By Mody C. Boatright, Betty Boatright
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Extra resources for Gib Morgan: Minstrel of the Oil Fields
In addition, Bunyan had excellent press agents in Esther Shephard and James Stevens, and in the 1920's young book-reading oil workers, especially college men during summer vacation, Page 6 carried his name into the oil patches in which they worked. Paul Bunyan had not long been before the public when journalists, feeling the need for some American superlative, made his name a common adjective. Thus an unusually large electric motor is referred to as a Paul Bunyan motor and a task requiring great strength or effort is called a Paul Bunyan job.
One striking quality of his tales is the absence of supernaturalism. He was not a giant and made no pretense to the mastery of cosmic forces. This may be the result of the limitations he placed upon his imagination in making himself the hero of his tales. He was insistent upon this point. He had associates; and oil companies, notably Standard of New Jersey and Burmah Limited, figured in his narratives. But they were scrupulously kept subordinate. They were important only as stage settings and foils, only as instrumentalities through which he did his work.
He must dig a round hole with a flat bit. As he sat on his high stool under the walking beam with a round stick lashed to the cable, he gave the tools now a quarter turn, now a half turn, first in one direction and then the other. Now and then he would pull his tools and put on a special bit called a reamer, or rimmer, to shape up the sides of the well. At all times the driller must know what was going on down under the ground, and he had nothing to tell him but the feel of the cable to his sensitive hands.