Monday, December 04, 2006

You'll Never Leave Harlan Alive

The 14th century Sufi poet Yunus Emre wrote that under every stone hides a Moses and that the seeker's wealth is poverty. He also assured us that the precious ore we should seek can be found in humbleness. Stone, ore, poverty, humility....all are part of the miner's life.

I came from beginnings as humble as you can imagine. My great grandfather Michael came to Ellis Island from Ukraine with $18 in his pocket. His son, my grandfather John, dug coal in the mountains of Pennsylvania for a living as a young man to support my Grandma Pauline and their family.

He eventually left the mines when opportunity in New York state arrived, but the mines never left him. He died of Black Lung disease when I was a young girl.

This video by Patty Loveless reminds me of my grandparents and my ancestry. Patty talks about losing her own father to the mines.