My mother and father had built a great house at Elk Mountain,PA. It was built in many ways by your great-grandfather himself. He and your great grandmother stained the wood, built the face of the stone fireplace that went from the ground to the loft. In the middle of the rock used was a block of anthracite coal. Afterall it was the anthracite that brought our family from England,Wales, and the Ukraine. That mix of people made for the magic that occured between your great grandmother and great grandfather.
One summer visit o Elk Mountain your grandmother and myself brought your dad and his cousins to Eckley PA. to see what a mining town looked like. The film Molly Maguires was filmed there. The set has been turned into a visitors site so people could see what a company town looked like. Grammy (yes just like your grammy’s name) began to tell of her chldhood and what she knew of the time of mining.
What she shared was her reminiscence of conversations with her mother. At one time the family had a home very similar to those we were looking at in Elckley. Her mother’s family had a house in a ‘company town.” It was a small house with little insulation and small small rooms. Inorder to have a little more money they took in borders. They were miners and would come home from the mines covered in coal dust. They were asked to wash outside and leave their clothes outside. After washing up outside they changed into their clothes neatly folded near the wash up stand. Later their mining clothes would be washed and humg to dry.
After you read When I was Young in the Mountains you will have a similar picuture in your mind as I did that day. I was enthralled at the thought of so many people living in one house. I also was curious to learn that people washed outside.
Your other greatgrandmother Hattie told me that she remembered the horn and bells that would ring when a mine had a collapse. The warning bells rang and people would run toward the mine entrance. There they would stand as the men were brought up from inside the mine. It was hard to tell who was who because of the coal dust on the the men’s faces. Families rejoiced when they found their loved ones were safe. It was very hard for those who waited and the loved ones did not come up.
It was hard for me to understand and take in this information because I only knew coal to be someting you got in your stocking at Christmas if you had been bad. I never knew these people who came before. But, I am grateful they were strong and courageous people because of them you and I are here today.