The Coal Miner

By Bob Dvorak with an addendum by Howell Gwin

Ricky lived in one of those little boroughs that dot the hills and ridges of Pennsylvania — coal country. And he, as his father before him, and his grandfather yet earlier, was a coal miner.

It was common practice, at the end of a long week in the mines, to meet for more than a few rounds of beers up in the bar at the top of the ridge overlooking the mine and the town. One could stand on the bar’s porch with one’s mug and count distant hills and further ridges, each replicating this tableau, all the way to Scranton and beyond.

Now Ricky had never thought much about anything — perhaps football, maybe coal, and there was probably one night in the third grade when he thought he might actually have figured out multiplication. But on this particular evening at the bar, he turned — and there, right there, was a goddess. She awakened in him all the slumbering urges of his moderately few years. Having downed far more than a mere couple of mugs by this point, Ricky made his lecherous advances. But the young woman stepped to one side — and her beau stepped forward and sent Ricky reeling with one swift punch to the solar plexus.

Ricky left the bar. He walked slowly down the hill toward the rooming house he called home, but as he did so, he gave one last look back at Coal Ridge — a Satyr, Budweiser man.

[Author’s note: anticipating a flood of e-mail from English teachers throughout the world — I hereby acknowledge that the original line is a “sadder and wiser man.” It is perhaps, however, one of the most frequently misquoted lines in all of literature, and, had I stayed true to Coleridge (neglecting the fact that I would have needed another story line), most readers would have been sure I had misquoted him.]

Howell Gwin responded with the the oldie, but goodie:

A girl whose name was Ann Heiser
Vowed no man would ever sur preiser
Then a young man named Gibbons
Untied her Blue Ribbons.
And now she is sadder budweiser.

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