Texas Surgeon: an Autobiography Page: 23
This book is part of the collection entitled: Rescuing Texas History, 2010 and was provided to The Portal to Texas History by the University of Texas Health Science Center Libraries .
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coniferous wood. Although maple or oak or ash would have
been stronger, these softwoods, Mr. Aiken told me, did not
snap without warning like the others, but gave out telltale tear-
ing sounds. This gave the miner some chance to scramble to
Then, one day, about me I saw a pattern of ferns impressed
into the shale. It seemed to me these ferns were much like the
ones that grew about the farms at home. This puzzled me. How
could they have grown down here amid the rock? But somehow
they had, and then turned to stone. On this subject my mentor,
Mr. Aiken, was unable to enlighten me, though he said that
such things were found in all mines in Wales and England, as
well as in Nova Scotia and even in America. I decided to find
out about these ferns at the first opportunity.
Quite often slivers of rock fell from the clay roof and landed
near me with a thud. Indeed, one day a piece of stone struck
me sharply on the shoulder. Mr. Aiken assured me that such
falls were bound to happen, particularly since a great explosion
had shaken the whole mine.
One day, idly waiting for Mr. Aiken's signal to receive yet
another ton of coal, I suddenly heard an ominous cracking
sound, then a ponderous thudding all about me. After this every-
thing went black. Next thing I knew I was lying in the tunnel
pinned face down with my arms held fast under a loose mass of
clay and shale, with Mr. Aiken working furiously to free me.
Strangely enough, I felt no pain and little or no fear. I
simply lay still, semi-conscious and in a not unpleasant daze.
When Mr. Aiken had loosed me from the rock, he half-carried,
half-assisted me to the mine lift, and took me up in the cage.
Next I found myself in bed at his home, with the world a blur
in which I floated. Several days passed like this. The Aikens
were no more seriously perturbed than I in my comatose condi-
tion. Such injuries were everyday occurrences and accepted by
the miners with stoic equanimity.
Here’s what’s next.
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Atkinson, Donald Taylor. Texas Surgeon: an Autobiography, book, 1958; New York. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth143566/m1/35/: accessed April 27, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting University of Texas Health Science Center Libraries.