This 'rock' turns out to be a chunk of coal

The other Sunday after dinner, I had the pleasure of carrying both my grandsons, William and Michael, out for a walk. Both of these boys love for me to take them to areas where my brothers and I walked when we were young. This particular outing was out in the country toward Whitmire. As we walked, we came close to the railroad tracks and the boys started looking for different rocks along the track beds. I had forgotten how much enjoyment there was in finding these different types of rocks. And William and Michael were thoroughly enjoying doing this. As we walked, Michael picked up a shiny black rock and asked, “Papa, what kind of a rock is this?” It was a small chunk of coal, which had undoubtedly fallen from one of the coal cars on the train. With this piece of coal, I was reminded of how probably 90 percent of the homes on the Lydia village were heated in the winter. Each home on the village had a “coal pile” near their house, and the coal pile was always close to the back porch. Filling the coal buckets and bringing them into the house was my chore each day. This was okay most days, but when it was raining it was not so okay. And when the weather was in the freezing range, and the wet coal would be coated with ice, it made for a mess to fool with. Most of the time when this happened I would use mama’s garden hoe to break the ice from the coal. It was still messy. I can still visualize the coal truck from the mill yard bringing the load of coal which our Daddy had ordered and I can still almost hear the sound of the coal sliding from the dumped of the truck. The coal could be ordered from the mill company and paid for through deductions on the workers pay. This arrangement worked well for the villagers, for very few of them could pay for a whole load of coal at one time. Another thing which comes to mind about the coal is how the neighbors would borrow a bucket of coal from one another when their coal pile would run out and they needed some coal for their heater while waiting on the coal truck to come. This was just another part of “mill hill” life and how the villagers took care of one another. Anyway, as our grand boys and I walked, it was fun sharing the stories about how this piece of coal, which Michael found, brought out some good memories of my mill village life. Still remembering, (Tommy Kitchens lives in Clinton).

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