Thank you for the thoughtful Saturday Diary by Mike Fuoco ("Thank You, West Virginians," April 17) on the Montcoal, W.Va., mining tragedy. My niece forwarded the story at the request of my brother who lives in Pennsylvania, who during his career designed mining equipment. He was moved to tears, as I was, by the simple hospitality of these grieving families.
Mr. Fuoco especially focused on the people instead of the possible neglect of the mining company and shed light on an area that is an often misunderstood part of American culture.
Born and raised in West Virginia but not part of a mining family, we were nevertheless touched by the many incidents, some miraculous and others tragic, that befell the brave miners in the West Virginia coal mines. As Mr. Fuoco reported, the most recent was the most loss of life in 40 years.
My father was a Prudential insurance agent who had a number of coal towns as his territory. He grieved for them, not just because of the dangerous nature of the work and possibility of contracting black lung disease, but because of the union strikes that were always a threat to their livelihood.
During the strikes they coped by dropping their life insurance on themselves and their children, which he knew would sustain them in a tragedy such as this. My father nearly lost his job because during a particularly long strike, he paid the insurance premiums for some of his clients' children.
In the "me first" climate of today's society, I am touched that the West Virginia spirit is still alive.
SALLY BISCHOF LAWRENCE