December 26, 2009
The mounting legal troubles involving local public officials in Pennsylvania's coal region paint a disturbing picture of an area rife with racial tensions and corruption straight from a John Grisham novel. Last week, the police chief in Shenandoah, a small town about 100 miles northwest of Philadelphia, was indicted on charges of orchestrating a cover-up in the beating death of a Mexican immigrant and extorting illegal gambling proceeds. Two other police officers were charged in the cover-up.
September 5, 1987 |
In one scene, burly labor leader John L. Lewis stands beside President Franklin D. Roosevelt. In another, a couple is married on a canal boat, with the audience making up the congregation. And in a third, voices are raised during a May 1866 debate between Joe Slocum and E.S.M. Hill, candidates in a race for mayor of Scranton - which, until just before that time, had been called Deep Hollow. The scenes are part of a play, Voices of the Anthracite People, that has just finished a month-long run at the Anthracite Heritage Museum in McDade Park here.
October 28, 2012 |
WAYNESBURG, Pa. - Not long ago, two things held true in Greene County: Coal ruled, and a Democratic presidential candidate could count on solid voter support. Coal still holds its own. President Obama, not so much. Across mining regions, the Republicans have mounted a relentless campaign blaming the Obama administration's environmental policies for a decline in coal demand. It has struck a chord in Greene County, judging from the ubiquitous yard signs: "Stop the War on Coal - Fire Obama.
September 29, 2012
By Michael Carroll 'No men," the man from New Jersey told my 93-year-old cousin. "No men will be living here. " He had bought the house next door to where she had lived all her life, but he had no intention of living in it. Houses in anthracite coal region towns are reasonable. Reasonable is a softer word for cheap. My mother's Mount Carmel house - the house where I grew up - sold for $23,000 a decade ago. We might be lucky to sell it at all now. The century-old wooden frame houses, mostly twins and rows, once sheltered generations of large mining families.
April 13, 2010 |
Just when I think those memories are gone, a coal-mining accident like the one in West Virginia brings them back. Back come childhood images of old and not so old men walking down the main street from parking meter to parking meter, resting at each one to try to recover the breath stolen by black lung disease. Back come the buzzing sounds of breathing contraptions - large oxygen tanks standing in corners and small ones on wheels, in neighbors' houses and, later, our own. Back come my memories of scaling up and down gray slate hills and black culm banks to deliver forgotten lunches to the bootleg mine run by my friend's family - the only work available to my father after he was laid off. It was not so much a mine as a hole dynamited into the slope of a hill to tap an old vein of anthracite coal - coal maybe still owned by the Reading or some other company, but the companies were dying or dead.
November 16, 2009 |
Early in the spring, the FBI made an extraordinary appeal that was carried by newspapers and broadcast media throughout northeastern Pennsylvania: "If you are a teacher, prospective teacher, employee, or prospective employee of any kind who has been required to provide money, or anything else of value, to any individual in connection with being hired at any public school in northeastern Pennsylvania . . . you are requested to immediately contact...
February 7, 2013 |
SHAMOKIN, Pa. - The black mountain of coal waste that looms over Route 61 here is both a grimy testament to an ephemeral economy and an apt symbol for this town time has discarded. That anthracite refuse came from long-shuttered mines and collieries, closures that have halved Shamokin's population since the 1930s. Many of the remaining 8,000 residents are as old as the tattered clapboard houses they occupy. (Since 1996 the town, about 70 miles northwest of Allentown and 70 miles northeast of Harrisburg, has issued just four permits for new single-family homes.)
April 1, 2013 |
I saw a story in the Wall Street Journal this month about how some retired coal miners in West Virginia might lose their health insurance because the coal company they once worked for - the one that promised them health insurance for life - had been sold and resold and was now owned by another big company that was asking a court to allow it to break that promise. The promise was no longer convenient or profitable. The company was also making another request to the court: for permission to pay its managers a $7 million bonus.
July 19, 1994 |
Thomas Barrett, 83, a retired newspaper editor and author who lived in Shenandoah, Pa., died July 11 at home. As a city editor of the Shenandoah Evening Herald, Mr. Barrett wrote a column called "Short and Snappy" before retiring in the early 1960s. Afterward, he wrote one called "Memoirs. " Mr. Barrett also was a correspondent for The Inquirer, the Philadelphia Bulletin, the Associated Press and United Press International early in his career. He reported news on weekdays from Pottsville on radio station WPPA.
July 12, 2012 |
Summer days ran long and late for a 10-year-old in the small town where I grew up. Time moved differently in the world of my parents: They were still close to their war, World War II, which ended 15 years before — a moment in the adult scheme of things, but eons in childhood time. For the adults, Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, Labor Day, and sometimes even the nearly forgotten V-J Day brought relief from work and joy to be alive. Summer noise survived longer after dark than the noise of other seasons.