[Narrator 1:] It was dawn on March 26, 1930. The rotary grill had chewed its way 6,470 feet below the surface of Oklahoma County. The drilling crew was pulling the tools out of the hole when they first heard the rumble. The initial low sounds swelled rapidly to a deafening roar; national gas was roaring up the well.
[Explosive well sounds]
[Narrator 1:] The roughnecks instinctively scattered from the rig. Drilling mud geyser, then hundreds of feet of drill pipe flew out of the hole and crashed against the sides of the derrick. The pressure of millions of cubic feet of natural gas forcing its way upward through a casing less than foot wide shook the ground. The incredible howl caused the drilling crew to cover their ears with their hands as they watched in awe. The most legendary oil well in Oklahoma's history, and perhaps the world, had been born. They called her the Wild Mary Sudik.
[Narrator 2:]They came to Oklahoma from many nations. Newcomers to a new land, looking for better opportunities, a chance to begin again and what remains is their heritage. A rich heritage, that has become the Oklahoma image.
[Narrator 1:] For eleven days a crew of some fifty men and specialists struggled to bring the Wild Mary Sudik under control. Two thousand barrels of oil an hour carried upward by some 200 million cubic feet of gas shot out of the well.
[Narrator 1:] Twice oil workers capped the Wild Mary Sudik and twice the enormous underground force ripped free again. Finally, on the evening of April 6, the well was tamed. But who was the woman, Mary Sudik, for whom the Wild Mary was named? A dance hall favorite of the roughnecks? The wife of an oil company executive? A boisterous female oil explorer? None of these. The real Mary Sudik was a reserved, middle-aged dairy farmer's wife.
[Narrator 1:] Mary Valish Sudik and her husband, Vincent Sudik, were immigrants to America from Czechoslovakia. They made the great journey from Czechoslovakia to Nebraska with their parents in the last years of the 19th century. It was in Skyler, Nebraska that Mary Valish and Vincent Sudik were married and their first child was born in a sod house.
[Narrator 1:] In 1904, Mary and Vincent Sudik, together with their daughter Cecilia, moved south to Oklahoma Territory. They bought a 160 acres of land several miles southeast of Oklahoma City. The Sudik children remember their mother and father as hard working. That hard work allowed the Sudik's to buy two more quarters of land for their farm. It was on the last quarter, purchased in 1924, that the Wild Mary Sudik was to be drilled some six years later. The famous well was named Mary Sudik because she was the first to sign the lease with the oil companies.
[Narrator 1:] Oddly enough the real Mary Sudik's attention was not focused on the oil well at the time it came roaring in. Her world was centered around the imminent birth of her first grandchild. Cecilia, the Sudik's daughter, gave birth to Elizabeth Ann less than 24 hours after the Wild Mary Sudik burst from the ground.
[Narrator 1:] The oil well changed the Sudik's life. Mary and Vincent moved from their farm to a comfortable but not pretentious home in the Capital Hills section of Oklahoma City. But wealth brought problems. Vincent Sudik was reported to have reflected glumly, "It's more trouble to keep the money than it is to make it." The story of this immigrant farm couple and the Wild Mary Sudik is truly an "only in America" tale, a tale that has been printed in over a hundred different languages throughout the world, popularizing one of Oklahoma's most colorful images.
[Narrator 2:] This program was produced by the Oklahoma Image Project, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and brought to you as a public service by this station. Oklahoma Image is sponsored by the Oklahoma Department of Libraries and the Oklahoma Library Association.
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Part of the Oklahoma Image Statewide Humanities Project, promoting Newcomers to a New Land book series and the Oklahoma Image Project.
Copyright of this digital resource, Oklahoma Department of Libraries, 2008. For further information regarding use please consult the Rights and Permissions page, http://www.crossroads.odl.state.ok.us/shell/rights.php or contact the holding institution of the digital resource.
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