© words & music by Annie Wilson 
from CD Peace on the Prairie

Album Notes:  The 1920’s - 1930’s saw rapid development of oil fields across Kansas including a number of boom towns which arose on the Flint Hills prairies - then vanished.  Young men came from failed farms to work 12-hour shifts, fed by young women in large eating halls.  These camps were also famous for their wonderful dances featuring local musicians - including the always-beloved fiddler.

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In the dirty old thirties when the prairie was thirsty 
And the farmers were leaving their soil 
To boom towns they’d go for the jobs and dough 
In the fields of the newly-struck oil 

Summer nights in these camps they’d hold a big dance 
For the workers who labored so hard 
Everybody that could helped lay out the wood 
For a dance floor out under the stars 

     Folks danced in the heat to the oil rig beat 
     In the shadows of kerosene lamps 
     For a break in their toil to pump out the oil 
     They danced at the oil field camps 

Joe was a roughneck with arms built like wrenches 
And hands he could never get clean 
There was grease in each crease where he’d wrestle the pipe 
And some blood where the fittings got mean 

The laundry and cooking were done by young Sue 
Who could feed every man in the hall 
Some-were rude and some kind, but they mostly seemed blind 
To this girl who was feeding them all 

     And they both were alone and both missing home 
     In that forest of derricks so high 
     Where the cable tools bore in the ground for black ore 
     That would blow out up into the sky 

It was Saturday night in the evening’s last light 
When Joe managed to first catch Sue’s eye 
Then he took a big chance and he asked her to dance 
To that music out under the sky 

They whirled and they twirled as the fiddler played 
And they started a lifetime romance 
Neath a moon oh-so-big to the beat of the rig 
In the dance at the oil field camps 

     And the fiddler bowed for the young and the old 
     To the rhythm of pounding pump jacks 
     Ever after that start they were never apart 
     Since the dance at the oil field camps