Alice Bryant Byrd’s father returned from World War II a Navy hero; his ambitions included a career in West Virginia’s hottest industry—coal mining. After joining a promising new coal operation, he moved his young wife to Summersville where they would start a family and he would soon be recruited to run for public office.
Thus began a fifteen-year stint as mayor, where his blazing progress garnered him attention from the likes of Senator Robert Byrd and even a visit from President Lyndon Johnson. It looked as if nothing could hold him back, until some dark and foreboding forces combined to bring down not only his political career but his family and financial well-being.
In Summersville, Byrd shares her family’s story in this small town in West Virginia from the 1940s to the 1970s, that culture-rich era known widely for its large-scale wars and social upheaval. She narrates how, despite the umbrella of ordinariness, her family lived through some extraordinary events—a twisting, turning, and engaging tale ushering her family through the first sixteen years of her life.
Through narrative and excerpts from news articles, this memoir tells the story of the fabulous life of the Bryants, their contribution to Summersville’s development, the price the family paid for political and social ambition, and their relentless pluck and desire to recover and move on in the wake of ongoing challenges.