Out of four grandfathers between me and Goody Two Shoes, three of them were coal miners. Both of Goody Two Shoes grandfathers mined coal in western Maryland and both died from the black lung. My grandfather mined coal up in Gray, Pennsylvania. He also mined clay when there was no work in the coal mine. He got out of the mines and became a farmer.
Henry Johnson(on the left) in the 1940's
Lawrence McKenzie as a dashing young man in 1904
Earl Smith, my Pappy, in 1967, a year before the cancer took him.
I swear, all the years they walked this earth all they did was work.
I recently became aware of a cd by Kathy Mattea called Coal. Giving a listen for ourselves, my wife and I were hooked. Music like this doesn't mean much to some folks. But to people from Appalachia, with coal mining or railroading in their blood, these simple songs speak volumes, because each one comes from the heart and tells a story of a time gone by, and loved ones that have gone on before us.
Here's a video of one of her songs from that cd.
Like the song says...it's dark as a dungeon down in the mine. This is the Seldom Seen Mine in St. Boniface, PA. We're 500 feet below the surface. It was cold, damp, and we were all a little uneasy. It's also the only place I ever felt tall.