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.

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One response »

  1. You load sixteen tons … what do you get?
    Another day older and deeper in debt!

    St. Peter don’t ya call me ’cause I can’t go ….
    I owe my soul to the Company Store!

    Tennessee Ernie Ford, hit song in the late 1950’s and again in the 60’s as his theme song on TV.

    I didn’t know what a company store was until I heard that song. My Mom explained it to me because her father, a Polish immigrant, worked in the textile mills in Rhode Island. They had a company store and her family lived in a company house. Her dad was smart though, and he saved every nickel until they bought that house outright in just five years! Imagine such a thing – not spending unless you could afford it!

    By the way – my Dad was the spitting image of Tennessee Ernie Ford; they could have been twins!

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