Coal Camp Kids: The End of an Era

Coal Camp Kids: The End of an Era

by Margie J. Pittman


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Coal Miners from the forties and fifties were a special kind of people. The community of the camps they lived in instilled value and culture that is lacking in today's world. The "Coal Camp Kids" and "Teens" aren't kids any more. Most of them have great grandchildren. "Coal Camp Kids, The End of an Era" catches up with the "Kids" today, and tells how they are passing on their values. The process creates some amusing circumstances. As you read, find out: Who got a phone call from Jesus, why were Bonnie and Margie on a four wheeler, who told David Pittman, "That's how they do it on TV," Why was Ruby Bartley so embarrassed, who thought they might need a good talking to, what did Karen shower everyone with, who got a standing ovation, what did Billie pray for, who is afraid of a thunderstorm, who thinks they would get a rush from a tornado, what got Paula tickled on the elevator, why was Joshua splashing in the tub, and who was interested in Margie's twelve string? Explore the joys and heartaches that fill our everyday lives in the West Virginia Mountains. "The End of an Era" completes the trilogy.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781491820407
Publisher: AuthorHouse
Publication date: 10/04/2013
Pages: 134
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.31(d)

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Coal Camp Kids

The End of an Era

By Margie J Pittman


Copyright © 2013 Margie J Pittman
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4918-2040-7


Our House

Some of the wonderful things about the great state of West Virginia are the hills and mountains. We love the hills where we played as children. Now I am climbing a mountain with my best friend Bonnie. What a wonderful time we are having. You would think we were teenagers again, the way we are laughing and playing our way to the top of the hill. My husband Bert who has never lived in the hills is having a ball too. He and my brother Raymond have it all worked out. We will have to take Raymond's four wheeler around the mountain to the house where we will be living. Bonnie and I are on an adventure for sure. We have had many adventures together before but none like this. As you know Bonnie has been my best friend for many years. She has the best personality in the world. We keep each other laughing and that is so important when you are climbing a mountain at our age.

The four wheeler was slipping and sliding as we went around the mountain to my new home. The mud was ankle deep and my husband Bert was laughing at my fussing. I just knew any minute now we would be heading over the mountain. I'd fuss a while and then I'd pray a while. I told Bert he was the worst driver in the world and then I'd ask Jesus to forgive me for my words. Now some men would be upset to be talked to that way, but not my Bert. He just laughed because he knew I didn't mean a word of it. I was just scared and it was my nerves talking. It was March and it was cold and rainy. My best friend Bonnie and I were having fun in spite of the tough situation.

You see it was Bonnie's fault I was here in this mud trap. I had been living in South Carolina where the weather is pretty nice all year round. Well Bonnie was tired of me being so far away so she prayed and prayed that God would bring me home. God in his infinite wisdom had said yes, so here we were. Now all we had to figure out was how we would be able to live here. Turns out there was an empty house up on Pittman Mountain. The house belongs to my brother Raymond and his wife Judy. It had set empty for several years. It needed work and a lot of cleaning. Bonnie and I worked so hard that I'm sure a few times she wished God had just left me in South Carolina.

Prayer is a wonderful thing. God can do anything. Bonnie and I have known that all our lives. We are a praying bunch. The "Coal Camp Kids" learned very early in life that God is our refuge. Sometimes you've just got to stop what you are doing and praise the Lord for his goodness. I have to admit every time I fell in the mud that surrounded the house, I wondered, "Was this really God's Will?" I'm sure Ed Jarrett, Bonnie's husband, wondered the same thing sometimes. You see one day Bonnie and I decided we had to go do some work on the house. We had no way to get there because Ed needed the car that day. Not to be outdone we talked Ed into dropping us off. Now Ed had no idea what he was getting into as he drove us all the way to the house in his good car. The steepest part of the drive, up the hill, is paved. It is steep enough that it is very easy to spin your wheels, especially if the pavement is even slightly damp. The road turns to gravel at the top of the hill. Then comes the "fun" part. The section leading down to the house is rutted so deep that no matter how you try to avoid it the chassis of the car drags on the hump in the middle of the road. Then, from all the runoff from the rain the mud at the bottom of the drive, near the house, is soft and deep. Well Ed got us up the hill and to the house and, because it was raining, let us out right at the bottom of the driveway. We thanked him and rushed inside, trying to cover our heads to keep the rain from soaking us. We had been hard at work for some time when we heard Ed's voice calling us from the door. We went to see what was up and it seems Ed had been hopelessly spinning back and forth through the mud trying to free his car all that time. The mud was so deep he couldn't get out. Raymond had to hook him up to his four wheeler and pull him out. Poor Ed had to take his car to the tire place and they had to pull the wheels off and wash the mud out of his wheels and the wheel wells where it was compacted into every crack and crevice. Now Ed, being a preacher and all decided he couldn't kill us, although I know he probably wanted to. I'm guessing he had a little road rage (or maybe Bonnie and Margie rage) all the way to the tire place.

Bonnie and I trudged on day after day scrubbing cabinets, Shampooing carpets, cleaning windows, and painting walls. Soon we had the little house high on the hill looking good. Since we are older now, common sense would tell you that we have no business riding a four wheeler around the mountain. We never did listen to common sense. We are "Coal Camp Kids" who grew up the hard way. We know how to cope, persevere, or just hang tough all the way. We still have that same mentality today.

I have a wonderful family. My Son in law Jim Reed and his friend Harold Dotson rented equipment and fixed my road. They hauled in gravel, put in drain lines and soon we didn't need the four wheeler to get to the house any more. Bert built a front deck with help from my son JR. Soon the outside was looking better. My brothers Raymond and David helped with the cleaning and painting, and finally the worst was behind us.

Bert built the front deck with family gatherings in mind. He made it as large as he could, at the time. It isn't huge but it will accommodate the musicians in the family, their instruments and a small audience as long as you don't mind that close togetherness feeling. I could hardly wait for it to be finished. I asked Bert every day when it would be done. As soon as I could pin Bert down to a completion day, I scheduled our first get together. My brothers and their families started to arrive and soon the music started. We have always been a musical family. We are just keeping alive the heritage of our childhood. I have always known that music heals the soul and draws a community together. Not long after the music started drifting over the mountain, neighbors started arriving. Clarence and Jenny Shaffer came up with Evelyn Peters and soon we were having a sing along. My brother Larry started singing and I didn't even know that he could. It was such a blessing to hear him. Then Raymond and Judy, their daughter Jessica, and two Granddaughters Madison and Katelyn came down. Maddie and Katie both like to sing and sometimes they go to church with me and help me sing. Raymond, being a preacher man, started singing Amazing Grace. What a blessing. Peggy and David were there. David played the piano and guitar and soon he decided to play bass. Kenny Pittman, Larry's son played the guitar. He's a very good musician. To me it seemed that daddy and mommy must be looking down from heaven with such pride. They taught us to love music from the day we were born.

Music isn't the only draw at these family get-togethers. Judy, Peggy and I cooked up a big meal. We had hot wings, fried potatoes, pinto beans, cole slaw, corn bread, and of course, cakes and pies (courtesy of Judy Pittman). I told Peggy she made the best coleslaw I had ever eaten. She said it was Josephine's recipe. That sure explains it then, we all know what a good cook Josephine was. We smiled because we both missed Josephine so much. With a fine country meal, and a whole lot of good music it was a night just filled with memories. We have always known how to entertain because we learned that in the coal camps. We didn't have many toys, all we had was each other and a little talent. We still have some talent and we believe that it comes from God. In our part of the country the name Pittman has always been associated with music. I thought about our sister Judy who now lives in heaven. I miss her so much. She loved to sing and she was so good at it. When I listen to Larry sing, his voice reminds me so much of Daddy's. His pretty wife Josephine had gone to be with Jesus a few years ago. He never complains but I knew his loss is great. I couldn't help but smile when he picked "The Wildwood Flower." He and his Son Kenny took turn about playing lead on that one. It was beautiful listening to father and son play like that. Larry seemed at peace that night. He really sounded like daddy sitting there picking a twelve string and singing. He was enjoying the night so much. We all were. We were still the "Pittman Kids", full of music and love for one another. Our roots from the coal camp are still a part of our hearts and lives.

The next day Bonnie came up and helped me clean up. She is always there to help me when I need her. We are in heaven when we are together. We shop together, clean together, go to church together, and go out to eat together. The best friends are back together after a twenty year absence. How I loved her then, and I love her now. We spend a lot of time laughing at the past and having fun.

Bonnie has a severe cholesterol problem. As a result she has three stints in the arteries leading to her heart. You would never know by the energy she has. Bonnie always helps me with everything I do. She promotes my music and my books. As the song goes, she is "The Wind Beneath my Wings." She is everything a best friend could be.

Sometimes I call Bonnie, Dortha. That was her mother's name. We both laugh because we know her Mom had a mind of her own. She was witty and funny and I loved her. Sometimes Bonnie reminds me so much of her. The coal camp days, as we knew them, are gone forever. Most of us are getting old now. We have raised our children. We now have grandchildren and great grandchildren. Our hearts will never forget the fun we had as "Coal Camp Kids."


My Offspring

I have one wonderful son, and four of the most precious daughters in the world. Sandy is the oldest. She was born when I was just sixteen. God never gave anyone a sweeter child than Sandy. I call her my sunshine. She has always been sunny and happy and full of joy. Since I was so young when I had her, I knew nothing about caring for a baby, so I treated her like a doll. I played with her and sang to her until she was singing louder than me. She could carry a tune before she could walk. I had a lot to learn about mothering, but I always understood music. When Sandy was two years old, God gave her a sister. We named her Loretta, and called her Lori. Lori was born full of energy and of course Sandy capitalized on that. Being the big sister was so good for her. Soon I noticed that Lori was mocking Sandy's every move. Believe you me, Sandy had some moves. She taught Lori everything she knew and they were inseparable. Sandy gave her a nickname. I think her aunt Elsie helped with that. They called her Poochie. What a nickname. I told them to stop calling her that because she was a baby not a puppy, but Sandy loved it and it was years before she went back to calling her Lori.

I never had to teach Lori much of anything. If Sandy knew it, Lori knew it. I will never forget the day Sandy told me to come watch Lori. They were in the bathroom and Lori was hoisting herself up onto the commode. See Sandy was toilet training her and she was only about fourteen months old. Sandy was a little over three. Oh yes Lori mocked Sandy. Since she walked at six month old she had no problem keeping up with Sandy. To this day they are still the best of friends. They would have cut out their tongues before they would have told anything on each other. Neither one was above lying for the other. I was never the main influence in Lori's life, it was Sandy all the way.

When Lori was two years old, God gave us another little angel. We named her Barbara Lynn. Her aunt Christine (Cookie) helped name her. Barbara was a beautiful child. She definitely had a mind of her own. She was the apple of her Daddy's eye. He made her so mean it was truly difficult to live with her. She could cuss with the best of them. Of course I didn't agree with this but Boone thought it was hilarious. He loved to drink beer and so did Barbara. If he sat a can of beer down, she would steal it and drink as much as she could before we caught her. She started sneaking his beer when she was just crawling. Talk about child abuse, this was Mommy abuse too. I was constantly trying to stop her but Boone encouraged her. She was a little beauty with blonde hair and blue eyes, but don't let that child open her mouth. I will never forget the day a little boy knocked on my door and informed me that Barbara stood at the fence and cursed him every day. He said that she called him s o b's and used other bad words. She was only three years old. How in the world was I going to break her from this behavior? Then I remembered my days in the coal camp. My mother would have gotten a switch and taught me how wrong that was, and I would never do it again. So one day I broke a little switch off the tree in our front yard. I explained to Barbara that it was used to teach little kids to mind their mommy. I told her that she could not cuss the other kids and above all she could not drink her daddy's beer. Well that didn't work because Boone wouldn't let me use that switch on her. Seems, like my mom, his mom usually had one reserved for him. However, one day, after he went to work on the evening shift, Barbara started cussing her sisters and I got my switch and used it. I told her if she continued I would cut a switch every day as soon as her daddy went to work. The power of the switch lived on. Barbara quit cussing and drinking beer with her daddy. She informed him that she would get into trouble if she did that any more.

My neighbor Diane Peake loved Barbara. She bought her presents all the time. When she took her shopping, she always bought her a toy. Barbara loved Diane too. She talked to her more than anyone else. Barbara was the funniest little kid in the world. Depending on her mood Barbara may or may not listen when you talked to her. One day a car hit someone in front of our house. I heard the squalling tires. When I looked out the window I couldn't see much, except that the little girl who had been hit, was wearing blue shorts. Oh Lord I cried that's what Barbara is wearing. I didn't have the courage to go outside until I checked the house for Barbara. I frantically called out her name over and over. No answer. Finally I started for the door fearing the worst. As I stepped outside the door Sandy met me and told me who was hit by the car. It was a child who played at our house with Sandy and Lori. She was awake and on her way to the hospital. I was so relieved I started to cry. As I stepped back into the house, I saw Barbara sitting at the kitchen table. I asked her if she heard me calling her. She calmly said, "Yes." I said, "Well why didn't you answer me?" She said simply, "I didn't want to." Grrrr! She was lucky I didn't have a switch that day. For the first time I remembered my Mother's words. One day you will have a kid just like you. I realized she was right. Still, somehow I couldn't believe that I was ever that stubborn.

Today, my daughters are fine young ladies. I am a proud mother. Sandy married Wesley Smith and they had two children. Leslie was my first grandchild. She spent one year in the Army and four years in the Navy. Sandy's son, Drew, spent four years in the Army. More than a year of that four was in Iraq. Today Leslie has a son Dylan, and Drew has a son Devon. They both served their country with honor.

Lori married Brian Baldwin. She had Sandra and Stevee Rose. Sandra was an A student and today she is a nurse. Stevee was also a good student and she was a Cheerleader and an athlete all through Middle and High School. Sandra had Brian Jacob and Christian. Stevee had Cayden. Together, Lori and Sandy have five Grandsons.

Barbie had Amber and Davy. Both are hardworking kids. Amber is the mother of John Thomas. Davy is the daddy of Bryson. As I count, that is two more great grandsons. That makes seven. I am a grandmother and great grandmother. I am so proud of all my Children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. But there is more to my story.

My son Junior was my next child. He was a handsome little boy and made friends wherever he went. The boys in our neighborhood were always at our house. He loved school and made good grades. He also loved church. He gave his life to Jesus when he was only about seven or so. He always carried his little testament and one day he came in all excited. He said, "Mom I just led Mark Lane to the Lord!" He was always very intelligent, and loved to work. Today he is very successful. My son always makes me proud. His name is James, but he will always be Junior to me. Junior is the father of five children. Like me he fathered four girls and one boy. His daughter Hannah is in college at Marshall University. Her mother Lisa says that Hannah has goals. She is a terrific artist and she wants to work with special needs kids. I am so proud of her. Candice is also a blessing. She is so beautiful and smart. Like some kids today she has had many obstacles to overcome. Drugs were prominent in her life until one day she realized her children meant more to her than the drugs did. She is clean and sober now, and on her way to doing great things. Lisa and Junior have had to exhibit lots of patience with the kids like we all do. Jesse their only son is in college and Sara is now a mother. Katy her daughter is the cutest kid with a mind that is unbelievably sharp. Katy along with Candice's two daughters Joslyn and McKenzie have their grandparents wrapped tightly around their little fingers. All three are adorable. Now we're talking girls. I thought I would never get any great granddaughters but Junior and Lisa came through. Now that is seven great grandsons and three great granddaughters. Junior and Lisa's baby girl melody is getting ready to graduate from high school. She is amazing. She goes to High School, Beauty College and works a full time job, all at the same time. Junior has a fine family and he is blessed to have a wonderful wife who works tirelessly with him every day. You know what they say, "Behind every successful man, is a good woman." I believe that.

Excerpted from Coal Camp Kids by Margie J Pittman. Copyright © 2013 Margie J Pittman. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents


Introduction....................     ix     

1 Our House....................     1     

2 My Offspring....................     7     

3 When the Coal Camp Days Were Over....................     13     

4 The Cinco Kids Still Going Strong....................     19     

5 Emogene Bartley Garten Brown....................     27     

6 The Things Kids do and Say!....................     31     

7 Honorary Coal Camp Kid....................     39     

8 Dr F Scott Moore....................     41     

9 Jim and Sue....................     45     

10 Cammi....................     69     

11 Beverly and Mary Ann....................     71     

12 The Pittman Family Reunion....................     75     

13 A Coal Camp Kid Named Yvonne....................     79     

14 Emma Lou Stone Johnson....................     83     

15 A Family Thanksgiving....................     87     

16 Being Neighborly....................     91     

17 Mrs Potts....................     99     

18 My Hero....................     101     

19 Family Fun....................     109     

20 God's Special Men....................     115     

21 It's the Little Things....................     117     

22 Coming to an End....................     121     

About the Author....................     123     

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