It’s a Gusher!

By Verlie Edwards

Have you ever experienced something that stuck in your mind forever? I bet the answer is a big YES! I know that’s how it is for me.

I don’t remember how old I was, maybe between 6- and 8-years-old when I witnessed something few have probably ever seen.

Oil wells were a common sight in west Texas and I grew up around them because my uncle was involved in the oil business. There were dry holes and producing wells all around Abilene, Texas, my hometown.

One warm summer day the phone rang and it was my aunt telling mother to gather me and my brother and be ready to leave in five minutes. My uncle had called that a well they were drilling was about to blow!

We moved faster than I had ever seen. We jumped into the car, drove outside town and rushed to the drill site.

Picture a flat pasture, winds blowing and a wooden oil derrick standing tall among the scrub bushes. Then, all of a sudden the well blows and the proverbial “black gold” shoots high into the sky and sprays over the derrick. It was a sight to see and not be forgotten. It’s a day I’ll never forget!

Verlie McAlister Edwards was raised in Abilene, Texas and it’s there that she realized her love for writing. She enjoyed a special high school English teacher who happened to be the school’s newspaper sponsor. In order to take another class under her, Verlie signed up for journalism and the journey began. Unlike many students, she never changed her college major – she was always focused on journalism as a career. She graduated from the University of North Texas (UNT) with a degree in journalism and political science. After graduation she returned to her hometown and worked as a reporter at the Abilene Reporter-News covering the local education scene from the students’ perspective. Following a year of graduate work at UNT she moved to Fort Worth where a career in public relations and political affairs flourished. She always wanted to work in academic PR and achieved that goal early in her career at the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine. After many years providing public relations consultation to the osteopathic profession and serving as the communications director/special events fundraiser for Lena Pope Home (a residential treatment facility for abused and neglected youth) she joined the staff of the Greater Fort Worth Association of Realtors (GFWAR) as the communications and governmental affairs director. It’s here that she found her calling and further developed her skills in the political arena. After 11 years Verlie in that position she took her writing, political and organizational skills to serve as chief of staff for Texas State Representative Rob Orr, a past president of the GFWAR. She remained on Rep. Orr’s staff throughout his 10 years as an elected official and then served as District Director for his successor, Representative DeWayne Burns, during his first legislative session. At that time she retired from the Texas Legislature and began working part-time as curator for U.S. Congressman Roger Williams’ personal museum. Verlie is excited to use her writing skills to help Iron Butterflies Project as both a contributor and editor.

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