In the Kingdom of Coal: An American Family and the Rock That Changed the World

By Dan Rottenberg | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 16

Nowhere to Hide

John L. Lewis had once imagined a brighter day when his miners would no longer work in mines at all, but could spend their days in the sunshine instead. In Lewis’s vision, mining machines would replace most human mine workers, so that relatively few miners would be needed. Those who were needed would earn a comfortable living in a less strenuous environment, while the great mass of ex-miners would find new careers in other fields. Something akin to that process was now taking place in southwestern Virginia among the descendants of Bob Givens.

By the late 1970s Bob’s son Saylor Givens had watched most of his six sons depart from Westmoreland Coal. Lanis, the oldest, was newly retired after working forty-two years in the mines. Charles had moved to Chicago, and the family had lost touch with him. Ray had moved to Indiana to work in a glass factory. After the Imboden mine closed in 1956, James had moved to New Jersey to run an apple orchard for a large fruit exporting company, only to die there of bone cancer from the insecticide spray used in the orchard. Of the six Givens brothers, only Don and his next-oldest brother, Robert, known as “Rome, ” remained at Westmoreland. Of Saylor’s grandchildren, only Lanis’s son Terry had gone into the mines. (Don’s daughters, by virtue of their gender, had been spared that decision. )

In the years since Don had first encountered Ted Leisenring in the Imboden mine in 1949, Don’s accumulated experience and seniority had brought him job stability and promotions at a time when many younger men were being laid off. After becoming a foreman at Westmoreland’s Wentz mine in 1970, when he was forty, Don was sent that year to Westmoreland’s Bullitt mine as its general mine foreman, and over the next

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In the Kingdom of Coal: An American Family and the Rock That Changed the World
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Contents iii
  • Leisenring and Givens Family Trees ix
  • Chronology xi
  • Part I 11
  • Chapter 1 - A Rock That Burns 13
  • Chapter 2 - A Passage from the Mines 21
  • Chapter 3 - Holy Trinity 29
  • Chapter 4 - Boy Wonder of the Anthracite 37
  • Chapter 5 - Souls in Darkness 47
  • Chapter 6 - A Road Not Taken 57
  • Part II 65
  • Chapter 7 - The Ambitions of Henry Clay Frick 67
  • Chapter 8 - At War in the Coke Fields 75
  • Part III 99
  • Chapter 9 - Starting Over 101
  • Chapter 10 - The Rise of John L. Lewis 115
  • Chapter 11 - Utopia Goes Union 135
  • Chapter 12 - Be Careful What You Wish For 165
  • Chapter 13 - Prelude to Murder 187
  • Part IV 207
  • Chapter 14 - The Age of Uncertainty 209
  • Chapter 15 - Riding the Roller Coaster 231
  • Chapter 16 - Nowhere to Hide 245
  • Principal Characters 267
  • Notes 273
  • Bibliography 315
  • Acknowledgments 319
  • Index 321
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