Script Draft Act 2

Thu, 06/06/2013 - 10:31 -- sewm02

Script Draft Act 2

 

Act II

Scene I

Jamie is reading the paper, Sunday, November 24, while sitting on the side of the stage. While he is reading the article, we see the interview from the article played out on stage.

JAMIE: The Vigil for the 78 trapped miners went through its fourth day Saturday, but Mrs. Charles Duncil didn’t join the lonely watch at the mine.

MRS. DUNCIL: (talking to Penny) I couldn’t go up there. It would bring it all back too vividly. I can’t forget the last one.

PENNY: You mean the one in 1954 when 16 men were killed?

DUNCIL: It was 15 years and one week – to the day. I was at home when I heard the explosion. I looked over the hill, and I say big clouds of black smoke. I couldn’t figure it out. Then my husband called and said Number 9 had blown up. I couldn’t believe it, and nobody else could believe it. People had said it was impossible for that mine to blow up, that it was the safest mine around here – all the men said so.

JAMIE: Mrs. Duncil’s first thought when she heard the 1954 explosion was of her friends and one young woman in particular. The woman’s husband was trapped in the mine and they were the parents of three children age 2, 4 and 6 years.

DUNCIL : I went down to help her, to try to ease her mind a little.

PENNY: It must have been a very hard time.

DUNCIL: It was all you could do to hold yourself together.

JAMIE: Two and one-half days after it blew up, the decision was made to seal Number 9 with 12 men inside.

DUNCIL :. I could hear them hauling dirt. Can you imagine this girl hearing the trucks knowing her husband was in there, and it was her husband that was being sealed up. That’s why I can’t go up there. I still hear the trucks and remember them, and it I went up there….

JAMIE : The situation at Number 9 doesn’t look very bright for the entombed miners. And trucks are hauling timbers, concrete blocks and sacks of cement – material that could be used to seal Number 9 for the second time. But the families of the trapped miners haven’t given up.

DUNCIL : You always hope. You always hope.

Scene II alternates between the interior of the church and the fire barrel

Church

(More paper have been added to the board. The rooms is more chaotic...empty cups...blankets unfolded. Paul is looking at the papers. The women are drinking coffee. Ronnie is looking at the papers.)

Paul: Rev, I'll be seeing you. I can't take sittin' around here any longer. It ain't doing anybody no good. And I just can't stare at thee numbers anymore.

Rev: I understand.

(Paul exits.)

Ronnie: Why are people leaving?

Maggie: Why don’t you come and sit down, dear.

Ronnie: What about the readings?

Maggie: Ronnie, there’s forty-eight square miles of mine tunnel under Farmington. If they’re real savvy, they could find a pocket of air somewhere.

Rev: Forty-eight square miles?

Maggie: Yeah. The tunnels wind through the hills like a giant ant nest.

Rev-I didn't realize the mine was that big. She’s right. There has to be room to hide down there.

Charlotte: Ronnie, you listen to me. My dad has been through many mining accidents. Cave-ins, fires, explosions, floodings. We just can’t…lose hope….

Maggie: When the…when there’s this much gas, it’s less likely that….it…the company tends to close the mine.

Ronnie: - What do you mean close the mine?

Maggie: They’ll seal it with limestone.

Pauline: The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: / And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever:

(They look at Pauline, surpised at the violent nature of the passage.)

Charlotte: Is she alright?

Marie: Don't pay her no mind. She got like this last winter when my father-in-law fell ill. Chain smoking and quoting scripture. It's how she acts when times are hard. Funny...for a woman who knows the Bible inside and out, she doesn't show much faith. Trust in the Lord with all your heart; and don't lean on your own understanding. In all things acknowledge him, and he shall direct your way. Proverbs 3:5 and 6. I've done a little reading of my own.

Pauline: The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined. Isaiah 9 and 2.

Marie: I should take her home before she gets anymore disruptive. Happy Thanksgiving everyone...you'll be in our prayers.

(Marie and Pauline exit.)

Fire Barrel Benny- Can’t believe they are letting all these damned women run around.

JR- Excuse me, sir?

Paul- It’s bad luck. Can’t have women too close to the mines.

JR- Why not?

Benny- Women makes the mines explode. Everybody knows that son.

Roy- Pay him no mind boy- he’s just talkin. It’s an old story that if a woman goes into the mine it’s only a matter of time before…

JR- Are you talking about the reporters? They are hundreds of feet away and weren’t even near the mine when it exploded! It makes no sense.

Benny- They let a group of ‘em in about a week ago. I told the bosses that this weren’t no good idea. They just didn’t listen to me. They don’t understand like I do.

Roy- And thank God for that.

Paul- My wife was one of the ones that went in. They was havin a ladies day. They asked if any of the women wanted to go in and see how the mines worked.

Roy- My Sarah said it was just fascinating to see how the motors worked and see how all the machines were runnin’

Paul- My wife said all the machines was runnin’ fine-

Benny- But what does she know about coal minin’? My little woman wanted to go in and I put my foot down.

Paul- Then how come I saw her servin hot lunches?

Roy- Cause his foot only goes down so far and usually ends up in his mouth.

(laugh)

Benny- I told her she couldn’t go in- but she’s got a mind of her own.

Paul- Amen to that!

Church

(The only people left are Maggie, Ronnie, Charlotte and Rev.)

Ronnie: (Returns to subject at hand.) Maggie, what did you mean - seal it with limestone?

Maggie: Fires needs fuel and oxygen to keep burning. In the mine, the fire has an endless supply of fuel. The only thing left to do is smother the flames.

Ronnie: But my husband could be down there barricaded in a side tunnel. He could be waiting with my dad to be rescued. They can't bury them alive. They just can't. The men have to been given a chance.

Rev: She’s not saying that's want they are going to do. She’s only saying that's what they might do.

Maggie: Crowd's thinning out.

Charlotte- It’s been over a week and Thanksgiving’s coming up. They need to go home- there are kids and sisters and mothers… some people just have other responsibilities.

Ronnie- Maybe...

Charlotte- What?

Ronnie- I wish to God I could read those damned numbers. They just don’t mean anything to me.

Charlotte- I wish I could help you- but I have no clue.

Ronnie- Maybe they keep leaving because of those numbers. Those numbers are too high?

Charlotte- Too high? Come on Ronnie…

Ronnie- No, it’s all starting to make sense.

Charlotte-Ronnie, you listen to me. We just can’t…lose hope….

Ronnie- Don’t talk to me about hope. I’ve been waiting here for days.

Charlotte- I know, and your dad will be so proud of you.

Ronnie- Don’t talk to me about my dad – your dad is safe at home. I don’t know where mine is.

Charlotte- Your dad is like my dad! When you grow up around here it’s like havin a hundred sets of parents.

Ronnie: But the difference is, he’s my father. Your father is safe.

Charlotte: What are you talking about? My dad is sitting at home rambling on. So many of the things he loved are gone… his friends… his work… he’s not as safe as you think.

Ronnie- He’s not buried under ground. He’s at home. He’s alive. I don’t have that comfort and you can’t understand- you just can’t. Why are you even here?

Charlotte- I’m here for you?

Ronnie- This isn’t a place for you.

(All stare at Ronnie. Charlotte thinks carefully and responds.)

Charolette- (Pleading) This is the perfect place for me.

Ronnie- This is a place for waiting. Your wait is over. Go home, Charlotte.

Charlotte- I can’t go home. I can’t see him like this. I can't go home. I don’t understand? No- you don’t understand!

Ronnie- What? What could I possibly not understand? Your father is home- your nightmare is over. He’s safe. He’s still alive.

Charlotte- He’s alive but he’s not living- something in my dad died that day too.

Ronnie- Just leave me alone –you need to go home to your dad. He needs you more than me.

(Charlotte leaves)

Fire Barrel

Fire Barrel

JR- So how exactly did you get out Benny?

Survivor- You writin' a story boy? Cause I got stories.

Roy- Yea- this fella’s worse than Paul and his damned bass.

Benny- This is strictly off the record, but when the explosion happened some of us didn’t even know it happened.

Where I was workin I didn’t feel a thing- however I got this good buddy of mine and he must have been in the same boat as me. Well he got scared because the lights flickered in his section and he ran outta that mine like a bat outta hell. Now I don’t know why- but somethin maybe told him everything was alright and he ran back into that mine- and he’s still there.

JR- No way- how could that have happened?

M1- It’s probably just Benny tryin to spin ya a good yarn.

Survivor- It’s the gospel truth boy.

JR- So...your father was in the accident in ’54 and you barley escaped this one by the skin of your teeth? Why do you keep going back?

Benny- You know, if I needed to go in the mines tomorrow, I would. It's just something like this. You could be in a big ol’ department store- like them there in Pittsburgh- in the wintertime, Christmas shoppin and then the roof caves in from all the snow, but you don’t stay away from the department store. You know?

Roy: At least my wife doesn’t.

JR- You got a point.

Roy- Can’t stop livin’

JR: Those boys still in the mine might disagree.

Paul- Don’t want to second guess what the bosses did and what they didn’t do and anything safety wise, but I think it’s a horrible way to go.

Benny: A thousand feet underground and no way out would be a horrible way to go. Horrible and the fact of the thinking about it.

Paul- You know it would be hard. Some people just can’t take it- like that boy whose parked himself up on that hill.

Roy - That’s a cryin shame.

JR- You talkin about that nut up on the ridge?

Benny: So you heard about the note?

Roy: If you weren’t standing here, I’da thought it be you who wrote that piece of bullshit.

Benny: Well I might have been if he hadn’t of thought of it first. My daddy was in that bunch too.

Paul: Rumor has it that they sealed up the mine too soon.

JR- What do you mean too soon?

Benny: Some folks say they found notes in lunch pails when they went in to recover the bodies. Word is notes was dated after they sealed up the mine. So all them boys suffocated and coulda been saved. Them company bossed just didn’t’ wanna waste the time or the money tryin’ to go and get ‘em.

Roy: Listen boy, that’s just an old wives tale. Don’t listen to Benny over there. He believes that aliens landed in New Mexico.

Paul: And don't get him started on who killed Kennedy.

Survivor: I didn’t say nothin’ about no little green men- you know damn well, there was more than one shooter.

Roy: Now listen here and listen up good- they never brought no notes, or letters, no nothin’ outta that mine.

Paul: (beat) Only bodies.

In Church (It’s just Maggie and Rev. Rev notices her sitting by herself singing "Always" to herself. He goes to her.)

Rev- Maggie...

Maggie- Hm? I guess it's just me then.

Rev- Are you okay?

Maggie- Me? I'm fine. I was mainly here for the girls. The poor things...they're so young...they don't understand what's going on. They need us older mining wives to look out for them.

Rev- Maggie...the girls have left...everyone's gone...I sent the volunteers home to be with their families for Thanksgiving.

Maggie- I guess its just you and me Rev. Is there anything you need me to help you with? Cleaning up? Putting things back? You shouldn't have to take care of this all by yourself.

Rev- I'm fine..didn't you say you had kids?

Maggie- Four. Skip's my youngest, he's six.

Rev- Where is he staying?

Maggie- With my sister.

Rev- I have a son, myself.

Maggie- Aww..How old is he?

Rev- (Not sure. Have to check my notes. Don't read this out loud, Jason) He's with my wife in Fairmont. Listen Maggie, Thanksgiving's coming up and I'm sure Skip misses his mommy, so why don't you go home--

Maggie- I...I can't...I'm sorry, I haven't been completely honest with you...with myself...

Rev- What do you mean?

Maggie- I knew...I've always known...The first time you posted the papers...I knew. I pretended to be strong for all these girls, but really I was weakest one. They stayed because they hadn't given up hope, but I stayed...I stayed because I couldn't go home.

Rev- Why not?

Maggie- Because I don't have a home to go back to anymore. Edward was my home, he was my everything, and without him...I don't know what to do anymore.

(Pause)

Rev- Do you know I've only left this church once since we met at the Champion store?

Maggie Really?

Rev- My son's been sick. He's had a fever this whole time, and the other day it got up to a hundred and four.

Maggie- Oh my...

Rev- So of course I had to leave for that. My wife and I had to put him in a tub of ice to get the fever down. Thank the Lord it broke and he's starting to feel better now. But as I was putting him to bed that night, I watched him as he slept. I never noticed how much he looked like his mother, and it made me realize that not only was he my son, but he was also a piece of us. A gift that came from my me and my wife's love for each other.

(Silence)

Maggie-Rev...will you walk me out? I've got to pick up my son, and get things ready for Thanksgiving.

(Rev smiles and walks Maggie out)

(Blackout)

End of Scene.

Scene 3 JR's Antics Continue

JR - (To audience) All these company men and federal mine inspectors, mining companies and Bill were all going up to the portal. And I wanted to go, but there were no photographers allowed. It was not a news/media thing. And so, this guy that was driving me around in his jeep, I said to him, “Man, I’d like to get up there.” And he said, "I can get you there. But, you’ll have to cross the creek. I’ll get you to the creek and then you’ll have to cross the creek." So, the guy takes me up there. And there’s this big airshaft there. And I climbed up into the airshaft and I was taking pictures from there. And all these guys are around talking about pointing and I’m just out there taking pictures. And then after they left I got out and crossed the creek and this guy was waiting for me. And he drove me back to the town. I went up to the news/media place that they had set up there and I saw Bill and I said, (To Bill) I’ll be back I think I got some pretty good shots. And I went down to that darkroom that they had in Fairmont. And I get all my pictures done and I put all my pictures in this envelope and came back and gave it to Bill. (Bill has come onto the stage...news people milling around.) And at this point all the media was just milling around doing nothing. And I went and gave him the pictures and he took them out. It was like bees to honey. The media just flocked around looking at these pictures.

Harvey: Where did you get these?

Andrew: How did you get these pictures?”

Elliot: We want those pictures!

JR: And then the shit hit the fan. They started screaming at Corchan.

Elliot: (To official) You can’t do this. You gave your local guy some special priviledges. We want those pictures for the the wire.

JR - Cause no one had any pictures for that day. And they almost started a riot down there. And of course Bill Evans is there just with the biggest old smile on his face and he says,

Bill: Guys! Guys! Guys! Let me explain how this works.

JR; And everybody just got real quiet, and Bill looked around and he said,

Bill : I give RJ a dollar for gas and give him a roll of film and he just does his damn job. And if you people just want to stand around here and do nothing then that’s your business. We just scooped you. (He put the pictures in the envelope) You don’t get these pictures until we run them tomorrow, then you can have them. But they’re going in my paper first.

JR: Serves 'em right. Oh...I didn't tell you. There's a famous picture, the one of the smoke billowing out of the portal...it's been sene all over the world. That's my shot. I took that shot the first morning as soon as Bill and I got out then. Then I went back to the newspaper office in Fairmont to develop it. At some point that picture was laying on Bill's desk, and one of the AP guys came over and took it when no one was looking. And you know what? He sent it out on the wire. It was in newspapers all over the world the next day with "AP Wire" in the tag line. My picture. When I caught up the with the SOB who stole my picture, he just said, "Hey buddy, the Times is an AP paper and you work for the Times so the photo belongs to the AP." So, I told him....you got it all wrong pal. I'm a freelancer. The Times pays me, but I own my own work. In the end, they paid me a thousand dollars for that shot. It wasn't the money...it was the principle of the thing. So, it served them right. We did scoop them and it felt good.

Scene 4 - Champion Store

(A room in the champion store, A meeting is taking place on the decision on what to do with the mine. In the group are William Poundstone (VP), John Cocoran (P), James McCarteney (PR) for Coalition Coal, Cecil Urbaniak, and Joseph Sedrick of the United Mine Workers, and Federal and State from the Bureau of Mines. The men are arguing as the scene opens.) 

Cecil- I knew this would happen. This is exactly why we were against closing the mines to begin with.

Federal – You can’t use the threat of one lone nut to continue to risk the lives of dedicated rescue workers!

Joseph- Then go out there right now and make the announcement yourself. I for one, prefer to not leave here with a shotgun wound.

Federal- You’re being over-dramatic.

Joseph- Am I? You’d be surprised what someone who is wracked with grief would attempt.

Federal- Then how long do you propose we keep the mine open? You got some of the victims' family members calling for us to keep up our efforts for a month!

Cecil- I don't see why that's so unreasonable.

State- It's unreasonable because there's been fourteen explosions since the original blast! And God knows how many more we'll have if we keep poking at that hornet's nest!

Joseph- There weren't any explosions today.

Federal- That's because we have our boys walking on eggshells out there. The point is we can't rescue these men, because every time we try, we end up causing a fire, a cave-in, or an explosion. The longer we wait the worse it gets.

Joseph- I still think we owe it to these families to wait as long as needed.

State- So you're saying we shouldn't seal the mine period.

Joseph- That's not what I said--

State- It must be, because you and I both know there will never be an "appropriate" time to seal the mine for these families. As long as they're alive, they're gonna have hope, and as long as they have hope that their loved one is still alive. Then rather if its today or eighty years from now "we sealed the mine up too soon."

Joseph- Now who's being over-dramatic?

State- I'm suppose to believe they'll be rational about this? There's a gunman on a hilltop threatening to pick us off for even considering closing it.

John- Gentlemen please, let’s not let this cloud our judgment, leave the gunman up to the authorities. We have our own work to do here.

Federal- All we're saying is we can't let public opinion sway our decision. You can't expect a realistic decision to come from somebody who's loved one is buried thousands of feet below the earth. Nobody can be rational under those circumstances. So it's up to us to be rational for them.

Cecil- So rational, mean sealing the mine up as soon as possible, so you can hurry up get back to your wife and kids.

Federal- (Rises) How dare you!

John- Gentlemen!

Cecil- I'm sorry...it's the stress of all this...that was uncalled for, and I'm sorry.

James- Are we making any progress with the rescue attempts?

State- We’ve finally been able to place the microphones

William- And did you hear anything?

State- Nothing.

Cecil- But that doesn’t mean-

State- If the microphones aren’t picking up anything then there’s nothing to pick up.

Joseph- Or we’re drilling in the wrong place!

Federal - We’re drilling all over the damn mine, we got eleven holes strategically placed in the areas where we might pick up something. There are seventy-eight miners down there surely-

Joseph- Well maybe you didn't listen long enough.

State- They listened for two hours per session. That's plenty of time for any of the surviving miners to get close enough for us to hear them.

John- What about the gas readings?

William- No…just when they start to stabilize another explosion happens, and makes them worse. There’s still smoke coming out of the Mohan shaft from the last explosion. We’ve had the fans going full tilt, but we’ve had to lower the RPM to keep them from blowing…

State- And the air samples we received from the holes all showed the same thing.

William- Which was?

State- A deadly content of CO2 gas and an explosive range of methane.

James- What about the foam idea? I've heard people say there might be a chance we could extinguish the fire.

Federal- If that fire was contained to a single area it would have been feasible, but we've got dozens of fires through all three portals! And they've been burning unchecked all week! This in turn is causing cave-ins that block the passages that would allow the foam to reach the fires. Even if that weren't the case the amount of foam it would take would be unfathomable.

William- The whole thing seems so hopeless…

Cecil- We can’t give up hope. We gave up hope in ’54, and now look at us. Hiding from a maniac with a shotgun, because he didn’t think we did enough, and by God I’m starting to agree with him!

Federal- What more do you think we can do?! We’ve tried everything!

State- I know you don’t want to abandon those men. I don’t think anyone here wants that. But eventually we’re going to have to stop hoping for a miracle and start facin’ facts.

Federal- They have been down there for eight days. No food. No water. No air.

Joseph- I know…I just…I hate this job. Every night I lie awake and wonder if only we held out one more day. If only we tried one more thing. If only we continued longer…

State- I know. But you also have to consider the lives of our boys involved in the rescue efforts. I’m afraid if we continue it won’t be long until we’re pulling their bodies out as well. Don’t you think we’ve lost enough people to that damn hole?

Joseph- You’re…right...

Cecil- Joseph!

Joseph- It’s too late, Cecil. We’ve waited enough, we’ve done all that we can, there’s nothing left to do….

Cecil- That’s what we said about ’54!

James- Stop comparing this to ’54! This is completely different than ’54. They only waited three days before sealing, and there were only sixteen reported casualties. We’ve doubled the rescue efforts and waited three times as long! I’m with them, we need to face reality here. What’s done is done.

Cecil- We also have seven times the victims!

James- Mr. Urbaniak, we know you don’t want to give up hope, none of us do, but right now hope is all we have. There’s no substantial evidence that things will get better.

John- And we’re not saying that things couldn’t have been handled differently in ’54. But I honestly believe this time we’ve done everything that is humanly possible to try and save those men.

Cecil- It’s just there are so many of them, surely…surely…one of them…

Joseph- I’m sorry, Cecil. They’re right.

John- So are we in agreement?

(They nod solemnly.)

John- Then we’ll put the order in to seal the mine tomorrow. William, do you wanna make the announcement? I figured it would be better coming from you than James. They deserve to hear it from somebody at the top.

William- Tomorrow?

John- I really don’t see any sense of prolonging it any further.

William- Tomorrow’s Thanksgiving

State- Oh my God, he’s right.

Joseph- Everything’s been so crazy. I completely forgot.

William- We can’t do this to those families on Thanksgiving. They’ve been through enough.

John- I agree. Then we’ll make the announcement the day after tomorrow. You should tell Rev Duncan to send the volunteers home, and get the church ready for the announcement. As for the rest of us. I think it's time we be with our families, and prepare ourselves for the repercussions of the decision we just made.

(State, Federal, Cecil, and Joseph leave sadly.)

John- You okay, Bill?

William- No...not really...

John- We're doing the right thing. You know that.

William- Are we? We just signed the death certificates for seventy-eight men. Men with names and faces, and lives, and families. It's easy to look at the numbers on the page, and think of them as statistics...figures...I even had to do that to keep from completely breaking down...but damn it we know these men. Some of them have been here longer than we have. What gives us the right to decide their fate?

James- We didn't decide it. The mine did.

William- But it was our mine!

John- I know how you feel, Bill? I've asked myself that same question every day since the blast. And even though I know we're right, I'm going to regret this decision for the rest of my life. But the truth is we can't change the past. All we can do is try to change the future.

William- How?

John- By realizing that this was not just another mine explosion, this wasn't a hazard of the industry, this was a very brutal wake-up call telling us that we need to start doing things to ensure this never happens again.

James- You know they're going to demonize us. People don't blame inanimate objects like mines, or gas, or fires. They blame people. They need to blame people in order to make sense of it all. And those people are gonna be us.

John- I know...it's part of the job. Have a good holiday, gentlemen.

(John leaves) (William and James watches him and then follows shortly after.)

End of Scene

Scene 5 - Back at the church

Church…Rev is moving furniture. Poundstone enters and pauses at the door. Rev looks up.

Poundstone: How come you’re not with your family?

Rev: Somebody’s got to put the church back together.

Poundstone: Need some help?

Rev: Sure (They move furniture together for a while)

Poundstone: This is a nice solid wooden altar you’ve got here.

Rev: Yeah. You know, for the last few days, with all the people around here, it’s been used as a table. It was weird to see it loaded with medicine.

Poundstone: Well, this is a place of healing, isn’t it?

Rev: Yes, it is. I’m Robert Duncan

Poundstone: William Poundstone, vice president of the company.

Rev: I know. (pause)

Poundstone: So you sent everyone home?

Rev: Well, you’re going to be closing the mine. I need to get this space ready for tomorrow.

Poundstone: Closing the mine…

Rev: Bet that was a long conversation.

Poundstone: Many long conversations, actually.

Rev: Sorry. I didn’t mean to imply that you could make this decision in a single conversation.

Poundstone: No need to apologize…78 men…we all know they’re dead.

Rev: Known for a long time now, Bill. Why aren’t you home with your family?

Poundstone: I’ll get there. (long pause) It’s been a week of hell. I know it’s ironic for me to say that, given what those men would have gone through down there, but with the press, the union, the families, the feds…it’s been tough. (pause) Then Cochrough (sp?) said why don’t you make the announcement? (pause) So I came in here to find a little bit of peace. (very long pause)

Rev; Well, this place will be full tomorrow. (pause) This is a good little church. It’s brought to comfort to a lot of people.

Poundstone: You’ve been good, too.

Rev: I was called to come serve here, and that’s what I’ve done…just as you have done. (pause) Well, when you’re up there tomorrow, just stand up straight and talk it through. They’re giving you something to read, aren’t they?

Poundstone: I don’t know…they have Jim McCarthy, he’s the wordsmith, but…78 guys…what am I supposed to do? Part of me says, Bill, you are not responsible. It was a group decision. (long pause) I go to church. I know God forgives, but…

Rev: God doesn't make mines explode. You didn’t make this mine explode either.

Poundstone: Tell that to the survivors.

Rev: Not everyone feels that way. Some people will demonize you, but, Bill, be honest with yourself, they need to blame someone. But that’s not what tomorrow is about. You said yourself, this is a place of healing. That healing starts tomorrow. It’s time to move on. (long pause as they look at each other in silence) I’ll be here all day, if you need to wander back in.

Poundstone: You’ll be here early in the morning?

Rev: Yes, all day. (pause) I’ll see you tomorrow. (They shake hands. P nods and starts to leave) Bill, (pause)Happy Thanksgiving.

Poundstone: You too, Rev. Thanks (end)

Scene 6 More JR

JR: Bill wanted to be in the middle of it. The Federal mine inspectors called Bill that first morning at home. He had covered so many disasters he was considered an authority. He and I used to called to hearings to testify. They used my pictures and Bill explained what had happened. He could remember everything like it was today. And Bill had resources. He'd talk to someone in the company and say, "Hey, what's really happening?" and the company rep would say, "I don't want you to publish this...but." And Bill wouldn't...not until they said he could. So, he had lots of friends. I got to travel with Senators Randolph and Byrd...Governor Moore...all because of Bill Evans. It's funny how in the midst of all this tragedy, I have some really good memories. Bill Evans was a good editor, a great man. He hired me when I was just 15 years old. I took my portfolio down to him and he looked at my pictures and said...

Bill: I suppose you can drive...

JR: Yes, sir. I can drive.

Bill: Good. You can start tomorrow.

JR: But I don't have a license.

Bill: How can you not have a license?

JR: I won't be 16 for another month.

Bill: You're 15 years old?

JR: (to audience) Bill takes another look at my photographs.

Bill: But I need you now. I need a photographer and you're as good a one as I've seen. Are you sure you're just 15?

JR: Yes, sir. I've been taken pictures since I was in the 6th grade when my mom bought me a Polariod.

Bill: Well, can your mom drive you?

JR: I'm sure she would.

Bill: Well, if you'll work with our photographer for the next two weeks, and if you mom will drive you around until you pass your test, the job is yours. (to himself) I must be crazy... hiring a 15 year-old photographer...

JR: And that's how I got the job. And now I'm taking pictures that are going out on the AP wire and being seen all around the world...documenting history. Who woulda thought?

Scene 6 A - Jamie's monologue

I got that paper everyday from the day of the explosion till the day they sealed the mine. I just keep hoping...that maybe some how....some way. All that reading was good for me. I continued to read about the calls for change...the senate hearings...and finally the mine saftely legislation. I still read the newspaper everyday. Harold Davis was a good man. He helped out his neighbors. Took his children to church. You may wonder why I would speak so fondly of a man who gave me the best spanking of my life....but you see, things were different then. Every child in the neighborhood was his child...his responsibliity. He made a big impression on me. So, much so that I became a miner. Worked my way up to fire boss and then became an inspector. It's an important job. It makes me feel like I'm doing something worthwhile with my life. I think Mr. Davis would think so too.

Scene 7 - The announcement

(The scene opens on the church sanctuary, restored to its natural state. The feeling all around is somber, waiting for the inevitable. Rev and the Preacher (and the Catholic Bishop?) stand greeting distressed family members as they enter, greet one another, and are seated. The company man stands off to the side, not wanting to interfere in the personal moments of these people, or perhaps just not knowing what to say. YW and MIL are sitting in a pew already. OW is there also, sitting alone, waiting. Some of the surviving miners are sitting together also. We hear some quiet murmuring, but there is also a lot of reflection.)

(Ronnie enters) (Charlotte enters and apprehensively sits down.)

Ronnie: Charlotte...I'm glad you're here. How's your dad?

Charlotte: I tried to get him to come, but he just can't face it. He says he already knows what they're gonna say and it's not good. I'm so sorry, Ronnie.

Ronnie: Me too. It's okay Charlotte. It's not your fault...I don't blame him for not coming today. Mining is your dad's life. These men were his friends...his family. I still can’t believe it…I can't believe this is happening.

(Chuck and Rose enter.)

Chuck: Mom, why did we even come here? I mean, we know—

Rose: I know. I know. But, Chuck, honey, we all need to be here for each other right now. It doesn’t matter who knows what or who’s going to say what…we just need to be together…

Chuck: I've been thinking.

Rose: Yea...

Chuck: I'm thinking about getting a job....quiting school.

Rose: When pigs fly.

Chuck: No Mom; I mean it. I'm the man of the house now.

Rose: Chuck, honey, I know you mean well and I appreciate what you're saying, but quitting school? School is your future.

Chuck: But I can work.

Rose: At what? In the mines? Do you think your daddy would want that?

Chuck: I think my daddy would want me to be a man.

Rose: Yes, a well educated man. A man who can make a difference around here. Not, a man who has to claw and scrape every minute of his natural born days. Your daddy worked day and night so you could have better.

Chuck: But mom....

Rose: We're not going to settle this now. Let's just take some time to think on it awhile.

Chuck: I can do that.

(Rose sees Maggie)

Rose: (puts hand on Maggie's shoulder) Maggie?

Maggie: Rose...

Rose – Mind if we sit here?

Maggie – No, not at all…

(It’s getting to be about that time. The Company man walks to the front of the church, steps up to the pulpit. He clears his throat.)

Poundstone – Good evening. My name is William Poundstone. I'm the vice president of Consolidation Coal. Thank you all for coming out this evening. I know this has been a long and trying process for all of us. I also know that a lot of rumors have been circulating around about the purpose of tonight’s meeting. I do, in fact, have an announcement to make. But first, I would like Pastor [NAME] to open with a prayer. Pastor…

Preacher – Thank you. Good evening. It’s good, as always, to be in the House of the Lord tonight. And we know that wherever two or three are gathered in His name, He hears our prayers and is ready to offer comfort and healing. With that in mind, grab the hand of your neighbor, and Let us pray…

Dear Lord, in this most trying of circumstances, I ask you to be with all the loved ones affected by this disaster, both here in this room, and everywhere. We know that in times of tribulation and sorrow, You are always with us, and we ask You tonight to give strength where it is needed and to be a comfort to the weary and aching hearts assembled in Your house this evening. Please guide and direct all those involved in the rescue efforts as well as those in positions of power who are making hard decisions. Help us to join together in the face of this tragedy, knowing that when it seems like hope is lost, we can always hope and trust in You. Be with the families of the trapped miners and help them to accept whatever is to come, and to always walk in love with You. We pray, as always, in the name of Your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Poundstone – (clears his throat) I stated that the mine would not be sealed until every avenue of reaching men in the mine had been explored. Every avenue possible to reach the men has now been exhausted. The tragic circumstances surrounding this incident, which include many devastating explosions, extensive underground fires, negative reports by the rescue teams who risked their own lives to save the men trapped inside, and many lethal air samples, have all been analyzed by men who are the most knowledgeable in the world about underground mining and rescue efforts associated with mine fires and explosions. The cumulative evidence shows without question that human life is not possible west of Mod’s Run, where the men would be located. Equally important is the unalterable fact that further delay endangers the lives of others. Risk of serious injury or death to mine-sealing crews, residents of areas around portals and shafts, the recovery teams who must someday return to the working areas to ascertain the true causes of the disaster, and other hazardous consequences, which could flow from a failure to act all make it necessary to seal the mine promptly.

(Collective gasp and murmuring by family members)

Rev – (walks to Poundstone – shakes his hand, offers comfort, meaningful look, etc. Rev then gestures to Bishop and walks Poundstone back to his seat)

(Paul steps out and delivers his monologue to audience.)

Paul- You almost feel like you did something wrong by living. Truth be told I can’t tell why I decided to take my family on vacation that same day as the explosion. I mean why that day? Why wasn’t it a week earlier or later? Doesn’t make no sense. I should have been there. I should have been down there with them. It was just like a dream town. Everybody was fightin and afraid and saddened. You don’t see anybody laughin. At Christmas time everybody should be walkin around sayin merry Christmas and that wasn’t happenin because they were very… saddened. I think that’s the best picture I could paint. It was a tramatic experience. I wouldn’t couldn’t go into blamin who caused it cause I don’t know. But lot of safety issues have been addressed as far back as 1969 cause of this whole business- the mine safety act for instance. Some of those old miners don’t think they need that safety stuff. They don’t think its necessary. Its hard to try and do things that some of the men doesn’t want and a lot of the men didn’t want those new rules. They say we’ll be ok. I finally got on as a state trooper years later. I helped the recovery team. Hundreds of men were out of work. I always wanted to be the sole bread winner and it turned out that I couldn’t. 78 men killed and the rest of the mine was lookin for work it was just impossible to finda good job. The mine was the only work source for all us in the town. A friend of mine handed me ten dollars and I said- I can’t accept this. Now I needed it, needed things for the baby, diapers, formula, toys, but he just put it in my hand and said- take it. You’d do the same for me. So I did. You know- there’s still a lot of good people left. There was then and there is now. It’s just eerie after what happened. The opening of the mine is a long distance away. The fact of being trapped. That is why I decided not to go back. I didn’t want to… experience that. I seen too much heart ache and other things happen. But I’ve got friends who have worked and retired from the coal company. They wouldn’t have done anything else.

(Paul exits)

Catholic Bishop – In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. (Makes the sign of the cross, as do the other Catholics in the group.)

(Sign of the Cross: Touch forehead, then chest, then left shoulder, then right shoulder with right hand.)

Our Father, who art in heaven,

Hallowed be thy Name.

Thy kingdom come.

Thy will be done,

On earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.

And forgive us our trespasses,

As we forgive those who trespass against us.

And lead us not into temptation,

But deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom,

and the power, and the glory,

for ever and ever.

Amen.

Pauline: Thy will be done!?! Is it God’s will to kill my son!

Marie: Pauline, please… There's nothing we can do. The decision has been made.

Pauline: Give, and it shall be given to you. For whatever measure you deal out to others, it will be dealt to you in return. What have I done? (Pauline sobs quietly into her hankerchief.)

Marie: (To Rose) You knew, didn’t you? That’s why you left, before, isn’t it?

Rose: Yes. When you’ve been around mining all your life…

Marie: Why didn’t you tell us? We were all just sitting here, waiting…and for nothing…

Rose: No. Not for nothing...Who was I to take away your hope? Come on Chuck.

Chuck: Where are we going?

Rose: Home.

(Chuck and Rose exit. Marie takes Pauline by the hand.)

Marie: Come on, Pauline, the kids are waitin' for us, and we've got a lot to prepare for.

(Pauline exits.) (Marie steps out for her monologue)

Marie: I don't think I'll ever stop feeling responsible. My husband was killed at Farmington mine number nine in 1968 I have stayed in my home and kept a home for my children. It’s been a long almost 40 years since he’s been gone. Before the explosion ever happened I went in those mines with him. The company was havin a family day and they wanted to know how many of the wives wanted to go in and see how they worked so I volunteered to go in with my husband. The old timer said what bad luck it was to let in all those women. I laughed. It was interesting to see how the mines were set up and how the motors could go in and I mean it was just amazing. I mean it didn’t look seriously bad… you know but I feel that number nine was a good mine. I’m just um… tryin to forget a lot of things that happened which I never will forget but there’s things that you would like to forget.

(Marie exits.)

Ronnie – How could they do this? What am I going to do? ….I’m all alone…

Charlotte – No. You’re not. You’ve got me. (embrace)

(Ronnie steps out for her monologue)

Ronnie- All this happened around Thanksgiving I remember all the turkeys and cranberry salad. Then Christmas came and we tried to act normal, but we were all hurting so bad. Charolette’s Mom sent us to the mall with a list. We got a few gifts and decorations. I was just like a robot. When they reopened the mine, and went in to retrieve the miners, they found him, they found my dad. In fact, he was found over at the bottom of the hill. I don’t remember the name of it now. And I took his brown suit over to the funeral home, the brown suit he always wore for church. And this man (who has not couth what so ever) looked at me and said, “You know, it is just a skeleton”. I said, “I know that. I just want you to lay it on his body.” It was a closed casket viewing. It was hard too. There was nothing to see. But I did get some information. From the men who recovered my dad – They said when they found my dad he hadn’t been burnt up by the fire, he had died from the gases and he and the other men were sitting in a circle with their hands overlapping each other. They knew it was my dad because he had on his famous plaid shirt and had juicy fruit gum in his pocket. And they said “We brought your daddy out.” I was so glad because I knew these men were all from Farmington #9- they were all such tender men - and I knew that my daddy was escorted out of there with such dignity I don’t celebrate Thanksgiving anymore, I am thankful 364 days a year so Thanksgiving, for me is just another day. That is the day I grieve, I cry then. It’s been forty years and you think you would overcome it, but you just don’t. I am thankful for all the blessings, and I feel like that one small day I don’t have to celebrate it. I think Charolette celebrates Thanksgiving; they have plenty to be thankful for. . I’ll call her and we’ll chat. She’ll say, “Do you know what today is, and how are you doing.” And I will say, “Well, you know.” I have always had this dream since the explosion happened. I’ve had it over and over. In it Daddy is handing me his handkerchief and he told me to hold onto it – hold onto it real tight. And I would say, “okay, Daddy” I would Be sleeping, and when I woke up, my hand would be stiff from holding the handkerchief. After we buried Daddy, I had the dream, and Daddy said, “Let it go Sissie.” and I could see the handkerchief floating through the air, all except for this one little piece. I sat up in bed. And I saw this Beautiful angel. Angel stood there with her hands extended out. I knew it was okay. I just knew daddy was taken care of. As for my husband, they never found his body. I never remarried I lost the love of my life.

(Charolette steps out for her monologue)

Charolette- It went on for probably a year- that my father relived that moment of running, hearing that noise, and when he would talk about the noise... about the explosion. It was just something that was incredibly loud, just a huge boom! I think, he even felt like a tremble. The ground trembled because when he fell flat on his chest he just lay there at first and didn't know what happened. I'm sure he replayed this. That he kept hearing it. He kept hearing it over and over and over and over again. Reliving it... It must have been very sad to relive something like that that's so painful. That's when he would cry. The tears would just come and that was very unusual because my dad just did not cry. My father was a very strong man. My father did not believe that men cried and men of his generation felt that way. You see it now with older men. Elderly men maybe in their 80s will tell you that men don't cry. It's just not a manly thing to do. He would relive it and when he would tell you about driving away hurt, running, and getting in the truck and driving away then we would start again with coming out you know and it was almost like he could see this on a tape player and it just played over and over and over. For the longest time he couldn't get away from it. He did not go out of the house. He stayed in and when he went back to work it really became his salvation. My father loved working. He really did. He never would admit that but he truly did. He was a workaholic and a bit of a curmudgeon. He was a grumpy man and he gradually came out of this and I think going back to work helped.

(Ronnie and Charolette exit.)

(Maggie comes over to the Rev)

Maggie- I...I wanted to thank-you, for everything you did...and for sending me home...You were right. My kids need a mother. Now more than ever.

Rev- Maggie, I'm so sorry. I wish there was something I could say or do...I can't imagine what you're going through, but I do know that you'll never have to face it alone.

Maggie- I know...I'm going to miss that old fool. Will you do me one last favor?

Rev- Sure.

Maggie- Will you keep me...will you keep all of us...in your prayers?

(Rev nods)

Maggie- Thank you. It was nice was meeting you. Goodbye.

(Maggie steps out for her monologue)

Maggie- My husband, he’d already been over there, at Farmington, two years when the accident happened. He was... uh... a main line motor man and had just brought a load of coal to the outside and had unhooked his coal cars and was headed back to the inside, and he was inside when the explosion happened. He liked the mines… but there was a time when my youngest son was 6 years old before the accident ever happened that I wanted Edward to change jobs because I was always worried about the mines and his friend got him a job a factory and he only worked there 6 months so he hated every minute of it so then his old mine foreman called him one day and said we need you one of our motor man fell and broke his back so we wanted to know if you want to come back. Well he jumped at the chance he said yes I’ll take it. And that’s when he went back to the mines and that’s where he was until the closed it up. Mine Mining was his life. His dad was a miner from time he was real young. you always say you’re a miner once you’re always a miner so… I know it’s been a long long hard life, but when you think about it it’s been a good life since he’s been gone I mean I have good memories of what we did when… we camped and we went fishin and he went huntin and I mean all these are good memories so… I think… right now that I wanna be left with those good memories. Not everybody has good memories. We were married 23 years when the accident happened. And I’ve been a widow almost 40. So It’s been a… long time.

(Maggie exits)

(Rev steps out for his monologue.)

Rev- After the announcement was made the church cleared almost immediately. It was amazing to watch everybody…family, friends, company, and volunteers just tear out of there. Everyone was scared of the possibility of that guy lying up on the hill with his rifle ready to pick people off. I just went about collecting my things and tidying the church the best I could. As I stood there for a final moment in that now empty church I had the feeling that my portion of this, my job, had ended. But I will never forget as I drove my car up the little hill from the church, past the company store, and then onto the main road, I passed sixteen dump trucks filled with gravel. It was strange at first to see the trucks full and headed toward the mine. So many times before we had seen them headed away from the mine full to the brim with coal. But that night they were headed toward the mine, filled with gravel and limestone to close up the portals. I was only home for what seemed like minutes that night. My sister from Ohio called and her son had caught scarlet fever and they weren’t sure if he was going to make it through. So, I packed a change of clothes and headed for Dayton. Before I left I grabbed my hand held tape recorder and I talked all the way to my sisters. I just needed to process. I talked about the company store, the church, and the fire barrel. I talked about the media, the company, and the families. It is hard and sometimes humorous to go back and listen to tapes because there are times in the middle of my sentences when you get a little bit of me talking to the other drives on the road. You could probably ask a dozen different people to tell you about this thing that happened and you would get a dozen different points of view. But, I do think mine is a unique one. I was out there 8 full days and nights. And it changed me. It changed the way I thought about the church, just as a building, it changed the way I thought about ministry sometimes having to be whatever the people need, it changed the way I understood grief and how people dealt with it. I don’t think anyone could come through anything like this and not be changed.

(Rev exits) (blackout)

END of Scene.

(I don't know how to move JR's monologue. But I imagine it will go before the scene opens.)

Young Wife

I don't think I'll ever stop feeling responsible. My husband was killed at Farmington mine number nine in 1968 I have stayed in my home and kept a home for my children. It’s been a long almost 40 years since he’s been gone. Before the explosion ever happened I went in those mines with him. The company was havin a family day and they wanted to know how many of the wives wanted to go in and see how they worked so I volunteered to go in with my husband. The old timer said what bad luck it was to let in all those women. I laughed. It was interesting to see how the mines were set up and how the motors could go in and I mean it was just amazing. I mean it didn’t look seriously bad… you know but I feel that number nine was a good mine. I’m just um… tryin to forget a lot of things that happened which I never will forget but there’s things that you would like to forget.

NW – You could have helped…I can’t believe they’re gone… You should have told us. You didn't have to leave us here alone!

OW2 – Who was I to take away your hope?

OW – Oh, [husband’s name]…. (sobbing)

NW – How could they do this? What am I going to do? ….I’m all alone…

CG – No. You’re not. You’ve got me. (embrace)

MIL – God’s will? What the hell does he know! God had nothing to do with this decision!!

 

(Pause)

OW2 – You wouldn’t have believed me anyway.

(to NW, especially) I knew that you wanted to have those good memories, and I wasn’t going to be the one to take them away from you.

Paul

You almost feel like you did something wrong by living. Truth be told I can’t tell why I decided to take my family on vacation that same day as the explosion. I mean why that day? Why wasn’t it a week earlier or later? Doesn’t make no sense. I should have been there. I should have been down there with them. It was just like a dream town. Everybody was fightin and afraid and saddened. You don’t see anybody laughin. At Christmas time everybody should be walkin around sayin merry Christmas and that wasn’t happenin because they were very… saddened. I think that’s the best picture I could paint. It was a tramatic experience. I wouldn’t couldn’t go into blamin who caused it cause I don’t know. But lot of safety issues have been addressed as far back as 1969 cause of this whole business- the mine safety act for instance. Some of those old miners don’t think they need that safety stuff. They don’t think its necessary. Its hard to try and do things that some of the men doesn’t want and a lot of the men didn’t want those new rules. They say we’ll be ok. I finally got on as a state trooper years later. I helped the recovery team. Hundreds of men were out of work. I always wanted to be the sole bread winner and it turned out that I couldn’t. 78 men killed and the rest of the mine was lookin for work it was just impossible to finda good job. The mine was the only work source for all us in the town. A friend of mine handed me ten dollars and I said- I can’t accept this. Now I needed it, needed things for the baby, diapers, formula, toys, but he just put it in my hand and said- take it. You’d do the same for me. So I did. You know- there’s still a lot of good people left. There was then and there is now. It’s just eerie after what happened. The opening of the mine is a long distance away. The fact of being trapped. That is why I decided not to go back. I didn’t want to… experience that. I seen too much heart ache and other things happen. But I’ve got friends who have worked and retired from the coal company. They wouldn’t have done anything else.

 

Old Wife 1

My husband, he’d already been over there, at Farmington, two years when the accident happened. He was... uh... a main line motor man and had just brought a load of coal to the outside and had unhooked his coal cars and was headed back to the inside, and he was inside when the explosion happened. He liked the mines… but there was a time when my youngest son was 6 years old before the accident ever happened that I wanted Edward to change jobs because I was always worried about the mines and his friend got him a job a factory and he only worked there 6 months so he hated every minute of it so then his old mine foreman called him one day and said we need you one of our motor man fell and broke his back so we wanted to know if you want to come back. Well he jumped at the chance he said yes I’ll take it. And that’s when he went back to the mines and that’s where he was until the closed it up. Mine Mining was his life. His dad was a miner from time he was real young. you always say you’re a miner once you’re always a miner so… I know it’s been a long long hard life, but when you think about it it’s been a good life since he’s been gone I mean I have good memories of what we did when… we camped and we went fishin and he went huntin and I mean all these are good memories so… I think… right now that I wanna be left with those good memories. Not everybody has good memories. We were married 23 years when the accident happened. And I’ve been a widow almost 40. So It’s been a… long time.

College Girl

That went on for probably a year- that he relived that moment of running, hearing that noise, and when he would talk about the noise... about the explosion. It was just something that was incredibly loud, just a huge boom! I think, he even felt like a tremble. The ground trembled because when he fell flat on his chest he just lay there at first and didn't know what happened. I'm sure he replayed this. That he kept hearing it. He kept hearing it over and over and over and over again. Reliving it... It must have been very sad to relive something like that that's so painful. That's when he would cry. The tears would just come and that was very unusual because my dad just did not cry. My father was a very strong man. My father did not believe that men cried and men of his generation felt that way. You see it now with older men. Elderly men maybe in their 80s will tell you that men don't cry. It's just not a manly thing to do. He would relive it and when he would tell you about driving away hurt, running, and getting in the truck and driving away then we would start again with coming out you know and it was almost like he could see this on a tape player and it just played over and over and over. For the longest time he couldn't get away from it. He did not go out of the house. He stayed in and when he went back to work it really became his salvation. My father loved working. He really did. He never would admit that but he truly did. He was a workaholic and a bit of a curmudgeon. He was a grumpy man and he gradually came out of this and I think going back to work helped.

JR

My experience at Farmington hit a little close to home. I’ve been a photographer since I was fifteen and I’ve seen pretty much everything there is to see. My two buddies get in a car crash and get themselves decapitated, an 18 month old baby burned to death, fires, burglaries, shootings, I thought I’d seen it all through my lense and nothing was gonna touch me. Then just 2 years before the explosion at Farmington, Bill called me at home. It was my day off. He said get your camera and come pick me up. Bill wouldn’t tell me where we were going until we were on the road. I asked him where we were goin’ and he said Barrackville. The tone of his voice didn’t even clue me in. I didn’t think anything of it. I asked him so what’s happened this time. Bill told me there was an explosion at the Barrackville mine. The mine where my dad worked. That was the longest damned drive of my life. I thought we’d never get there or my car couldn’t go fast enough. Finally we pulled into the turn around in front of the main office and I tore outta that car like a bat outta hell. I ran up to the big board where all the miner’s numbers hung on little brass buttons under these giant black bold letters. IN and OUT. They started to give all the miner’s numbers printed on brass collars after the Monongah accident. Brass doesn’t burn too (real) easy. Now, you knew your daddy’s number just like you knew your phone number or street address. My dad’s number was the only one that just kinda stood out from all the others and grew and grew until it was the only thing I could see… IN. My dad’s number hung under IN and I just stood there with my camera. I think I felt my stomach drop and I just stood there staring at that number on the brass pin. Suddenly I felt a big hand on my shoulder. Told me my dad was alright. He was on the next man car outta the mines. He was okay.

Ronnie

All this happened around Thanksgiving I remember all the turkeys and cranberry salad. Then Christmas came and we tried to act normal, but we were all hurting so bad. Charolette’s Mom sent us to the mall with a list. We got a few gifts and decorations. I was just like a robot. When they reopened the mine, and went in to retrieve the miners, they found him, they found my dad. In fact, he was found over at the bottom of the hill. I don’t remember the name of it now. And I took his brown suit over to the funeral home, the brown suit he always wore for church. And this man (who has not couth what so ever) looked at me and said, “You know, it is just a skeleton”. I said, “I know that. I just want you to lay it on his body.” It was a closed casket viewing. It was hard too. There was nothing to see. But I did get some information. From the men who recovered my dad – They said when they found my dad he hadn’t been burnt up by the fire, he had died from the gases and he and the other men were sitting in a circle with their hands overlapping each other. They knew it was my dad because he had on his famous plaid shirt and had juicy fruit gum in his pocket. And they said “We brought your daddy out.” I was so glad because I knew these men were all from Farmington #9- they were all such tender men - and I knew that my daddy was escorted out of there with such dignity I don’t celebrate Thanksgiving anymore, I am thankful 364 days a year so Thanksgiving, for me is just another day. That is the day I grieve, I cry then. It’s been forty years and you think you would overcome it, but you just don’t. I am thankful for all the blessings, and I feel like that one small day I don’t have to celebrate it. I think Charolette celebrates Thanksgiving; they have plenty to be thankful for. . I’ll call her and we’ll chat. She’ll say, “Do you know what today is, and how are you doing.” And I will say, “Well, you know.” I have always had this dream since the explosion happened. I’ve had it over and over. In it Daddy is handing me his handkerchief and he told me to hold onto it – hold onto it real tight. And I would say, “okay, Daddy” I would Be sleeping, and when I woke up, my hand would be stiff from holding the handkerchief. After we buried Daddy, I had the dream, and Daddy said, “Let it go Sissie.” and I could see the handkerchief floating through the air, all except for this one little piece. I sat up in bed. And I saw this Beautiful angel. Angel stood there with her hands extended out. I knew it was okay. I just knew daddy was taken care of. As for my husband, they never found his body. I never remarried I lost the love of my life.

Rev.

After the announcement was made the church cleared almost immediately. It was amazing to watch everybody…family, friends, company, and volunteers just tear out of there. Everyone was scared of the possibility of that guy lying up on the hill with his rifle ready to pick people off. I just went about collecting my things and tidying the church the best I could. As I stood there for a final moment in that now empty church I had the feeling that my portion of this, my job, had ended. But I will never forget as I drove my car up the little hill from the church, past the company store, and then onto the main road, I passed sixteen dump trucks filled with gravel. It was strange at first to see the trucks full and headed toward the mine. So many times before we had seen them headed away from the mine full to the brim with coal. But that night they were headed toward the mine, filled with gravel and limestone to close up the portals. I was only home for what seemed like minutes that night. My sister from Ohio called and her son had caught scarlet fever and they weren’t sure if he was going to make it through. So, I packed a change of clothes and headed for Dayton. Before I left I grabbed my hand held tape recorder and I talked all the way to my sisters. I just needed to process. I talked about the company store, the church, and the fire barrel. I talked about the media, the company, and the families. It is hard and sometimes humorous to go back and listen to tapes because there are times in the middle of my sentences when you get a little bit of me talking to the other drives on the road. You could probably ask a dozen different people to tell you about this thing that happened and you would get a dozen different points of view. But, I do think mine is a unique one. I was out there 8 full days and nights. And it changed me. It changed the way I thought about the church, just as a building, it changed the way I thought about ministry sometimes having to be whatever the people need, it changed the way I understood grief and how people dealt with it. I don’t think anyone could come through anything like this and not be changed.