TTU journalism professor's memoir takes him to Scotland conference next month

A Tennessee Tech University journalism professor’s recently published memoir is taking him from a Great Depression childhood shadowed by coal mine wars in Illinois to an international conference in Scotland next month.

Earl Hutchison will present a chapter from his book, “Growing Up on the Illinois Prairie during the Great Depression and the Coal Mine Wars: A Portrayal of the Way Life Was,” published this year by The Edwin Mellen Press, on Aug. 18 at the Scotland International Conference on the Arts in Society in Edinburgh.

The conference is part of an interdisciplinary colloquium at the Edinburgh Festival of the Arts, and Hutchison will join several other writers who’ve mined their memories about coal mining to stage a 90-minute presentation.

“My wife, Olivia, encouraged me to write down some stories from my childhood, for my grandchildren if for no one else, but this book was the result,” Hutchison said. “I believe it will appeal to anyone who’s looking for a portrait of that particular time and region.”

The book begins with “The Day the Reds Came to Virden,” which vividly recollects the day several Chicago communists visited Hutchison’s hometown when he was a boy. This is the chapter the author plans to present at next month’s conference.

Although the book includes several other chapters that detail personal events shaping Hutchison’s early life — such as the humiliation of collecting surplus food in his little red wagon and living next door to his unrequited first love — it also contains several chapters devoted to the historic and academic study of the region’s coal mining.

Accounts are provided, for instance, of the Cardiff mine disaster that killed Hutchison’s grandfather, James Landis Hutchison, who’d immigrated to the United States from Scotland when the author’s father, William Boyd Hutchison, was only three.

Hutchison said he’s pleased to be able to pay tribute to his grandfather, father and various other friends and family — such as his sister-in-law Bertha, who cared for his brother James until his death — by memorializing their stories in his book and by being invited to present at next month’s conference.

For more information about the book or to order copies of it, call The Edwin Mellen Press at 716/754-2788 or go to its web site at www.mellenpress.com.

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