In its heyday, Thurber was home to coal miners and brick plant workers from Italy, Poland, and as many as fourteen other European nations, not to mention the many Mexican immigrants who came to the area. In this, her master’s thesis, Mary Jane Gentry, who started the first grade in Thurber and graduated as valedictorian of its high school in 1930, records first-hand memories of the town’s vibrant charm.
Now edited and with an introduction by T. Lindsay Baker, Gentry’s lively history of the rise and decline of a Texas coal town provides a unique window into a bygone era. Her narrative of rancorous labor disputes, corporate machinations, and the eventual shuttering of the plants and virtual disappearance of the once-thriving town will allow Thurber to live again, if only in the minds of her readers.
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