Gene Kendzior tells his daughter, Jennifer, about his father, who died working in a coal mine in 1967.
Gene Kendzior (GK): It was a hard, dirty job. And everyone who worked there suffered from it. And most of the people went right from high school to the coalmine. They all had some sort of injury that they had suffered. My dad had his foot run over in a mine by a car and then he lost his little toe. We went to the mine once; he took me to his mine where he worked. Tunnel was probably 15 feet wide and the walls were all covered with a gray rock dust and they spray it on the walls to keep the coal dust from getting into the air. If coal dust gets into the air and there’s any kind of a spark, that’s where the explosions come from. One of the sources. The other is methane gas, which they would sometimes run into.
Jennifer Kendzior (JK): I never heard much about your dad. Nobody ever told me much about him.
GK: He was very quiet and unassuming. He didn’t try to be the center of anything. He was someone who’d work in the coalmines all day long and then come home and after supper go back outside and work two or three more hours in the evening. And you don’t think about how hard that must have been but I never heard him ever say a word about, boy he really felt tired or anything. Nothing like that. But no matter how tired he might have been, he always had the time to go out in the front yard and throw the baseball back and forth. It was a very hard life for him. I’m sure it was. And he died in a coalmine as so many others have. And to think that as I sit here I’m older than he was when he died. And just think how nice it would be to have your father to talk to.