July 19, 2010

Ghosts In The Hollow

Ghosts in the Hollow from Jim Lo Scalzo on Vimeo.

This short video by Jim Lo Scalzo was not shot locally but it's very familiar territory just the same. The decaying buildings and rusting mine cars are things that can be seen from Pennsylvania to Alabama. The images (mostly all are still photographs) pull you into the story that the song makes. This and one other of this artists' multimedia pieces were recently recognized with awards from the White House News Photographers Association. His other videos, though unrelated to coal mining, are well worth a look.

The song is called Sprinkle Coal Dust On My Grave and was written in 1933 by Orville J Jenks of  Welch, W. Va.

I'm just an old coal miner
And I labored for my bread;
This story in my memory I hear told;
For the sake of wife and baby
How a miner risks his life
For the price of just a little lump of coal.

Mother Jones is not forgotten
By the miners of this field,
She's gone to rest above, God bless her soul;
Tried to lead the boys to victory.
But was punished here in jail,
For the price of just a little lump of coal.

When a man has toiled and labored
'Til his life it's almost gone,
Then the operator thinks he's just a fool:
They sneak around and fire him
Just because he's growing old,
And swear they caught him breaking company rules.

Don't forget me, little darling,
When they lay me down to rest,
Tell my brothers all these loving words I say;
Let the flowers be forgotten,
Sprinkle coal dust on my grave
In remembrance of the UMWA.

July 5, 2010

Greetings From Gray's Landing - Generic Postcards

Many people lived in small-town America, and many people visited or passed through those locations. Unfortunately, the economics of postcard publishing meant that very few (if any) viewcards of those towns would be available. Publishers, cleverly availing themselves of this opportunity, published generic cards with scenes that could not be placed at any location. The names of various towns could be imprinted along one edge, most often top or bottom, with a phrase such as "Greetings from Gray's Landing ".
The generic postcards were most often only sold in general stores within the named communities. And, if postally used, they most often bear the cancellations of the towns in question. So they were, in a very real sense, souvenirs of those towns. To get one, you either had to go there, or have someone send you one from there. Below are some cards from Ten Mile Creek Country.

Clarksville had a generic card with a poem

Deemston had a card

A peaceful scene nowhere near East Millsboro 

Here are three different cards from Fredericktown

I lived in New Freeport for a dozen years and was surprised to find this card from there

two Rice's Landing cards

More information on generic postcards can be found here in a story by Bill Judnick.