“The Red Helmet” by Homer Hickam was the book under discussion when the CEOS Book Club met last month.
Hickam’s story takes place in the fictional town of Highcoal, set in the Beckley, West Virginia area. Caleb, nicknamed Cabel by his fellow miners, was superintendent of an underground coal mine. Caleb came from a coal mining family and loved his job in the mines, loved his town and his area of West Virginia.
While on business in New York, Caleb met Song and they fell deeply in love. They conducted a long-distance romance until Caleb persuaded Song to marry him while on a trip to the island of St. John. Song is a right hand man to her father, a businessman with interest all over the world. She doesn’t want to give up her life in the big city for small town Highcoal and after a disastrous visit to Caleb’s hometown the two decide to annul their marriage.
However, Caleb can’t seem to get around to signing the annulment papers. When Song heard of the death of Squirrel, the nickname given by his co-workers and one of the few friends she made on her first visit, she returned to attend the funeral. She began to have second thoughts about the annulment and in an effort to get to know Caleb’s world a little better, she decided to enroll in a training class required of all new miners. She donned the red helmet all trainees wore.
Hickam takes the reader into the depths and workings of underground mining as Song completed her training. She is giving no quarter and is treated as any other mining trainee would be. She rises to the occasion and proves herself capable. A fire in the mine entraps Caleb, Song and another miner and brings things to a predictable but satisfying conclusion.
Evalee McKinney hosts the club members at her Point Pleasant home for their bi-monthly meetings. Club members attending the August meeting were Marilyn Clark, Judy Chapman Eleanor Hoffman, Helen Lyons, McKinney, Natalie Morgan and April Pyles. “The Irresistible Blueberry Bakeshop and Café” by Mary Simese is the next book to be read by the group and will be discussed at its Oct. 10 meeting.
Submitted by Judy Chapman.