In a long-ago and more bountiful time, Tulsa, Oklahoma, sat atop the world's largest known pool of oil. Drilling derricks were everywhere -- even on the lawn of the state capitol -- and the city called itself "Oil Capital of the World."To celebrate this good fortune, a giant roustabout was built on the Tulsa Fairgrounds in 1953. Dubbed "The Golden Driller," he resembled an oversized brass statuette, with a big grin on his face, his tin hat tipped back in a rakish skew, and his gloved right hand raised in a kind of limp-wristed OK sign.
The statue proved so popular that it returned permanently to the Fairgrounds in 1966 -- only in a new version that was very different from the original: ballet-slender, muscles ripped under skin-tight clothing, and a face that was a chiseled mask of Teutonic invincibility. Still, it was big and it was gold (well, mustard-yellow), and Tulsa embraced it as its own. One of the tallest statues in America, the Golden Driller has survived tornadoes and turbulent oil markets.