with Roberto Montagna
I’m in Coaltown, West Virginia talking with some of the residents. Today, I’m talking with Roberto Montagna.
Hello, Roberto. How long have you lived here in Coaltown?You can call me Robby. Just my family calls me Roberto—we’re all Italian. I’ve lived in Coaltown for several years. But I’ve lived in coal mine communities all my life. We’ve moved from mine to mine.
Why do your folks move from mine to mine?I think they move when they hear of better pay at another mine.
Why is that? Is your daddy a coal miner?Yes, ma’am, he is. My grandfather came to America in the late 1800s to find work in the coal mines in this area. When my papá got old enough, he also went to work as a coal miner. I’ll follow my papá into the mine when I graduate from high school.
Will you graduate this year?Yes, I will.
And you’ll begin to work in the mine here in Coaltown?I guess I will.
Robby, you sound a little doubtful about that.Well, I guess I am. My girlfriend doesn’t want me to work in the coal mine. She says it’s honest work but it’s dangerous and she wants me to think about making something else out of myself.
Your girlfriend might be right. Are you thinking about it?Well, we haven’t told anybody but we’re trying to find a way for the two of us to get out of this coal community. You see, we can’t spend any time alone here in the community. We want to leave so we can spend our lives together.
What’s your girlfriend’s name?Julie. Her daddy owns the coal mine here.
Why can’t you and Julie spend any time alone here?Because of her mother. She forbids Julie to socialize with the miners’ children and we can’t let anybody see us together or they might tell Julie’s mother. Then Julie would really be in trouble.
How does Julie live here and go to school without socializing a little with the miners’ children?That’s just it—she can’t. She goes to school with us. But outside of school we have to slip around so her mother won’t find out we see each other.
Coaltown is a very small community. How do you manage to spend time with Julie without her mother knowing it?Well, we meet after dark. Julie tells her folks she’s going to Betty Jean’s to study but she meets me. I wait for her every night below her house. Sometimes she can get out her house and some nights she can’t. I wait for her until eight o’clock and if she’s not there by then, I go on home.
Can you and Julie not go somewhere outside of the community to spend time together?No, ma’am, we can’t. I don’t have a car. We can’t go anywhere. We just have to meet after dark. We can’t spend more than an hour together each night.
Robby, sounds like you and Julie have a difficult situation.Yes, ma’am, we do. That’s why we’re trying to come up with a plan to get us both out of this community. If we could ever leave here, we could be together forever. We want to spend our lives together. We’re still working on it. We’ll figure it out somehow, we really will.
Jo Huddleston is a multi-published author of books, articles, and short stories. Her debut novels in the Caney Creek Series and her latest book, Wait for Me are sweet Southern romances. She is a member of ACFW, the Literary Hall of Fame at Lincoln Memorial University (TN), and holds a M.Ed. degree from Mississippi State University. Jo lives in the U.S. Southeast with her husband, near their two grown children and four grandchildren. Visit Jo at www.johuddleston.com.BACK COVER BLURB for Wait for Me:
Can Julie, an only child raised with privilege and groomed for high society, and Robby, a coal miner’s son, escape the binds of their socioeconomic backgrounds? Set in a coal mining community in West Virginia in the 1950s, can their love survive their cultural boundaries?
This is a tragically beautiful love story of a simple yet deep love between two soul mates, Robby and Julie. The American South’s rigid caste system and her mother demand that Julie chooses to marry an ambitious young man from a prominent and suitable family. Julie counters her mother’s stringent social rules with deception and secrets in order to keep Robby in her life. Can the couple break the shackles of polite society and spend their lives together? Will Julie’s mother ever accept Robby?
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You can purchase eBook for Kindle and print copies of Wait for Me at: http://tiny.cc/xndfwx