STEVE INSKEEP, host:
It is Friday morning, a time when we are remembering men killed in a West Virginia coal mine, and some still missing. And we're going to hear in our StoryCorps series from a man remembering his father who died in a coal mine.
Gene Kendzior grew up in West Virginia. His father, Walter Kendzior, was killed on the job in 1967 when a tunnel collapsed. Gene was interviewed for StoryCorps by his daughter Jennifer about his dad's work.
Mr. GENE KENDZIOR: It was a hard, dirty job and everyone worked there suffered from it. And most of the people went right from high school to the coal mine. They all had some sort of injury that they'd suffered. My dad had his foot run over in the mine by a car, and he lost his little toe.
And we went to the mine once. He took me to his mine where he worked. The 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 one is methane gas, which they would sometimes run into.
Ms. JENNIFER KENDZIOR: What about your dad? I never heard much about him.
Mr. KENDZIOR: Well, he was very quiet and unassuming. He didn't try to be the center of anything. He was someone who'd work in the coal mines 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.
I never heard him ever say a word about, boy, he really felt tired, or 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 the coal mine, 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. Now, that was a great loss.
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INSKEEP: Gene Kendzior, talking with his daughter Jennifer at StoryCorps in West Virginia.
This interview will be archived at the Library of Congress. And you can hear more stories on the StoryCorps podcast at npr.org.
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INSKEEP: This is NPR News.
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