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Book details
  • SubGenre:General
  • Language:English
  • Pages:160
  • Paperback ISBN:9781098349431


by Louis Ronald Scatena View author's profile page

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"ANTHRACITE BOOT CAMP” is a non-fiction story about the author's childhood working with his Father in and around coal mines in Northeastern Pennsylvania from 1950 to 1959, when Louis Scatena was between the ages of 8 and 17. Typically, the story occurs not at major collieries or deep mine shafts where many miners were employed, but at small, underground dungeons that anthracite miners of that time nicknamed ‘dog-holes’. After explaining the mining experiences of his ancestors in the first 2 chapters, Lou summarizes his own experiences in Chapters 3 to 12. In his final chapter, he also describes how lessons in ‘honor and hard work’ handed down from early generations of coal miners can inspire their descendants to improve service to country, clients, and society. Coincidentally, presidential candidate Joe Biden, who is originally from Scranton, recently touted his “blue collar roots” that are also embedded in the hard-working, close-knit anthracite mining industry that once personified Northeastern Pennsylvania.  "ANTHRACITE BOOT CAMP" can help readers judge the extent to which historical roots in hard work can inspire our generation to improve its' current services to society, as suggested by Lou and hinted by Mr. Biden.


"ANTHRACITE BOOT CAMP” is a non-fiction story about life around Pennsylvania coal mines, as seen at the middle of the Twentieth Century through the eyes of a young boy. With maps and figures included, it recalls childhood experiences that are historical, amusing, and/or danger-filled, such as:

• A collection of frightening episodes, as when the boy witnesses a dragline operated by his father about to topple into a pit as depicted on the book's cover, or when the boy must crawl under the screaming dragline to repetitively adjust its' crawler brakes off and on as it strains to climb up a steep hill, or when he observes a dog-hole's sudden rock roof collapse only 8 to 10 feet in front of him.

• A collection of humorous episodes as when miners tease the frightened 9 year-old into believing he is pursued by a hungry bear, or tease him with crude "mature adult" questions that the boy doesn't understand, but tries to comprehend later by naively repeating the question to his horrified mother, or when the boy eventually adopts his father's practice of occasional, but often dangerous, pranks on co-workers and friends.

• An adventure as when the boy travels underground at age 11 to assist miners in dog-holes where they 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 mine pit, or when as a young teenager, he enthusiastically volunteers to operate large bulldozers, steam-shovels, and dump-trucks, but occasionally, with alarming results.

• Amusing references to the cultural standards of the boy's Italian ancestors, including angry linguistic(and un-translatable) outbursts when mining equipment failed to function, or their joyous linguistic outbursts in exciting bocce league matches at the miners' social clubs, or his grandmothers' frightened reactions when initially introduced to their future spouse(Lou's Grandfathers) prior to a pre-arranged marriage imposed on them by others in their family around 1915.

• Introductory chapters with historical reminders of the hardships of early immigrants, and review of their typical battle for survival prior to and during The Great Depression. The review is intended to help readers understand the roots of the odd behavior of miners that Lou identifies later in the story, and who were the direct descendants of those early European Immigrants.

• A reliable account of typical coal-mining means and methods applied by miners at that time, including definitions of terminology, figures of equipment, slang expressions, and diagrams of mines.

• A final chapter of lessons in honor, team collaboration, and hard work 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 service to family, clients, and country, to help reduce our current level of civil unrest.

• "ANTHRACITE BOOT CAMP” is an educational and entertaining story for readers of all ages with many references to famous hit songs, including classics out of the past that help the reader sense, interpret, and appreciate the level of passion within certain highly emotional events. One example is the reference to the danger occurring in the scene on the book's front cover, and the author's reference to "The Ecstasy of Gold" to interpret his Father's hard-fought battle with the dragline, and the fearfully imminent catastrophe.

About the author

Louis Ronald Scatena was born in March of 1942 in Dupont, Pennsylvania. From 1950 to 1959, he spent all of his summers and most of his weekends working at his father's anthracite coal mines in the Greater Pittston Area of Northeastern Pennsylvania. After graduation from Jenkins Township High School in 1959, Lou joined and served in the U.S. Marine Corps, completing boot camp at Parris Island, South Carolina. After service in the Corps, he continued his education at the University of Scranton, married his wife Frances, in 1963, and graduated from the University of Detroit as a civil engineer in 1967. After working for Burns and Loewe Architects and Engineers in Scranton, Pennsylvania for eight years, Lou and his family moved to Phoenix, Arizona in 1975 where he worked as a structural engineer for a major water and power utility - The Salt River Project(SRP). In his final ten years at SRP, Lou served as a Quality Improvement Team Leader, including 3 years as a Technical Consultant on the general manager's staff. Since 2003, Lou continues to work as a structural engineer for Carollo Engineers, Inc. in Phoenix. Carollo has approximately 40 engineering offices serving cities and utilities around The U.S. As an Associate Vice President he is responsible for the structural design of many large water and wastewater treatment plants though-out Arizona, California, and the Southwest. In that position, he also published several technical magazine articles about structural design engineering. In 2015 Lou went to work on his first book, titled ANTHRACITE GRADE SCHOOL ON IRISH HILL, which was his initial account of his boyhood experience at his Father's coal mines. Shortly after publication, however, the publisher discontinued their business, and Lou's book was no longer published or available. In 2019, he decided to create a second edition that substantially expands on the first edition, improving and clarifying descriptions of events so that the degree of humor or sadness can be more accurately interpreted by the reader. A final chapter is also added to summarize the  lessons handed down by previous generations of coal miners, and the author's description of the manner in which those lessons can inspire our society to strengthen its' current service to business clients, humanity, and our country.

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