About the Post

Author Information

J. PATRICK REDMOND was born and raised in southern Indiana and recently returned to his home state after sixteen years of living in South Florida and teaching for the Miami-Dade County Public School System. Patrick holds a BA in English from Florida International University in Miami and an MFA in creative writing and literature from Stony Brook University in Southampton, New York. He is a contributing blogger for the Huffington Post, and his writing has appeared in the NOH8 Campaign blog, the Southampton Review, and in the Barnes & Noble Review’s Grin & Tonic. He is also the 2012 recipient of the Deborah Hecht Memorial Prize in Fiction. Some Go Hungry is his first novel, and when asked about it, Patrick says, “It’s about God, guns, gays, and green beans.” Additional information is available at jpatrickredmond.com

So, I Remember that Night…

Bicknell Coal MineBut then, you see, we had this terrible thing happen, my brother Wib was killed in May of 1941 in the Panhandle Mine. Wib was going with this girl and he wanted to get married before he had to go into the service.  His girl’s name was Deloris Evans and she was, I think, 16 or 17, she couldn’t have been more than 17 years old.  Wib was five years older than me

So, I remember that night.  I came home from a date with the fella I did marry and he worked in the mines too, he worked at the #2 mine. Now my oldest brother Jim, your Grandpa Redmond, worked in the #2 mine also, he worked on the nightshift and our dad worked on the dayshift. Wib had married Deloris and they lived in a little cottage-like thing down were the liquor store is now, down on Highway 67, and he wanted to get into a bigger mine were I guess he could make more money or get more days work, or something like that, ‘cause you know sometimes you work a day and then they might not have any work the next day and I don’t think he was making that much or getting enough days in the smaller mine where he worked.  My dad didn’t think Wib was ready to go into what he called a mechanical mine like the #2 or the Panhandle because he was afraid he didn’t know… he was afraid he’d get hurt.  My dad had gone to see a fella, a boss, about hiring Wib at the #2 but the man didn’t want to hire him and my dad I don’t think pursued it ‘cause he was afraid Wib might get hurt and Dad thought he should stay in this smaller mine a little longer. But Wib did get a job at the Panhandle.

Well, then, when the explosion happened I remember I came home that night from a date with Howard, I just got in and your Grandpa Redmond came — he and your Grandma Mary lived sort of out in the country out there by Mullins’ where they live now — he stopped at the house and he said there had been an explosion out at the Panhandle Mine and our mother and dad were in bed upstairs asleep ‘cause it was late, probably Eleven-o-clock or something like that.  So, he said uh, — you know he always called me Janie — he said, “Janie let’s go out and see what’s happened and see if Wib is OK.”  So, we did.  And we didn’t tell mom or dad.  We got out there to the mine and of course it was this terrible explosion and Wib was down in the mine. So we waited and they kept saying that someone had seen him and he was alright and they would be bringing him up, but they didn’t. So we finally…  Jim said we needed to come in and tell our mother and dad there was an explosion.  We did and we took them back out and we all waited, until, I think, around Four-o-clock or Five the next morning when they brought Wib out.  He didn’t have a mark on him.  He did not know enough, he was young, and he didn’t know enough that… where they found his what they called dinner buckets ya know… the tin you know, dinner buckets, where they found that. If he had stayed there with his dinner bucket he would have been alright but when he heard the explosion he ran into it instead of out of it. And my dad never got over it ‘cause he felt like it was his fault ‘cause he didn’t pursue him to go to the #2 mine.  So my dad really started drinking after that.  My dad was a different man after that time.  And I knew men that had worked the mine and they even told me later that dad would take — and he never did drink whiskey, up until that time he always just drank beer — but after that they said he would take a bottle of whiskey and drink it before he went down in the mine.  It’s a wonder something didn’t happen to him. And my dad just simply was never the same man after that.  Because he felt like he was responsible for my brother’s death.  Wib had just gotten married and he did not know his wife was pregnant. Bobby was born eight months after Wib was killed.  This was a terrible tragedy to us. It was a very different life for us then after that.

Of course I got married in 1942. I was married in October.  I went to San Antonio, Texas. I had been going with Howard for two or three years… I went to San Antonio Texas in October and was married, my dad was still with me then, cause he thought this… ya know um… for me to go that far, but anyway then Howard was sent overseas on Christmas Day of the same year and I’d just got to be there less than three months and uh… Howard was gone for over three years.  I didn’t see him for over three years.  I moved back to Bicknell, to mom and dad’s.

My mother had gone to see… had gone to Indianapolis to see where Deloris, my brother Wib’s wife, had moved to and remarried and my mother had gone up there to visit her and Bobby and when she came back on Father’s Day dad met her down at the Bicknell bus station. Of course I told you dad didn’t drive, he walked and carried her suitcase, ya know.  When they got home he sat her suitcase down and headed for the basement steps… he spent most of his time in the basement ‘cause he drank down there… and he fell down the basement steps.  We didn’t know whether he had a stroke or if he was just so breathless from carrying the suitcase — he had a respiratory problem anyway from all the coal dust ‘cause he had worked in the mines all those years — and so we don’t know if he just didn’t have enough oxygen or what but he just fell down those basement stairs.  It was terrible, we did everything we could.  Of course all the doctors were in the service, at war, ya know, you couldn’t hardly get any doctors and your Grandpa Redmond and I were just beside ourselves what to do… dad’s mind was just gone. He must have hit his head see, or something.

And as I say we couldn’t take dad to any specialist or anything like that because see, they were all in the service, doctors were very limited, and the hospital was hardly anything back in those days, see.  But anyway, the doctor here suggested that we take him to Chicago, a clinic someplace out of Chicago.  He thought they might do something for dad.  So, my brother Jim, your Grandpa, was a good friend of a fella here in town that drove the ambulance, McClure Ambulance, so we made the arrangements and everything.  About two weeks had passed after dad fell and we couldn’t do anything with him. I remember one time we had your Aunt Sharon’s baby bed up in the upstairs bedroom ya know, dad got in there… climbed in that… and started throwing matches and things like that and we knew we had to do something.  So we… just out of frustration… we got the ambulance and this fella that drove the ambulance for McClure’s drove and he took his father-in-law and your Grandpa Redmond and myself went along.  I stayed in the back with dad ‘cause he was just really violent ya know, of course they didn’t have medicine to calm him down, so I was in the back and your Grandpa Redmond — my brother Jim was very dear to me, and he was always so kind, and he was always looking after his little sister — so Jim was up in front but he said “Now Janie it’s getting… you’re getting tired, this is too much for you, now you come up here and sit and I’ll go back there” and the other fella, this fella’s father-in-law said, “I’ll go back and sit with him.”  Well, so I got up in front and somehow or another this fella then sat in the back and dad was lying on a… you know… bed thing, and we started out again and of course the ambulance was going fast and somehow or another someone said something, it had a glass in the back of the ambulance so that you could see back and forth, and somehow or another someone said something to this fella and he reached… he went to see what they wanted and my dad opened the ambulance door and jumped out.  Oh, that was so horrible. He was that violent. Of course my brother Jim, your Grandpa Redmond, was just beside himself as I was, and we had to back up the ambulance and hunt ‘til we finally got back to him and of course there were rocks along the road and they’d just done everything to him.

Anyway, we got dad back in the ambulance and went on, we weren’t very far from the clinic, but that was horrifying ya know, to have something like that happen. And then we got there and the doctors said they couldn’t do anything for him.  So we started back to Bicknell and then it was just a short time then until he died.  We were home quite a while before he did die.

After my father’s death, my mother sold the big house at 1203 north Mason Street and bought a small house over on 9th street.  I lived with my mother.  It was July of 1944 and I had lost my brother and my father.  And my husband was overseas in the thick of the war.

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