Thursday, May 29, 2014

You'll Never Leave Harlan Alive :: Patty Loveless

This is how the song should be sung.

Patty Loveless' father and grandfather were coal miners, and her father had black lung and died at the age of 58.

There is no such thing as clean coal, but honorable and desperate men trying to support their families are still a reality in Eastern Kentucky.


I am going to Pineville, Kentucky this morning with family to disperse my father's ashes on Pine Mountain.

My father left Pineville for good at age 14 -- homeless, hopeless, helpless. He had not yet graduated from the first half of 10th grade.  My father managed to bump along and survive until age 17 when he entered the Air Force, where he got his GED.  From there he went to Princeton where he majored in English, was a teaching assistant at the University of Kansas for a brief stint (where he met and married my mother, the best thing he ever did), and then went into the U.S. Foreign Service, with his first assignment Syria. He went on to Iran, Lebanon, Zimbabwe, Mali, Tunisia, Morocco, and Algeria, before retiring to head the climate section of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. No one had heard of Al Gore or climate change when my father penned the first op-ed in The New York Times on that subject. A few years back, my father arranged for a square mile of land on Pine Mountain to be bought and given to the state as part of a plan to create a wildlife corridor stretching from Kentucky to Tennessee.

The mountain -- the land he loved, the place that endures -- seemed the right place for his ashes.


Rick said...

I've been fertilizing roses with my Mother's ashes.....

Fall Charmz said...

your father has an amazing and inspiring life story - and my sympathies are sent to you as you go to honor him even more by dispersing his ashes in Pineville - peace to you and the family - :)

Richard Goth said...

What an amazing man!
My deepest condolences to you and your family