Memories of my Dad and some of Mine
My dad Miguel Contreras was a former employee of Humble Refinery, way before it was named to Exxon. My dad had established his success of living in Baytown before I was even born. He was a hard worker and formally a war veteran himself who settled and escape the fighting he endured. This is the memories that I have about my dad when he worked for Exxon and his early career days of Humble and early life as he has told me. Also I will mention my own memories at my time at Humble as well.
My dad Miguel Contreras was born in 1905 in Leon, a city in Guanajuato, Mexico. His childhood would be short lived when the Mexican Revolution began in 1910. The war was a struggle to end the dictatorship Mexico had endured for many years and the revolution itself was led by Pancho Villa and Venustiano Carranza and others. He unfortunately joined in the war in 1913 in Carranza’s forces for survival because food was scarce for common civilians. Eventually he grew tired fighting and crossed from Mexico to Texas crossing the Rio Grande in 1919, throwing his standard infantry rifle claiming to end his figting to look for work. Coming in to Texas after years of fighting he would eventually search for a job. He would then travel to Baytown where he would be hired Humble and began as a mule driver, which was a position that required equipment to be delivered to different locations of the plant. Later he then became a concrete finisher for Humble. While working for the company, he was issued a bike made of steel from the company that turned out to be the only reliable transportation he had. Also, the plant offered tents to all the hispanics hired including my dad to live temporarily, and the area where the tents were located was called “Tent City”. Soon enough Humble purchased property from west Humble and West Gulf, for the employees to stake out lots of their choosing and numbers as well to obtai, which were twenty-five dollars a lot. My dad bought to two lots, one of West Gulf and West Humble. Later during his 20 years of work a major event occurred, that event was World War Two. While working he was informed by his manager that he may be drafted, but anyways he was prepared to fight due to his early experience in fighting. He would claim the he was going retrieve his shotguns he owned and take them to war, but his manager said that he would be provided from the Armed Forces. As time went by, he was never drafted and the war ended in 1945 and that time every employee was given a Humble issued Butyl rubber coin and a Bronze medallion for the efforts of the company supplying petroleum products to the Allies.
Years later I was born in 1950, and throughout my childhood years, my dad still had his steel bike and Humble was releasing yearbooks called The Humble Bee. Mostly I remember particularly was January 1957 edition of The Humble Bee which my dad Miguel Contreras was honored for his 30 years of service becoming a T-Clubber. A picture was taken of the whole family attending that ceremony when I was six about to turned seven that year. Not everything at the plant was perfect, Humble would eventually have explosions on the site, he would be called to help out extinguish the fires in the plant. In 1965, my dad voluntarily retired from the company with a total of thirty-seven years and eight months of service in the plant.
In 1968 Humble was part of a Job Fair along with Enjay and they were looking to employ youths for the summer which I applied. I was hired by Humble and worked all over the plant as a helper with brick masons, handling bricks to the brick masons. Also, I worked in the Humble docks as well doing maintenance work. While working at the docks, ships would bring in the oil, and whenever it was lunch time, we got to eat along with the ship crew eating the best food like steaks, roasts, salads and etcetera. Then soon enough the summer was over and it was time for me to go back to school. Even though it was for the summer I had a great experience working for Humble Refinery.
This is the memories of my father Miguel Contreras and some about myself. Because of my dad, it gave me and my family opportunities to work for the best refinery which is now called Exxon. This experience has given great memories, and the story of my dad is what I can carry on.