were exploring for oil, a gusher hit and it took 4 days to cap it off.  That was the start of something big.  In 1924 the city incorporated and the "hill" was soon covered by over 100 derricks.  Gone were the ranches and the agriculture.  The city encompasses 2.2 square miles and is in the southernmost part of Los Angeles County.  It was named Signal Hill because the Tongva Indians that lived in the region would set signal fires on the hilltop.  Today the hill is a mix of residential, commercial buildings and oil wells.

Over the past 15 years they have built some luxurious homes and condos, with great views, on top of Signal Hill.  This development did not eliminate the pumping units for the oil wells.  They sit right next to the homes and their engines drone on 24 hours a day.

As we were looking around we saw, to our amazement, an Ideco well servicing rig operating.  It was a rig that Bruce had sold back in 1980 or 1981.  We drove up and I took several photos, not being able to get too close.

This is what is called a 'drive in rig' and it has a 3-man crew.

The mast extends upward 96 feet.

One of the crew stands on the working platform in the mast to rack the rods or pipe that are being pulled from the well.

This is the mast.  I wouldn't want to be standing up on that thing myself.

This rig is working in a small area between 2 of the very beautiful homes on the hill.

Once we'd looked all of this activity over to Bruce's satisfaction, we drove over to a view area and I took this photo from the hill looking out at the City of Long Beach.

It was a great day and we enjoyed going back in time a little bit.   Signal Hill used to have an elevation of 365 feet, but it looked to me like they had to whack some of that elevation off to level out the homesites.   I guess it is progress, but to me Signal Hill looked better about 30 years ago when you could see so many derricks and pumping units working. 

Until next long for now!


Rick and Paulette said...

Thanks for a very interesting and informative blog, Margie. It seems weird seeing all those oil wells among the homes. Nice pics!

Jerry and Suzy said...

As you said the other day, you CAN go home again, but you wouldn't want to stay.

Happytrails said...

Thanks for the trip down memory lane. Its always fun to see "from where we came." Very interesting information. Thanks!

Love the view from Signal Hill!

You all continue to enjoy the journey! Be safe!