Monday, September 29, 2014

Frack From the Past

Remarkably, I remember the first names of all my classmates! Most of the last names as well! L-R front row, Shane, Rodney, Greg, Howard, Raymond, Bruce, Larry, Peter. L-R middle row, Daniel, Carla, Lanae, DeeAnn, Marlys, Sheila, Dona, Lori, me, Elaine. L-R back row, Gordon, Jean, Karen, Robin, James, John, Pam, Sara, Michelle, Mrs. Rambo.

My sixth grade class. Williston, North Dakota, 1968. We are posed in the basement library of Webster Elementary School. The building is no longer there which is really no surprise. It was one of those old, brick, square schools that, including the basement had four floors in use. At the time this picture was taken, the fourth floor was no longer in use due to structural decay. Small groups of students could use the classrooms on the fourth floor for projects, but as I recall, no more than ten at a time and most of the furniture had been removed. Plaster was falling from the ceiling and we were told to not go near the windows. And why did I choose to share this photo with you today? Well. I was just listening to Minnesota Public Radio. Tom Weber was interviewing author Lisa Westburg Peters who has written Fractured Land, The Price of Inheriting Oil, which recounts her ties to the Williston, ND area and deals with the subject of being a North Dakota Oil Heiress. A title that I also hold. And have ambiguous feelings about. I consider myself a treehugging environmental advocate. Yet I derive income from the filthiest oil production methods that technology currently offers. The second part of the interview was with the newly installed mayor of Williston, the honorable Howard Klug. Who was in my sixth grade class! Mr. Klug is in the front row, fourth from the left wearing a yellow button down shirt. I am in the second row, seated second from the right. We moved away from Williston in the spring of 1973 and I have only returned occasionally since. The last time I was there was in July 1999 to visit my grandmother who died the following February. With Esther gone, my ties to the area ended. This is the third oil boom the Williston area has endured. I hope for the sake of the residents who remain after the current exploitation ends will retain some of the benefits of the current uptick in the economy. That hasn't been the case in the past and it sounds as if local government is making some efforts in that direction. Govern well, Mayor Klug. The future of the people of Williston depends on it. Let's hope the third time's the charm.

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