Now and then, in our lifetime, an event happens that makes a motion picture in your mind. That kind of event happened when I went for a cookout dinner to Al Rynkowski's home. Al was my friend along with Jimmy Duck at St. Francis High School in 40's. Al did a masterful job with some strip steaks on the barbie and Barb prepared a kingly meal. We spent several hours discussing the vicissitudes and joys of our journeys. Al called up Jimmy Duck who now lives in Seattle, Washington and so the images floated by as we remembered.
Al's wife, Barb, was from Plymouth, Pennsylvania - a stone's throw from Dickson City were I had spent my childhood. We spoke at some length about mining Anthracite in the Lackawanna Valley. She gave me a piece of that anthracite coal and a flood of memories of collieries, blackend miner's faces, carbide lamps, dynamite, and my father's thirty year stint underground. He spent his life without the light of day, working underground during the day and sleeping his aches and pains during the night. That piece of coal was a metaphor for a life that few would understand because the memories are already fading in the minds of those who survived the first millenium.
Al pulled out a old scratched up photograph of the two of us. I cleaned up the scratches. The floor had hit my head but I don't remember where or when but the bandage serves as testamony to an early shedding of blood. Of course, since that picture was taken we have increased our weight upon this earth to a considerable degree. And the divergent ways of our lives presented themselves gripping the essence of our souls, as we related our medical histories. Like battling knights we told each other of the dents in our shields.
We went up to Al's office in his town house and shared computer tech talk. We spoke of google earth, facebook, access, digital printing, and I shared some of the storied elements of my web page. The words weren't around in the 40's. I left with a lump of anthracite in my hand. The collieries of Eastern Pennsylvania and the trips to the sulpherized mounds where my father and I picked bags of slag coal to pay our way through the great depression were all in that little lump of coal.