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The Golden Lane is a true story about the Tampico Oil Boom from 1909-1914. All the characters were real people. Most of the events happened as described. The story follows the early career of Everette DeGolyer, whose oil discoveries propelled Mexico into one of the largest oil producing nations at the time when the world's industries and navies became dependent on foreign crude, foreshadowing World War I and today's reliance on Mideast oil. At the same time, the Mexican Revolution swept the country into a decade-long era of violence. The book portrays the unfolding development of petroleum geology against a backdrop of revolution, foreign intrigue, and geopolitics. It's also a love story.
Meet the Author
Sam L. Phiester
You have written a historical novel that is a true story. Why didn't you simply write a history?
The Golden Lane is history in the sense that all of the characters were real people and nearly all of the events actually happened. But by adding dialogue and inner thoughts, feelings of love, anxiety, happiness, confusion -- how life is actually experienced -- well-written historical fiction can become more accurate than history in depicting 'the true story'.
Why did you choose the Tampico Oil Boom of 1909-1914?
Being in the oil business, I understand the game. It's a difficult game to explain because, well, because you can't see the subsurface. It can be visualized, but you can't see beneath the surface. Yet to understand geology is to understand history on a geologic scale: "beds of rocks are stone diaries...that reveal the hidden poetry of our mutable earth". As a young man of twenty-three, the key protagonist, Everetter DeGolyer, was hired by one of the world's wealthiest industrialists to salvage a failed exploration effort in the jungles of Mexico near Tampico just as the Mexican Revolution unhinged the country in a decade-long rendezvous with violence. At the same time, the world was rapidly becoming dependent on foreign crude. So there you have the threads of a true tale: a quest for discovery, violence and social upheaval , foreign intrigue, and best of all, a love story.
A love story?
When Everette DeGolyer, the young protagonist, leaves for Mexico he has fallen in love with a blue-eyed blond beauty, Nell Goodrich, his German tutor at the University of Oklahoma. Their actual love letters are included in the book. The book opens with one such letter:
A very wonderful thing has happened. I am to go to Mexico in three weeks. This plays sad havoc with our plans, but new ones can be made. Girl, girl, woman love, we're going to have to decide some very, very important things just as soon as I can see you. You are my white rose love and I send you a warm red rose kiss. It will have to suffice until my lips and love can reach you.
Your man, Everette
Nell refuses to marry Everette until he finishes his college degree. But when a few months later he takes French leave from his job, leaves Tampico without permission, catches the train to Norman, Oklahoma and asks for her hand. she accepts and a week later, Nell Goodrich DeGolyer, who has never left home, is in a third-world village a hundred miles south of Tampico, a town with no running water, sewage, or electricity, living in a room above a market that sells vegetables and meat. Everette buys her a pistol to sleep with under her pillow and leaves two days later for work on the rigs. A week later she writes:
My very own Sweetheart, De:
Now I am in my room in my kimono waiting to sit on your lap and to be put to bed so that I can lie on your dear arm til I go to sleep -- the very sweetest place for my head that I can think of. This is more of a love letter than I have ever written to you before, dearest, but it is all straight from a heart so full that I had to write it even if I had no way on earth to send it. Dearest, when I've been married at least a month I think I can let you go for five days, but now -- for my sake, come Friday. I am very lonely and very much in love with the sweetest man on earth, which is my very own husband. Love to you in a thousand tender caresses from the Woman Who is Yours Alone. Nell
De and Nell were married forty-six years until De's death in 1956. Their love letters, his geologic reports, cablegrams, and poems are included in the book and are authentic and unedited. With such an array of rich characters during such extraordinary times, why make anything up? I hope readers will find the true story to be as riveting as I found the research.
Sam L. Pfiester