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?
Whatever you call them, they are an essential item in most women’s wardrobe.
I have a collection of old ones that I hold dear. The largest, tapestry one, as well as the tiny, beaded one belonged to my great grandmother. Mother’s oldest sister carried the soft, black purse. I found the black one with the silver handle in an antique shop.
Agnes Marie Hopper, the main character in my book, also loves purses. She found her favorite, a red-leather soft as a baby’s behind, in a garage sale. She carries it everywhere, even to the retirement home’s front porch where she rocks and knits and tries to straighten out her tangled thoughts.
Agnes always has a Cox Brothers Funeral Home fan resting in an outside pocket of her big purse. The small southern town of Sweetbriar can be sultry hot, just like that July day when she moved to The Manor. Only on that day, when she needed it the most, her fan had seemed to vanish.
Agnes believes: “Every woman ought to have a rain bonnet, a fan, headache powder, and a clean hanky in her purse at all times."
Do you have a favorite purse?
Is it old or new?
What items do you carry?
Thank you to each supporter and encourager as Agnes Hopper's story journeys toward publication. The good Lord has a plan and a purpose and a timetable. My job is to trust Him as we work on re-visions, to see the entire book with fresh eyes.
With a grateful and humble heart, I appreciate Eddie Jones’ insight and suggestions to help make this book the best it can be.
My editor, Andrea Merrell, and I are working hard, but my book will not be ready for the October 2014 launch. The date is now January 22, 2015.
What a joy it is to work with the talented team of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. They are helping me grow as a writer. I have learned much and yet I have much to learn. That is a large part of the fun of writing, always stretching beyond what I had envisioned I could do.
Re-vision—to see again with new eyes.
Even though I can barely carry a tune in a bucket, music has had an impact on my life.
In our small mountain church we sang the old Baptist hymns from hymnals, no less, which are a rarity in today’s churches. If we were fortunate, someone—usually the preacher’s wife—knew how to pound out the same tune on the piano. Some of the standard songs were Only Trust Him, Bringing in the Sheaves, and The Old Rugged Cross. I acquired a tattered, probably soon to be discarded, songbook as my own and would often go off into the woods singing and making up the tune, if it wasn’t a familiar one. I couldn’t read music, but that didn’t stop me.
In the summertime, the week before Bible school rolled around, the children from our church piled into the back of a pickup. I don’t remember who drove us, but we traveled to the neighboring coal mining camps to advertise the upcoming event. We held handmade posters and sang This Little Light of Mine, The B-I-B-L-E, and Jesus Loves Me.
At home we listened to the radio or played photographs. I can still hear Fat’s Domino singing On Blueberry Hill. When we finally bought a television we were faithful fans of Laurence Welk and Name That Tune.
Now I love many of the songs from Broadway plays such as Les Miserable or Joseph and His Technicolored Dream Coat and I also enjoy listening to nearly any kind of string instrument, including Bluegrass and Yo Yo Mia.
I still sing in church, sometimes the old songs of long ago, but more often new ones and usually from words shown on a screen, but if I walked around in my neighborhood carrying an old hymnal—if one could be found—and belted out those old-time songs, I just might be committed.
Music is also important to several characters in my forthcoming book. Agnes Hopper listens to Going ‘Round the Mountain on her radio. Her friend, William, plays Elvis records on his photograph while a mutual friend, Francesca, loves classical piano music.
What kind of music touches your heart?
Do you have a particular song that brings back a fond memory?
I want things to happen on my timetable, and today would be nice, if not sooner. We are an impatient people. No one likes to wait.
What do you do when a stoplight seems to take forever to change? Do you fuss and fume and maybe say words you shouldn’t? And then you’re late for an appointment and the car in front of you is driving the speed limit for heaven’s sake.
What about the time you seem to have chosen the slowest grocery line and you’re sure your ice cream is melting?
These are some of the tiny irritations of everyday life.
Sometimes we wait because of more serious reasons.
Perhaps you have waited for weeks for results from critical medical tests.
Or you are waiting for a loved one to return home from military service, or for your husband to find a job.
And then there is the young couple waiting to adopt an infant after two previous adoptions—they had also hoped for—didn’t become a reality.
These times of waiting can cause sleepless nights and perhaps bring us to our knees.
Waiting is never easy. But, if you or I never had any struggles, would we turn to the Lord for help or would we think we could handle things on our own? Someone has said that we, you and I, have to reach the end of ourselves before we will release our control—that we think we have—and give it all up to God. He’s the one who can handle anything that is thrown our way. Anything.
I read somewhere that Joseph waited 13 years before he was reunited with his family.
Abraham waited 25 years before his wife Sarah gave him a son.
God worked out the details on his own timetable.
What is causing you to wait?
This page is dedicated to my inspirations and those who have enriched my life along the way.