Story Time: Walking the Fan Road by Joseph Saeval
Writers can be found everywhere these days. Today’s story is a memoir, Walking the Fan Road by Joseph Saeval.
Throughout the years, Joseph Saeval has enjoyed being a son, father, husband, friend, student, and teacher. He holds a Bachelors in Business Administration from Averett University (Go Cougars!) and it was there that he discovered his love of teaching. It was from Averett that he embarked on a quest to help students any way he could. He received a Master’s degree from American Intercontinental University and is currently pursuing a PhD from NorthCentral University in Education-Curriculum and Teaching. In addition to his studies and work in education, he has successfully managed multiple businesses and found time to spend four years in South Korea teaching English to young students. He has many varied interests outside of education, including business, American football, and generally all things nerdy.
Walking the Fan Road
I grew up in a coal camp. Many people are unaware of what that means. As a child, I didn’t know what it meant. In a coal camp, life was dominated by the coal company. The company owned the houses we lived in, the store where we shopped, and had the right to almost all the land around it. Many of the miners ran a tab at the company store that would be a continual revolving credit line, hence the song lyric, “I owe my soul to the company store.”
It was the early 80s and times were different. We were country people. We lived life differently. I started riding a motorcycle before I was seven years old and had been around guns for as long as I could remember. Many people thought this was dangerous, but it was normal to us. People living in an area like this have a different normal. There was never news of shootings because people didn’t shoot each other.
Summers were wonderful in my little neck of the woods. The day always started early and we always had something planned. Daylight hit around 5:30 and my friends and I were out the door by 7. One of our favorite activities was walking the Fan Road. The Fan Road was an old, rutted dirt road that ran along the mountain on the other side of the coal camp. It was called the Fan Road because there was a huge ventilation fan there that was used to circulate air through the coal mines. Standing in front of that fan was amazing to a young boy; the air was cool and moist, with a smell that was slightly bitter. There was no better way to cool off without getting wet.
No one lived on the Fan Road because of the noise. The mines were running three shifts and the fan ran hours a day. If I was forced to guess I would say that the blade span on that fan was at least 12 feet and the roar of the motor was much like an airplane engine.
Since no one lived there, the kids loved it. We would carry our Daisy bb guns with us for target shooting and to shoot at the occasional bird. When you were walking the Fan Road, you could be anyone: a Wild West hero, a war hero, or even Clint Eastwood. The choices were endless. My best friend and I were Jedi when we walked the fan road. Armed with our lightsaber mop handles, we fearlessly took on the Empire, taking the jobs that were too tough or too brutal for Luke and Han.
The Fan Road was a chance to fulfill dreams that many people did not believe possible. After all, we were going to be coal miners, like our dads and granddads. We would spend our lives in this coal camp, like so many before us.