Friday, April 10, 2009

Lingering Influence

(This is a rambling, unbalanced, pointless first draft that I began a few weeks ago but haven't had the time to finish and make semi-presentable. Since I haven't posted anything in a while, I'm publishing this as it stands and heading out to work in the garden.)

I was born and lived the formative years of my life among the coal mines on the state line between Virginia and West Virginia. Early experiences continue to affect my attitudes and my values.

Among my oldest memories are those of handicapped miners begging and trying to sell small items on the streets of Bluefield. One man stood outside a department store with a sign and a cup. He was blind. Embedded in his speckled face was black debris from the explosion that took his sight. Nearby another man sat in a cart similar to a child's peddle car but without the front end. Above the stumps of his legs was a small shelf which held pencils, combs and a few other items for sale.

My father as a miner.
My father preparing to leave home for a shift in a coal mine in the 1930s. (Larger version)

I remember the day my maternal grandfather took ill and was carried from a mine to die two years later. My paternal grandfather died in a mining accident as did one of his sons. My father had a lung removed due to cancer and the biopsy report indicated the presence of black lung from working in the mines.

As we drove from our house to my grandmother's house we passed through a small dirty depressing town named Pocahontas in which the whites lived on one side of the tracks and the blacks lived on the other. My family lived low on the economic scale but I remember the poverty in the black community as horrific, as something that I never wanted to experience.

Memories of my childhood and my home are positive. I had the important things, the things that contribute to happiness, the things that aren't material and the things that can't be given a monetary value.

These and other experiences that were part of my childhood exert an influence on me today. I make a good salary, an excellent salary, but I carry my learned childhood suspicion of government, corporations, wealth and being less than frugal. Money beyond the necessities of life doesn't contribute to -- or contributes little -- to happiness.

(I wonder where I was going with these thoughts. Was I simply reminiscing?)


Blogger Alex Pendragon said...

I think perhaps you were simply trying to put things in perspective while listening to the constant drumbeat of bad news concerning our economy.

As we grew more prosperous, even the lower middle class, we went from not having much to lose to having far to much to lose. Wouldn't it have been wonderful to just have enough and never have to worry about losing it? In times like this we all like to claim that money can't buy happiness, yet as soon as we can rake in enough of it, we go right back to trying.

4/10/2009 10:06:00 AM  
Blogger Tim Hodgens said...


For me your story doesn't have to go anywhere else. It's just an honest smack from one side of a two-sided face to the othe side which wants to pretend that it's allways so pretty and clean.

We avoid dark recesses at our own peril. It just makes the shadow larger and more alien and sinister.

To carry those memories, and others, into your current life of loving Julie and living a good life of harmony with the garden and the planet is a tribute to the original community which kept you alive.

Enjoy the sunshine for them also.


4/10/2009 03:17:00 PM  
Blogger Anvilcloud said...

The post is what it is: a bit of memory that surfaced.

BTW, that's a wonderful picture.

4/14/2009 06:28:00 AM  

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