“The day President Harding died, Paul picked me up
in his Ford Model A Pickup. We worked
the gold mine near Franklin Mountain. I swigged
A & W Root Beer, chewed Slim-Jims. Paul rolled
a cigarette, then we rumbled toward the mine.
That Thursday, another cloudless day, sweltering. No breeze.
Hot enough it’d about wilt tobacco. Bearable 100 feet down.
I picked and shoveled rocks and dirt into wheelbarrows.
A few young bucks toted them, dumped into a large bin
attached to ropes. Mules pulled it to the surface.
Hell, we might get a few cents per ton. I must’ve sweated a bucketful
by quitting time. Most miners had no shoes. Damp black soil
stained our bare feet over our ankles. Locals called us ‘Black-anklers’
but shopkeepers didn’t mind our money. After work
that Thursday evening a few of us miners climbed
on a foreman’s truck and he drove us…
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