Thursday, December 17, 2015

Just some random, jumbled thoughts.

Christmas makes me sad and I've been sentimental for a few days.My mind goes back to the ice cold winter in David, Kentucky and the only really warm place was around the coal heater in the living room. My mind wanders to coal mining memories...

Just yesterday I was telling a young'un how sister, Karen Bussey O'Rourke and I would unlace Daddy's work boots, during the 1940s-50s. He'd always bring us a bite of his lunch cake as a treat.(One 20 something asked me "what's a lunch cake"?) Coal dust everywhere, on the cake wrapping and all over the floor, on our hands and then of course our grubby little faces. That was the best cake ever!

There were the heartbreaking coal mine songs..Mother sang Dark as a Dungeon by Merle Travis--she'd sing and we'd cry. I remember another sad refrain about a child who dreamed of a coal mine explosion and awakened with this sad plea, "Oh, Daddy don't go to the mines today for dreams have so often come true.Please don't go down into the mine today, for I couldn't live without you." Mother would sing and we cried. yet this is a good memory which speaks to the deadly dangers my father and all underground coal miners faced. Daddy worked 34 years in 30"-36" coal.

Years later when it was my job to "get Daddy off off to work", I remembered to never watch him leave so he'd have good luck that day.Now I'm wondering if other coal miner children had that same superstition.

I honor my father for this sacrifice he made for our family of 8+2 grandchildren along the way. We never had an extravagant Christmas but always got candy--a Sawlog Peppermint stick, horehound candy (for Daddy) and stockings full of apples, oranges, and nuts, and always a real coconut. After we punched a hole in the hard shell and drank the delicious "milk", Daddy would tell us it was monkey pee. We repeated this many years as children. Daddy would laugh so hard to think he'd tricked us.

As for the Miner's Child's Dream, I posted, below, the original lyrics copyrighted 1910, London, England (I assume, although it could have been London, Kentucky) I my research, I found many versions, but since my mother was born in 1919, I'm assuming her version was very close to this one give or take a few "lads" , "whilsts", and "eres". She sang "Daddy" not "Dad". Of course, her singing style for these old ballads was uniquely Kentucky Mountain. A little Old Regular Baptist, too.


(Robert Donnely, Will Geddes)

A miner was leaving his home for his work,
When he heard his little child scream;
He went to his bedside, his little white face,
"Oh, Daddy, I've had such a dream;
I dreamt that I saw the pit all afire,
And men struggled hard for their lives;g her ver
The scene it then changed, and the top of the
Was surrounded by sweethearts and wives."

Don't go down in the mine, Dad,
Dreams very often come true;
Daddy, you know it would break my heart
If anything happened to you;
Just go and tell my dream to'your mates,
And as true as the stars that shine,
Something is going to happen today,
Dear Daddy, don't go down the mine!

The miner, a man with a heart good and kind,
Stood by the side of his son;
He said, "It's my living, I can't stay away,
For duty, my lad, must be done."
The little one look'd up, and sadly he said,
"Oh, please stay today with me, Dad!"
But as the brave miner went forth, to his work,
He heard this appeal from his lad:

Whilst waiting his turn with his mates to descend,
He could not banish his fears,
He return'd home again to his wife and his child,
Those words seem'd to ring through his ears,
And, ere the day ended, the pit was on fire,1958
When a score of brave men lost their lives;
He thank'd God above for the dream his child had,
As once more the little one cries:

From Only a Miner, Green
Copyright Lawrence Wright Co.
Note: Published in London, 1910. This is the original. The more common
version (Doc Watson from Vernon Dahlhart) is a rewrite

My Father, Dawson Ellard Bussey is on the left, lying in a low seam/tunnel a mile or two underground, 1958. RIP Daddy

1 comment:

  1. This picture always gets me. It's so basic and elemental, the force of nature against the sheer will of man. I love hearing stories about David and your family. True treasures.