When Gray Graham accepted the job as principal of the Citation School in 1938, he had no idea his role would involve more than just teaching. Pitted against the county judge and the local political machine, Gray learns quickly that schooling at the Princess Citation Mine in Southeastern Kentucky involves more than just readin’, writin’, and arithmetic; the necessities of life—food, clothing, and shelter—are equally important, and even an honest man has to be strong to survive.
The Necessities of Life, a work of historical fiction, is a realistic portrayal of life for Eastern Kentucky residents who worked the coal industry and lived in company towns during the Great Depression. It is also a story about the value of education, and of educators who struggled to make a difference.
Protagonist Gray Graham and his school’s faculty are characterizations of those individuals who were, and are, dedicated to improving the lives and living conditions in the mountainous region.