An On-Line Publication of the Anonymous Anything Society
Familiarity Breeds Contempt
I came from a family of coal miners. Both of my
grandfathers, four uncles, my father and brother followed them in the
highest paying, and other than men who defuse bombs, the most dangerous
occupation in the world.
On December 21st 1951, a few weeks after my leaving the
trade underground for my first position in broadcasting at a small-town
radio broadcasting station, WFRX, located in West Frankfort, Illinois, 119
miners, were killed in Orient #2, at the time the largest coal mine in the
world, by a dual explosion that was preventable.
Coal exudes methane gas. When a small amount of it was
ignited by some sort of spark, possibly from an electric motor, the
explosion propelled coal-dust into the air in every section of the mine.
Coal dust is a hydrocarbon and as it was at that moment suspended in a
proportion in the air of the workings to constitute an even greater
explosive. It was as if the miners were all in the barrel of a cannon.
I saw my friends and neighbors laid out on the floor of
the high school gymnasium. Federal Mine inspectors declared that this
disaster could have been avoided had there been proper ventilation and both
water and lime dust applied to the working environment.
The State Mine safety inspectors knew this was so, as did
the leaders of the local miners’ union and the miners themselves. The
process had continued despite all of the warning signs.
When I see people, including the Governor of Arizona,
treating with the fact that more than seven thousand infectious Arizonans
are among us, spreading Covid-19; a 54% spike in infections in one week, I
cannot help remember the absence of good sense, when it is apparent that the
relaxation of good practices will help bring about a far greater number of
I’m trying to ignore the idiots on the beaches and bars
who decry practices that are effective. I’ll let people somewhere else worry
about their health and welfare
-Phil Richardson, Storyteller and Observer of the Human