Today was unlike any other day in Coalwood, I woke up to the sounds of the miners in their heavy boots going to their shift. Mother was drinking coffee and pretending to paint, while Dad was already gone for work. I delivered the papers and talked to Reverend Richard this morning. He inspires me even when I didn't know I needed any inspiring. At school, I checked out a new book from the library on science-fiction from Bradbury. It's as if my teacher knew this- she assigned me something from F. Scott Fitzgerald today. My friends and I jumped into the coal carts today- I'm lucky the train didn't start again like it did that one time, mother rubbed my skin raw that night.
As Sputnik blinked across the star scattered sky, I was completely awe-struck. It left me in a trance the rest of the night, giving me dreams about building rockets for America. When I woke up the next morning I felt that being a school boy just wasn't enough. I gathered my friends and we decided to build a rocket! That night as we launched it from my mothers garden fence, it gave us an outcome we weren't looking for. And I'm sure that is not what my parents wanted either. Although, I found it interesting that mother did not get angry, she did not even give me a punishment! I wonder what she has in store for me...
Today I built a rocket. I gathered my friends and we perched our creation on my mothers garden fence. After we set off the rocket, instead of taking off like we expected, it blew my mothers fence sky high, throwing it into the air in a flaming vortex of ridiculous movement. I l know I have caused more trouble for our family, and now I await my trial. My mother is very good at deciding which punishments fit our crimes.
The Alpha III
I enjoy my time living in Coalwood. After hearing about other mining towns I know that Coalwood is as close to a perfect town as it can get. Other towns have strikes and violence while our town of Coalwood has a loyal hardworking workforce that couldn't ever think of leaving.
My father is one of these hardworking men and he has shown me what hard work can do.
I notice however, that my mother is not the same way. She doesn't see the mine in as positive a light as the rest of the men in the family do. I've yet to figure out what her true feelings about the mine are.
I can't believe it!! Today Russia launched a satellite into space. I am so angry because I thought that America would be the one to do it first, but they beat us to it. I heard it on the radio in the morning. It is called Sputnik and it is going to orbit around the earth and make all sorts of fascinating calculations that America could have made too, but was just to late. I am excited to hear what people at school have to say about it.
Russia's recent launching of Sputnik into space has made me consider dozens of new things.. For one, how could America not get to space first? At first, I was outraged and astonished that our scientists are behind those of Russia's. Now, I feel a strong determination to make something of myself, so I can be someone like Dr. von Braun and work on further space discoveries for America. For this first time, I can see a future for myself outside of this tiny town of Coalwood and its miners. This is why I've decided to build a rocket- I've got to start somewhere so I can learn everything there is to know, but I might as well take that Life magazine's instructions and put them to the test. Tonight, my friends and I launch it.
Today began like any other day. Coal mines in the distance, the loud thundering of workers. My same old newspaper route. And although I know this routine like the back of my hand, I am also very happy with my life. I am extremely fond of Coalwood, and all its history. I am fascinated with the history of Coalwood, how I am apart of the town thats sole purpose is to provide coal. It's intense and grueling and I love it. My friends and I sometimes pretend to be coalminers just to a glimpse on what its like to be the star of the show, the show being Coalwood itself. I think part of my lust for adventure and purpose comes from my vast reading selection. From Verne to Fitzgerald I have read every adventure story out there. And it only inspires me more, perhaps thats where I got my interest in rockets from.
With not much to do here in Coal Wood I have some how found ways to entertain my wondering mind, one of my favorite things to do is read. Ever since elementary school I had always been fascinated in learning new things not make believe Fairy tales and heroes who save the world but people who know about the real world. My friends and I also find it more than entertaining to reenact what we see the miners doing, following them down the street and even going as far as to explore abandoned mines that ran out of the precious coal our small town thrives on. I now just recently found an interest in rockets and plan to spend time learning about those.
The Alpha III
I think it's fascinating how the coal miners live out their lives. Every morning I wake up to the clinking of their lanterns and shovels. I join my friends and sometimes we march with them. I'd love to see what it's like inside the mine.
I am becoming a little concerned though, I can tell that my mother isn't as supportive of the coal mining lifestyle as my father is. As far as I can tell, she's the only one that is different in Coaltown, the only one that doesn't quite fit in.
I love my town. I feel lots of pride for my town, I do! So I don't fully understand why my mom does not see things the same way. She seems different than everyone else here in this small town , and she want better for me than being a miner. The problem is that I do not know if I can even make a rocket by myself. On top of that, now I have all of this pressure to step up and make my father see me as more than what he thinks of me now.Honestly I don't even think that that is possible! My father is so set on helping Jim, he hasn't even considered me as a person probably! Hearing my moms words of confidence and encouragement, has slightly boosted my self esteem and confidence that I can do this! I do know a lot about the whole Sputnik thing, probably more than anyone in this town!
Speaking of Sputnik, how amazing is that?! I find it so fascinating, but also terrifying. Its all I can think about lately. I cant help but wondering if what everyone is saying is true, how it's terrible that Russia beat us to it and how awful it is that they can now hover over us.
Today Russians launched the Sputnik in space, and I am shocked that America didn't get there first. Although this was insane news, it inspired me to think of building a rocket! I am not very interested in sports, and don't have the physical abilities to be a miner, which is why I am very excited to try rocket building. I can see myself doing this and possibly making my father and mother proud. I know I am not their favorite, but I want to impress them. I love Coal Wood, but I am not fit to be a miner like my father.
I've always loved to read because I've never been good at much else, my eyesight is terrible and I'm too small to play football like my brother Jim. So, I turned to books at a young age because they've served as an escape to an alternate reality. One of adventure and science. Despite this, I've never been able to really guess where I was going, what my future would be like. I couldn't picture myself anywhere except for this tiny town of Coalwood. I guess in the back of my head I always thought I would just work in the mines, or stay here and do something else... Mom is unhappy here, I can tell. I know from the painting she has of the beach, the way she sits so she can't see the mine, how much she loves her roses because they brighten up this coal dust covered town. I wonder if I would become like her, miserable, not knowing if I could have done something else with my life. That's why when Sputnik launched into space and I myself launched into the world of nonfiction science, of reading the newspapers instead of my books, I realized what I could pursue in life. People like Dr. von Braun, who create things and discover things that could help the world, are what I want to be. Now that I can see myself away from this town, I was inspired to build my rocket and have an inkling that this one won't be the last one I create.
With the recent advancements Russia has had in the space race has inspired my friends and I to create our own rocket. Although it may not be space bound like the Russians is it is still a start. The first launch of the rocket was a massive failure, we were obviously unprepared and didn't think of the consequences that could happen if it failed. One of which was the likely hood of my mothers rose garden bursting into flames, which ended up happening. Expecting my mother to create some humiliating form of punishment I received encouragement to continue to build my rockets and to prove to my father that I am good for something. Although the rocket was a failure what I took away from the experience was far better.
I have just finished the launch of my rocket. It was so exciting. I can only hope my mother doesn't get angry. Maybe, someday, I can get out of this town and launch a real rocket into space and be an American hero and beat the Russians. That'll show Jim who's boss!
My mom put her arm around me today! almost like a hug. She thinks that my only shot of getting a future away from mining is to built a rocket and prove to my father that i am worthy of a different future. I think that it may prove difficult to get my father to see me in a different light.
I am very interested in what is happening right now with the Space Race, and there are many that are scared of the Russians now that they have "beat" America to space.
I am not afraid, at least I don't think I am. I do have faith that America will be able to catch up.
I know that according to my father, my brother is the best at everything, but I am gaining confidence that I can built the rocket by myself. After all, No one in this town knows about rockets and such better than me. I really love Coalwood, but I wonder if my mother is right about my future. What she is saying makes sense, but I would rather not believe that my beloved town is slowly dying. My mom seems to be the only one with opinions on Coalwood that lean rather negative. She doesn't fit in with everyone else, but that is not a bad thing. Who knows? Her words might be the only sane ones in the town.
With all of this newly found stress about my future and career and work, I still have to juggle the social aspects of my school life. Friends, activities, sports...girls.
I will do my best to work things out, Sonny
Today, the Coalhicans decided to raid the mine. We attacked the workers that came in and out of the mine. Some of them were returning fire. I was having fun until i was scolded at the dinner table about how the mine is for work and not playing around. The next day, we ambushed my older brother and his group of cowboys. We had a big mock battle until a cowboy climbed a tree and a branch broke. The cowboy broke his arm and we dragged him back to the doctor
The Alpha III
I have just watched the Soviet Satellite fly across the sky. It's simply amazing to think that it's possible to launch something all the way into space. My parents can't believe the Soviets were able to do it and others are calling it a disgrace to our country. I for one am more astonished at the fact that it can be done.
I now know that when I grow up I want to design rockets and launch them into space.
Launching the rocket made me realize how passionate I was about the Space Race and Rockets in general, and even though it was not entirely successful the first time around, I will try my best to built a rocket and make my father proud, as impossible as it seems.
Thinking of how much the world in general has progressed with technology involving space and rockets, makes me so enthusiastic thinking about how it can grow. I definitely want to be a part of this improvement in our future!
My father, now being the head of the Coalwood industry, is currently loaded with work and responsibilities for his new position, yet he still manages to make me feel worthless and immature.
T'ill tomorrow, Sonny
I was expecting my mom to be upset from the fence and explosion. Imagine what the neighbors are saying, how her precious roses are burning.. But her reaction surprised me. At first, I was confused. Why wasn't she mad? Mom wants me to continue building rockets, to keep trying and testing my ideas. She told me that she wants me to do well, to be able to get out of this "dying" town. Like I said in previous journal entries, I've never really thought about my future before. But now that I think about it, and Mom has confirmed these things, I don't want to become a worker for dad. There's nothing I love that can be found in mining, let alone sitting at a desk in an office. So, for Mom's sake as well as my own, I'm going to continue trying to build rockets to dig myself out of this town.
The Alpha III
I find in fascinating that we are able to launch a rocket into space and have a satellite detach and orbit around the globe. Who knows how long sputnik will orbit, for all I know it may orbit for all of eternity. Soon America will launch our own satellite and it will orbit and serve as a symbol of American power.
I can't help but imagine myself as one of the people in charge of designing these rockets. How fascinating it would be to work with these pioneers, these heroes of technology.
I can't believe those damn Russians launched a satellite before us! This is science fiction in reality and we weren't the ones to make it happen It's disappointing but I still have to admire the Russians for being so speedy about building this space craft. Boy would it be great if I could build satellites one day...or maybe something better than a satellite. I don't know what it is yet but I'm gonna build it. I have too, for America!
Boy, that Dorothy Plunk sure is the most beautiful girl I ever did see! I wish i had a bit more courage to talk to her though. I don't think she'd ever want to be seen with me though. Well at least I got to be her science partner today... even if she did run out of the room to, well, throw up. But still I said hi to her and that's an accomplishment with in itself! I wanna make that girl my wife one day.
Gosh, my brother sure is a pill! He keeps saying I'm a sissy for being in the band and that only real men play football. Well, I don't care for whatever Jim thinks, I bet he's had a bunch of concussions from ramming into those jocks on the field, so it must be slowing his brain. Anyways I actually like the band. It's fun and a lot safer than football. Oh and Dorothy plays in the band too.
Yesterday night I saw the most beautiful and glorious thing, sputnik. It was so amazing as it glided across the sky, I will never forget it. It has inspired me to create a rocket of my own. I am going to get all my friends over to my house after school and we will make the rocket. I am so excited! Just the idea of watching our rocket blasting off excites me. I can't wait to start working on it .
I am so excited! Not only did Mom let me off without punishment after the explosion; she has also encouraged me to build a real rocket. Perhaps that will earn my father's respect. I don't know exactly how to do it, but I'm sure Roy Lee will have an idea.
The Alpha III
Now that I've seen Sputnik, I know I can do something with my life. While my brother is stuck mining for coal here in Coaltown, I will be building rockets that reach the stars. Once I build these rockets I can show that I'm a hero too.
My brother will no longer have a reason to make fun of me and I'll never have to worry about fighting him and breaking my ribs.
Yesterday we launched our rocket. It was such a beautiful sight, but it left some pretty bad damage. It destroyed my mom's rose garden fence completely. Mom had a talk with me about the whole thing yesterday and I am still trying to understand some of it. She told me that Coalwood was dying and that I was going to have to get out of here. She said that I should build a real rocket to prove dad wrong and to prove that I won't end up working at the mine as just a clerk. It may take a long time, but I will build a rocket.
I am so excited to build my rocket! I have some ideas for how it could be done. I expect O'Dell can find the materials for the body of the thing. Now all I have to do is find something to make a real explosion. The more I think about this the more I hope we don't launch this one near any important fences. Maybe if make it fly really, really high, I just might impress Dorothy. Maybe then Dad would be proud of me, and Mom too. I like to imagine the look on Jim's face if I were to sweep up some attention in this town.
-Homer Hickam, Jr.
I better get started on building a successful rocket or else everyone will be disappointed in me....well most of them are already disappointed in me, but I am more so talking about my mother. stupid Jim has been proving him to my father since he was born, but this is the only chance for me to be able to.
With everything going on with the space race and all the things with Russia, it is easy to be excited about building a rocket. This is all so crazy and amazing that we as the world have come this far in technology. Just imagine how things are going to change in the future!!! So what that Jim can catch a ball, tackle another person, get all his teachers to like him! I found what I'm passionate about and that's enough...right? I mean whats the point if my dad cant be impressed? i will stay in this town, not be able to go to college, and I will end up being a miner. Like everyone else. Yep. That is whats gonna happen, because how on earth am I going to impress my dad? his standards for me are in the negatives for me.
No. I am not going to let myself drown in self doubt. I am going to built a rocket that will fly up into the sky, it will blow everyone's minds away!!! It'll be the talk of the century! I know a lot about this subject, I can do this. It is not like no one believes in me, mom said so herself she knows I can do it. And as for dad, sure he seems heartless...like really heartless, but deep down he loves me...ok that's going too far. He probably believes in me deep down. Deep deep deep down.
Imagining that beautiful glorious Sputnik in my mind really helps me push through this. Seeing it made me feel passionate, determined, and amazed. i will get through this, I am not alone.
One day, Mom woke me up. She seemed concerned and told me to listen to the radio. It was talking about the Russians launching Sputnik 1. The launch was successful. I can't believe the Soviets beat us for the first satellite. I bet the high schools there are better than the ones here in America
Mom wants me to build more rockets but I have no idea where to start! I embarrassed myself with the last rocket I launched and I don't want to embarrass myself again! Hopefully I will be able to learn how to build a rockert the right way!
This time we did it. Jim and I. we got in another fight. but this time it was bad, like really bad. We fight all the time but not like this. I think i might've broken a rib too. my bike fell on top of Jim's, i didn't know of course. But that doesn't matter he started yelling at me and it all escalated from there and we ended up breaking furniture and the door screen and pots. Of course mom doesn't know because if we tell her we'll be grounded for months. So now every time i breathe my ribs hurt. this sucks!
The Alpha III
I'm beginning to detect that my parents have different views of me. My father sees me as a disappointment, a near-sighted weak teenager while he sees my brother as a strong mirror image of himself that is deserving of the family name. My mother on the other hand is able to see past my near-sightedness and lack of athletic ability and focus on my other abilities. Soon I will graduate high school and go on to build rockets just like my heroes and show my father than I'm not a disappointment.
The Alpha III
I'm somewhat glad that my dad spends so much time at the mine, it means he's distracted from me and the disappointment that I am to him. Hopefully the space race between the USA and the Soviets will cause him to have more respect for me and my interests.
This rocket building has caused me a lot of trouble already. The whole town knows about it, calling me Rocket Boy and picking fights, teasing me. But I'm still determined for some reason to continue pursuing rocket building. I think it's probably due to my mom, along with my overall love for science and fascination with the current space race. My parents have such contrasting views of me. My father sees me as a disappointment, a near-sighted, weak little boy who doesn't hold any future expect for one in the mines. He sees my brother as a strong, talented star. I noticed this in the parade, when father watched and cheered on Jim but turned away to talk to someone when I marched up. However, my mother has always been able to see past my near-sightedness and lack of athletic ability, to focus on my other abilities. I want to help her prove my father wrong, and make her proud. So I'll continue the rockets even despite the teasing, for her sake. Besides, with father's recent health issues, which I discovered from eavesdropping, makes me realize how much mother and father disagree.
My mother wants me to build a rocket. She thinks that the only way for me to escape Coalwood is to impress my father enough that he'll let me go to college, and after I made a rocket that blew up in the yard she decided that building a working rocket is the way to impress him. It'll be hard, but I think my friends and I can do it.
My mom really wants to build a rocket. Even after I destroyed her fence she wants me to purse in my dream. I think its because Dad is a miner and everyone in Coalwood is a miner. Dad doesn't seem supportive at all because he isn't interested in science. All he cares about is mining and if he ever has time for the kids he talks to Jim. Jim is my brother and he is super athletic and on the football team so my dad likes him. I'm just happy that mom is supportive of me.
Unfortunately, I turned to Quentin for advice on how to build a rocket. He knows everything, it's amazing. Surprisingly, we both share the common goal of wanting to get out of this town and build a future for ourselves, hopefully one in Cape Canaveral building rockets. It's sort of strange, everyone in the town has started supporting my idea to build rockets, besides dad, of course. They all surreptitiously think that Coalwood can't last forever, but my dad doesn't entertain thoughts like those. Anyways, Quentin has been a lot of help to me. He talks strangely but he knows more than I do, creating some sort of explosive chemical mixture for our rockets. It's crazy how he's taught me that even failures hold knowledge. Dad protests from our rocket launching, thinking that we'll blow up the town and nothing more. Luckily, mom keeps dad at bay and encourages us.
I can't believe I told the whole town I was gonna build another rocket. There is no way I'm getting out of this now. I have no idea how to build a rocket and with the whole town waiting to see if I'm successful I hope I don't embarrass myself. I hope with this foray into rocketry I can finally show my dad that I'm worth something.
The Alpha III
I've found myself so inspired by the launch of the Sputnik satellite and all that surrounds space travel that I brought my friends together and we built a rocket ship! We used an old flashlight to hold our cherry bomb propellant and a model plane fuselage to build our rocket. It wasn't necessarily a success but I'm sure that all other scientists' rockets weren't successful on their first try.
I'm surprised that my mom wasn't very mad after we blew up her fence. Surely I'll be punished at some point.
We have begun testing out our rockets. I've named the first four Auk l, ll, lll, and lV. Auk is kind of me saying thanks to Quentin, because although he does annoy me and drive me crazy, he has been a huge help. And it was all worth it when we saw our rockets fly in the air. Even though it was only 6-10 feet, and went all sorts of directions, it still flew! It was amazing to see something we made fly. Although it wasn't much, it was still progress. Unfortunately, my father doesn't think the same about the rockets. In fact, after looking at the mess of steel the rocket turned into after it's flight, he called me a thief. He also is now on the prowl for whoever helped me. This was the last thing I wanted. Mr. Bykovski was nothing but helpful and I will do anything for him not be punished for something I asked him to do.
I just attempted to shoot off my first rocket. Let's just say that it failed miserably. I thought it would be a good idea to put the rocket on our fence. It blew the fence to smithereens. My dad isn't very happy, but somehow my mom is not to mad about it. She wants me to build more.
Yesterday I was on the bus going to school when Buck started to make fun of my friends and I about making our rocket. I responded with a witty comment and then we both go kicked off the bus. This whole rocket thing has really gotten out of hand, especially since I told some people that I was going to build another rocket. I don't know what I am going to do about this whole thing. I don't know how I am supposed to build a rocket all by myself.
The Alpha III
Using Quentin's knowledge of rocketry, we've begun to build our Auk series of rockets. Like the bird, they've yet to fly though according to quentin we've learned a great deal about the amount of fuel to use and the materials we need. So far the most successful launch we've hit literally landed on my father's doorstep, at least part of its flight was straight.
Yesterday Mr. Dubonnet came over to our house and was arguing with my dad. I did't hear that much because they went outside but they got really angry at each other. They were using some really bitter voices to talk to each other. That is not all. Later that night, after Mr Dubonnet left, I overheard mom and dad talking. Dad said that he had a spot in his lungs about the size of a dime. I am a little confused because I always thought that he was strong and nothing could ever effect him, I guess I was wrong.
We have made four rockets, each going higher then the last. They all crashed eventually, and the fourth one crashed by the railroads and my father found out it was made from materials from the mining company. He is extremely angry.
On a separate note, Quintons knowledge is extremely helpful and I think we will soon be successful. Each rocket we build gets better then the last and I am optimistic we will get one to work.
Today was an amazing day. but my father doesn't appear to think so. My rocket finally worked! well it's not finished yet, but when we launched it it flew much farther than i anticipated! that i call a success. but the rocket went straight to the mines and hit the side of my father's office chipping the wall. then he figured out me and quentin have been borrowing materials from the mines to build the rockets and called us thieves! really! Not like they were using it so why can't I put it to good use.
A few weeks ago the race to launch the first rocket into space , between America and Russia had been trudging on, until the sight of Russia's rocket crossing over coalwood flawed before my eyes. That was defiantly an amazing sight. The first ever rocket to be launched into space. I had to try and do it myself. For once i felt like I have purpose and are useful for something. The only one who seems to think differently is my father. From day one he has never really supported me and the hobbies I have. He has always wanted me to be like my brother, and to go into the mining industry, but thats just not my passion. Even though it would be nice to please everybody, thats just not really reasonable. I just need to pursue my passions and make something of myslef.
So I have begun to build my rockets. The first one was a definite fail. In fact it ended up lighting the fence on fire. Seeing how my father already doesn't really agree with me building rockets, he was definently not happy about this. But luckily I can always count on my mom. She would never say anything to father but she has always believed in me, and thats nice to know. I think that she agrees that this place needs some change. And she's happy that Im being different. The only thing people in coalwood has ever known is to go into the mining industry. My father was so desperate for me to go into the mining industry that he said I could a secretary.
The Alpha III
Although I wish they were successful, I'm somewhat glad that America's answer to Sputnik didn't work on it's first try. At least now that I'm not alone in unsuccessful rocket launches. If the world's smartest scientists can hardly get theirs off the ground, then I'm not doing so bad after all.
Hopefully my father will see this at some point and realize the effort that me and my friends are putting into this is not for waste.
My friends and I have officially created our rocket club. It is called Big Creek Missile Agency. I am the leader, O'Dell is in charge of supplies, Roy Lee will handle transportation, Sherman is in charge of the rocket range, and Quentin is the scientist. I am really excited about this. If we can pull this off dad will finally understand how I can build rockets and he will maybe like me more. Not only that but the whole Coalwood would look up at us, the first boys in Coalwood to build a rocket.
The Rocket Boys have discovered a dangerous but prodigious new propellant we're calling Rocket Candy. As America continues making progress in space technology, we're doing that here too. Maybe someday we'll really leave the town, but for now we just look through a friend's telescope and that is good enough.
I'm a little scared but very excited to try the new propellant.
I'm so glad that Dad reconsidered his punishment to me. Being an outlawed club was fun for a short time, but if I had gotten into any more trouble, it wouldn't have been fun at all. Now that Dad is letting us use an old slack dump far enough from the town to not disturb anyone, it's time to really get to work, by creating a launch pad and a blockhouse. I guess I can credit this to mom, who was surely being Reverend Lanier's sermon on Sunday. Like always, she has my back and wants me to succeed. I'm glad I can count on her and that she believes in me, because Dad almost always does the opposite. It's like she has to support me enough for two, herself and Dad. I'm also glad that Mr. Bykovski didn't get fired, because being fired in this town is practically a death sentence; what would he have done without a job? I wish he didn't have to work in the mines, it's dangerous down there, but he doesn't seem to mind, and had even made me four more Auks from before. I'm so thankful for him.
i think my dad is the worst dad on the planet! None of my friends got in trouble at all after our rocket went to the mining company, except me! Dad came home and threw away all my chemicals to make my black powder! the chemicals i bought with my own money that i earned by delivering news paper early in the morning! so now I have nothing to make my rockets fly with. it's over. it's all over. because my father doesn't believe that i can ever be anything other than a clerk. my life is ruined.
My father said I was not allowed to make anymore rockets after my last one landed in front of his office. Thankfully my mother disagreed and convinced him to let me continue building rockets. He is only letting me do it if I do it where it doesn't disturb anyone in town. I think this is a fair deal and agreed. I can thank my mom for changing his mind, he has been pretty supportive and wants me to get out of Coalwood.
The Alpha III
Hopefully my Mom is able to convince Homer to reconsider his position on my rockets. The BCMA is a valuable exercise for me that I personally find more interesting and enriching than Jim's equivalent of football. Not only will I develop knowledge and teamwork but I can also do it without fear of injury. Surely Homer can come to reconsider and see just how important Rocketry is to me.
Today was a very eventful and surprising day. It began with the church service as did a usual Sunday, I was surprised to here the sermon referencing to us rocket boys. At first it was about the misdeeds we have done and that we should try to stop from continuing down that path, but then it took a turn and referenced to my dad and others who where against us to be more open about the ideas and nurture them. Then after the service My dad took me to an amazing new launch site for the rockets that is out of range from the town. I know deem this place Cape Coal wood.
I am so glad that my dad is letting me build rockets outside of the town! I think that rocket building should be valued the same as football or mining, which is why I don't understand why my father still doesn't care what I do. I think he'll come around and eventually start supporting me.
I am so happy! Everything is going super well and I feel like that my dad is being more supportive in me building rockets. Before he used to yell at me for launching rockets, but now he seems fine with it. He also gave me a spot to launch rockets and it's a spot where nothing will get exploded. The BCMA is getting really big. Lots of people are wanting to join and each one of them has so much to offer for the club. If we are getting this big it gives me a bit more relaxation. I won't get as much pressure if there are people who can help me.
The Alpha III
I'm really hoping that my Dad eventually finds something he likes about my rockets and allow me to continue building them with my friends. Maybe the church will have something to say about it. Afterall, everyone else in the town is talking about our rockets, for good or for worse I'm not quite sure.
My Father finally agreed to let me build rockets! Even though it took the church to change his mind, I am still grateful that my father will not reprimand me for building rockets. Now I can work on rockets as much as I please! I'm finally able to chase my dream and go to college and get out of Coalwood and to meet Mr. Von Braun! I can finally start my life and reach for my goals and dreams!
I am so very happy that I finally have my fathers support, without it I don't know how far I could get. Though he's not necessarily encouraging rockets he has decided to allow them and lend me supplies, that was all I needed. I have a place to launch rockets, supplies to build the launch pad and the blockhouse and my father even agreed to let me use the company machines to build rockets. Know that nothing is holding me back I can redirect all of my focus towards getting the right chemical mixtures, and the right shapes and sizes of my rockets. Now I can finally build my rockets with nothing holding me back.
When I heard that Homer wanted to take me to the mines I was completely appalled. I am not sure exactly why he has taken a sudden interest in me, but it sure is less stressful. In fact, my life has been going pretty great lately. Things with the rockets, with girls, and weirdly with Homer. And whats even weirder is the football kids aren't as popular as they used to be. I don't really know whats going on but I sure am enjoying it. Even though all these good things are happening, my main priority is still the rockets. I want to make serious progress with them, and the farther we go and the more we make, it motivates me even more. My team and I have developed systems and have really formed a good bond with each other.
My dad has been strange these past few weeks. He invited me to the mines, which I felt was a huge honor. He's usually not so open and inclusive with me, so I felt like it was important when he offered to show me what he's so passionate about and has dedicated his life to. But I knew he was disappointed when after the tour, I still wanted to be a space engineer, not a mining engineer. I think he was hoping for me to change my mind and chose to stay in Coalwood, and become a company man like he's always wanted. He hasn't given me any opportunities to make it up to him. But, he's been letting more and more slide, giving me more company materials for my rockets, even though he won't openly talk about it with me. I wonder if this is a sign he's accepted that I don't want to work in the mines.
After such a long time of no support and disappointment, I think my dad might just be coming around. I think he has realized that mining isn't going to last forever and its just not for everyone. I think one of his major turning points was realizing that Jim was going to play foot ball for a living and mining probably won't be around by the time Jim is ready to decide his future, so he has to do something else. To be honest I don't really think he would have came around towards me unless it had to do with Jim.. I could be wrong and full of myself but ever since Jim got turned down for the football scholarship, he suddenly came around,
The Alpha III
I'm glad my dad is finally supporting me in building my rockets. I still think he would provide more attention to Jim if he were building rockets, but finally having a permanent launchpad and blockhouse makes it seem all the more real. Almost like we're watching over Cape Canaveral with Dr. Von Braun himself.
With the support of Mrs. Riley and Mr. Hartsfield, we've begun to develop new fuel and stability systems for our rockets. If our success continues we might even be able to compete in the science fair, but I think it will be a long time before we are ready.
The Alpha III
I can tell that my dad wants to bond more with me so that I understand him and he understands me. I feel as though he wants to understand me so that he knows why I love rockets so much and what I plan in my future because of these goals. Personally I dont want to let the boys down as they know that we will acheive if we try hard enough. This is how I personally feel on this topic and how to deal with it for a good cause.
The other day my dad and I went to visit the mines. He told me all about the opportunities of an engineer in the mining industry. It was somewhat fascinating but thats the kind of engineer I want to be. Later, when we got home I was kind of bombarded with my mother. For some odd reason she was upset that I had gone to the mine. She was so upset that she made me cook dinner, and even said that she would shoot me if I were to ever go back again. I never though I would see my mom this mad, but apparently I was wrong. For pets sake I thought she might kill me. I just don't understand why shows so upset that I was spend time at the mine, whats so wrong with that?
With Russia launching Luna 1, reaching so close to the moon, it's easy to get discouraged about the space race. Every time America makes progress, Russia comes back with something 100x bigger, better, stronger, and faster. All I can do is hope that my hero, Dr. Werhner von Braun, is doing as much as he can to get America farther into space. I sort of feel like that's what I'm doing here in Coalwood, too.
In other words, the state troopers came to our school a few days ago. They thought one of our rockets had started that fire on Davy Mountain and went all the way to Highway 52. We knew it wasn't our rocket, and our rockets can't even reach that far, but there was no way to prove it... Luckily, Quentin proved the rocket was actually an airplane flare and the map we grabbed showed our rocket range didn't reach Davy mountain. I don't know what would have happened if they had actually arrested us.
Going to the mines was a very eye opening experience. It's much different that I would've imagined, but was most interesting is how it impacted my dad. I was confused from the beginning as to why he was being so nice to me, but I just went along with it because it's better than him constantly being mad at me. I am still not sure why he took me to the mines exactly but I can see how important the mines are to him. The mines are where he found himself, and it made me contemplate whether the mines might be an option for me. But I also feel as if I have found myself within building these rockets. I can tell mom is suspicious. We have always been close, and it is indeed odd as to why dad is being significantly kinder to me. Maybe its because Jim has been off lately. Who knows.
The Alpha III
Even though my true dream is to work with Dr. von Braun at Cape Canaveral, my trip to the mine was a truly eye opening experience.
Not only did I get too see what all the men do in coaltown, but I also got to see more into what Dad thinks about me and my future. I'm so glad that he's showing somewhat of an interest in me after Jim's football season was suspended. According to Mom, only a little while ago all he thought I could accomplish is clerking in his office. Now he thinks I can earn a college education and become a respected engineer.
The Alpha III
It's good that we have the machinists at Mr. Ferro's shop to help us with building our rockets. We would've never been able to design a funnel without the help of Mr. Ferro nor produce it without the help of his machinists.
It's also nice that all I have to do for this help is to run simple errands for him, he wanted gravel and he got gravel from my father.
Also if it weren't for their modifications to the rocket tube, we wouldn't have been able to set our new record height of 3,000 feet.
Non binary rockets
I heard that Homer was going to take me to the mines I was really confused. Why he just started wondering what i like. The rocket has been going good it's been coming along. Them football people seemed as cool. I don't know how that happened. I'm still wondering what my main goal is with the rocket I want to make a progression in making it work well.
I had an interesting encounter today with a lady named Geneva Eggers. Geneva had claimed to know my dad she told me to tell him that I saw her. She also said that I couldn't tell him in front of my mom. I did not understand why.
My dad took me to see the mines today, I have mixed feelings about this because I am happy that my dad wants to spend time with me but I am also upset on how he keeps on pushing me to work in the mines. My dad always has me confused one day he's leaving supplies to help me with the building on my rockets and the next he's dragging me off to the mines against will. Anyways, I will report back to you Journal when I have something else to update you on.
I love my father but at the same time I hate him. For not paying attention to me, for trying to force me into a job I didn't want to do, for loving my brother more even though he is less intelligent. My mother is supportive of my goals but I still feel like my father is trying to force me to be something I'm not. I got a look at the mine today, but my father only took me there to try to convince me to be a mining engineer. I'm getting tiered of him thinking my brother is better and then forcing his job on me.
We're having lots of progress on the build, thanks to the machine shop, and the help of my father who left us materials. We did have some disagreements with the football boys, but I think they are gonna leave us alone now. I hope we can make the rocket go past 3000 feet!
Today my dad took me to the mine. I don't know when he is going to get that I want to be a rocket engineer and not a miner... He pushes mining into my life so much that he takes me to the mine to try to change my mind about my future career. It's honestly time for him to realize that the mine isn't going to last forever. I try to get closer to my dad by agreeing to go to the mine then I get home and my mom is mad that I went, all I want is to be close to both of my parents but neither of them understand each other and all they do is argue...
I just want to build rockets and do science with the BCMA but my Dad keeps getting in the way. he doesn't support me, and makes the BCMA go far away to launch. When I ask for supplies, he claims they are in terrible condition, but are really perfectly fine. One time I asked for metal, and he said he couldn't help me. A couple days later it was on the back porch. I don't understand, he could help me, or he can't. He took me into the mine one day to show me around. I think he wants me to be an engineer, but for the mine not for rockets. But I don't get why he would rather have me more susceptible to injury in the mine rather than as a rocket engineer. I guess he's just a man of tradition.
Jim went off to college. Even though we never actually got along, the house seems emptier, and it feels as if it's lacking something. I've gotten used to Jim always being there, and he always was; since the day I was born. He calls often, and sometimes asks for many for clothing. Mom and dad never say no to that.
I know my dad is just stuborn, but it really hurts my feelings that he won't swallow his pride and accept me for who I am, I love my brother but hes not going to be doing any goood for himself by playing football especiallybecause colleges stopped giving out scholarships for it. my dads needs to be a better parent. its not rocket science.
I honestly hate my family. My Dad is still being pushy and wants me to work in the mines, Jim is just a jerk in general, and my parents won't stop fighting. I'm starting to think it is called a nuclear family because we are going to explode and destroy ourselves. But i'm not going to stop with the rockets until I accidentally blow myself up.
"I do what I want" -Eric Cartman
Today was a big day for me.
I had lots of fun sledding with my friends, and we set a record by getting up to the school on our sleds. Ms. Riley and the other teachers found an excellent book on rocketry for me. I can't wait to read it, and I couldn't thank them enough.
Then I went and played hearts at a friend's house, and after that Dorothy Plunk kissed me. I couldn't believe what was happening!
The rest of the night was less good. I was walking for a long time, and I thought I was going to die, but I was taken in by a nice lady named Geneva. She told me that my Dad saved her from a fire when she was a baby, and to tell him she took care of me.
When I finally got home, I told Dad about the whole affair. He was acting stranger than I'd ever seen him; he even forgot to answer the phone. He told me Geneva was, well, not so good, that she had a lot of boyfriends and such, or at least that's the way he put it . . . But I know she's a good person.
Today was supposed to be a snow day for us, anyone who couldn't walk to school could stay home. My friends and I decided to sled all the way to Big Creek, just to see if we could, and because no one had done it before. When we got to Big Creek, Ms. Riley and a librarian found an excellent book on rocket science for me, I can't wait to read it, and I couldn't thank them enough for doing this for me. I treat it like it's made of gold.
We spent the late afternoon playing cards, and Dorothy kissed me. I couldn't believe it. I stayed later than my friends, talking to Dorothy. So when I left for home, it was already growing dark...
I thought I was going to die, stuck in the snow. I could barely see, and I couldn't sled because of the texture of the snow. I was taken in by a nice lady named Geneva Eggers, who lived in a little shack on the mountain and dried my clothes for me. She told me that my dad had saved her from a fire years ago when she was a baby. She wanted me to tell my dad that she had taken care of me..
When I finally got home, which was much later than I had planned, I told Dad about my encounter. It was so strange how he reacted, not even going to get the black phone when it rang. He told me Geneva had an unpopular reputation, so I had to keep my encounter a secret. Despite this, I know that deep down she's a good person and I'm indebted to her, for saving my life.
Tonight was the worst night of my life. There was a whole storm with lightning and everything, and it caused a pillar explosion. Dad was down there and he's hurt now. The doctor gave him stitches and said he might lose an eye.
I should feel sorry for Dad. But I was so mad at him, and I still don't know if I can forgive him. With our rockets, I tell Q to make changes quicker. But it feels like my life is skyrocketing out of control, with two many changes too fast, so that I don't know what went wrong to turn everything upside down.
The worst part is the death. There was only one death, but it was that of Mr. Bykovski, who wouldn't have been down there at all if I hadn't gotten him in trouble.
Mom slapped me and called me selfish. I would have rathered she shot me right there than have felt the burn of her words.
I don't know what I'm thinking anymore.
All at once, I don't love Dorothy anymore, I love Valentine. And Jim took Dorothy dancing, which was the worst part. She doesn't deserve that, and he will be taking out some other girl soon, anyway. Still, I can't look at Dorothy the same.
For someone so confused about my feelings, I seem to have a lot of them.
I sort of lost it with my dad the other day; I stooped so low as to practically beg him to come out to Cape Coalwood. I just want him to realize that I'm actually doing something, something that's hard work, interesting, and worthwhile. Of course, he said "when I have time." He always has time for Jim and his antics and events, and I told him so. It felt immature but at the same time I wanted to truly express to my dad how I feel about his negligence. Then, he talked about me becoming a mining engineer again. It hurts me, to disappoint him so much. All I've ever wanted is his approval, but I can't stoop so low as to pursue a career I won't have any love for, just for his approval.
I'm starting to feel bad about what happened with Dad. Mom's right: I am selfish. How could I have been so apathetic when my father was before me, hurt so bad?
I'm not ready to forgive him. However, I've added something for him in my prayers each night to try to be a decent person, even if I don't know how I feel yet.
What would have happened if he'd died down there? I don't think anyone but Mom had really thought about it until now.
Tonight, there was a terrible storm that caused havoc in the mines, with an explosion. Dad went down there with the rescue team to save the trapped men,and he's hurt now. The doctor gave him stitches and said he might lose an eye, because of a cable the snapped and hit him in the head.
Mom and Doc both knocked some sense into me tonight. Mom told me I was selfish, that I wasn't worrying about Dad or anyone else, I just did whatever I wanted. Is this true?
Doc told me what my father would have , had he been able to tonight. He said that Coalwood is no place to be a sister, to cry and to be weak. If we are weak, which I suppose I am, we keep it in and let no one know until we can get out of this town. This was a realization, albeit a discomforting one. He's right, men go into that mine each day and they make a deal with death, they put their life out on the line.
This time, death took the opportunity. Mr. Bykovski died tonight in that mine. He was a good man, like a father to me. He gave me words of wisdom and helped build some of my first rockets. He wouldn't have been down there at all if I hadn't gotten him in trouble. Is that selfish to think of?
I did it! I kissed dorothy! it was so unexpected that i had no clue what was going on until it was over. I mean I wasn't even ready, all of a sudden she just kissed me! Today is the best day ever. But i also met one of my dad's old friends today, Geneva. She seems to be a fond of my father. She fed me and dried my wet clothes and helped me when i was freezing in the cold. But when i told my father of her he was very concerned and told me never to see her again. I dont get it.. he should be happy. anyways goodnight.
The Alpha III
I'm glad my Dad is starting to show some interest in me and my rockets but I'm still conflicted on how much attention he gives me as opposed to Jim. Sure he's at least allowed me to build my rockets, but he would have launched himself 100% into it if I were Jim. He would be helping build rockets and be truly interested in it like he is with football. It seems like he's doing the bare minimum with me.
Last night there was an earthquake in Coalwood, my mother, Jim, and I were at home when it happened. Homer Sr. on the other hand was working in the coal mine when the earthquake happened. I couldn't help but think that he got crushed to death, even when my dad told me the mines were built to be earthquake proof. I was relived this morning when I found him at home alright.
After the explosion, our family has changed a lot. I don't feel anything, I hide in my room and our family rarely talks to one another. It's been a couple of weeks now of this, and I've completely lost my passion for rockets. I hated myself, for feeling nothing at all. Mr. Ferro said they've built another rocket for us boys, but I told him that I was simply not in the rocket business anymore. Mr. Dubonnet told me to give myself a break, that he knew how much Mr. Bykovski meant to me. I told him I was in a hurry and best be on my way. Ms. Riley told me that a lot has happened to me, more than she knows. She said if I stop working on my rockets, I might regret it for the rest of my life. And of course, I told her no one cares about rockets. I don't care about rockets. All these adults care about me, but I can't do what they ask, I don't know why.
The Alpha III
Everything is different after the incident in the mine. Homer has been seriously injured after a cable hit him in the eye. It cracked his helmet right in two. Thankfully he didn't die, I don't know if I could handle Ike's death and his death, I'm not sure mom could either, though she would've seen it coming a mile away.
I don't see the point in making rockets anymore, all they've done is cause trouble and kill Ike. The rest of BCMA can build rockets on their own, it's not like they needed me anyway.
Things are going a bit downhill. Us Rocket Boys have fought to get a calculus class in Big Creek High School, but I don't even get in the class. Even more ironic, Dorothy got my spot. If I can't learn how to do calculus, I'm useless to the others! Not only that, but I have brought my dad great disappointment shame, and it is very hard on me. I hope that things will get better very soon.
Im happy because my father is finally showing some interest in my rockets. Even though it has been nice to see that he is finally showing some interest in what i do, he is still devoting most of his time to Jim. I tough that Jim's foot ball failure and major negativity towards my rockets and I, would show my father who Jim really is. Just to make things worse, we had fought so hard to get a calculus class established, and of course , out of all people, I didn't get in. And to just top it all off, Dorothy took my place!
I was rather harsh to my friends of the BMCA today. Quentin and I announced that we're switching our fuel again, to zinc dust and sulfur. Of course, the other boys protested; rocket candy has taken us very far. But they don't understand that we can't go any further with rocket candy. Quentin and I are the intellectual leaders of this group, they should trust us to know what we're doing with the rockets. I guess the boys took my certainty for arrogance, though, because they got mad at me. They expect me to slow down to explain every little thing to them.. If we want to be ready for the science fair, were have to move quickly. Roy Lee punched me, and said I was a moron. Maybe I deserved that. Looking back at it, I can't help but seeing some selfish tendencies come out of me. Is mom right, am I truly as self-obsessed as she said?
The Alpha III
I feel bad for my friends and fellow members of BCMA. After I abandoned them after Ike's death I decided to return under the assumption that I could assert myself as the Alpha, the leader of the group. This left me sounding pretentious and arrogant. Something i've been criticized of lately.
At least we have made some headway with new fuel designs and our understanding of calculus.
As the school year was winding down, we boys were feeling more and more confident. However, after school let out the BCMA realized we had some debts to pay. We knew Mr. Van Dyke would hold us to paying back for that phone equipment we took. O'Dell had the great idea to go our near Big Branch and dig up the scrap iron there from the old railroad. We spent about a week out there and then I sliced my hand on a sharp piece of that iron. I was bleeding so much I started to get delirious. I got dizzy, started laughing and joking. Luckily O'Dell made a tourniquet. Then we had to walk six hours to Doc's. Doc asked me if I wanted painkillers, but when I said yes, he told me Dad didn't have any when he got stitched. So I told him I didn't need any either. I regretted that later.Mom and Dad were both extra nice to me that night when we got home. Plus, we made $22.50 from all that iron! Sadly, subtracting out the cost of food and camping gear, we made a grand total of four bucks. Plus, the bill from Doc was $5, so I guess it wasn't really worth it. Luckily, Jake promised that if we washed and waxed his Corvette for the rest of eternity, he'd cover our debts. With this money we bought ten pounds of zinc dust for our new fuel.
I feel like I never got to thank Mr. Bykovski. He did more for me than I ever got to tell him and the group and I easily wouldn't be where we are today if it weren't for him. So since I can't say any of the things that I should've. I owe it to him to do well with our rockets. I am going to start working extremely hard and do everything I can to make sure Mr. Bykovski would be proud us. It is the least I can do. He was the most supporting adult we had and never once treated us like children or made our ideas feel inferior. Our family is so out of whack. More than usual too. I just hope things start to get better.
The Alpha III
Because we weren't able to pay off the telephone equipment we took, my friends and I had the smart idea of going camping in the wilderness near a pile of scrap metal the company dumped. I was assured it was legal and we wouldn't get in trouble like with the telephone wires, but ten days in I cut myself on a sharp piece of Iron. Blood was spurting everywhere, and I began to feel dizzy. Eventually my friends dragged me into town to get patched up by Doc. I thought I was strong enough to get stitches without painkillers like my Dad did. I was not strong enough.
I really wanted to give up on rocket building after the bump in the mine. I felt that I was guilty for Mr. Byvkoski's death, since he was in the mines. He was the only adult who supported me when I first started building rockets. I didn't think I deserved to keep building rockets, and I wanted to just give up. Mr. Byvkoski's wife convinced me to keep building. I took her advice and our rocket went 4,000 feet in the air! It is our new record and I am glad that I kept building.
We've created a new fuel for our rockets, I've dubbed it zincoshine. This is because we've missed zinc dust, sulfur, and moonshine to create an extremely powerful, potent substance. Tag called this white lightning, after we experimented with it, causing smoke to fill the entire house, which gained the attention of the town... Our first rocket with this fuel, the Auk XXII-A, went over 5,000 feet! We made it passed the mile mark! This has truly convinced us rocket boys that space isn't such a faraway, outlandish dream anymore. Unfortunately, Mr. Fuller is really against our rocket launching, because we're still launching on company property, even though Cape Coalwood is very far from town.
The Alpha III
I've decided that the only way for me to be successful in Coaltown is to be strong. I will no longer allow myself to give up because Ike died because of my rockets. I will be a strong West Virginian and continue to make rockets. I'll take control of the BCMA and tell everyone exactly what needs to be done to make our rockets really fly far.
Our new fuel, Zincoshine, has already proven itself as the best and smelliest fuel for our rockets yet. Hopefully we can fine tune it to really make our rockets soar.
After a brief break from building rockets and a slight mental breakdown I am back. We are all are motivated and determined than ever before. We are determined to make our rockets soar and do exactly what we set them up to do, anything less than that will be considered a fail. Quentin has really been pushing me with my work in calculus. During I hate him for it, but after I know he was just doing it to make our rockets that much better. Because we have realized that calculations really are everything. It won't matter what kind of fuel or nozzle we have if we don't have the right calculations. Speaking of fuel, we developed a new kind, we call it zincoshine. It's a powerful combination that has proven to be quite dangerous if we don't handle it right. Yet another reason to get these calculations right.
Why, cruel world! My world has been turned upside down. First Dorothy broke my heart by going out with Jim, then Valentine mended it. Then I got home and found out there had been a bump at the face. Ike Bykovski died, and all because of me. I have become cold, very cold, and arrogant, and angry, and sorrowful. I have felt precious little emotion. I wonder if this is what it means to be a West Virginian, like my father. At the same time, I wish things could be the way they were before. I have pushed my fellow Rocket Boys away, and am unsure of whether or not to continue with my rockets.
The Alpha III
So many things are going on right now. I just learned that Mom has been investing money in the stock market, and has earned enough to buy a house, pay for my college and retire. This is great news as it means I can go to college to become an engineer.
I've also just learned that Ms. Riley has been diagnosed with cancer. That explains why she was looking so pale and sickly. She says that it might go into remission. I've decided that in honor of her, I will enter BCMA into the county science fair.
This week, Cape Coalwood was threatened and almost torn down. Mr. Fuller was mad after one of our rockets landed in the field next to Reverend Richard's church. I'm just glad no one got hurt- but Mr. Fuller is upset that we use company property and land for our rockets. He had it closed down, took apart the blockhouse and was about to demolish our hard work with a bulldozer! Luckily, Dad sort of threatened Mr. Fuller and convinced him to let the BCMA keep the land for rockets, after many of the town came to protest and started rebuilding our blockhouse. I know Dad doesn't exactly approve of my rockets, but sometimes I get confused, because he gives us materials, and he defended us from Mr. Fuller's wrath. Other times, though, it seems like he hates the rockets furiously. I know if he really wanted to, he could stop the whole thing. He's the reason we have Cape Coalwood, and that Mr. Ferro and his workers build our rockets for us. I'm thankful for that.
However, Dad is still convinced I'm going to stay in Coalwood forever, and I don't know how to let him down lightly. Today, he told me I could be running the whole town once I come back here after college. I told him wild horses couldn't drag me back here. I know it was harsh, and I instantly felt bad for disappointing him so. I constantly seek his approval, but at the same time I want to chose my own path and be independent. Why can't I have both?
I am so incredibly happy we moved on in the science fair. It made everything worth it. All the struggles and anger and frustration. It was all worth it when I heard our name being called. Nationals! Can you even believe it? I can't wait to tell Dad. I'm not sure how he would react though. Quentin is nearly ecstatic. It feels good to represent our school, but more importantly, it feels good to represent Coalwood. This town, as terrible as it sometimes is, has shaped me into who I am today. Same goes for everyone in the town. Dad, mom, Jim, heck even Dorothy. So I guess in a way I owe it to all of them. I hope Nationals goes well. I hope Nationals is enough to take us out of Coalwood and to somewhere better.
The BCMA needed money to pay off mr. van dyke. So O'Dell came up with a brilliant idea, we can sell scrap metal for money. He explained that we could collect lots of metal pipes by the train tracks. *it's very legal* But while digging out our 10th pipe it cut my wrist, badly. So now im here at the Doc's office recovering after the painful stitches, while the rest of the team is back at the train track trying to gather up all the pipes so they call sell all the pipes. Let's just hope we get a lot of money for those pipes, we spent days trying to get them out!
The Alpha III
I've finally done it! I've won the county science fair.
I'll progress onto state and then onto nationals, proving to Mrs. Riley and, more importantly, my father that I am worth something, that I can make it in life and that I am a strong west virginian.
This continues my upward trend recently as my rockets became more successful and more attention grabbing.
i can only imagine how i will be treated if i win the national science fair.
I'm incredibly happy that we've been moving on and doing so well in the science fair. All of the arguments, struggles, and failures seem minuscule after hearing our named called as the winner. We're heading to the West Virginia State Finals now, and if we win that, Nationals! I can't wait to tell Dad- even though he hasn't been openly supportive of my rockets, I hope he'll be proud that I'm becoming more and more successful. It feels amazing represent our school and to represent Coalwood. Big Creek High and Coalwood are not known for science, and I'm proud that the BCMA has become so important. I hope the rest of the science fair goes well, and we hopefully qualify for Nationals. Hopefully, this will be the turning point to launch us out of Coalwood and into a better future.
I'm so scared! Someone just tried to kill Dad, and now there's a bullet in the wall. Everyone's alright, but whoever did it (Dad thinks it was Pooky) came very close. To think, if he had been just a few feet over! It made me wonder what I would do without Dad, and I really don't know. Sometimes I think he's a terrible father, but sometimes I think he's a great, smart man. He handled the whole situation very well.
I hope people don't hate me for what my father does. What if they try to hurt me?
I recently severed an artery and had to get stitched up by Doc. I severed it while trying to get scrap iron to sell to fund our rockets. I got my stitches without painkillers just like my father. O'Dell, Roy-Lee, Sherman, and I managed to gather 400 pounds of scrap iron, but still ended out further in debt than before. Thankfully Jake bailed us out in exchange for washing and waxing his car everyday, and we were able to buy the materials necessary for our new propellant.
Coalwood is dead. the Company started selling homes in our town. Apparently the mines aren't doing very well, or at least that's what mom thinks. she doesn't believe that it will stay open for much longer. And also, Mr. Fuller sucks. He took Van Dyke's job after he got fired, and Fuller HATES the BCMA. Everything we do, from testing out our fuel to launching our best rocket, he hates all of it. He even tried to tear down our launchpad, but dad saved it thank god! I think dad would've actually got in a fight with Fuller to save my launchpad.
Someone just tried to kill Dad. He was sitting in his chair, leaned forward just a few seconds before a .22 bullet went through the window, grazed the top of the chair and then dug into the wall. . Everyone's alright, but Dad was almost hit in the head. If it had just been shot a second earlier.. Dad thinks it was Pooky, or some other miner who's angry about the recent changes that have taken place in the mine and Coalwood. Mom and Dad acted so calmly, like it wasn't a big deal Dad had almost taken a bullet to the head. They simply talked about how to fix the window, the chair, and the wall. They don't even want to tell Tag, they don't want trouble. There's trouble enough if someone's shooting at us in our own home! To think, if Dad had been hit! It made me realize how much I appreciate my dad. Sometimes I think he's a terrible father for not trying to understand me. Other times, I admire his hard work and his intelligence. People are certainly upset at Dad because there a lot of men being fired and pay getting reduced. I wish they'd realize it's not his fault, but I can do nothing about it.
Our rockets are improving greatly! We perfected our new propellant, zinc dust and sulfur, by adding alcohol. Additionally, I was able to do the calculations necessary to make a De Laval Nozzle that will send our rockets two miles into the sky. On our first launch with the new nozzle the nozzle was eroded, but we were able to mostly fix this by curving the nozzle. We are going to take our rockets to the county science fair in March and win a medal for Big Creek.
The Alpha III
I've won the county and state science fairs, i'm going to nationals!
I've finally shown that I am worth something to coaltown and when I win in the national science fair I'll show the whole country what it means to be a proud West Virginian.
The first order of business though is to buy a suit. Emily Sue says that I need to look nice for the science fair and paint Coalwood in a positive light. I was going to wear an orange suit so I stand out but she said I need to wear something more traditional. Whatever the case I'm sure I'll do well in the national science fair.
Everything is changing very quickly, and I'm having trouble keeping up. Dad is giving up the mine to go to Myrtle Beach with Mom, I lost my long time friend Daisy Mae, Miss Riley has cancer, and Calvin Suggs asked me for a favor. The Rocket Boys and I went to the county and then area science fairs and won, but those bright spots have been clouded by the recent events. Daisy Mae was someone I could always talk to, and now that she is gone I feel like a part of me is missing. Miss Riley has been such an amazing mentor to me and the other Rocket Boys, and now she may die too. I hope that I can some how manage to get through the National Science Fair without embarrassing Big Creek in spite of my recent loss.
The Alpha III
I wanted to write a letter to Mrs. Riley thanking her for all that she's done in the hopes that she will get better.
I have now begun to realize just how much you have done and continue to do for me and the BCMA. I appreciate that when I become arrogant, you can return my humility with a few words and when my rockets fail or cause problems in coalwood, you are always there to help and provide encouragement.
Thank you for locating and giving me the book about rockets at it proved extremely helpful in both understanding and designing our rockets.
I initially lacked even fundamental knowledge of algebra but thanks to your encouragement and the book, you inspired me to learn calculus and finally love math and science.
The Alpha III
Unfortunately, due to Sonny's dire need for replacement rocket parts, I had to end the strike in the union's favor. This means I succumbed to Mr. Dubonnet and I will stay here in coaltown working in the mine for the foreseeable future. I know i'll eventually find my way out, but this means my retirement to myrtle beach will be severely delayed. I doubt Elsie will stay here in coaltown for much longer, meaning she'll live in an empty house by the coast.
The Alpha III
I returned from the National Science Fair a hero to Coaltown. I unintentionally ended the labor strike and successfully represented what was previously thought of as a worthless mining town on the world stage. I proved that with west-virginian strength you can do anything, no matter the odds.
Now that all the members of the BCMA are graduating, we plan to launch a final set of rockets as a last hurrah before we head off to college.
I returned from the National Science Fair a sort of hero to Coalwood, a symbolic figure that Coalwood can do greater things than mine. I unintentionally ended the labor strike, Dad had to sign that he'd work in Coalwood for much longer and the union got their way, all because of my need to get more rocket parts after mine had been stolen.
Now that all the members of the BCMA are graduating high school and moving on, we planned to launch a final set of rockets as a last hurrah before we head off to college or the Air Force. To our great surprise, hundreds of people from all around the county drove to Coalwood to watch our rockets fly. But even more surprising than this was when my dad showed up for the last rocket. He'd never come to a launch before. When I let him light that last fuse, I don't think I've ever seen so much happiness in him. Watching that rocket fly five miles into the air while standing right next to my dad, now that may have been my biggest accomplishment yet. In some way, in my dad's strange way, this was our compromise. The signing of our peace treaty. Somehow, we had come together after all, despite our differences.
The Alpha III
I was honored to come back from the science fair as a hero to coalwood. But I was even more honored when Homer arrived at my final rocket launch. This was the first time he had ever seen any of my rockets. He was among hundreds of others that watched the Big Creek Missile Agency launch their final rockets.
Words can't describe what it was like to see him smile while flipping the switch to launch our very last rocket. He even called it "beautiful," a word he's never used before.
Ever since I heard John F. Kennedy's speech that day I bought my suit, I've been keeping up with him and listening to what he has to say. The two things that JFK focuses on in his campaign are taking a U.S. man to the moon, and fighting for freedom down here, across the world. I want to partake in both of these journeys for America. So, before I continue my dream to be a rocket engineer, I've gone to fight in Vietnam. Today, as I climbed out of my bunker I found a Russian rocket, a dud about 122-mm. The nozzle was crudely designed, to be frank. It's funny how rockets follow me wherever I go.
We did it! We made it all the way, and we won the science fair. None of this would have been possible without Ms. Riley, my Mother, or any of the boys. While I didn't get to meet Von Braun, as I wished, I will never forget this. I must thank Ms. Riley at the very least, if not more, because she is the one who made this happen.
The Alpha III
After I graduated from College as an engineer I found myself driven by patriotic duty to fight for my country and freedom in Vietnam. This unfortunately delayed me from my true dream of working for NASA.
I did get a little taste of my old life in Rockets while in Vietnam when a dud bomb landed near our bunker. It was poorly designed.
Finally I reached my true dream of working for NASA in Dr. von Braun's old headquarters. It's such a shame though that I missed meeting him by only a few years after he died.
The Alpha III
A few days ago Elsie told me that the mine shut down in coalwood. All the pumps and ventilation fans were shut down. All the time and effort Homer put into the mine, lost.
Elsie noted that Homer's cough seemed to worsen almost immediately, signaling the end was near.
Finally a few days later Dad died. I was nowhere near him as he laid on his deathbed and I feel a strange comfort knowing he's gone. I don't quite know why.