“You’ve done it before and you can do it now. See the positive possibilities. Redirect the substantial energy of your frustration and turn it into positive, effective, unstoppable determination.” ~ Ralph Marston
When dad and I visited with cousin Eunice and Johnny last week I noticed the coal pile between their house and Uncle Rufus’ old company house (below). Eunice and Johnny burn coal when they can get it, and they burn wood the rest of the time. Johnny said coal is getting harder to come by. Still, I recognized the smell as soon as I walked inside. It’s a distinctive odor that never really leaves, not even in summer, long after the season’s final fire. The last time I was in a house that burned coal was the late 1980’s at my great-great aunt Ada “Nannie” Sparks’ house at Malone (it no longer exists). It flooded me with wonderful memories. Homes don’t burn coal much anymore. Companies do though. UK does. All the buildings on campus heated and cooled from “The Delta Room” are fueled by coal.
Rufus’ coal company house is so connected to the black rock it wouldn’t matter if he’d ever burned it or not. The house was built on coal, for coal, by coal. The coal in Kentucky is nearly gone now. Hopefully nature will soon get on with the business of repairing herself. Still, I’m mighty proud of my Papaw Terry and his people for risking their lives to keep the lights on in this country. Deep coal miners like him worked like dogs, and I can’t be anything but full of admiration and gratitude for his efforts.