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Home / Neighborhood / San Gabriel Valley / Pasadena Independent / Dorothy’s Place: Deadline Met

Dorothy’s Place: Deadline Met

by Pasadena Independent
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By Dorothy Denne

My submission deadline looms and I have not a line written nor an idea in mind. The reason is that I have been reading when I should have been writing.

I just finished a good-read book titled “Rocket Boys” by Homer H. Hickam, Jr. It is a memoir genre about a group of high school boys growing up in a coal mining town in W. Virginia during the late 1950s and early ’60s.

I could relate well to the book. I grew up just ahead of the author and just across the border in southern Ohio. We have some things in common.

His dad was a coal miner. My dad was basically a farmer but there was a period of time that, while we lived on a farm, he also worked in the mines.

My memories of that are few, many formed in part from history recounted by my parents and others. I was very young, probably around five or six. I do remember my dad actually taking me into the mine. I also remember my mom telling my dad that he was crazy to take that young child down there, she could have been killed.

I suspect he didn’t take me very deep. I remember riding down on the man-hoist and riding out on the tracks in one of the small cars that carried the coal out. There is no doubt, I was too young for the experience but I was curious, as I always was about almost everything. Daddy believed in satisfying my curiosity when he could.

By the late 1950s and early 1960s, when the rocket boys were in high school, I was into the early years of my teaching career. When Russia entered space in a satellite called Sputnik ahead of the United States, our school curriculum changed. Both the students and the teachers had to adapt to some changes in focus as we prepared to catch up. Those years I remember well.

Throughout the book Hickam’s memories of characters and his recollections of small-town America were often the same as mine. He came of age in the last years of small-town America, I in the middle.
I enjoyed sharing memories with him. That’s why I read instead of writing. I’m certainly glad I did.
And now, my deadline has just been met.

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