When my parents moved us to California, we settled in Orange County in Southern California. The first oil wells I saw were the oil wells off the coast south of Santa Barbara near Summerland as my father drove us north to visit his sisters and parents.
I mostly noticed them when we were driving south at night after a visit with my dad's sisters and parents. It looked like a city on the ocean, all lit up. As it turned out, the city that I thought was on an island was a series of oil platforms that were not connected to each other.
The oil wells on the "island" looked like the pictures of oil derricks that I saw as a kid.
A few years later I got my driver's license and had a former classmate who was living near Long Beach, California. On one trip to visit her, I had a chance to see the oil wells on Signal Hill. The oil in these wells was being extracted by a pump that resembled a grasshopper, like the image I found below.
Occasionally I saw one with eyes painted on the head. After my in-laws moved to Carmel, Charley and I would drive up California 101 to visit and along the route, I saw many of the grasshopper oil wells especially near Paso Robles.
There was even an oil well on the campus of Beverly Hills High School. I drove by it often and could see it from my doctor's office in Century City, California. Unlike the other oil wells I saw in Southern California, this was camouflaged.
I don't know when it happened but the oil wells that dotted the landscape along Highway 1, Highway 101 and Interstate 405 began to disappear from view.
The oil fields are ugly but I sort of miss the grasshopper pumps with eyes. These pumps have a name, pumpjack.