PDF Rocket Boys By Homer Hickam

PDF Rocket Boys By Homer Hickam

PDF Rocket Boys By Homer Hickam CoalwoodUntil I began to build and launch rockets I didn t know my hometown wasat war with itself over its children and that my parents were locked in akind of bloodless combat over how my brother andCoalwoodUntil I began to build and launch rockets I didn t know my hometown wasat war with itself over its children and that my parents were locked in akind of bloodless combat over how my brother and I would live our lives Ididn t know that if a girl broke your heart another girl virtuous atleast in spirit could mend it on the same night And I didn t know thatthe enthalpy decrease in a converging passage could be transformed intojet kinetic energy if a divergent passage was added The other boysdiscovered their own truths when we built our rockets but those weremineCoalwood West Virginia where I grew up was built for the purpose ofextracting the millions of tons of rich bituminous coal that lay beneathit In when I was fourteen years old and first began to build myrockets there were nearly two thousand people living in Coalwood Myfather Homer Hickam was the mine superintendent and our house wassituated just a few hundred yards from the mine s entrance a verticalshaft eight hundred feet deep From the window of my bedroom I could seethe black steel tower that sat over the shaft and the comings and goingsof the men who worked at the mineAnother shaft with railroad tracks leading up to it was used to bringout the coal The structure for lifting sorting and dumping the coal wascalled the tipple Every weekday and even on Saturday when times weregood I could watch the black coal cars rolling beneath the tipple toreceive their massive loads and then smoke spouting locomotives strainingto pull them away All through the day the heavy thump of thelocomotives steam pistons thundered down our narrow valleys the townshaking to the crescendo of grinding steel as the great trainsaccelerated Clouds of coal dust rose from the open cars invadingeverything seeping through windows and creeping under doors Throughoutmy childhood when I raised my blanket in the morning I saw a blacksparkling powder float off it My socks were always black with coal dirtwhen I took my shoes off at nightOur house like every house in Coalwood was company owned The companycharged a small monthly rent automatically deducted from the miners paySome of the houses were tiny and single storied with only one or twobedrooms Others were big two story duplexes built as boardinghouses forbachelor miners in the booming s and later sectioned off asindividual family dwellings during the Depression Every five years allthe houses in Coalwood were painted a company white which the blowingcoal soon tinged gray Usually in the spring each family took it uponthemselves to scrub the exterior of their house with hoses andbrushesEach house in Coalwood had a fenced off suare of yard My mother havinga larger yard than most to work with planted a rose garden She hauled indirt from the mountains by the sackful slung over her shoulder andfertilized watered and manicured each bush with exceeding care Duringthe spring and summer she was rewarded with bushes filled with greatblood red blossoms as well as dainty pink and yellow buds spatters ofbrave color against the dense green of the heavy forests that surroundedus and the gloom of the black and gray mine just up the roadOur house was on a corner where the state highway turned east toward themine A company paved road went the other way to the center of town MainStreet as it was called ran down a valley so narrow in places that a boywith a good arm could throw a rock from one side of it to the other Everyday for the three years before I went to high school I got on my bicyclein the morning with a big white canvas bag strapped over my shoulder anddelivered the Bluefield Daily Telegraph down this valley pedalingpast the Coalwood School and the rows of houses that were set along alittle creek and up on the sides of the facing mountains A mile down Mainwas a large hollow in the mountains formed where two creeks intersectedHere were the company offices and also the company church a company hotelcalled the Club House the post office building which also housed thecompany doctor and the company dentist and the main company store whicheverybody called the Big Store On an overlooking hill was the turretedmansion occupied by the company general superintendent a man sent down byour owners in Ohio to keep an eye on their assets Main Street continuedwestward between two mountains leading to clusters of miners houses wecalled Middletown and Frog Level Two forks led up mountain hollows to thecolored camps of Mudhole and Snakeroot There the pavement ended andrutted dirt roads beganAt the entrance to Mudhole was a tiny wooden church presided over by theReverend Little Richard He was dubbed Little because of hisresemblance to the soul singer Nobody up Mudhole Hollow subscribed to thepaper but whenever I had an extra one I always left it at the littlechurch and over the years the Reverend Richard and I became friends Iloved it when he had a moment to come out on the church porch and tell mea uick Bible story while I listened astride my bike fascinated by hissonorous voice I especially admired his description of Daniel in thelions den When he acted out with bug eyed astonishment the momentDaniel s captors looked down and saw their prisoner lounging around in thepit with his arm around the head of a big lion I laughed appreciativelyThat Daniel he knew the Lord the Reverend summed up with a chucklewhile I continued to giggle and it made him brave How about you Sonny Do you know the Lord I had to admit I wasn t certain about that but the Reverend said it wasall right God looks after fools and drunks he said with a big grinthat showed off his gold front tooth and I guess he ll look after youtoo Sonny Hickam Many a time in the days to come when I was introuble I would think of Reverend Richard and his belief in God s senseof humor and His fondness for ne er do wells It didn t make me as braveas old Daniel but it always gave me at least a little hope the Lord wouldlet me scrape byThe company church the one most of the white people in town went to wasset down on a little grassy knob In the late s it came to bepresided over by a company employee Reverend Josiah Lanier who alsohappened to be a Methodist The denomination of the preacher the companyhired automatically became ours too Before we became Methodists Iremember being a Baptist and once for a year some kind of PentecostalThe Pentecostal preacher scared the women hurling fire and brimstone andwarnings of death from his pulpit When his contract expired we gotReverend LanierI was proud to live in Coalwood According to the West Virginia historybooks no one had ever lived in the valleys and hills of McDowell Countybefore we came to dig out the coal Up until the early nineteenth centuryCherokee tribes occasionally hunted in the area but found the terrainotherwise too rugged and uninviting Once when I was eight years old Ifound a stone arrowhead embedded in the stump of an ancient oak tree up onthe mountain behind my house My mother said a deer must have been luckysome long ago day I was so inspired by my find that I invented an Indiantribe the Coalhicans and convinced the boys I played with Roy LeeO Dell Tony and Sherman that it had really existed They joined me instreaking our faces with berry juice and sticking chicken feathers in ourhair For days afterward our little tribe of savages formed raidingparties and conducted massacres throughout Coalwood We surrounded theClub House and with birch branch bows and invisible arrows picked offthe single miners who lived there as they came in from work To indulgeus some of them even fell down and writhed convincingly on the ClubHouse s vast manicured lawn When we set up an ambush at the tipple gatethe miners going on shift got into the spirit of things whooping andreturning our imaginary fire My father observed this from his office bythe tipple and came out to restore order Although the Coalhicans escapedinto the hills their chief was reminded at the supper table that nightthat the mine was for work not playWhen we ambushed some older boys my brother Jim among them who wereplaying cowboys up in the mountains a great mock battle ensued untilTony up in a tree for a better line of sight stepped on a rotted branchand fell and broke his arm I organized the construction of a litter outof branches and we bore the great warrior home The company doctor DocLassiter drove to Tony s house in his ancient Packard and came insideWhen he caught sight of us still in our feathers and war paint Doc saidhe was the heap big medicine man Doc set Tony s arm and put it in acast I remember still what I wrote on it Tony next time pick abetter tree Tony s Italian immigrant father was killed in the minethat same year He and his mother left and we never heard from them againThis did not seem unusual to me A Coalwood family reuired a father onewho worked for the company The company and Coalwood were one and thesameI learned most of what I knew about Coalwood history and my parents early years at the kitchen table after the supper dishes were clearedThat was when Mom had herself a cup of coffee and Dad a glass of milk andif they weren t arguing about one thing or the other they would talkabout the town and the pe.

rocket download boys free Rocket Boys EpubOple in it what was going on at the mine whathad been said at the last Women s Club meeting and sometimes littlestories about how things used to be Brother Jim usually got bored andasked to be excused but I always stayed fascinated by their talesMr George L Carter the founder of Coalwood came in on the back of amule in finding nothing but wilderness and after he dug a littleone of the richest seams of bituminous coal in the world Seeking hisfortune Mr Carter bought the land from its absentee owners and beganconstruction of a mine He also built houses school buildings churchesa company store a bakery and an icehouse He hired a doctor and adentist and provided their services to his miners and their families forfree As the years passed and his coal company prospered Mr Carter hadconcrete sidewalks poured the streets paved and the town fenced to keepcows from roaming the streets Mr Carter wanted his miners to have adecent place to live But in return he asked for a decent day s workCoalwood was after all a place for work above all else hard bruisingfilthy and sometimes deadly workWhen Mr Carter s son came home from World War I he brought with him hisarmy commander a Stanford University graduate of great engineering andsocial brilliance named William Laird who everyone in town called withthe greatest respect and deference the Captain The Captain a bigexpansive man who stood nearly six and a half feet tall saw Coalwood as alaboratory for his ideas a place where the company could bring peaceprosperity and tranuillity to its citizens From the moment Mr Carterhired him and placed him in charge of operations the Captain began toimplement the latest in mining technology Shafts were sunk forventilation and as soon as it was practical the mules used to haul outthe coal from the mine were replaced by electric motors Later theCaptain stopped all the hand digging and brought in giant machines calledcontinuous miners to tear the coal from its seams The Captain expandedMr Carter s building program providing every Coalwood miner a house withindoor plumbing a Warm Morning stove in the living room and a coal boxthe company kept full For the town s water supply he tapped into apristine ancient lake that lay a thousand feet below He built parks onboth ends of the town and funded the Boy Scouts Girl Scouts BrowniesCub Scouts and the Women s Club He stocked the Coalwood school libraryand built a school playground and a football field Because the mountainsinterfered with reception in he erected an antenna on a high ridgeand provided one of the first cable television systems in the UnitedStates as a free serviceAlthough it wasn t perfect and there was always tension between theminers and the company mostly about pay Coalwood was for a time sparedmuch of the violence poverty and pain of the other towns in southernWest Virginia I remember sitting on the stairs in the dark listening tomy father s father my Poppy talk to Dad in our living room about bloodyMingo a county just up the road from us Poppy had worked there for atime until a war broke out between union miners and company detectivesDozens of people were killed and hundreds were wounded in pitched battleswith machine guns pistols and rifles To get away from the violencePoppy moved his family first to Harlan County Kentucky and then whenbattles erupted there to McDowell County where he went to work in theGary mine It was an improvement but Gary was still a place of strikesand lockouts and the occasional bloody headIn when he was twenty two years old my father applied for work asa common miner with Mr Carter s company He came because he had heardthat a man could make a good life for himself in Coalwood Almostimmediately the Captain saw something in the skinny hungry lad fromGary some spark of raw intelligence perhaps and took him as aprotg After a couple of years the Captain raised Dad tosection foreman taught him how to lead men and operate and ventilate amine and instilled in him a vision of the townAfter Dad became a foreman he convinced his father to uit the Gary mineand move to Coalwood where there was no union and a man could work Healso wrote Elsie Lavender a Gary High School classmate who had moved on her own to Florida to come back to West Virginia and marry him She refused Whenever the story was told Mom took over at this point and said the letter she next received was from the Captain who told her how much Dad loved her and needed her and would she please stop being so stubborndown there in the palm trees and come to Coalwood and marry the boy Sheagreed to come to Coalwood to visit and one night at the movies in Welch when Dad asked her to marry him again she said if he had a Brown Mulechewing tobacco wrapper in his pocket she d do it He had one and she said yes It was a decision that I believed she often regretted but still would not have changedPoppy worked in the Coalwood mine until when a runaway mine car cutoff both his legs at the hip He spent the rest of his life in a chair Mymother said that after the accident Poppy was in continuous pain To takehis mind off it he read nearly every book in the County Library in WelchMom said when she and Dad visited him Poppy would be hurting so much hecould hardly talk and Dad would agonize over it for days afterwardFinally a doctor prescribed paregoric and as long as he had a continuoussupply Poppy found some peace Dad saw that Poppy had all the paregoriche wanted Mom said after the paregoric Poppy never read anotherbookBecause he was so dedicated to the Captain and the company I saw littleof my father while I was growing up He was always at the mine orsleeping prior to going to the mine or resting after getting back In when he was thirty eight years old he developed cancer of thecolon At the time he was working double shifts leading a section deepinside the mine charged with cutting through a massive rock header Behindthe dense sandstone of the header the Captain believed was a vastundiscovered coal seam Nothing wasimportant to my father than toget through the header and prove the Captain right After months ofignoring the bloody symptoms of his cancer Dad finally passed out in themine His men had to carry him out It was the Captain not my mother whorode with him in the ambulance to the hospital in Welch There the doctorsgave him little chance for survival While Mom waited in the StevensClinic waiting room the Captain was allowed to watch the operation Aftera long piece of his intestine was removed Dad confounded everybody bygoing back to work in a month Another month later drenched in rock dustand sweat his section punched through the header into the softestblackest purest coal anyone had ever seen There was no celebration Dadcame home showered and scrubbed himself clean and went to bed for twodays Then he got up and went back to work againThere were at least a few times the family was all together When I waslittle Saturday nights were reserved for us to journey over to the countyseat of Welch seven miles and a mountain away from Coalwood Welch was abustling little commercial town set down by the Tug Fork River its tiltedstreets filled with throngs of miners and their families come to shopWomen went from store to store with children in their arms or hanging fromtheir hands while their men often still in mine coveralls and helmetslagged behind to talk about mining and high school football with theirfellows While Mom and Dad visited the stores Jim and I were deposited atthe Pocahontas Theater to watch cowboy movies and adventure serials withhundreds of other miners kids Jim would never talk to any of the othersbut I always did finding out where the boy or girl who sat next to me wasfrom It always seemed exciting to me when I met somebody from exoticplaces like Keystone or Iaeger mining towns on the other side of thecounty By the time I had visited and then watched a serial and a doublefeature and then been retrieved by my parents to walk around Welch tofinish up Mom s shopping I was exhausted I almost always fell soundasleep on the ride home in the backseat of the car When we got back toCoalwood Dad would lift me over his shoulder and carry me to bedSometimes even when I wasn t asleep I pretended to be just to know histouchShift changes in Coalwood were daily major events Before each shiftbegan the miners going to work came out of their houses and headed towardthe tipple The miners coming off shift black with coal dirt and sweatformed another line going in the opposite direction Every Monday throughFriday the lines formed and met at intersections until hundreds of minersfilled our streets In their coveralls and helmets they reminded me ofnewsreels I d seen of soldiers slogging off to the frontLike everybody else in Coalwood I lived according to the rhythms set bythe shifts I was awakened in the morning by the tromp of feet and theclunking of lunch buckets outside as the day shift went to work I atesupper after Dad saw the evening shift down the shaft and I went to sleepto the ringing of a hammer on steel and the dry hiss of an arc welder atthe little tipple machine shop during the hoot owl shift Sometimes whenwe boys were still in grade schoo.


Ople in it what was going on at the mine whathad been said at the last Women s Club meeting and sometimes littlestories about how things used to be Brother Jim usually got bored andasked to be excused but I always stayed fascinated by their talesMr George L Carter the founder of Coalwood came in on the back of amule in finding nothing but wilderness and after he dug a littleone of the richest seams of bituminous coal in the world Seeking hisfortune Mr Carter bought the land from its absentee owners and beganconstruction of a mine He also built houses school buildings churchesa company store a bakery and an icehouse He hired a doctor and adentist and provided their services to his miners and their families forfree As the years passed and his coal company prospered Mr Carter hadconcrete sidewalks poured the streets paved and the town fenced to keepcows from roaming the streets Mr Carter wanted his miners to have adecent place to live But in return he asked for a decent day s workCoalwood was after all a place for work above all else hard bruisingfilthy and sometimes deadly workWhen Mr Carter s son came home from World War I he brought with him hisarmy commander a Stanford University graduate of great engineering andsocial brilliance named William Laird who everyone in town called withthe greatest respect and deference the Captain The Captain a bigexpansive man who stood nearly six and a half feet tall saw Coalwood as alaboratory for his ideas a place where the company could bring peaceprosperity and tranuillity to its citizens From the moment Mr Carterhired him and placed him in charge of operations the Captain began toimplement the latest in mining technology Shafts were sunk forventilation and as soon as it was practical the mules used to haul outthe coal from the mine were replaced by electric motors Later theCaptain stopped all the hand digging and brought in giant machines calledcontinuous miners to tear the coal from its seams The Captain expandedMr Carter s building program providing every Coalwood miner a house withindoor plumbing a Warm Morning stove in the living room and a coal boxthe company kept full For the town s water supply he tapped into apristine ancient lake that lay a thousand feet below He built parks onboth ends of the town and funded the Boy Scouts Girl Scouts BrowniesCub Scouts and the Women s Club He stocked the Coalwood school libraryand built a school playground and a football field Because the mountainsinterfered with reception in he erected an antenna on a high ridgeand provided one of the first cable television systems in the UnitedStates as a free serviceAlthough it wasn t perfect and there was always tension between theminers and the company mostly about pay Coalwood was for a time sparedmuch of the violence poverty and pain of the other towns in southernWest Virginia I remember sitting on the stairs in the dark listening tomy father s father my Poppy talk to Dad in our living room about bloodyMingo a county just up the road from us Poppy had worked there for atime until a war broke out between union miners and company detectivesDozens of people were killed and hundreds were wounded in pitched battleswith machine guns pistols and rifles To get away from the violencePoppy moved his family first to Harlan County Kentucky and then whenbattles erupted there to McDowell County where he went to work in theGary mine It was an improvement but Gary was still a place of strikesand lockouts and the occasional bloody headIn when he was twenty two years old my father applied for work asa common miner with Mr Carter s company He came because he had heardthat a man could make a good life for himself in Coalwood Almostimmediately the Captain saw something in the skinny hungry lad fromGary some spark of raw intelligence perhaps and took him as aprotg After a couple of years the Captain raised Dad tosection foreman taught him how to lead men and operate and ventilate amine and instilled in him a vision of the townAfter Dad became a foreman he convinced his father to uit the Gary mineand move to Coalwood where there was no union and a man could work Healso wrote Elsie Lavender a Gary High School classmate who had moved on her own to Florida to come back to West Virginia and marry him She refused Whenever the story was told Mom took over at this point and said the letter she next received was from the Captain who told her how much Dad loved her and needed her and would she please stop being so stubborndown there in the palm trees and come to Coalwood and marry the boy Sheagreed to come to Coalwood to visit and one night at the movies in Welch when Dad asked her to marry him again she said if he had a Brown Mulechewing tobacco wrapper in his pocket she d do it He had one and she said yes It was a decision that I believed she often regretted but still would not have changedPoppy worked in the Coalwood mine until when a runaway mine car cutoff both his legs at the hip He spent the rest of his life in a chair Mymother said that after the accident Poppy was in continuous pain To takehis mind off it he read nearly every book in the County Library in WelchMom said when she and Dad visited him Poppy would be hurting so much hecould hardly talk and Dad would agonize over it for days afterwardFinally a doctor prescribed paregoric and as long as he had a continuoussupply Poppy found some peace Dad saw that Poppy had all the paregoriche wanted Mom said after the paregoric Poppy never read anotherbookBecause he was so dedicated to the Captain and the company I saw littleof my father while I was growing up He was always at the mine orsleeping prior to going to the mine or resting after getting back In when he was thirty eight years old he developed cancer of thecolon At the time he was working double shifts leading a section deepinside the mine charged with cutting through a massive rock header Behindthe dense sandstone of the header the Captain believed was a vastundiscovered coal seam Nothing wasimportant to my father than toget through the header and prove the Captain right After months ofignoring the bloody symptoms of his cancer Dad finally passed out in themine His men had to carry him out It was the Captain not my mother whorode with him in the ambulance to the hospital in Welch There the doctorsgave him little chance for survival While Mom waited in the StevensClinic waiting room the Captain was allowed to watch the operation Aftera long piece of his intestine was removed Dad confounded everybody bygoing back to work in a month Another month later drenched in rock dustand sweat his section punched through the header into the softestblackest purest coal anyone had ever seen There was no celebration Dadcame home showered and scrubbed himself clean and went to bed for twodays Then he got up and went back to work againThere were at least a few times the family was all together When I waslittle Saturday nights were reserved for us to journey over to the countyseat of Welch seven miles and a mountain away from Coalwood Welch was abustling little commercial town set down by the Tug Fork River its tiltedstreets filled with throngs of miners and their families come to shopWomen went from store to store with children in their arms or hanging fromtheir hands while their men often still in mine coveralls and helmetslagged behind to talk about mining and high school football with theirfellows While Mom and Dad visited the stores Jim and I were deposited atthe Pocahontas Theater to watch cowboy movies and adventure serials withhundreds of other miners kids Jim would never talk to any of the othersbut I always did finding out where the boy or girl who sat next to me wasfrom It always seemed exciting to me when I met somebody from exoticplaces like Keystone or Iaeger mining towns on the other side of thecounty By the time I had visited and then watched a serial and a doublefeature and then been retrieved by my parents to walk around Welch tofinish up Mom s shopping I was exhausted I almost always fell soundasleep on the ride home in the backseat of the car When we got back toCoalwood Dad would lift me over his shoulder and carry me to bedSometimes even when I wasn t asleep I pretended to be just to know histouchShift changes in Coalwood were daily major events Before each shiftbegan the miners going to work came out of their houses and headed towardthe tipple The miners coming off shift black with coal dirt and sweatformed another line going in the opposite direction Every Monday throughFriday the lines formed and met at intersections until hundreds of minersfilled our streets In their coveralls and helmets they reminded me ofnewsreels I d seen of soldiers slogging off to the frontLike everybody else in Coalwood I lived according to the rhythms set bythe shifts I was awakened in the morning by the tromp of feet and theclunking of lunch buckets outside as the day shift went to work I atesupper after Dad saw the evening shift down the shaft and I went to sleepto the ringing of a hammer on steel and the dry hiss of an arc welder atthe little tipple machine shop during the hoot owl shift Sometimes whenwe boys were still in grade schoo.

PDF Rocket Boys By Homer Hickam

PDF Rocket Boys By Homer Hickam En tant u’auteur connu certains de ses livres fascinent les lecteurs comme dans le livre Rocket Boys ui est l’un des lecteurs les plus recherchés Homer Hickam auteurs dans le monde

0 thoughts on “Rocket Boys

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *