Daddy was always the first to rise before daylight. If our small wood-frame house was chilly or cold, he would stoke the fire in our warm-morning stove with pieces of coal from a nearby bucket. Soon I would smell coffee perking and bacon or ham sizzling in an iron skillet. By then I was up and joined him in the kitchen as he fried eggs and then laid pieces of bread in that same skillet to brown. While he cooked, he packed his lunch in the miner's bucket pictured here. Fresh water filled the bottom section. The top often held a bologna sandwich, a Moon Pie, a small jar of pinto beans, and a piece of leftover cornbread.
My daddy was a Kentucky coal miner for most of my childhood. He was little more than a child himself when he stood over the sifters high above the temple, where pieces of coal tumbled down a long chute into one gondola after another. He was small and lithe and perfect for the job. He said he felt like a dancing monkey up there, but at least he could catch a glimpse of clouds moving across the sky.
As he grew into a teenager he learned how to weld a two-headed pick deep inside the earth. He told me of setting a big rock on top of his lunch bucket to keep the rats out. He faced other dangers as well: methane gas, rotten timbers, rock slides, and dust-filled air. I never knew him to complain of his working conditions. He was a coal miner until he was thirty-nine years old. In 1958 many coal mines were shutting down and we moved to Frankfort where he joined a brother-in-law in the dry cleaning business. Before long Daddy and Mother bought a cleaners of their own, where they worked for nearly thirty years.
My daddy came from a family of coal miners. Many of my husband's relatives were farmers.
What did your dad, or mom, do to provide for your family?
This page is dedicated to my inspirations and those who have enriched my life along the way.