Anthracite Boot Camp


By Louis Ronald Scatena

ANTHRACITE BOOT CAMP is a non-fiction story about life around
Pennsylvania coal mines, including small dungeons that miners
typically called “Dog-Holes”. It occurs in the middle of the 20th
century as seen through the eyes of a boy as he grows from age 8
through 17 while working under the direction of his hard-working
father. With maps and figures included, it recalls events 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 shown on
the book’s cover, or when the boy must crawl under the screaming
dragline as it strains to crawl up a steep hill, or when he observes a
dog-hole’s sudden roof collapse at his feet.

• A collection of humorous episodes as when miners frighten the 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 eleven to
assist miners in dog-holes where they barely fit, or when at age
thirteen 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 operates large bulldozers,
steam-shovels, and dump-trucks, but occasionally with alarming

. Amusing references to the cultural standards of the boy’s Italian
ancestors, including angry linguistic(un-translated) outbursts when
mining equipment failed to function, or their joyful linguistic
outbursts in exciting games of bocce and morra at the miners’ social
clubs, or their fearful reactions when initially introduced to their
future spouse prior to a pre-arranged marriage imposed on them by
others in their family.

• Introductory chapters with historical reminders of hardships of
early immigrants, and review of their typical battle for survival
prior to and during The Great Depression, to help readers understand
the roots of the odd behavior of miners in the story who were direct
descendants of those 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, 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, country,
clients, and friends.

ANTHRACITE BOOT CAMP is an educational and entertaining story for
readers of all ages with many references to famous hit songs,
including Italian classics, that help the reader interpret and
appreciate the level of passion within highly emotional events.

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, and Aerial Navigation School at Cherry Point, North 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 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 where he worked for twenty-eight years 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 Facilitator, and Technical Consultant on the general manager’s staff. Since 2003, Lou continues to work as a structural engineer for Carollo Engineers, Inc. in Phoenix. At Carollo, Lou has been responsible for the structural design of many large water and wastewater treatment plants though-out Arizona, California, and the Southwest, and currently continues his responsibilities for structural engineering at Carollo.
In 2015 Lou went to work on his first book, titled ANTHRACITE GRADE SCHOOL ON IRISH HILL, which was an account of his boyhood experience at his Father’s coal mines. Shortly after publication, 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, improves and clarifies descriptions of events, and adds a final chapter that summarizes the benefits and lessons handed down by previous generations of coal miners. The new book is titled ANTHRACITE BOOT CAMP and concludes with a description of the manner in which those lessons can inspire our current society to improve service to family, country, business clients, and humanity.

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