Name: Capt. John Willard Moore and Poggy Pogson
Date: August 24, 2018
Circumstance: In-person interview; 2nd floor of the Ft. Worth Hilton (Ft. Worth, Texas), 2018 Creole Reunion.
Editor’s Note: I met these two men while I was walking around a social area, trawling for as many perspectives as possible, They were talking with Ms. Jean Bailey, with whom I had already talked, and they all but naturally launched in.
Recording Link: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1gzGsemD24AUdvVTQh3_qlVbKR_5xkE27/view?usp=sharing
Trent Kannegieter (TK): Doug Elliott told me to find someone who was specifically talking about unions.
Poggy Pogson (PP): It wouldn’t be me because they hate my
Capt. Willard Moore (W): When I went to Venezuela, you couldn’t even breathe the word union.
TK: I have time now if you guys are available.
P: I’ll talk with you. I just want to let you know one thing; I lie a lot.
TK: Ok. It’s a challenge. (all laugh)
P: Where are you in school?
TK: I’m studying at Yale right now. As to how I became involved in this, there’s a book in the silent auction called The Enduring Legacy by Miguel Tinker Salas. It’s an intense work on the residential oil camps. There’s one sentence in it where he mentions they created oil camp schools, but there’s no analysis of it. I wrote a paper on the oil camp schools, and now I’m—
P: I wish we had some better reports on what happened down there.
W: I started school in Caripito in grade one. I think I went through third grade, and my mother pulled us out of the camp school and put us in Jesuit school because we had one hour a week in Spanish instruction in those camp schools. One bloody hour! But then my sister, who was eleven years younger than me, had fifty percent of her class time in Spanish in the oil schools. But we went to the Jesuit school and were beaten by the Jesuits.
P: All my Spanish, I learned from Spain(?)
W: And on the street. We spoke better Spanish at the house.
P: In our house the language was English.
W: That’s the way it was.
P: When she became my mother, she always spoke in English. People always ask me, “Why were you born in Venezuela?” Hell, I didn’t have much choice. (laughs)
My mother’s maiden name was Stevenson. She married a Lyon, which was Venezuelan. My mother was born in Venezuela.
W: The only part that was bad for me down there was when we moved there I was a month old. My birth certificate says I was born in Venezuela, and my dad tried to get it changed. When I was sixteen, I knew what was going to happen to me, and I got out of there.
P: Everything down there is who you know….
W: When I was sixteen, I got my driver’s license, and got out of there.
(There’s a woman speaking but it didn’t record.)
P: That’s why Creole hired me. I went to work. They had a quota, and they had to hire so many Venezuelans.
TK: What camp were you born in?
P: Lagunillas is where we started out. I was born in Maracaibo. This is before Tia Juana ever existed. Yeah, La Salina and Lagunillas, but Tia Juana wasn’t there yet. Then consolidated and everyone into Tia Juana. When I moved to Tia Juana, there was only seven houses. Larry Eldridge was there; they called him Preacher. I don’t know why. He had just graduated out of A&M, freshly married; he lived across the street.
Woman: I remember the name.
P: He went from Tia Juana to all over. He ended up being division manager eventually. Hell of a golfer, hell of a baseball player.
W: The chosen pastime, remember? There was a lot of softball.
P: I was very active playing softball. We played between the camps: Lagunillas, Tia Juana, Maracaibo. We played against each other. The locals had a great team; they invited three of us from the staff to play with them. The other chaps didn’t like that
W: In 1939, looking at pictures, Caripito 1939.
P: Was that downtown? I was working downtown Caripito. We had to leave to go to church. It’s an interesting life.
W: We were only there for three months when the War broke out. We were Canadian. My dad was recalled for military service. So my mom and I, Venezuela was neutral, but if you were British, you had to get out.
P: You know what they had to do in Trinidad? Block the windows. Close them all out.
W: You know the reason, they had the two big bases there. They had that big PT boat based there.
P: I went to Trinidad the night that the German U-boats came to Trinidad.
W: Where our house was in Forest Reserve, it was built on stilts. You could overlook the Gulf of Paria, and every once in a while, “boom”, the Germans were down there nailing the British.
P: It was all very innocent when we were kids. If we did anything bad,
W: My brother and I burned down half the golf course because
we were smoking. My dad came home….
P: I never played golf. She married Luke the Colombian. She became the Colombian golf champion.
W: She taught us how to swim.
TK: I would like to hear anything about the schools, especially in the 1930s and how it changed.
P: I left Venezuela when I was 12. I can tell you more about the schools later on. We were working down there, and we’d love to wait for the school teachers to come. So we’d have young ladies to date. After the teachers left, we waited for the young ladies to come home from college.