Memory of a Miner: A True-Life Story from Harlan County's Heyday
- Publish Date: 2014-07-22
- Binding: Paperback
- Author: Dr Michael Ruth
Its a cool, foggy morning in early April 1941. Miners gather at Crummies Creek to organize the days picket standard picketing routine. But this mornings different, and it doesnt take long to find that out. We was just a-millin about, a-talkin about how we was gonna set up our picket line. All of a sudden, it sounded to me like we was in a war! Bullets was flyin all around us. Miners was a-callin out to take cover and took to runnin The miners had been ambushed by gun thugs the dirty law hired by the coal owner/operators of that day to strong arm miners and keep them from unionizing. The place was a killing field and the old miner was right in the thick of it. And because of what he soon discovers, he describes it as the saddest day of his life. Memory of a Miner is the true account of one mans journey as an old-school miner in the southern Appalachian coal mining region of Harlan County, Kentucky, between 1931 and 1959 the same period that bloody Harlan gained its reputation as the battleground for some of the most insidious conflicts over workers rights this country has ever known. But despite coal wars at home and the World War abroad, the fun times shared and the friendships made make this the most treasured time of life for most of those who lived it. That was certainly true for this miner and his family! Memory of a Miner chronicles the joy and sadness, success and failure, hardship and bounty of this miner on an intimate scale. It is a visitation into the life of a man full or courage, strength and wit who only knew one way to live all in. Anyone who enjoys a good story will be delighted to discover hilarious, one-of-a-kind real-life adventures recreated by this world-class storyteller. Those with mining in their roots will certainly identify with the day-to-day challenges, risks and victories revisited in Memory of a Miner. Even though it is the recording of one miners experience, it truly documents the life and times of all miners of that day. In addition, Memory of a Miner retains the historical integrity of the period by weaving facts of record with first-hand accounts of a miner right in the thick of it. Students of southern Appalachian history will appreciate not only the accuracy of the chronicle but also the personal perspective Memory of a Miner affords. Finally, readers who fancy stories about salt-of-the-earth folk who fight for what they believe inand winwill love the way this book fleshes out the robust day-to-day life of real people who knew how to work hard and play hard. Memory of a Miner is an inspiring commentary on life which we are all drawn to a real-life story of one who faced daunting challenges and not only persevered, but was truly determined to enjoy life. Personal Note from the Author The inspiration for Memory of a Miner began in seed form a full twenty years ago when I approached my aging dad with the idea of writing a book about his days as an old-school miner in Harlan County. Dad had this captivating knack for telling stories, and his favorite pastime happened to be talking about his mining years, so I was well supplied with the material I needed to put this oral history to paper. And thus the journey began. Countless hours were shared with Dad and Mother in conversation, recording story after story. I then visited places of relevance in Harlan County, speaking with others who also experienced that volatile time firsthand. Finally I spent several more years doing research in order to build out the context of the story. I wrote Memory of a Miner not only to honor my dad but all miners who put their life on the line every day for their family, and to preserve a cherished slice of Southern Appalachian history for my readers.