“When daddy died he stopped needin his light and energy from hims body turned into heat and the light was taken in by other natural things. Daddy died in the company store when I was 9 years old and I believe to this day his light is still here. Thats why I come to visit today.”
This quote made by a tourists that told me about life( and death) in the coal camp in 1922. Lillian was 9 years old when her daddy died. She came to share her stories this summer and was 99 years old . She was pretty as a picture and fairly healthy as well. Her story went like this:
Mother, little Clara and I were walking to the company store in the afternoon of May 1922.. I can remember it like it was yesterday. We was makin a special trip, we never got to go twiced in on week. The sky was real blue and the sun warm on my dress. I kept fighting the urge to lift the hem of my dress to my face to feel the warm on my cheeks. It had been a cold winter, I loved the sun.(she looked so sweet and sincere. I offered her a place to sit, she smiled and said she wanted to walk around the store and touch everything.) “I didn't git to touch stuff when I was commin into the company store. Mother would do the shopping and me and Clara would get to look ,but never ever touch.” Walkin up the big steps made you feel like you were goin into a castle. We all was movin carefully around the company store when mother got to talking to the manager of the store .. he was a nice man and always smiled at me and nodded. There was a man that stood near him most times and watched everyone, he was watching us. He had deep brown eyes that could look right through you. I was always a bit scared of him. He looked like a big bad man, back then I didn't knowd was they called but today I knows they was Baldwins guards. Mother turned to us after a spell she had a tear on her face. She kneeled down to Clara's level and looked up at me locking our eyes and moving her head in a no no slight movement. She spoke real soft to us and said Daddy has been hurt real bad. His hurtin happened when movin furniture up in the top floor of the store. They keep tables, chairs and things to keep your house warm up those stairs right there.(Mother pointed to the stairway next to the post office.) Daddy was always a good man to help the manager and worked real hard at what ever they told him to do. I was confused, Daddy left for the mines early that day and what was he doin on the storage floor? We were told by mother not to make a sound but to git along with ourselves out the front door, we needed to make preprations. I wasn't sure what was meant by any of that . We was leavin Daddy in the company store and goin home. I didn't understand.
We got home and cleaned all the furniture from out the front room into Mother's room . All the windows, we had 4 needed to be covered. A very special wood pallet was brought to the house by some of the miners, laid on the floor and Mother covered it in white linens. daddy was brought home that night by the guards and laid on the pallet.I member they didn't lay him down to easy and mother let out a cry that made my heart real sick. A chair was placed in the corner and Mother and 3 of our neighbors took turns staying up and watching Daddy all the time.. Daddy looked very still, I wanted him to wake up. I asked mother why weez all gotta keep watchin Daddy. I member her smile and she took my hand and squeezed it real soft. Daddy is gonna be in heaven son and we have to watch and make sure no bad spirits try to go with him. Mother said all his energy was gone but I was to never fear he would be in the company store forever where he left his energy and his spirit. I didn't understand what she meant Daddy was laying in front of me but he was at the company store.. 3 days went by and daddy was still laying on that pallet, the house was very quiet. A very nice Coal miner, Mr. Clark came to visit he knew daddy and brought Clara and me a piece of red apple. He ask mother to marry him. Daddy was burried the next day. Mother and Mr. Clark was married by the preacher in the field near daddy's grave. Mr. Clark was a very good Daddy and we always ate good food, but he was always dirty and always smelled like body smell from the mines. I missed my Daddy so very much. When I got a bit older Mother told me that she had to get married right quick cause she had no way to feed us girls. But not to worry Daddy will always watch over us for his spirit lives in the company store. And all thems windows is how daddy watched us so we be safe.”
Lillian never knew how or why her daddy died. She said she suspects he got in a scuffle with a guard and they shot Daddy. Mother( Dorothy) lived in the camp and had 6 more babies. Lillian said, “Nones left now but me, I reckon I'll join them all soon, and I'm ready. I get a bit missin um. But I was wanted to come and see and feel daddy before I decide to leave this old world” Lillian is convinced her daddy is forever and always in the company store.
Dorothy (mother) Clara (sister) Lillian (1913- August 2012) Clarence(1893-1922) Hamilenski