After our mother's
death, our family disintegrated. Marcus went to live with Aunt Cynthia and I had left for
Mt. Carmel High School. This left Fred, Baxter, Robert, and Cleta, all too young to take
care of themselves while my father was at work. He found an elementary boarding
school not too far from Mt.Carmel that would take Fred, Baxter, and Robert. The school was
named Bethany. Aunt Sallie took Cleta to stay with her. Dad went to stay with Aunt Amanda.
She lived at Viper. While he was there, Aunt Amanda introduced him to a widow with five
children whose name was Margaret Back. Three months later, they would marry. He moved in
with her. He came by Mt. Carmel to see me on his way to get my brothers from the boarding
school and take them home. Cleta also came to live them. A few months later, Marcus joined
the Army. I have often thought why would my father marry so soon after our mother's death.
The only conclusion that came to me was that he wanted his family to be together. He did
not sell the property on Scuddy.
In 1898 large oil companies came through the mountains buying mineral rights for pennies
on the acre. They had a ninty-nine year lease. In the 1950's the big coal companies
started strip mining the mountains. They would come in with their big machines, strip the
coal, and leave the ground bare. The mountains of Kentucky are being destroyed.
Fortunately the governor at the time made the companies leave the landscape as they found
it. Lawsuits were filed to prevent them from mining but everyone was overruled. They came
up to our property and met one smart stubborn man. Our father. He told them that he could
not prevent them from mining, but they had no right of way across his property to haul it
out. It only could be taken out by huge dump trucks. He had a road bulldozed up to the
property, and charged each truck $5.00. He made $20,000 and still had his property. He
died in 1982 at the age of eighty-six. A few years later, someone burned the house down.
Then, the gas companies came in drilling for gas. They found gas where our front yard was
located. Two wells were drilled. They paid us $2000.00 to be able to drive their trucks to
the wells. in 1995, one of our cousins wanted to buy the property for $10,000 to put a
house trailer on it. We agreed to sell because no one was going back.
My brother Marcus and I went back to Scuddy in 2000 to visit our
family grave site. I saw a lot of my relatives graves. Our favorite Uncle Taylor
and Aunt Allie was there. I was surprised and pleased that his name was Reverend
Taylor Feltner. His son-in-law was next to him with his name Reverend Paul Wooton on his
headstone. My oldest brother Roy and his wife, Agnes, and my twin sisters who died at
birth were next to my mother's grave. There was a family there mowing the grave yard.
We introduced ourselves and they informed us that they had been
taking care of the cemetary for years free of charge. I gave them $100.00 and asked them
if they would keep it up. They promised that they would. This closed a chapter in our
lives that will never be forgotten. I told my wife that when I die, bury me wearing a pair
of khaki pants and a starched white shirt. She asked me why. I told her that when I was a
child to be dressed up was to wear a white shirt and a pair of khaki pants. I told her
that as a child, my greatest dream was some day I would wear them.
The hollow had changed somewhat. The house where I was born was
still there, but the branch which once was a large stream where one could swim and catch
minnows was almost dried up. The road was paved, but still one lane. There were a lot of
forty-foot trailers perched on the hillsides. I asked my brother how they ever got them up
there. He said by a big truck and very slowly. There was very little sound as it was in my
youth. The people were still as friendly as I remembered them to be. All of my friends
were either dead or had moved away.
My father would take me through the woods teaching me the name of
different trees by looking at the leaves. We had poplar, oak, beech, sycamore. walnut,
maple, hickory, pine, persimmon, locust, willow, paw-paw, and chestnut trees. Years later,
when the strip mining equipment arrived, everything was gone. The whole hill top was
leveled. To this day, the strip mining, or surface mining, is still leveling hilltops and
destroying the habitat of all the species of animals that live there. The soil that is
removed from the mountain tops is used to fill the valleys. Their argument is that this
gives the people a lot of flat farms. These are mountain people and are not interested in
flat farming or golf courses. They would rather have it the way it has been since Daniel
Boone came through Cumberland Gap from Tennesee to settle in Kentucky. Enviromentalists
are stressed out about drilling for oil in Northern Alaska where no harm will be done, but
do not give two hoots about what is happening
to the Apalachian Mountains. , the jewel of the Eastern United States. Take a look at
No amount of writing about the coal mines and the working and
living conditions of the miners will be adequate. If one picture can say more than a
thousand words, then you must visit Roger's World. His
website shows it all and the amount of time that he has put into this site shows his
compassion and love for these people. By all means, please visit it. We are both
coal miners' sons and proud of it.
Mountaintop Coal Removal
Everyone wants more coal, but what a trerrible price the people of
Appalachia must pay to get it.
You an continue rading about my childhood by going to Mount Carmel High School
As I looked into the mirror on the wall,
I could see the cause of it all.
For in the mirror starring at me
Was the biggest fool you ever did see.
All I could see was hate and deceit
And the knowledge of certain defeat.
Someone had told me to get along
You had to be big and strong.
So I would do as I please,
Never caring about others' needs
Even as I saw hurt in their eyes,
Never once did I apologize.
So through the years, I never lost.
I won it all at any cost.
The cost to me was my soul,
My name was missing from Heaven's Roll.
But then, when I went to my room last night,
I laid down and turned out the light.
I heard this voice whispering to me
All of this didn't have to be.
To be strong, you do what's right
You hold a candle in the night .
You help others along the way
So they can have a better day.
You gladly give a helping hand
And all the love that you can.
If you try this every day,
Your name will be on that Roll some day.
So with tears in my eyes, I tried to sleep
And I made this promise I hope to keep:
If tomorrow I should wake,
A different path I will take.
When I woke up this morning and was washing my face,
I began to wonder what had taken place.
Was I dreaming or had there been a voice
Telling me that I was given another choice.
So, as is sit here drinking my tea,
I am wondering what this day will be;
Not matter what happens, I will try
To live a better life before I die.
For this day may be the last day of life