This is a true story about life around small Northeastern Pennsylvania coal mines called 'dog-holes'. It takes place midway between the Cities of Wilkes-Barre and Scranton from 1950 to 1959, as seen through the eyes of a boy as he grows from ages 8 through 17 while working under the intense guidance of a hard-working father. It describes true stories that are often historical, amusing, or life-threatening, such as:
• Dangerous events, as seen on the book's cover in a view of a dragline about to topple into a deep pit, or when the boy must crawl under the roaring dragline to help manipulate brake clamps off and on as the dragline slowly climbs up the side of a steep hill, or when a mine's rock roof suddenly and unexpectedly caves in, 8 or 10 feet from his feet .
• A collection of humorous events as when miners tease the 9-year-old into believing he is pursued by a hungry bear, or tease him with crude stories about women that the boy doesn't understand (nor repeat in the book), but tried to comprehend by naively quoting the miners that evening to his horrified mother, or when he eventually adopts his father's practice of administering hilarious, but dangerous, pranks toward friends.
• An adventure as when the boy travels underground at age 11 to assist miners in black chambers where they can barely fit, or when at age 13 he enters an abandoned mine with his father to help drill and blast a drain hole beneath a water-filled strip mine, or when only a young teenager, he eagerly operates bulldozers, steam-shovels, and dump-trucks; but sometimes unsafely.
• To help readers understand the odd behavior of miners in later chapters, the first 3 chapters present a historical reminder of their parents' disappointment with life in the coal fields after immigration from Europe, their typical response when rudely awakened to dangerous working conditions that they encountered underground prior to formation of labor unions, and family household battles for economic survival during The Great Depression.
• Amusing references to the angry linguistic(and untranslated) outbursts of the boy's Italian elders when equipment fails to operate, their joyful linguistic outbursts at bocce matches and other sporting events, and his grandmothers' fearful emotional reactions when each is initially introduced to their future spouse prior to their upcoming marriage that was pre-arranged, and sometimes imposed on them, by others.
* It includes a reliable account of the mining methods, means, equipment, and terminology applied by the miners of that period of time, including definitions of mining terms, figures for specialized mining equipment, and diagrams of precipitous, undulating mines that educate readers in little known facts about this very dangerous, dying, and nearly defunct industry.
• The final chapter lists the valuable lessons in hard labor, teamwork, and sense of honor handed down from previous generations of miners, including a description of the manner in which these "Gung-Ho" lessons can inspire our current society to improve its' quality of service to country, clients, and humanity, and perhaps help reduce our current level of civil unrest.
* "ANTHRACITE BOOT CAMP" is wholesome and educational entertainment for readers of all ages, and also includes many references to famous and exciting hit songs that help readers interpret and appreciate the level of passion surrounding many highly emotional events, as they truly occurred. In one example, the author refers to "The Ecstasy of Gold" to help the reader interpret the potential catastrophe as the boy's Father fiercely battles with the tipped dragline's controls to free the sunken bucket from the mudhole. The very emotional experience is also depicted on the book's front cover.