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Glenn and Carole Wilcox


Name: Glenn and Carole Wilcox

Date: July 28, 2018

Circumstance: In person in Loxley, Alabama.

Age at time of interview: 88 (Glenn) and 82 (Carole) years old.

Details: When I began studying Venezuelan history, some of my friends joked that no topic seemed further removed from my home in Baldwin County, Alabama. So, when I found out that a couple who had lived in Venezuela’s oil camps was living in Loxley, Baldwin County’s rural-most corner, I was surprised to say the least. Our conversation drifts between talking about their lives in general in Venezuela to going through their family photo albums. Thank you to their daughter, Laura Wilcox Bryant, for reaching out to me and making this conversation possible. And, of course, thanks to the Wilcoxes for letting me into their home and being so willing to share their stories.

Note: This recording and accompanying transcript begin about eight minutes into our about two hours of conversation. This failure is because I forgot to begin my recording device, not any attempt at omission. When I left the meeting, I recorded what I remembered from the first few minutes. Important exposition is that Glenn worked as an engineer in Venezuela. His wife, Carole, was a nurse in the U.S., though she lived as a housewife in Venezuela. Both of them previously served in the US armed forces. Glenn also asserted, in a statement that still sticks with me, that "the best thing that ever happened to Venezuela was the dictatorship" of Marcos Pérez Jiménez, in large part due to the vast amount of public works Mr. Wilcox attributed to his reign. We join the conversation when talking about the differences between Venezuealn-born "professional" workers and their US counterparts, particularly along the lines of healthcare.

Recording: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1EyYWfv46o_IutuANLnXfBuBw1YOPqVkk/view?usp=sharing

Transcript:

Glenn Wilcox: [00:00:01] To be a doctor, all they had to do is go to school four years and that was all that was required. When they got out of that, they could operate on you and everything else. The good doctors, the Venezuela government wouldn't let a doctor go to work, apply to be a doctor if he was educated outside Venezuela. So, in all of their work, they had to work with the Indians.

Carole Wilcox: [00:00:34] the indigenous people.

Glenn Wilcox: [00:00:34] They had to work with them for, I believe it was four years before they could get their doctor's license. We had some good doctors that were educated for four years in Venezuela, and we sent them to either Spain or Mexico or wherever they wanted to go to get a full doctor's degree, and they were good doctors.

Carole: [00:00:53] You worked at Creole.

Glenn: [00:01:12] The education system I guess was good in the lower level. I worked with people that just had a high school education. When you get out, you see when you graduate from grammar school, you've got a title. If you graduated from high school, you were a bachelor. If you were to graduate from college, you were a doctor. Education was from the Spanish [Spain]. If you had a good education, you didn't do physical labor; you told somebody else what to do. (chuckles).

And that was the problem at work. My job was project engineer for building gas vats and oil line facilities. I get a Venezuelan engineer assigned to me, and he would tell you right off, "I don't do physical labor. I don't associate with people who do physical labor."

Carole Wilcox: [00:02:34] He's called Doctor.

Glenn Wilcox: [00:02:37] Anyhow, we got some Italians, and I had some Israelis, and they were educated outside the country. But they took up the Spanish style; they didn't want to do anything either.

They talked theory with you. All you wanted to hear. I said we don't build theory here. We apply education here so you know what you're doing that way.

Trent Kannegieter (TK): [00:03:12] Yes sir.

Glenn Wilcox: [00:03:14] Our children were at the oil camp, they went to a grammar school there. Yeah. The brought teachers in. When I first went there, I was a bachelor. The teachers were all women, and they wanted to come down there because all they associated with were well educated engineers.

Carole Wilcox: [00:03:46] They got married there as well.

Glenn Wilcox: [00:03:46] They were all looking for wives. Several people made the comment whoever hired those teachers must have taken a course in ugly women. Anyhow it's about education. They were good teachers. I don't think any of them children had a problem going to high school. And the company paid all of the education expenses all the way through high school and sent them to the States wherever they wanted to go. (We wouldn't do that.) Ours went to a US style based school in Maracaibo, a private school. down that provides. And it was a good school.

Carole: [00:04:51] He left there.

Glenn Wilcox: [00:04:52] I was a bachelor and I didn't like any of the women. I wanted a family. So I left and took a job. (In ’56 and ’58)

Carole Wilcox: [00:04:52] He got the last plane before the dictator was overthrown.

Glenn Wilcox: [00:05:14] What did I do when I came back here?

Carole Wilcox: [00:05:16] You went to see your sister up in Oregon.

Glenn Wilcox: [00:05:26] Oh yeah.

Carole Wilcox: [00:05:27] Oh I know you came back to see your brother in Texas.

Glenn Wilcox: [00:05:32] Yeah, the Corps of Engineers wanted me to go work for them. And it was hotter than I thought, it was this harbor down on the Columbia River. I told them no no. I'd have to drive through California to get up to Oregon to January.

I came back, and my brother was stationed out in Silverhill in the Air Force. I visited him, and I got tired of doing nothing. So I went to the employment office there and asked them if they had any job openings. The woman at the information desk there says, "What can you do?" I say, "Well, not much, why?" She says, "what's your education?" She said, "We don't have anything for people. Jobs are non-existent" she said. "What have you been doing?" Well I said, " I'm a mechanical engineer." "Why didn't you say that?" So I went to Vance Air Force base since they didn’t really need an engineer there. And I interviewed with a colonel who was in air operations who had engineers, and the chief engineer asked me what I can do. What I been doing is construction work. We need someone who can design air conditioning systems and build it. I said, "I can do that." They'd be for big structures, big buildings; I said, "I can do it." And the chief engineer sitting there listening and he says, "Have you ever designed any?" I said, "No." He Says, "Hire him." So they hired me, and I met her there.

Carole Wilcox: [00:07:53] In a bowling alley.

Glenn Wilcox: [00:07:53] She was a lieutenant. But Anyhow, I worked for.

Carole Wilcox: [00:07:58] I was in the air force.

Glenn Wilcox: [00:08:01] My dad got killed; a bush hog fell on him and killed him. And I transferred to Pensacola and worked there until one day the phone rang and they wanted to talk to me. It was a personnel man for Exxon, Bobby Joe Schupp, He says, "Would you come back to work for Creole?" I said, "I don't know. How much would you pay?" And he told me, and I said "yeah, I'll come back." And I quit there, and I went into the captain's office that was head of the Public Works. First I talked with the secretary and asked for the paperwork when you quit. She says, "Yes. Who's going to quit?" I says, "I am." She says, "Would you come back and talk to the captain?" I said, "Yeah.".

Carole Wilcox: [00:08:55] They were laying people off.

Glenn Wilcox: [00:08:59] She told me when to come talk to him. And I went into his office, and he says, "So they tell me you want to quit." I said, "Well yeah. I did quit." "My goodness do you realize there's a lot of people at the personnel office trying to get on here?" And I said, "Well, you better hire two or three of them because I'm gone." He says, "Well, why are you going?" And I told him why and how much I made. He says, "Do you think I could get a job there?" I said, "I don't know, but we've got a marine department." He was a civil engineer.

Trent Kannegieter: [00:09:39] How old were you at that point?

Carole Wilcox: [00:09:41] We got married in fifty-eight.

Glenn Wilcox: [00:09:51] I believe I was twenty-nine.

Carole: [00:10:00] You were Twenty-eight when we get married in 1958.

Glenn Wilcox: [00:10:02] Yeah. I believe I was 29. I went back down. I called her up and asked if she wanted to go to Venezuela. She said "sure."

Carole Wilcox: [00:10:23] We had just finished building this house and everything. We had two kids by that time. It was 1963 when they called you back.

Glenn Wilcox: [00:10:36] Anyhow, I went back down, and they paid all the expenses.

Carole Wilcox: [00:10:36] And I don't speak Spanish at that time.

Glenn Wilcox: [00:10:36] They Took care of bringing her down and the boy. (and the girl) I went to Spanish school. There's month of Spanish school. The company owned the building, they owned the school for teaching Spanish in August 1956 [?], I guess. Their educational system was that if you couldn't speak Spanish, you had to improve every year, or you didn't get a raise. So everyone spoke good Spanish.

Glenn Wilcox: [00:11:29] But we had friends "Who was the woman who was getting the degree in veterinary medicine there?

Carole Wilcox: [00:11:35] Oh yeah, she was married to a Venezuelan.

Glenn Wilcox: [00:11:35] But she wasn't Venezuelan, she was from the States. It was all free. If they had left the dictator there, they would have had a wonderful country. He took care of the people. But they run him out, and everything kind of fell apart. The medical system was free, but they didn't buy any medicine for you. They furnished the hospital. You had to buy your own medicine. You had to hire someone to bring your medicine to you. And keep it. And make sure no one steals it.

Glenn Wilcox: [00:12:35] The regular schools were beautiful buildings. And they were well equipped.

Carole Wilcox: [00:12:53] Are you talking about Venezuelan schools?

Glenn Wilcox: [00:12:54] I'm talking about Venezuelan schools. Yes. They never repaired anything. If a building fell down, build another one. If equipment they used building rotted, park it over there and go buy another one. He took care of people. He built schools. If there was a community anywhere in the mountains or wherever, he built a school for them and provided teachers. And the people themselves, they lived in the mountains, they were Andeans, and they really didn't earn a living; they made their own living and took care of themselves. Like the Indians do here. I don't know whether they fed them or not, but I think that they did. They didn't board them. You didn't have any problem with heat or cold, the temperature there all the time is 80 degrees in the shade or anywhere, night or day. But rained a lot.

Carole Wilcox: [00:14:21] You talking about Eastern Venezuela or Western?

Glenn Wilcox: [00:14:22] It rained everywhere in Venezuela.

Carole Wilcox: [00:14:22] Are you getting anything out of this?

Trent Kannegieter: [00:14:37] Yeah absolutely.

Glenn: [00:14:41] The government built big apartment buildings for people, and they wouldn't move in them. They lived in old car bodies and everything else. So, the dictator says take bulldozers and bulldoze where they're living and make them live in there. But that was the worst thing he could have done. The gangs took over the buildings. They had to pay a fee to get in, but if they left the building, they had elevators that quit working and nobody to repair them. And they had to climb twenty stories high.

*Carole opens one of two family photo albums she brought out for our conversation.*

Carole: [00:15:29] Here's the first picture I ever got here. Shows a Building up on the Hill. I sent it to my mother and I said that's where we're living. She like died. This is down in eastern Venezuela. That's old Mexa plant that you went to visit. Lantanza, the steel mills.

But I thought you'd be interested in that. That's in eastern Venezuela.

Trent Kannegieter: [00:16:05] So that isn't where you lived?

Carole Wilcox: [00:16:07] That's where we lived to start with. No, it's not really my house.

Trent Kannegieter: [00:16:11] Gotcha.

Carole Wilcox: [00:16:12] My mother would write letters like "watch out for the animals in the jungle".

Carole Wilcox: [00:16:21] Yes, we lived in the camp. They built us houses for us.

Glenn Wilcox: [00:16:26] We didn't have to pay any rent. Everything was air-conditioned. We took three or four window units down there and and they runned for the whole time. We were there for 18 years. You know we sold them when we left. We had them cleaned every year and serviced once every year. They cleaned them all up and brought them back to us. So, they maintained them well. All the technical work and stuff like taking care of air conditioners and everything, were done by Italians.

Carole Wilcox: [00:17:21] There was even one German lady that was with the German army and her husband was with an officer in the German army. Anyway, I didn't speak any Spanish when I went there. I was married to him; this was the second time he was there, so he spoke Spanish. Before I got there, and I'd be away from February till May before I could take the kids and go down there. Because they wanted to make sure he was happy before I came. So, he they knew they'd get him. Yeah, man, I didn't speak Spanish. Not a word. He invites Jesus Espiga's [editor’s note: Sp?] wife to have tea with her.

Glenn Wilcox: [00:18:37] She was a teacher in Venezuelan schools. Her husband spoke perfect English. And I thought she did too.

Carole Wilcox: [00:18:48] We were sitting there with dictionaries, trying. It was a headache for both of us.

Glenn Wilcox: [00:18:58] Jesus, her husband, got a degree from some school in Indiana. I graduated from Auburn in 55. They hired me from there. I asked the guy. The most I was offered for a job was $250/month. They came along and interviewed me, I was the only one they interviewed. And they offered me $800/month. They said, "Would you go to work for us?" I said, "Yes sir." What do you want me to do? Then I asked the guy later, "Why did you pick me?" Well, you meet every point that we require for an employee: you're single, Top five percent of your class, your military service is over, Something I didn't know until this last month is my job in the Navy as a machinery repair man was brand new. One area that I spent four years on a repair ship, and we made parts for ships. My manager every time something stopped working, he'd say "Ben get out there and fix that." I'd go, usually I could fix it. And I never realized that he knew I was a heavy machinery repairman. He said, "you were you were raised on the farm and you get along with people" There are a lot of people who get down there and don't want to stay here. Or something like that.

Trent Kannegieter: [00:21:23] Is that why they wanted someone who is single?

Carole Wilcox: [00:21:25] Yeah. At that time when they called him back, he was one of the few they still had an engineer's license that they would accept because he worked there. So, they wanted him to come back because they couldn't get engineers that hadn't been there before. So, there I was, not speaking Spanish, two kids, and got a maid who spoke English from the islands. She robbed me blind. She took my sheets, she took my towels, she took all kinds of stuff home with her and I was losing all kinds of things. I said we can't do this. I went and took Spanish classes. I really did. There were ladies there that work with the company, and they had us in Spanish lessons. Took me a year of headaches to learn Spanish. I don't know if Laura said anything to you about that.

Trent Kannegieter: [00:22:46] Yeah. We didn't speak that much yet. Yeah that's fascinating. So, what was what was it like?

Carole Wilcox: [00:22:59] They had schools for our kids. They brought teachers down to teach our kids. And they did very well in the school, so I have no problem there. They had medical clinics, but they had Spanish speaking doctors, and I was pregnant. when I went right after I got there he got me pregnant. Here we are having a baby. I can't speak Spanish and they don't speak English so that was fun too. Ben helped me learn Spanish. It's a very self. So, did you mention that your kids. Did your kids go to the staff school for Creole? They went to start school Creole letting go the Venezuelan culture. And we did have maids in various places. None of them spoke English.

Trent Kannegieter: [00:23:56] Were most of them from Venezuela were they from the islands as well?

Carole Wilcox: [00:24:00] Venezuelans, except that one that robbed me blind, and I never had another English-speaking maid again.

Trent Kannegieter: [00:24:10] Was she from Trinidad?

Carole Wilcox: [00:24:11] Yes. It was fairly close, and you could almost see it from where we were. That was in eastern Venezuela where we stayed there until 1965 or 66. There it rained at least three times a day, but it was only a rain and then sun would come out. We had a guy that took pictures of 24 hours of weather. Very interesting to watch it. Rain-then sun would come out-rain-then sun would come out. That's where the kids saw monkeys swinging in the tree going down to the river, where the boats came in, that kind of thing. We didn't have that over in western Venezuela.

Glenn Wilcox: [00:25:19] When I took Shaw fishing down there to the old drilling quarries, there were monkeys in them. Where they came from, I don't have any idea. Fishing was wonderful in eastern Venezuela as well. I had a friend that loved to fish, nobody wanted to go with him. I told him, I'd go with. We'd catch 60 to 70 bass that weigh 5 to 6 pounds apiece and electric eels in the water. (temblador in Spanish) They're much larger. I thought it was a catfish, but they said leave it alone.

Glenn Wilcox: [00:26:27] They had Caribe; the ones that will eat you up. The temperature of the water determines where they are. We fished in one pond that had weighed 2 pounds apiece.

Carole Wilcox: [00:26:31] One of my maids who took care of kids. One of the nuns in hospital. (looking at photos now) Maids lived in room under house. We had a raised house and they had a room downstairs.

Trent Kannegieter: [00:27:27] Is that common?

Carole Wilcox: [00:27:28] Yeah. Sure was. These are neighbors: their family and our family made about twelve people, so we had parties, birthday parties, just two families.

Glenn: [00:27:43] Yeah, he just died about a month ago. There aren't many of us left who worked down there.

Carole: [00:27:54] This is one of our raised houses down there. where They get up to the top of the stairs.

Trent: [00:28:00] So it would be like your ground floor?

Carole: [00:28:02] And this is under the building. This was my son working doing something.

TK: [00:28:09] Were these on these houses on stilts? Like I'm picturing kind of what happens on Fort Morgan.

Carole: [00:28:14] Yeah, you're on stilts. These are kids in their various stages. This is another maid I had for almost nine years. She stayed with this, we gave her our things when we left, and she filled in her house, she was getting married about six weeks after we left, and we gave her a lot of stuff. This was our house before we came back.

Trent Kannegieter: [00:29:04] So the truck in those photos is in Alabama?

Carole Wilcox: [00:29:07] Yeah. Here's some of the fish caught down there.

Trent Kannegieter: [00:29:14] It's is this stuff there with the cat?

Carole Wilcox: [00:29:20] Yeah this. This was down there they.

Trent Kannegieter: [00:29:23] Were pets common, like domestic cats? Were domestic animals common?

Carole Wilcox: [00:29:30] Oh Lord we had cats, dogs, guacamayos, and parrots.

Glenn Wilcox: [00:29:44] I had one macaw that stood about that high and he'd bite a broom handle in two.

Carole Wilcox: [00:29:50] This is some of the Venezuelan, the kids went somewhere. {looking at pictures}. Glen's mother in Alabama, in Venezuela, she didn't speak a word of Spanish, it didn't matter, she had a ball.

Glenn: [00:30:01] Remember where there was there was. This is home on vacation plans mother. So, she was living in Texas all the time, so she knew this visit here in his house. She came down in the normal barn. She was actually at a mall. That's where all those things were said pictures galore in here. We both were the ham radio operators.

Trent: [00:30:47] You mentioned fishing. Was fishing a common pastime?

Glenn: [00:31:07] For the Venezuelans, no. I think they caught what they wanted to eat.

Carole: [00:31:11] They had game wardens. Then people would catch piles of fish and filet them away. Wasting food. Then people was also very young Solera us the way they stopped them because there was info. This was our house in Las Salinas. I call that the back door. Come on. This was a nice time. Except going up the mountain, it was only one car width. Okay. And if you got someone coming down towards you, you backed and then pulled off.

Glenn Wilcox: [00:32:37] kids on the porch of our house at La Mesa. Lana on vacation they are doing this hey put roses in their hair. That's Jesus, our gardener. He was 62 years old had a two-year-old son, but he was a worker. He cut grass with a long machete.

Trent Kannegieter: [00:33:34] was the football in Alabama or Venezuela? [referencing a photo of their son in an American football helmet]

Carole Wilcox: [00:33:40] 1970 there was a Venezuelan culture they came here in 77. They played American football. This is just fun things that I took pictures of. This is one of our many groups of puppies that we had. We had puppies, we had hamsters. one Time we left all the animals to one family…. She said every one of them have babies. She said I don't want to do this again. It was terrible. One time I came along in the backyard as I was coming home from somewhere walking to the backyard. Warren was standing in a tub of water and had puppies. He was giving them a bath, one home almost drowned. I had to take him to the local doctor there.

If you have five kids, you can have some animals. Life is that way, you can look at that one if you want. It is House Bill never met a border of Ruth. Oh, good for all the trees it's all about May Day since this is days away. This book is full of core this is our backyard. Here. This is an effigy of Judas at Easter 1971. We have those at Easter. They parade through the streets. They have basically everything shut down. You can't get a meal. Everything shuts down for Easter week. in A while you better prepare for that food that just Easter's that age. You get the lighters out of the house itself in the closet. Put stuff out there. The queen is there for you. And our next-door neighbor fell. And then we get this boat, we took them out on Lake Maracaibo a few times. He's graduating from kindergarten. They had all kinds of good stuff. She was a wife of one of the employees. These are our five. One time I took a picture and they all turned around their backs to me. My son painted one of these.

Glenn: [00:38:29] They treated us pretty good at that Club. but You can see the kids really enjoy all of these things. These various groups of animals and Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts the Boy Scout leader.

TK: [00:38:54] Did most of the children in the camps participate in scouting?

Carole: [00:38:59] Yeah. Me And another woman did the Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts. And I Had a couple of Venezuelans in there and they enjoyed it too. This is when my daughter busted her arm, falling out of something. This boy got his arm broken by his sister trying to keep him from climbing. So, they were both messed up at the same time. Where are these ships at Glen?

Glenn: [00:40:10] Destroyer that was visiting the Venezuelan port and the kids visited it for an outing. Chaperones on class trip. They went to Maracaibo. It is everywhere. Your friend is in here and there.

Trent Kannegieter: [00:40:56] Was there any like educational reason for this?

Carole: [00:40:59] This is Glenn's family. We had a reunion there. That's all of them. Husbands and wives; I'm in there somewhere. There I am, right there.

Glenn Wilcox: [00:41:12] Did you get the information you wanted yet?

Trent: [00:41:19] Yeah. I mean this has honestly all been very good for the broader information. I mean honestly the real key is just trying to catalogue as many of these experiences.

Carole Wilcox: [00:41:27] I'll tell you one thing you could do. I mean I’ve been a nurse since 1956. When I was down there, I could go to the drugstore, and I could ask for anything. and I'd get it. I didn't need a prescription. You buy whatever you like. Anybody could buy what they wanted.

Trent Kannegieter: [00:41:53] OK. So, it wasn't just because you were a nurse?

Carole Wilcox: [00:41:55] No. But I was a nurse, and I bought things that I knew I needed. Like I was put on pills for my thyroid; I just went in and I bought them. I think we have more pictures of that. This is our ham radio show; planned work in we got on that every day, I believe. It was the lady who had a boy up in Canada.

Glenn: [00:42:31] He had a wreck and was in bad shape and she went up to be with him. And then she got on this thing with me every night to talk to her husband and tell him how he was doing. I thought it was rather nice to be able to do that. That's our house. We had a lot of these things here they were twirlers or something. This is when my son graduated in 1973 from ninth grade year. This time for a and then he went to high school in Maracaibo. They had a taxi cab while the company pays you. You can send your kids to a school up here in the United States and not have them around all the time. Or you could send your kids to school there. We talked them into it after it was cheaper. Why you don't care. Well I have a decision in interest rates. It's cheaper to send them to Maracaibo, you don't have to pay the transportation costs.

………..

Trent Kannegieter: [00:45:24] So one of the things I've noticed when I'm talking to people about this is that a lot of people that went in the camps were southern. And I was wondering do you think that most of the Americans who came down to Venezuela were southern? Or am I just kind of having a weird sample size.

Carole Wilcox: [00:45:43] Most of the people there, were they Southerners?

Glenn Wilcox: [00:45:51] Most of us were from Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, the drillers. A driller knows how to drill a well. We went down to our average depth of 19000 feet. You had to know a lot of things about pressures and everything else to keep it straight. Yeah, you cannot keep any weight on the drill bit. You have to be negative. If you don't have weight on it, it won't drill. If you have too much, it will go to the side. You gotta know exactly how to keep that weight that way. Then you've got a mud engineer. You have to watch the mud when you're drilling a well. You have a big mud tank, and they put additives in it and everything, depending on what they're doing. And you have to watch that all the time, to level. When the level starts rising, they have to put more barite (heavy stuff) in it. I mean it's a tedious job. They would hire engineering graduates in chemical engineering and in two or three other specialties, that's all it is. How the world you put up with that? Well, you get used to it. But the driller has over control of virtually all of that. They pay a fantastic salary to drillers. And when we get a well drilled down to the bottom, they have to run concrete/cement and it goes down through middle of the pipe to the well by low. So, they know have to know exactly as well back up around the casing to seal it off, and they have to know when to do what. When they get the volume that they wanted pumped down, they have to pump mud behind it to push it out and back up there. Occasionally, they don't know what they're doing, and they'll fill a well full of concrete and they'll have to drill it out again. But there's a lot of money paid to people out there. We had a friend named Byers who was a safety engineer on drilling and he knew he knew anything you wanted to ask him about drilling a well. The company paid him off. He went to work for Zapata Offshore, in the middle of the Red Sea. They flew them from there to Houston, Texas. He worked two weeks on and two weeks off, he said he never worked on shore.

Carole Wilcox: [00:49:53] When they were off, not doing anything, they'd be drinking.

Glenn: [00:49:56] They were a heavy drinking bunch. I guess they had to be.

Carole Wilcox: [00:50:04] Bunch of boozers. This was a friend of ours who had a horse down there. We went to see the horse. This is graduation of our youngest from kindergarten. That's me; I wasn't bad looking then. I'll only be 82 in September. This was graduation of my daughter, she was valedictorian of that grade. Look at how short the dresses were.

Glenn Wilcox: [00:51:01] That was something of the education system. They didn't want her to go the private school. Say that Ojeda, the company didn't teach you right. Our preacher owned shares in the school. He said use my share. You had to have a share for each child. Her and her brother. And he said I know what you're worried about. So, I used my share yeah. You had to have a share for each child. So, we used mine. And her and her brother made a higher score than any other student. So, there wasn't anything too wrong with that school. Must have taught them something.

Trent Kannegieter: How big was the congregation?

Carole: [00:51:52] Of our church?

Glenn: [00:51:53] I don't know. It Was a Baptist church, Lakeside Baptist Church.

Carole: We had church folk, church services. How many people would you say wasin it though? Probably about 500?

Glenn Wilcox: [00:52:11] We had a good congregation. It was the only Baptist Church in the area. Well, most of them weren't Baptist, most of them were Catholic or something like that. They'd go to the Catholic Church if they were Catholic. There were plenty of Catholic Churches.

Carole Wilcox: [00:52:30] Yeah, our best friends had 10 children and they're Catholics. *back to photo album* Really this one fell and hit her head on the wall. No, she hit the windshield of the car when we slammed on the brakes. She had to get glasses. Two years later after wearing glasses for two years, she fell and hit her head on the wall. And she's "I can't wear these", she was back to normal, something that busted her head and brought her vision back. She was fine; she didn't have to wear glasses anymore.

Carole: [00:53:23] This is our house way back before we built the upstairs. We've changed this house a whole bunch of times. That’s Graduation 64. I don't have the picture where she gave her all the graduation pictures of the kids that went to school there. I should have put the names of all the kids there.

Trent: [00:54:12] Was a teacher Venezuelan?

Carole: [00:54:16] I don't think she was. She was somebody from Texas or something like that.

Glenn: [00:54:24] they had a lot of Mexican women. Tex-Mex.

Carole: [00:54:24] Low Rates go back to education. We had a maid that made this dress for her before we left eastern Venezuela and went to western Venezuela. She made that dress for her by hand.

Glenn Wilcox: [00:54:52] That poor woman. She had a house (I don't know where she got the house from) just one room built on the side of a mountain. I took her home and she told me she didn't have any furniture. I made her table, and it was about 4 foot square out of light wood. Police arrested her and thought she stole it. I had to loan her a company truck and take the table home for her. These were all pictures of my friends.

Trent Kannegieter: [00:55:48] Outside of the maids, how often, if at all, did you guys interact with the broader Venezuelan community?

Carole Wilcox: [00:56:00] We know a lot of Venezuelans.

Glenn Wilcox: [00:56:04] And we had something that was odd. The government had a lot of organizations that they try to help these poor countries with. And we met a couple and, I don't remember how many children they had, but they were a young couple from California, and they were living in a mud hut. No electricity. We gave them a dinette set. I forget what their name was, they were with Evista. They were teaching someone to survey.

Carole Wilcox: [00:56:38] They weren't with the Peace Corps, but it was something like it.

Glenn Wilcox: [00:57:13] In eastern Venezuela, near Brazil. The missionaries, third generation People with New Life. They needed someone to work on their outboard motors. It took a day and a half on the river to get there. He fixed all of it. He made movies up there. They eat monkey. Yeah, they do. They were little people. They had a wild boar hunt and he had a picture of that. He showed they killed one small pig. And when you got up to the shore, a man picked it up and threw it up there. And here's a little woman trotting up and picking it up. What was his name? Sandy. I say, "They got 'em trained, don't they?" But those people are still up there. They had generators that their church supplied them with what they needed North Americans.

Carole: [00:58:40] Tell them about the bananas you bought?

Carole: [00:58:41] They had just built a new road from Carapituo to Corupano. And my mother was visiting; we went with her an ate. On the way home, we stopped at a market to buy bananas. They'd unloaded a truck of bananas. He asked how much. He gave her 5 bolivares (US$1), she asked how he was going to haul them.

Trent Kannegieter: [01:00:31] What was it like trying to cook like foods you did in the past do in Venezuela?

Glenn: [01:00:38] The only thing is you buy in kilos, you didn't buy in pounds. Just a kilo equals two and a half pounds. When I came back from there, I had to transfer things back.

Carole Wilcox: [01:00:53] One thing, when they butchered a cow, you bought the meat. All meat was the same price. It didn't matter if it was filet mignon, or ribs or anything. Man, we'd buy a tenderloin, and it was cheap. It was good eating. When we first got there in Carapito, you'd have to go down to the field that they had. And they had meat hanging. No, no Cold stuff to keep the stuff cold; it was hanging meat, raw out in the field. Chickens running around. They kill them on the run. Well we bought from a Spaniard who had a walk-in cooler. He was the only one who had one while we were there. When they butchered, they didn't bleed the animals. And you couldn't chew it really. If you butcher an animal and don't get the blood out, they had a guy that cut bread into slices. Only one place that did that little Chinaman.

Trent Kannegieter: [01:02:35] Why did you guys end up leaving?

Carole Wilcox: [01:02:45] Because my kids were out of high school or close to getting out of high school, and I said it was time to go home.

Glenn: Well the company was nationalized, and they tried to transfer me to Saudi Arabia, Libya and everything. She said she wasn't going nowhere but home. And Ed Whichter, my manager, called said, "I got a job for you Glenn." I don't want a job. Let me tell you how much money. wait You're my manager. Call me a job or you want the job. He said Well you know we don't have money it is our own money. I don't care how much they're going to pay out; I'm not going. But then there's a big construction company there. Their general manager quit, and he'd bought an apartment building and wanted to manage that. John Nichelamnos, a Greek. The manager of that was his son in law and he called me and wanted to take over the company and run it. I told him "No. I've got to go home." He said we can pay a good salary. I said I've got a good salary here. If I wanted to stay in Venezuela, I could stay here. Good salary here of yours here. Rose was there an ecology every day. One day we are free. You stay you know for that long. Long before you. I don't know what to do.

Carole Wilcox: [01:04:22] We left at just the right time. Just right after that they started having a lot of problems down there, and a lot of Americans came home, and a lot of the Venezuelans left.

Glenn Wilcox: [01:04:34] But there's still a lot of North Americans there. Those who were married Venezuelans

Carole Wilcox: [01:04:43] But that country is in dire straits right now.

Glenn Wilcox: [01:04:49] When we were there, it was a wonderful place to live, real good.

Carole Wilcox: [01:04:51] One of the men said one day, when I die I want to come back in my second life to be a Creole housewife. I said why. He says you guys go play bingo, you play bridge, you go out golfing, you had maids. You do that. What Else. The maids took care of the kids. All kinds of stuff. Yes.

Trent Kannegieter: [01:05:27] Do you agree with that statement or do you think it has some truth in it?

Carole Wilcox: [01:05:31] Yes there's a lot of truth to that, but I kept myself involved. I was on the ham radio every day. I still have my license. It's hanging up on that. We're good until 2026 right now. I'm WB4WTV, and it was portable YV1 when I was down there.

Carole Wilcox: [01:05:58] So he's WB4WLI and portable YV1. We worked the ham thing all the time because there were so many people. There was an earthquake in San Salvador, and we worked that to get news out to people that so-and-so was okay, you know. From that scene. There was one time we had to get some kind of medication for someone who was bit by a dog that was rabid. You had to get it from Europe because the boy was allergic to what they had. And they had a certain kind from Spain, and I did that deal. That kind of stuff happened. The lady in Canada, I kept that up for months. And there were parents who want to talk to their kids in schools up here. And we did that too. They'd come to the house and get on the radio and talk to them. So, I wasn't just a thing, sitting there. Most of the women were just doing their thing.

Trent Kannegieter: [01:07:41] Did you work as a nurse at all in Venezuela?

Carole Wilcox: [01:07:43] No but I did give shots to all the neighbors. you know when they had to have some medication, I gave the shots to them. I didn't charge when I did work like this.

Trent Kannegieter: [01:08:02] Do either of the two of you still keep up with anyone who was there?

Carole Wilcox: [01:08:06] Yes. The Landishes. Do you keep up with people from down there?

Glenn Wilcox: [01:08:14] Oh yeah. Mike Landish just died. He lived in Atlanta. He's the one with all the kids. He couldn't control his muscles. He hit his head, and that started it all. He was a good friend of ours. He started about the time I went back. I'd been back a month or two and we got to be good friends.

Glenn Wilcox: [01:08:55] We both got transferred to western Venezuela, and my boss wanted me to build a bunch of people to decide to buy a bunch of computers. We didn't have any computers yet, and he wanted me to be part of the crew to do that. I had to take a test to figure out if you were computer compatible. At that time, I didn't want to do it. Why did you do that in Spanish? Well, you passed it, but you better do it in English. The manager says you don't you know anybody that would be good at that and I said Mike Landash, enough said. And then when he retired from the company he was president of Exxon Egypt. We go to a reunion every year, Creole Petroleum, it got to where we didn't know anyone anymore. through Late a reunion every opportunity has Krio labor union you go. We go live with the military world more of a global management unit if you will. We couldn't trip so much stuff. Yeah, I mean is it our kids. It's hard to drive to South Carolina and if. How do you like Yale?

Trent Kannegieter: [01:11:57] It's different. I'd never seen snow before.

Carole Wilcox: [01:12:02] Cold huh? I was raised in New York state.

Glenn Wilcox: [01:12:06] What was your last name?

Trent Kannegieter: [01:12:07] Kannegieter. My dad is a physician at Mobile Infirmary, and he works at North Baldwin sometimes and then my mom worked for Bank of America for a while and is about to get back into the force.

Carole Wilcox: [01:12:40] Yeah, they have to pay for your school. Kannegieter, how do you spell that?

Trent: [01:12:43] *spells name* It's pronounced like a can of alligator.

Carole: [01:13:11] And you're Trent?

Trent: [01:13:11] Yes ma'am.

Carole Wilcox: [01:13:11] Has he been at Mobile Infirmary long? Yes.

Trent: Ever since I was born.

Carole: What is he?

Trent: He is a radiologist MRI scans, CAT scans, things like that.

Carole: He's [Glenn’s] had a broken neck, three heart attacks, He survived. Call an ambulance, call an ambulance. I couldn't even see what happened because he was this way. He wouldn't let loose. Fair enough. They flew down there to the hospital. Yeah well that was an expensive helicopter. It was like a really easy ride in a helicopter. The blades needed balancing. You’re talking to a couple ancients because we'll be married 60 years.

Trent Kannegieter: [01:16:03] Wow. Congratulations.

Carole Wilcox: [01:16:08] He was 28 I was 22 when we got married. And my boss says, don't get her pregnant. He says oh don't worry I'll try to do it tonight. We're going to send Carol to the flight nurse training. I didn't know you trained pregnant nurses.

Glenn: And she said, "Is she pregnant" I said, "Talk to me tomorrow. She got mad. She was from Dozier AL. My boss when said she asked him what rank he was when she met him, and she said, I outrank you. A severe drought by being an officer here. I don't need it. I was a civilian.

Carole: My car had the officer's patch on it. We've had a fun life.

Glenn: When I married her, I owned a house. I owned a new Thunderbird. I ran that along a curb and took about 2 inches off the side. She got mad because I didn't say anything. It doesn't do any good to fuss about something.

Trent: [01:17:41] Are you an only child?

Carole: [01:18:27] I have a little brother. He's still he's still living here full time next year.

Trent: [01:18:45] So what made you go there?

Carole: He said when the cold weather came and the snows came and the rains go. I trained on the other side of town from Vassar. We had classes at Vassar for. There were two courses I had to go to. This one was anatomy and one was something else.

…*asks about my personal time at university*…

Carole Wilcox: [01:22:45] You were surprised to see there was someone from down here from Venezuela?

Trent Kannegieter: [01:22:51] I really didn't expect it. Especially because I wasn't intending on coming home at all this summer, I thought I was going to be other places for the research. And so, the fact that I was here, and they were there.

Carole: [01:23:05] Did we help you at all?

Trent: [01:23:06] Yes. Really. Definitely. It's been yeah. I mean I definitely got the information that I had had before.

Carole: Life was nice there. Yeah it was a beautiful country to be in. But there were times when things would upheave. One night we were driving home on the carretera, and they had these acabalas where the police sat, and you had to show them your papers when you go by if they signal to you. There were college students sitting there, lined up on that road, rocking the car. I had a car full of my kids and I wasn't happy. There were times when there were things that happened, and it usually was the colleges that students started rampaging.

Glenn: [01:24:38] I'll tell you something that was different. The oil companies had to build a highway on the eastern shore of Lake Maracaibo. It was about 100 miles of a four-lane highway. The people weren't ready for it. It hadn't been twenty years since photos were taken of them walking around the lake wearing a coverall.

Carole: [01:25:19] Now things are falling apart. They get older.

Glenn: [01:25:23] They get on that road, and it doesn't make any difference to them which side the drove on. You have a dump truck on your side of the road, you better get out of the way. They may be driving along. Stop right there. Pick up somebody. You better watch out or you're going to hit them if you didn't. Yeah, that happened a lot.

Trent: [01:26:01] I know there were labor insurrections in the 1930s. Did people ever talk about that?

Carole: [01:26:10] No not really. When we were in over western Venezuela, they had someone going to drive thru that was going to try to be president, and they had cops and everything, and you couldn't get out of the camp. And there was a deaf man that drove on that road, and they were yelling to stop stop stop. And they shot him. He was deaf and didn't hear them calling. So you know things like that. Our older son had the measles, and man he was sick. I was going to take him across the street to the hospital. You can't go there. Well I'm going over there and if you to shoot me. Go ahead. I had just had my third baby, Don, and he had measles. He took them to the hospital. Had to leave them there. The next day I went to see my boy and he I could hear him from down the street screaming YOU'RE HURTING, ME YOU'RE HURTING ME, YOU'RE HURTING ME. This nurse taking his temperature. Her fingernail was in his butt, hurting him, and she was sticking this in. It was a crowd of five or six. Watching this little boy that was red all over with blond hair and green pajamas, looked like little elf. Screaming his head off. I said Call the Doctor. I'm taking him out of here you're not giving him IVs, you're not giving him anything. I'm taking them home at home. That was a scary scary thing for me. And he was terrible for the next year. He wouldn't leave our side. We couldn't leave him it was a disaster. I can remember him screaming when we left to go out to eat. One night we drove around the block, and he was still screaming. The poor maid had a time with him.

Glenn: [01:28:58] That was a wonderful place to live. The company paid for everything. You know that's one of your goals your for. There you go. There you go outside the district which was the area about a mile away. So, when I go there we drive out. By the way, when we went there I had to wear dresses everywhere outside the camp.

Carole: [01:29:31] Women couldn't walk through the park in slacks. Nobody could wear shorts in public. And back then if you have an accident with the car, your husband went to jail. And I had to feed him in the jail. If I have an accident. He was terrified about me driving for a long time. They didn't feed you there unless you were there for life. re Are no issues in your life. You walked past the jail which was right in the middle of the whole town, and people were yelling for you to bring them something to eat. There was a British couple that lived there, and their son rode drove over a man lying in a street in a dark street. He never saw him and killed him. Neighbors Saw him holding also loaded.

Glenn: [01:30:38] If you're in a hospital, they couldn't arrest you. So, they kept their son in the hospital and kept him there for about a month and until they got him out of the country. These are the things that happen there. There you go. Yeah, I'd be very educated. You remember him some of these things? Okay I didn't realize that if I had an accident, he would go to jail. That was that was bad. He had an accident with a police car. They had five streets came together in the Outer Circle like we've got here on Hwy 64. The police car was coming in and was going to go around, and I was coming this way. I didn't know he was going to stop and I hit his taillight. And there when you had a wreck, you drew a crowd, hundreds of people, and then I had my little daughter with me; she was about 2 years old. It was a station wagon I was driving, and I set her on top of the station wagon. Now there's a guy coming out of the crowd, "Glenn Wilcox, do you have insurance?" Yes. Don't worry about it, I'll take care of it. I went down to the comandante’s office. I gave him 300 bolivars. My insurance company said that should take care of it. That cop was boiling hot. Never I never know who it was. It's he Yeah. I was managing a lot of contractor people, and everybody knew me.

Carole Wilcox: [01:33:24] Things happened to us, right and left, but we got through it. Get through some. I loved it there; hated to leave it. They were playing a tournament on the golf course the day we left, and I really wanted to play in that golf tournament. I was down to an 18 handicap.

Glenn Wilcox: [01:33:56] I could have stayed there. But I didn't want to; they had to have a North America engineer in the refinery. We refined 850,000 barrels of product a day. He says man, "Take that job. Look at the money." I says, "I don't care." Carol's not going to stay here and I'm not going to stay here. This guy that I'd worked for him and he worked for me. The company had a program that if they didn't have a job for you, they'd lay you off and you got 3 months pays for every year you worked. And he had been working for them for twenty-something years. He got a check that he didn't have to work anymore. So, he's also an alcoholic. He could drink a case of beer every night. I asked him, "what are you going to do?" He says I'm going go on the beach where there's no one around. I'll build a one room concrete block house built for myself. The company hired him back again, we saw him at one of the reunions.

Carole: [01:35:47] He said he kept that job and he didn't do anything. He just sat there, going to meetings. You just sat there, didn't say anything. There you go.

Carole: [01:35:58] You said it was 850,000 barrels of gas then, they don't even have 100000 a day now, do they?

Glenn Wilcox: [01:36:23] No we produced 4.5 Million barrels of crude a day in Lake Maracaibo. We had a 30-inch pipeline going to the refineries and we 42-inch pipe running to the ships coming in from Saudi Arabia too to be refined there. They had a gas that was a by-product, as soon as you'd breathe it in, it would kill you. I never did know what that was, but they had a leak once or twice that killed two or three people. a Day early. Walter gossip girl do you know the two boys.

Carole Wilcox: [01:37:22] Another thing I remember is occasionally, the house would rock.

Glenn Wilcox: [01:37:27] Yeah, we had earthquakes there.

Carole Wilcox: [01:37:27] Another thing, when women came in there, they'd go to the grocery store and say, "oh my god". Up here, they're clean, down they're not. And you don't buy a box of anything, because they'll have bugs in it. When you bought something, you better buy something in a can. You know that kind of thing. We used to smoke. We kept our cigarettes in the freezer. Contraband cigarettes we brought in. Thank God we quit. The Lord did that for me. I got so sick when I got pregnant with her that I quit smoking. He quit because he couldn't come in that house. I went right to the bathroom you know. So, we both quit. And the best thing ever happened to us. That's why we're living this old. Haven't had a cigarette since 1965. Can we help you with anything else?

Trent Kannegieter: [01:38:58] I think I'm great.

…*we talk about how I got in touch with their daughter, Laura, who introduced me to them*

Glenn Wilcox: [01:42:39] How old are you?

Carole Wilcox: [01:42:39] He's 19.

Glenn Wilcox: [01:42:39] I think I was 19 one time.

Carole Wilcox: [01:42:50] I graduated high school at 16.

Trent Kannegieter: [01:42:52] Wow. Did you go to Auburn as well?

Carole Wilcox: [01:42:56] No. I went to this nursing school in Poughkeepsie New York. Yeah, I graduated from nursing school at 19 and they changed a law in New York, so I could get a license. Before that they had to be 21 to get a license for nursing. And that year when I graduated, I could take my boards because they changed the law.

Glenn Wilcox: [01:43:26] And then when I got my engineering license, I went to Montgomery where the professional engineering gave the test. I think there were 30 people in there to take the test. It was a two-day test. I went in and they called me like the first one. And they asked me what I did. I told them, I worked for Creole and I oversaw launching the pipe and burying and sinking it into the site. How I did it. Then I told them I was project engineer on some jobs. He told me to go across to a desk and place a gasket. He went out there in about 10 minutes later and told the girls, "If Glenn Wilcox has $35 in his pocket, go ahead and give him a license.".

Carole Wilcox: [01:44:38] They didn't even give him the written test and all those people are waiting and looking. Wonder what happened. He's got license 4112, they're up to 100,000+ engineers now.

Glenn Wilcox: [01:45:03] I come back, and I had job on on Pemco Island. I told Carol I was going to quit, but the manager calls me in on the first day and fires me. Two weeks’ severance. . I'll went over to the naval air station where I used to work, and I'll went into pumping works. The guy said he couldn't use another engineer. I knew the chief engineer there, so spoke to him when I passed by. I went over because a good friend of mine was supervised an aircraft. He shouts out, "Hey. Do you need a job?" "Yeah, I do." It took 15 minutes. And then they called from Public Works to see if I wanted a job. It was Joe Shurik and he didn't get along with anybody. He Was on speaker phone trying to get me to come back home where they had a job for me or he said he'd go it alone.

Carole Wilcox: [01:47:14] It's been an amazing life, it really has.

Glenn Wilcox: [01:47:22] Kannegieter, what nationality is that?

Trent Kannegieter: [01:47:22] It's Dutch. Yeah. It means watering can which is much much more lame than many people hope.

Carole Wilcox: [01:47:40] Did you come from Holland?

Trent Kannegieter: [01:47:40] My grandfather did.

Carole Wilcox: [01:47:45] My grandparents came from Austria Hungary back in 1904. My grandparents couldn't speak English when I first met them.

Glenn Wilcox: [01:48:10] Russ goes over there some. My mother's maiden name was Ard. Her great grandfather came from Scotland, I don't know if that's a Scottish name or not. {Pleasantries conclude the interview.}.

Trent Kannegieter: [01:49:53] Thank you so much If I can ever do anything for you guys please feel free to contact me either personally or through Laura. She has my contact information. I'm always happy to do whatever I can possibly.

Glenn: [01:50:12] I hope you can say something about this. Yes. I met this family. They lived down there. Study hard!

Trent: [01:50:17] Thank you so much.

Carole Wilcox: [01:51:52] Anyway we're glad you came.

Glenn Wilcox: [01:51:54] *talkign about his house, and the tables he made by hand* That's Venezuela wood. I laid 40,000 bricks, neverlaid any before or since.

Carole Wilcox: [01:51:54] Glenn makes beautiful furniture.

 

Escuelas Petroleras:

A Venezuelan History Project

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©2018 by Trent Kannegieter. Special thanks to the Friedman Family Travel Grant and Fellowship for making this research possible.