I made two trips to Commerce, OK while reporting the book, one in winter, one in spring. The fragile, desolate landscape, eviscerated by a century of zinc and lead mining, was formative in Mantle’s young life. Jerry VonMoss, pastor at Exciting Southeast Baptist Church, took me on a tour of the area. Ed Keheley, a nuclear physicist, who returned to his home town (and Merlyn’s), PIcher, OK, to witness the industrial devastation and advocate on behalf of the citizens, tutored me on the history of the Tri State Mining Region. VonMoss and Keheley provided the historical photos included below.
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