Before her death, she asked her husband Cornelius to give the infant Calvin to one of his sisters, Vlurma Sale Byrd, and their husband, Titus Dalton Byrd, in the event of her failure to recover. Mr. and Mrs. Byrd were without children at the time, and, in accordance with the dying mothers wish, they adopted the child and took him to West Virginia when he was only two years old. I was that child.
Reading today (June 20) from the first chapter of his just released memoir,Robert C. Byrd: Child of the Appalachian Coalfields,the 87-year-old West Virginia senator spoke eloquently of his early years growing up in the southern coal camps of West Virginia with poor, but loving parents. Hispapwas a coal miner and the family lived in a simple shack with no running water.
His words recalled terrible mining tragedies, but also the courage and determination of a sturdy breed of miners.
His first teacher, Mrs. Carrico, who taught the children in a two-room school house in Algonquin, encouraged him to read and gave him his first ride in an automobile, he wrote. And, listening to the Tunney-Dempsey fight at the community grill and George HermanBabeRuths 60 th home runboth in 1927left an indelible impression on him.
The Eberly College of Arts and Sciences and its acclaimed West Virginia University Press are so pleased to formally launch publication of these and other important milestones in Robert C. Byrds life,said Patrick Conner, director of the WVU Press.This 800-page autobiography recounts the senators life experiences from growing up in Stotesbury, W.Va., in the early 1920s to his election to an unprecedented eighth U.S. Senate term in 2000.
Conner noted that the bookis all the senators work.
Every word in the book came from him, and the first version of the manuscript was over 1,700 pages long. Sen. Byrd was, moreover, one of the best authors we have worked with at the West Virginia University Press. He met deadlines, looked at everything three or four times, involved himself completely in the production of the book, and never missed a chance to express his appreciation for the work we did as well.
WVU President David C. Hardesty introduced Sen. Byrd, saying,Robert C. Byrds story is West Virginias story. It is a story that embodies our peoples heritage: Their history, their values, and their hopes for the future.
In 1946, Byrd ran for the West Virginia House of Delegates and served two terms before winning a state Senate seat in 1950. In 1952, he won a seat in Congress and, in 1958, the seat in the U.S. Senate he has held ever since.
Only two members of Congress in U.S. history have served longer than Byrd.
He is the former chairman and current ranking member of the Senate
Appropriations Committee, and twice served as Senate majority leaderthe only West Virginian to ever hold the post. Today, he ranks as the President Pro Tempore of the U.S. Senate.
Byrd called the projecta labor of love,adding,the book takes the reader on a journeythe story of my life.
The national launch of the book will be held Tuesday (June 21) at the National Archives William G. McGowan Theater (at Constitution Avenue and 7th Street NW). A reception is planned for 6 p.m., with a personal reading to follow at 6:45 p.m. The Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom will be open to the public following the reading until 9 p.m.
The book is priced at $35 and can be ordered by contacting the WVU Press toll-free at 1-866-WVUPRESS, or by visitingwww.wvupress.com.
At Mondays reading, books with personally signed nameplates were available for purchase. They will also be available at the D.C. event.