If Coots called you 'pods,' you were his buddy. He had a lot of buddies. He was kind and compassionate but at the same a no nonsense, tough sumbitch. I loved him; he was my hero.
I was roughnecking on a Harken Drilling rig long ago down in the valley somewhere; it must have been in the mid 70's and I was in my 20's. He was with Adair then. This well cut out a valve in a diverter manifold below the pipe rams and it was blowing mud everywhere. He came out to the location by himself, Coots did, and walked up under the floor with his confident gate, and bad leg, to have a look-see. He wander over to where all the hands were standing and asked for two roughnecks to help him. I volunteered. I'd been in a couple of blowouts with my dad already, who had drilling rigs, and I had read about Coots. Make no mistake about it, I was scared shitless; not so much about the well blowing as doing something wrong in front of Coots.
The three of us went up under the floor and knocked some hammer union lose, spun another valve on the manifold and turned the well to the pits. Coots stayed and we pumped that well dead with the DP in the hole, then we broke out the busted valve and nippled everything back up the way it was. Before he drove off the location to go back to Houston he gave me all kinds of Red Adair shit out of the trunk of his car, including a red windbreaker. Somebody stole it out of my pickup a week later. Man I was mule lipped about that.
Coots, left, and Red, 1974
In 1986 I was plugging a well for Conoco and the well blew out. I called Coots. He and David Thompson and James Tuppen came out from Houston the next day and we capped it. We got the capping stack from a friend of mine in Liberty named Bill Ferguson and as it turned out, Coots, also from Liberty, knew Bill. Everything went well, even with Conoco engineers trying to give everybody orders. Coots remembered me from that Harken job years previously and only charged me $2,800 to cap that well. It was amazing. I sent him Christmas cards every year after that.
Then in 1992 when my friend David Thompson gave me the opportunity to work for Boots and Coots as a part time, as needed well control hand, Coots gave the thumbs up and I was in. I can never thank David enough for that chance. I drove to Houston to get my work bag and my first dozen pair of white coveralls, with my name on them. I was so proud I could hardly stand it. On the drive home I must have called 30 people to tell them the news.
Coots was a trip.
When somebody would ask him about getting older he'd always reply, "you ain't gonna like it much, pardnor."
About having sex at an old age he'd reply that when he got his age it was more fun to think about it than actually do it.
I asked him one time when he was in his early 70's why he didn't play golf and he said he "wasn't goddamn old enough to play golf yet." Then he put his arm on my shoulder and said to me, "pods, when I get so old my balls float taking a bath, then I'll start playing golf."
He died in 2010 at 86 years of age. He was buried in a pair of Boots and Coots coveralls. I cried like a baby at his funeral.