Archie Ramsey was born on a farm near Lone Rock. His father had created a home there in the 1930’s after moving from Scotland to California and then looking for work further north. There were plenty of people doing the same at that time. An allergy to grain dust rendered Archie unable to farm so he pursued a career in the oil patch. He began cleaning tanks and doing other varied maintenance tasks in the oil field near Marshall and Lone Rock and this led him to a job as a pumper for C & L Well Operators during the mid-1960’s. C & L was a company started by Ted Collins and Danny Lorenz serving the areas of Lashburn, Maidstone, Kitscoty and East and South Epping Archie commented that there were countless spills back then - some very large ones. He guesses that even today if you knew the right place to look you could find some remaining effects of these spills that were not cleaned up.
Archie enjoyed attending the re-activation of Fargo #90, an event that took place on August 12, 2002. He remembers another re-activation of a well near Blackfoot. They found all sorts of tools down the hole that had been thrown in when the well was shut in. This is not a common practice but is encountered occasionally to the annoyance of the party re-activating the well.
The responsibilities of a pumper have decreased since Archie left the oil patch. He remembers being responsible for all maintenance of the wells. A pumper would be able to fix the motors, change the fire tubes as well as all the co-ordinating of oil haulers. There were things that would be wrong that required other workers to come in with different equipment but for the most part, the pumper was responsible for production. Today many of the tasks that pumpers used to complete themselves have been divided among various oil field service companies. Archie says that the visits from engineers have remained quite the same as they were when he was pumping. He recalls a time when he mentioned in passing to someone that an engine was knocking. He entered the pumphouse the next day to see a man sitting on his haunches listening to the motor. He had been there quite a while and finally said to Archie, “I give up. You can probably tell the second you walk in the door, what is wrong with this engine and I’ve been sitting here way too long trying to figure it out.” Keeping the same route for an extended period of time really let the pumper get to know his wells and problems could be diagnosed almost upon entering the site.
After three years of pumping wells for C & L he decided to take a break from the oil patch and took a job at the Prince Charles Hotel. The smoke in the lounge made this work too difficult for Archie so he took a job fixing bottom hole pumps.
The final stretch of Archie’s career took place at the Borradaile Home Oil Battery. During the 1980’s Archie worked as a battery operator there. He remembers battery operation being less automated than today because of the absence of computers. Any data that was sent to head office went on a sheet that was sent at the end of the week.
Archie was involved in an explosion while he was working for C & L that could have easily taken his life. It was early December and all the wells in a section had been ordered to be shut-in. Five days later they were told to start the wells back up and start producing. Archie and Danny Lorenz were having trouble with one motor. Archie pulled out a spark plug to test it and the small spark caused a huge explosion. Archie and Danny were blown out of the pump house with their undershirts and hair on fire. They were able to drive themselves to the hospital, however they were surprised when the doctor told them they would have to stay. Danny’s wife arrived at the hospital and asked Archie where her husband was, not recognizing him all wrapped up sitting next to Archie. They had to stay for 5 nights and were allowed to go home for Christmas day.