I’m searching for anecdotes for a book about what it means to be male. Stories of honour, bravery, work, put-your-head-down-and-do-it sacrifice, and even humour. I’d like a small sampling from Military experience, as well as strength, wisdom, and even fatherhood. They don’t have to be dramatic stories, or even extraordinary ones; instead, they should be stories that leave the male reader clenching his jaw, nodding, and saying “yep.” to himself. Heroism is fine, boldness is fine, even a little violence (for spice) isn’t bad. If it forms a part of the male persona, it’s great.
In Northern Ontario, there are a lot of gold mines scattered through the Cambrian Shield. They’re poked into hard mountains, surrounded by heavy bush. At the turn of the century, workers would frequently leave their families behind in the city for weeks at a time while they lived among the mosquitoes, dampness, and sweat of the mine.
In some of the deeper mines, a human-cranked elevator lowered the miners, one or two at a time, into the inky blackness below. Strong men would wrestle large iron bars around a gear to work the simple pulley system; sometimes, when available, a donkey would be brought in to do the work. And sometimes, the donkey didn’t like it much either.
Ted was the guy leading the donkey. When the beast tired, Ted WAS the donkey.
Around in a small circle, slowly bending the earth beneath his boots, one revolution at a time, from sunup to sundown. First clockwise to pull the cage up to the surface, and then counterclockwise to lower down miners and equipment.
Ontario isn’t known for its earthquakes. So when a tremor hit the mine, Ted thought it was an explosion somewhere below. Unfortunately, the mule knew better. It bolted. But first, it kicked Ted in the stomach.
With the earth shaking below him, the sky seemingly tearing open above him, and blood pooling within him, Ted did what he was there to do: he cranked. He turned that big gear, pulling out miner after miner in various stages of injury. They may have realized Ted was injured; they may have been too stunned, by the sudden sunlight or the sudden jarring of rock, to appreciate that Ted was dying, round by round.
With no mule in sight, Ted pulled the last miner to safety in a semiconscious state. There was no hope of rescue; there was only the dirty present, the mosquitoes, and the quiet forest to see him fall.
…needs editing, but you get the idea.