The revival of prime time TV soap opera “Dallas” brings to mind a local oilman, the late Danny Biggs.
He was nothing like the fictional oilman J.R. Ewing, played by Larry Hagman from 1979-1991, and back for the 2012 sequel. J.R. was a larger than life TV villain we loved to hate; the Ewings were rich Texans who made their fortune in cattle and oil with shady backstabbing deals.
“It’s nothing like ‘Dallas!’” Biggs used to say of the oil business. He proclaimed that message for years.
Biggs made his living in the oil business, and during the years that “Dallas” was being broadcast he would often lament that so many people thought the excessive Ewings presented an accurate portrait of the oil business.
Unlike J.R. Ewing, Biggs loved his work and enjoyed giving back to the industry and to the community. He served as president of the Kansas Independent Oil & Gas Association (KIOGA) and the National Stripper Well Association. He was awarded the Stewardship award – presented by the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission “to those preserving the history of the oil and gas industry and providing educational opportunities to students and the public” – in 2000. In 2008, Barton Community College selected Daniel and Darlene Biggs for the Distinguished Service Award. He died later that year at the age of 72.
During the last years that “Dallas” was on TV (the first time), Biggs was part of the group that founded the Kansas Oil & Gas Hall of Fame and Museum at 5944 West 10th St. here in Great Bend. According to one website, it houses: a Product Room, which provides an eye-opener on how many products we use each day are made from petroleum; Library Room that contains books, newspapers, pictures and history of the Kansas oil and gas industry; Production Room with models of different types of production facilities, illustrating how the equipment functions; Drilling & Completion Room with a model drilling rig to explain the procedure taken to drill a well; and a Geology Room showing cores and samples of different formations, geology, history and maps. Later an education building was added with even more exhibits aimed at teaching the public that energy exploration is important work and nothing to sneer at.
The new “Dallas” promises to deal with some current issues, such as whether the oil recovery practice known as fracking will cause earthquakes and contaminate drinking water. Whatever happens on the small screen, just remember: It’s only a soap opera.