full and loud and deep
I loved it when he had a moment to come out on the church porch and tell me a quick Bible story while I listened, astride my bike, fascinated by his
a group of religious congregations with its own organization
denomination of the preacher the company hired automatically became ours too. Before we became Methodists, I remember being a Baptist and, once for a year, some kind of Pentecostal.
take place or happen afterward or as a result
When we ambushed some older boys—my brother, Jim, among them—who were playing cowboys up in the mountains, a great mock battle
ensued until Tony, up in a tree for a better line of sight, stepped on a rotted branch and fell and broke his arm.
a stratum of ore or coal thick enough to be mined
Mr. George L. Carter, the founder of Coalwood, came in on the back of a mule in 1887, finding nothing but wilderness and, after he dug a little, one of the richest
seams of bituminous coal in the world.
a courteous expression of esteem or regard
When Mr. Carter’s son came home from World War I, he brought with him his army commander, a Stanford University graduate of great engineering and social brilliance named William Laird, who everyone in town called, with the greatest respect and
deference, the Captain.
a person who receives support from an influential patron
Almost immediately, the Captain saw something in the skinny, hungry lad from Gary—some spark of raw intelligence, perhaps—and took him as a
teach and impress by frequent repetitions or admonitions
After a couple of years, the Captain raised Dad to section foreman, taught him how to lead men and operate and ventilate a mine, and
instilled in him a vision of the town.
be confusing or perplexing to
After a long piece of his intestine was removed, Dad
confounded everybody by going back to work in a month.
a large gathering of people
Welch was a bustling little commercial town set down by the Tug Fork River, its tilted streets filled with
throngs of miners and their families come to shop.
walk heavily and firmly, as when weary, or through mud
In their coveralls and helmets, they reminded me of newsreels I’d seen of soldiers
slogging off to the front.
join together by heating
I was awakened in the morning by the tromp of feet and the clunking of lunch buckets outside as the day shift went to work, I ate supper after Dad saw the evening shift down the shaft, and I went to sleep to the ringing of a hammer on steel and the dry hiss of an arc
welder at the little tipple machine shop during the hoot-owl shift.
deficient in amount or quality or extent
Every so often, somebody would come up with the idea of putting a penny on the track and getting it run over by the coal cars to make a big flat medal. We’d all do it then until we had used up our
smother or suppress
Stifling our laughter, we’d hand the crushed coppers across the counter at the company store for candy.
wallowed through the coal and climbed down the outside ladder of the car and jumped for it, skinning my hands, knees, and elbows on the packed coal around the track.
a feeling of intense dislike
Mom’s family did not share her
aversion to coal mining.
a large entrance or reception room or area
We fell into the hall, me on the inside punching him in the stomach and him yowling and swinging at the air until we rolled down the stairs and crashed into the
foyer, where I managed a lucky hit to his ear with my elbow.
a failure to perform some promised act or obligation
Jack ran his bus in dictatorial fashion. The slightest
breach in decorum would find the perpetrator kicked off on the side of the road, no matter where we were.
propriety in manners and conduct
Jack ran his bus in dictatorial fashion. The slightest breach in
decorum would find the perpetrator kicked off on the side of the road, no matter where we were.
At the top of the mountain, the road dropped
precipitously and swung back and forth until it bottomed out into a long, narrow valley.
arrogant or self-important
According to what I heard Mom tell Uncle Joe during a visit, a lot of people in Caretta had said some real nasty things about that, calling Dad "
praise, glorify, or honor
I had never asked any girl out, much less the
exalted Dorothy Plunk.
a natural inclination
I had no
proclivity for football whatsoever.
not disposed or willing to believe; unbelieving
“Over West Virginia?” His tone was
without question and beyond doubt
“President Eisenhower would never allow such a thing,” he said
showing utter resignation or hopelessness
Roy Lee stared in
abject admiration. “I don’t care if they break every bone in my body, I got to go out for football next year.”
feeling great delight and interest
Then I saw the bright little ball, moving majestically across the narrow star field between the ridgelines. I stared at it with no less
rapt attention than if it had been God Himself in a golden chariot riding overhead.
not to be placated or appeased or moved by entreaty
It soared with what seemed to me
inexorable and dangerous purpose, as if there were no power in the universe that could stop it.
the central body of an airplane holding crew and passengers
I took one of the cherry-bomb fuses left over and stuck it in the hole and then glued the entire apparatus inside the
fuselage of a dewinged plastic model airplane—I recall it was an F-100 Super Sabre.
There was an eyewitness, a miner waiting for a ride at the gas station across the street. For the
edification of the fence gossipers, he would later describe what he had seen.
lasting for a markedly brief time
fleetingly caught a glimpse of Roy Lee leaping over the still-standing part of the fence, clearing it by a good yard.
compulsory force or threat
Even under the greatest
duress, my capability to dissemble was scarcely diminished.
make believe with the intent to deceive
Even under the greatest duress, my capability to
dissemble was scarcely diminished.
burn slowly and without a flame
She looked at the
smoldering ruin of her fence and sighed deeply.
take the place of or have precedence over
“I know what I did was wrong, Mom,” I said in a bid to
preempt whatever she had in mind.
modestly or warily rejecting approaches or overtures
“Sonny, do you think you could build a real rocket?”
She so startled me by her question that I forgot my usual
censure severely or angrily
“Just go away,” I growled. “I’m busy.”
“Doing what?” he
chided. “Trying to decide what dress to wear?”
harass, as with questions or requests
The Football Fathers were
besieged with demands from fans and the football team to do something.
in a composed and unconcerned manner
“Elsie, I know what I’m doing,” he replied
in a manner showing a brooding ill humor
Jim’s face went dark and he shoved his chair back from the table. “I want to be excused,” he said
capable of arousing and holding the attention
Dad held up his right hand to his face, as if to shield it from Mom’s
without flaws or loopholes
“And if the blind leadeth the blind, both shall fall into the ditch,” she told him, making her argument
unassailable because it was clearly on the side of the Lord.
stopping and starting at irregular intervals
In the decade that followed, an edgy peace between labor and management settled on our town, broken only by
intermittent strikes, usually quickly settled.
being of striking pertinence
Twenty-five men were cut off from the company. The phrase was
apt. Not only were the men separated from their work, they were cut off from their homes, credit at the company stores, and identification as a Coalwood citizen.
in a secretive manner
A few of them
surreptitiously moved up past Snakeroot and built shacks along the fringe of the woods, hoping someday to be rehired.
hesitant or lacking confidence; unsettled in mind or opinion
In December 1957, the United States made its first attempt to put a satellite into orbit with its Vanguard. I saw the result on television. Vanguard managed three
tentative feet off the pad, lost thrust, and then blew up.