JUST PUBLISHED: The Overnight City: The Life and Times of Van Lear, Kentucky, 1908-1947

According to a 1917 story in The Paintsville Herald, “Nothing is more strongly indicative of the advancement of any section along commercial lines than the development of its hidden resources and nothing has contributed in greater measure to build up Johnson County, Paintsville, and the Big Sandy Valley than has the Consolidation Coal Company’s operation at Van Lear.”

The story continued: “From a poor and thinly-settled farming section has sprung up the hustling town of Van Lear, with a population of about 2,500…. It is incorporated with good officials, a moving-picture show, billiard and pool room, soda fountain, churches, schools, excellent stores, barber shops, and in fact all conveniences of the larger towns.”

Van Lear is one of Southern Appalachia’s most-celebrated coal towns, made famous in Loretta Lynn’s classic song, “Coal Miner’s Daughter.” It grew so big, so quickly, that one newspaperman called it “the overnight city,” but then, in the 1940s, when Consolidation Coal decided to sell out, the town faded just as quickly.

Using stories about the town and its people that ran in the local newspaper, Clyde Roy Pack has created a portrait of a proud and self-reliant community in the foothills of the Appalachians from the time of World War I through Prohibition and the Depression to World War II.

The Overnight City: The Life and Times of Van Lear, Kentucky, 1908-1947, gives readers an extraordinary glimpse at ordinary life in the coal fields of Eastern Kentucky in the first half of the 20th century, from mine fatalities and murders to graduations and society news.

Clyde Roy Pack is an award-winning newspaper columnist and retired teacher. He is the author of several books, including Muddy Branch and Pretty Babies Grow Up Ugly. He lives in Paintsville with his wife, Wilma Jean.

The Overnight City is published by storyatom media.

Book signing Oct. 4-5 at Kentucky Apple Festival

clydepackapplefestivalClyde Roy Pack and Todd Pack will be signing books Oct. 4-5, 2013, in the arts and crafts tent at the Kentucky Apple Festival in Paintsville, Ky.

Clyde’s books include Muddy Branch: Memories of an Eastern Kentucky Coal Camp [2002] and Coal-Camp Chronicles [2005].

With his son, Todd, he wrote Pretty Babies Grow Up Ugly [2012], a collection of old-time cures and superstitions.

Visit the official site of the Kentucky Apple Festival to learn more about this year’s event.

‘Pretty Babies Grow Up Ugly’ now in paperback!

Pretty Babies Grow Up Ugly and Other Old-Time Beliefs, the latest book by Clyde Roy Pack, is out in paperback as well as a version for Amazon Kindle e-book readers and apps from Story/ATOM Publishing.

The paperback is $10 (plus shipping and handling). The purchase price is $2.99, or it’s free to borrow Amazon Prime members.

Written with his son, Todd, the book describes hundreds of old-time cures and superstitions, most of them submitted by readers of “Poison Oak & Country Folk,” Clyde Roy Pack’s syndicated cartoon that ran in several Eastern Kentucky newspapers from 1983-98. From the back cover:

“Before good health care and decent schools reached the hollows of Eastern Kentucky, families struggled to make sense of the world around them. When a baby was born or a mother fell ill, families could do little but hope and pray and look for signs. They relied on old superstitions and a deep Christian faith to help them make sense of a world they didn’t understand and couldn’t control.

“Illustrated with classic cartoons from Clyde Roy Pack’s “Poison Oak & Country Folk,” the cures and superstitions in Pretty Babies Grow Up Ugly offer a unique and humorous look at some of the beliefs of ordinary families who lived in the Southern Appalachians a century ago.”

Clyde Roy Pack’s other books include Muddy Branch: Memories of an Eastern Kentucky Coal Camp (published by the Jesse Stuart Foundation), Coal-Camp Chronicles, Going Back and Dear Hearts & Gentle People: Rural Americans at Their Best (published by Where? Press).

Click here to buy Pretty Babies Grow Up Ugly and Other Old-Time Beliefs.