"If there was a war or a battle going on, we worked on it. Vietnam and Korea, the moon walk, all of those things were going on.
"When Jimmy Carter was president and the hostages were taken in Iran and they had the plane crash, we did work on that location.
"They went up to the moon with all their cameras and photographed ... all that stuff and brought it back to us, and we made maps out of it.
"At the bottom of the map, there was a name of the place, but not the name they really used. They were afraid we would say something we weren't supposed to say. Beulah is one of the names they used. That was Egypt.
"They would give the maps numbers, and that's what you would call it among yourselves. You would say, 'I'm working on No. 50.' Even in the office, you used the code.
"We learned to draw these maps by hand. Terrain analysis is what they called it. We had to take some math courses. They took pictures from planes flying over and some from surveyors. They would give us the pictures for mapping.
"See the black squares on this map? Anything manmade, like a house or hospital or school was put on in black. The brown is the hills, the water is blue. All of this in brown or tan is vegetation. Everything had its own color.
"We would put in blue water and sometimes it would be too wide, and we would have to scrape it out. I made some of my implements. That's what I used this one for.
"We sat on tall stools at a long table. Everyone had a different job. Some in one room worked on vegetation. Some in another room worked on culture, like the houses.
"I would have been a higher federal grade if I had gone to one of their colleges because they were beginning to work with computers. But I was through with it. I didn't want to go to the University of Louisville to get a little extra grade. I finished as a Grade 9.
"It was tedious work. Sometimes you would feel like you didn't want to go back in the next day. But I lasted 30 years.
"I worked a lot of overtime, evenings and Saturdays. But nothing got in the way of a job that needed to be finished. We knew it was important. And I didn't mind more money.
"They were about ready to close the place down. They had each of us come in at separate times and they told us we couldn't talk about what we did for 70 years.
"I didn't tell anybody anything I'd done. We would go out for some special occasion, and everybody would be jabbering. If they asked me what I did, I changed the subject. Nobody had any idea. Even Edgar didn't know anything.
"After I retired, we traveled a lot and worked on chartering the Hurstbourne Baptist Church and Hurstbourne Country Club in Louisville.
"The mapping is what made me so interested in geography and traveling to other countries. We've been to maybe 16 countries, including some of the places I'd drawn. When we went on road trips, of course, I was the one who would read the maps.
"Who would have thought that somebody from Petroleum, Ky., would get into this mapping stuff? Or that they would have enjoyed it? It took a lot of patience, but I was good at it. I was proud of my job."Reach Sandy Wells at san...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5173.