Wyoming In the 1980’s Oil Bust – Part 1

by Woodsbum

I was talking to someone who mentioned that I should share a bit of my story as a way to help educate others, so I figured I would do a quick two part post and see if this helped anyone out. If nothing else, it helps give me a link to our family’s ordeal if I decide I need to pass this information along at a later date.

This first part will cover how I see myself and how things suddenly changed for us as a family. Of course we were not the only ones that had our life change, but considering my age at the time I will have to keep everything related to how I saw events unfold. This did change how I look at things as an adult.

The reality is that I have never considered myself a “prepper” in any stretch of my imagination. The whole idea of “prepping” brings up mental images of the people on Doomsday Preppers that are “prepping for the upcoming EMP due to ticking off X country and the ensuing volcanic eruptions because of X.” Their unsubstantiated fears have always bugged me thus I never wanted to be stuck with the handle of “prepper.”

Now why do I put things back for possible bad times? It was learned after the bottom fell out of the oil industry while living in Casper, WY. I was in grade school at the time and still remember the initial impact and what it was like for everyone after the fact. Let me start with the first time I truly understood how bad things were:

My first realization as to the impact of oil and fossil fuel slowdowns was when the richest kid in school was pulled out and moved away. We all hated this girl because her family had everything. This was the early 1980′s and her family had cable TV in several rooms, Atari consoles, an indoor swimming pool, hot tub, and the girl seemed to have every new product that had come out recently. She was always dressed very well and on her birthday our entire class was bussed over to a pizza place where all our expenses were paid to play games, eat, and “kid party” with her. Both her parents were geologists for oil companies and I remember both of them having new “his and her” Corvettes. Well, when per parents came and got her things had changed. They were in a newer station wagon that was pulling a trailer. She had been crying at school for several days and she told us that their parents had lost everything because the company that their parents worked for had closed down the local offices. That day they had put all their remaining posessions (after selling as much as they could) into this car and trailer and were headed to a small piece of property they owned that wasn’t taken.

I also have vivid memories of the local banks just pushing mobile homes into a landfill at the edge of town because they had been reposessed/forclosed upon and taking the loss was less of a financial impact than letting the mobile home sit. A large group of oil field workers has actually built a tent city just outside of town in a multiple acre park. We are talking about something that looked like an overfilled KOA over Labor Day. It was crazy.

Then there was the grocery store. Another vivid memory I have is of the young families that were walking around in an attempt to somehow get all the items they needed for the little money they still had left. Several years later we ended up having to go live with my grandparents in Texas and I thought it was odd that no one was crying at the store because they couldn’t afford food.

This change in the economy seemed to drastically affect everyone I knew and it really made us change how we did things as a family. The next part will cover some things that we did as a family to be able to make it through this hardship.

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