Sunday, April 12, 2009
If you do not live in an area where coal mining is a way of life.. you may never have thought much about it. As someone who grew up in Southern West Virginia, where coal mining is a way of life, I have mixed feelings on it. My father worked (and still works) for a coal preperation plant... so coal has always been a part of my life. I remember him coming home from work when I was little, covered with black coal dust from head to foot. No matter how many times he showered or washed his hands, there still remained traces of black, because it would become a part of your nail beds, or cracks in your skin. We had a coal stove in our basement, and the whole basement had a layer of dust with it. I remember going down, and when I would come back up, I had traces of black dust on my nose from breathing it in. There are some messy things associated with coal... like Black Lung, and Mining accidents caused (usually but not always) by unsafe work conditions. There has been much debate about the different types of coal mining.. strip mining, moutaintop removal, clean coal, etc. I'd be the first to say that my opinion on the subject is biased. I can not look at coal as a product without thinking about how we get that product. The coal miners & coal preppers who are such a part of my heritage. I would probably be one of the first to tell you that coal mining can be hard on the body. It is physical and labor intensive.... but I would also be one of the first to tell you that where I came from, it was (and still is) a way of life. I don't know the percentages, but I would say the majority of your well-paying jobs in the area I'm from were related to Coal. Although I never personally worked with coal, I definitely can say I feel a tie to it. The home I grew up in, the clothes I wore, my food, my education, everything physical that gave me a start to who I am came from work tied to coal. With the economy being what it is, sell of coal has taken a big hit.. coal mines are temporarly closing, asking for paycuts, laying people off, or closing for good. I have family, friends, and people who I went to school with who are all being affected by this. So right now.. coal is on my mind. If you would like to learn a little more about the ins and outs of coal.. this King Coal podcast(also includes typed up version) of Podcast Appalachia goes into more details & history than I ever could. Saying a prayer for all those effected by this.