Jul 132011

West Irvine to Drowning Creek

By Gortimer T. Spotts

We’d agreed to rally at dawn and attack the river before the unseasonably scalding June sun had a chance to fully preheat the western hemisphere. But a very small window is the dawn. I awoke at noon and hustled to Mayer Manor on the north side of Lex, well, just north of center, to rendezvous with the General and Northrupp, who were both convalescing with the Mayer family on a kind of sympathetic and extended maternity leave. General Dallas, bare-chested and unshaven, greeted me at the kitchen door holding baby Josie just like a nursing mother, a delicate white towel draped over the shoulder, a corncob pipe clenched in the jaw, unlit. “Good morning, young Gortimer. We’re just wrapping up the morning feed.” And just then Northrupp appeared at the foot of the stairs with two loaded dry bags and two collapsible coolers slung over his arm. “Ah, Gorty, you’re early. Think we’re all ready.” With quiet goodbyes to the semi-roused parents, we made our break, the General plugging baby Josie back into her vintage General Electric Slumbersling and turning the dial to eleven, heavy drool mode. Continue reading »

Jul 132011

Dear Gortimer,

Returned is your wonderful manuscript, “The phantom map,” with some minor GUM revisions in thick red ink. You may be interested in the story behind the demise of the great South East Coal Company that you mention us passing nearby Cubbard’s Rock.

The company was incorporated in 1915, when Henry LaViers, an immigrant from Wales, secured the mineral rights needed to organize five coal camps. The most well known of these, apparently still generally intact, is located at Seco (renamed “South East Coal Company Operation 1” upon its purchase in 1915), on the banks of Boone Fork, a tributary of the Kentucky River’s North Fork and not far from Whitesburg in Letcher County. Continue reading »