Happy Daze Are Here Again!
March 17th, 2017

I’ve been informed that many folks back in my old hometown are pleased now that King Coal is making a comeback. They are pleased because they expect lost jobs will come back. Perhaps even those of us who long ago left town will be coming back. Who can say?

Let me begin by saying the main reason young people leave small towns is because they got driver’s licenses. Or bus tickets. You leave because although you had a happy childhood, you don’t wish to have an unhappy adulthood. You don’t want to be, forever, the same person you were in high school. The rule applies even to those who were somebody in high school–athletes and cheerleaders, for example. For further details, I recommend two films: “The Last Picture Show” and “Hoosiers.”

Speaking of movies, if your ambition is to be a filmmaker, you’ll just have to board that bus to elsewhere. Same applies if your goal is to become a writer. Had I stayed put, I’m sure I could have landed a job with the local newspaper; however, the fact that I know the preposition “of” can never become a verb wouldn’t of made any difference.

But let’s say that Donald Trump’s economic recovery plan takes hold and I’m forced to give up my artsy fartsy ways and return to the land of my forefathers. I just might make it after all. For example, I have short legs, broad shoulders, and almost no neck. So I’m physically well-suited for lifting heavy loads and burrowing into mountainsides. Moreover, I know what a Stokermatic is, and what clinker tongs are for. I know how to wear a pair of Levi’s, and I understand that a man in coal country is judged not by whether he knows the difference between a preposition and a verb, but rather by the size of the pickup truck he drives, and the number of keys attached to his belt loop.

I can say such things as, “Me and Martin Ballard, we used t’ rope and tie mountain lions up Huntington Canyon.” And it would be the truth!

smokestacks copy

Them thar mountain lions ain’t as plentiful as they once were, however. Cougars don’t congregate around coal-fired power plants, and I don’t believe they love the smell of sulfur dioxide in the morning. Nor do trout abound in polluted streams—but what the heck? Federal regulations are nothing but job killers, and if you don’t believe me, just ask any one of the 2,500 men and boys who have perished in the coal mines of Carbon County over the years.

Castle Gate Graveyard 2
-Richard Menzies