Monthly Archives: December 2007

Over the River and Through the Woods………..

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……………….to grandmother’s house we go.  All the relatives and kids were singing and traveling to our house for Christmas.  All the gifts are placed under the tree and we share a Christmas Eve dinner.  Mr. B gathers everyone to the dining room and we sing Happy Birthday to Jesus and have prayer before we eat.  The sideboard has ham, turkey, dressing, cheesy potato casserole, corn, green beans, cranberry jello salad, deviled eggs, hot rolls and all sorts of desserts. It is all good and  I want everyone to enjoy it.

I love sitting at the Christmas table and taking time to eat, talk and laugh.  While it is such fun, I also miss my parents more this time of year.  Mother always loved my cranberry salad and think of her when I make it.  She and daddy would love being here and seeing all the grand-kids.

The grand-kids are taught the joy of giving and receiving gifts.  E, L and M bought Mr. B and I gifts at the school Santa’s Workshop.  I got two “Grandma-No one in the whole wide world could love you more than me” ceramic plaques.  I also got a little red box with a glass “Don’t Worry Angel” and a stuffed bear.  The little gifts are worth a million!

My son gathered all the kids together and read the story of Jesus birth to everyone.  We sang Christmas several carols to end the night of fun.  This was a wonderful night.

Early Life in the Coal Camp-Black and White Schools

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A coal camp consist of lots of different nationalities, white people and black people.  I was just a little girl who resided in this town with these people.  I thought it seemed weird that the black people had to live in their section of the town.  I didn’t understand why and I usually asked lots of questions.

I remember a old black man walking down the tracks.  He usually had on a hat, jacket and work boots.  He always walked looking down at the ground and wouldn’t speak unless you spoke to him.  Back then……..he was walking through the white section of town and he was not free to be friendly or speak on his own.

The black people had their own section of town, worshiped in their own churches and had an old run down school that was for blacks only.  Something seemed unfair.  The white school was a large building with two floors, water fountains and nice classrooms.  Of course, the coal company had a lot to do with good schools.

My dad always worked with black people and he got along with them and respected them.  My mom asked a black lady to help her wallpaper the kitchen.  I can still see that wallpaper with a white background and red cherries and red trim.  When the lady finished she asked my mom if she had any vanilla flavoring.  Mother asked her if she was going to bake something and she said no.  She wanted to use it for perfume.  We always thought this was so funny.

There was a black man who’s last name was Saunders.  He built my dad a huge tool box and daddy kept it until he died.  I recently spoke with Mr. Saunders son and we related the story of daddy working with his dad in a coal mine at Mammoth, WV.

My, my how things have changed for the better in the last sixty years.

Life in the Coal Camp-I Have a Little Sister

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I was the only grandchild for all grandparents and the only child for seven years.  Well, that was about to change!  My mom looked like she was getting bigger and I began to ask a few questions.  My mom told me that she was going to have a little baby. (no ultra sounds back then).  I thought maybe you could order a boy or a girl and I asked for a little brother.

My mom wanted to stay with her parents at Yawkey, WV when she had the baby.  My sister was born at The Henson Clinic at Hamlin, WV on 8/1.  I remember going to the clinic with my dad to see the new baby and my mommy.  There was this little tiny baby wrapped in a blanket and lying in a tiny crib.  This was my little sister, Beverly Ann.

This was a big adjustment for “the queen” to adjust to another child in the house.  When my mom got home she let me hold Bev and give her a kiss.  I did truly love my sister.

As of 2007, we still have a wonderful sister relationship and I like to make sure she is protected.  Sisters are sisters forever.

Early Life in the Coal Camp-My Dad Was Saved

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mt-lewis-church.jpgMy mom and I attended the Mt. Lewis Baptist Church and my daddy went “sometimes”.  The picture is the actual church as it looks today.  Rev. Eugene Wolfe was holding a revival service at our church and my mom talked daddy into going with her.  He attended several nights and really like to hear Rev. Wolfe preach.  One night of the revival, he walked to the alter and prayed and ask God to forgive him of his sins.  He became a born again Christian and was baptized later.

My dad was a faithful Christian for the remainder of his life.  He served as a deacon, association leader, teacher and church treasurer most of his life.  He was an Christian example to his children and grandchildren.

Life in the coal camp produced good results that lasted a lifetime.

Early Life in the Coal Camp-The Edens Family

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Just below our house was a big store owned by Mr. Edens.  My mom and dad usually took me with them to the store and this family just sort of made me their own.  Mr. Edens had three girls and they had already graduated from high school and helped in the store.  Mrs. Edens had grey hair pulled back in a bun and a big chin.

Daddy and mother always had high respect for this family and we remained friends with them through my adult life.  The girls names were Punch, Loretta and Lee.  I think they had a brother, Shorty, but I really didn’t know him.  Punch nick-named me “Mindy” and would invite me down for an overnight. 

The Edens’ home seemed so big.  There were lots of rooms downstairs and all the bedrooms were upstairs.  They would let me look around at all the pretty furniture, dishes and especially the girls rooms.

They also had an inside bathroom and I loved to use their commode and flush the toilet.  toilet.jpgWe had an outside toilet at my house and an inside bathroom was exciting.

I was in the second grade and I had never been to a movie theater.  Punch invited me to go to a movie in Ward, WV.  She said we would walk down the railroad tracks and it wouldn’t take long. This was a long walk for a little fat girl and my legs were hurting when we got to the movie.  Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs were supposed to be showing, but some movie with John Derek was on the screen.  I though he was so handsome, but was really disappointed.snow-white.jpg

Lee Edens could really play the piano and I would always talk her into playing some songs for me.  She gave me piano lessons for some time, but I hated it.  I didn’t have a piano to practice at home and I don’t know how I was expected to learn. 

Mr. B and I drove back to the town of Mammoth, WV (the coal camp) about three months ago and this store and the home are gone.  Gone, but not forgotten.

Early Life in a Coal Camp-The Company Store

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company-store.jpgThere was a huge fascinating store just up the tracks and it was referred to as “The Company Store”.  The store had a long porch that ran the width of the store and double doors in the front.  Daddy was always hesitant to go to this store and buy anything and I only understood this years later. 

I remember a huge white meat case with a glass in front.  There was a butcher behind the counter and he wore a white apron and a white hat.  Inside the case were cuts of lunch-meat, hamburger, roast beef and other various meats.  I thought the butcher was scary.  He had a big meat cleaver and would whack down the middle of  the beef to cut a roast. 

script.jpgMy dad only went to this store if he really had to go there.  He explained that the miners could go in an make purchases with script when they had no money.  When pay day arrived many miners actually “owed their lives to the company store” and had spent all they made at the company store.  I suppose this could be compared to a credit card type of credit.  The company store issued you script (looked like money) and then the coal company deducted the amount from your check.

My dad was a wise person.

Early Life in the Coal Camp-Carol Ann

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Carol Ann lived three house up the tracks from my house and she was the same age as me.  She was a little chubby and had pretty blond hair.  I was always in competition with her and I realize now I was jealous of her.  When I was six years old, I just didn’t like her sometime.

Carol Ann walked down the tracks one day with a notebook and pen in her hand.  I was playing in the yard and she sat down in the grass outside our fence.  She said, “Look what I can do.  I can write in cursive writing”.  I knew it was something more fancy than the writing I could do and I was steaming.  My attitude toward Carol Ann is going to get me in some big trouble.

We walked home from school and I began to think how I could be mean to Carol Ann.  Then the idea hit me.  Get your little friend Lynn to throw pieces of coal at Carol Ann.  Well, like I said, I can get Lynn to do anything and he followed order.  Coal was thrown at her until she got on her porch.

I really don’t know how information traveled so fast.  There were no TV’s, no cell phones and yet the school principal knew about this the next morning.  I heard Mr. Gray the principal call out my name to come to his office.  I was scared stiff, but had no idea why he wanted me.  I stood in front of his desk and he looked so official in his suit and tie and hardly any hair.

He discussed the “Carol Ann” deal and said he wasn’t going to paddle me since I hadn’t been in trouble before, but I was on probation.

When I got home from school…..my dad knew about me getting in trouble.  He asked me what the principal said and I started crying and said Mr. Gray put me on STARVATION for the rest of the year.  I didn’t know what probation or starvation meant, but for some reason my mom and dad put their hand over their mouth and started laughing.  I just couldn’t understand why they were laughing until my dad explained.

I realized that your parents must have eyes in the back of their head and they knew everything I did.

Over the river and through the woods………..

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over-river.jpg…………to grandmother’s house we go. Yes, Zoe sang this song as she traveled from IL to WV. My daughter T, her hubby G and Zoe arrived yesterday and will be in WV through Christmas. Z just lit up when she opened my door and spotted all the gifts and Christmas lights. MawMaw when can we open our gifts!

There are things I hope we get to do with the grand-kids this week. It is snowing and I have the perfect hill for sleigh riding, but then two are sick. Making sugar cookies is in the plan and that should be fun.

cookies.jpgNow is the time. This is the place. Make memories while you can.

Back to 2007 For A Day

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Last week….yes last week…we decided to have an open house and invite our church and some friends.  Being the Martha Stewart that I am, I wanted to work a full time job and do all the baking myself.  Well, it can be done and with aching bones and joy in your heart.  I have made fudge and cookies every evening and it has actually been good.  My sister-in-law, Sharon joined me on Wednesday evening and we baked 24 dozen Texas Lizzie cookies.

We live 28 miles from the church at Leon, WV and many of the members have not been to our present address.  They and we are excited about a get-together outside the church building.  We are having the Open House from 3pm until 9pm in order to accommodate the older folks and the working people. This will be a great time for laughter and good cookies.

I hope to take a digital picture of each person and put it into a little guest book.  This was a creative idea from my business partner, Lisa.

Early Life in WV Coal Camp

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Ball PlayerMy dad returned from World War II when I was three years old.  He was anxious to reconnect with his family and…..get a job.  My dad was one of the most recognized baseball pitchers in the state and believe it or not it would get him a job.  The big coal companies had their own teams and they scouted out daddy and asked him to play on their team.  Of course, he would get to work in the coal mine too.

This meant I would have to leave Lincoln County and go with my mom and dad to Mammoth, WV.  I would be 100 miles away from my Grandma and Grandpa McClure and this was very upsetting for me.  Living in a coal camp was really different than living on a farm in Lincoln County.

coal-miner.jpgMy earliest memories of the coal camp were when I was around five years old.  I seemed to have a blank year when I was four years old.  There were no big barns, no corn fields, no strawberries, and no grandma & grandpa.  However, there were train tracks right in front of our house and it made our house squeak when it passed.  As the miners mined the coal, the train carried it down the tracks and dumped it on barges in the Kanawha River.

The engineer on the train was Mr. Lackey and I would stand and wait for him to pass.  I started waving at him and before long he would wave back.  I suppose he really liked me and he started throwing me pieces of candy when he passed our house.  I made the mistake of telling the other kids and before long they were all waiting beside the tracks , waving and waiting for candy.  I don’t know what happened, but before long Mr. Lackey stopped leaving candy.  Go figure.

coal-camp.jpgMany of the people living in Mammoth had names that were very strange to me.  There were several people from Germany and Italy.  Mrs. Gadget lived across the road and she couldn’t speak a word of English.  She ran a boarding house for miners who needed a place to live.  My mom said she had really mean kids and they played in the road all the time.  One day her youngest child was playing near the railroad tracks and the train ran over his arm and cut it off.  My mom said, “I knew that was going to happen.”

There was an old “beer joint” down the road and a scary old man by the name of Mr. Borasky was the owner.  He had a daughter and her name was Carolyn Borasky.  Carolyn was probably 10 years older than me and I would see her walk up the road.  She was very fat, had curly hair and wore bib overalls.  My mom and dad would not let me associate with this family.

Larry Hudnall lived beside us and he was a mean little boy and could “cuss like a sailor”.  My mom said he heard this kind of talk from his parents.  I didn’t know what it meant to cuss, but Larry was using some words that were very new and exciting to me.  I thought I would try out of few of them on my parents and make them very proud of me.  I went into the house and ripped out a few d….. and h…..words and my parents turned pale.  I didn’t get a spanking and they took time to explain that the words were bad.  I was supposed to tell Larry not to use these words when we played, but he just kept cussing.

Lynn Hudnall lived on the other side of our house and he had great big brown eyes.  He reminded me of a cute little mouse.  I am sorry to say, but I sort of took advantage of Lynn.  I could talk him into anything.  Lynn and I would play jump rope by tying one end to the fence post and one person turn the rope and the other person could jump.  When it was Lynn’s turn to jump I would “give him hot pepper” (turn the rope really fast).  Of course he would start crying and I would swear I didn’t do anything.

Chapters in future BLOG articles:

1.  Carol Ann Could Write In Cursive Writing

2.  Getting Put in Probation in 2nd Grade

3.  The Company Store

4.  The Edens Family

5.  My Dad Was Saved

6.  I Have a Little Sister

7.  Black and White Schools

8.  The Pringles

9.  The Sirens Mean Death

10.  Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

11.  First Grade