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Several times, back in 1964 or so, a Fayette County deputy sheriff spotted a tan, 1955 Chevy pickup driving by with twelve-year-old Mike Shellman peering over the steering wheel. Shellman sat on a nailed-together bench—a piece of wood propped up on six-inch legs—as he drove himself around to the oil wells his father owned to record readings on their gauges. On each of these occasions, the lawman would call Shellman’s father and warn him against giving his unlicensed son the keys to the truck. Shellman’s father would murmur agreement, but the next day, Mike would again drive from the family home in Flatonia, a small town halfway between Houston and San Antonio, to make his rounds.Soon after, Shellman began working on rigs whenever his father…
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