Somehow we got on the subject of coal banks this week. There are still a few but they are scarce. My people didn’t burn coal and I don’t know much about them but my husband said his Grandpa Riffle knew where there was one on Bear Fork. It was a little run called, Coal Bank.

Duane’s Uncle Ralph Perrine showed him where one used to be, up the hill from where Joe and Mary Cogar now live. I asked what a coal bank was. He said it was little thin streams of coal actually sticking out of the hillside. This probably was caused by erosion and the dirt getting washed or blown right off of it. An example of this is on the interstate going towards Summersville. On Powell Mountain where they blasted through the mountain to build the interstate, these seams of coal can be seen. He pointed that out to me the last time we were over that way. It would cost too much to take the coal from the mountain because that would mean moving the mountain.

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It was a very busy weekend with the Folk Festival. I worked a couple of hour at the Country Store, enjoyed some music and enjoyed watching Phyliss Marks perform at the college with several other good singers and musicians, which we enjoy yearly. I enjoyed riding with several past Belles on the wagon in the parade. We were proud of our Gilmer County Belle, Mrs. Elda Campbell. She had a great time with all of the other Belles, from 24 other counties. The Belle’s Luncheon was nice, at the Baptist Church. It was so good to see friends Mr. and Mrs. Arden Bailey, of Wirt Co., and have a nice chat with them and their daughter.

My 4-H Club did great with their Bake Sale on the Bank porch on Saturday. We sure do appreciate all those who supported us. We also appreciate those who have been purchasing the WV Meat Sticks and applebutter. It will all help us towards our 4-H Camp fee for our Club that is coming up next week.

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Memory! Growing older has seemed to erode my memory more and more. I can remember things from my childhood, like a poem my mom modified for me.

I studied my tables o’er and o’er, backwards and forwards, too!

But I couldn’t remember six times nine no matter what I’d do,

So Momma told me to play with my doll and not to bother my head,

And call her my Fifty-four for awhile. You’ll know it by heart, she said.

So I took my favorite little Mary Ann, though I thought ‘twas a dreadful shame

To call such a perfectly lovely doll such a perfectly horrid name.

But I called her my little Fifty-four a hundred times till I knew

The answer to six times nine as well as the answer to two times two.

Next day Elizabeth Wigglesworth who always acts so proud

Said six times nine is forty-two, and I nearly laughed out loud.

Then Teacher said, well, Patty Sue, you tell us if you can

And, sakes alive, I thought of my doll and answered, MARY ANN!

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When I was a boy growing up in my Nana’s old house, we had four huge gardens. Come June, my dad would be working the tiller while my Mom and brothers, and I would be planting the seeds. One garden held enough potatoes to feed us all year round. Others held corn, carrots, cabbages, onions, tomatoes, cantaloupes, and watermelons. There were also many flowers. My Nana had a special love for them and nurtured them. Flowers surrounded her old house and every year she would put down potting soil, plant new ones, and sing while she worked.

One June I can remember helping her go around the house pulling weeds and watering the freshly planted flowers. She was so gentle with them and gave them such love and care. I thought it was no wonder they grew so fast. When we were done, I am going to get my bike and ride awhile. As I was getting on it, however, I noticed something. I got back off and knelt down on the concrete walkway that led to our porch. There, growing out of a crack in the concrete without water, soil, or love, was a single dandelion.

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The Stockings Were hung by the Chimney with Care

I was born after the Great Depression but I remember hearing about it. I was reading Alyce Faye Bragg’s column in the Charleston Gazette, about life during and after WW 11 and it inspired me to write my memories. Mom and Dad were stationed down in Tennessee when he got called over seas to the war, and she didn’t have enough money to take a bus back home to WV. She got a job as a maid in a bed and breakfast place. It paid 50 cents a day and she got room and board free. She told me it took her two months to save up enough money to come home and she was so homesick. It was war time and no one trusted the banks. They hid money and her relatives would not let go of one red cent to send her. The people she worked for were nice and they treated her real good. As a matter of fact, she named me after their daughter, Jeanette, because she liked that name. Their last name was Goodall. Sounds French, and Mom continued to correspond with them by letter writing, after she got back to WV.

Read more: Depression Years Christmas

I was walking my beagle, Snoopy, the other evening while the last light of the setting sun colored the clouds purple and pink. I looked up to the sky and smiled. After a minute Snoopy started pulling at her leash. She was more than ready to head inside for a bowl of dog food and a bacon treat. I wasn’t quite ready to go in yet, however, so I knelt down and patted her head. I was waiting for my friends the Little Blinkers to appear.

It wasn’t long, either, before I saw them switching their lights on and off. They were fireflies, of course, also known as lightning bugs. Over all the years that I have lived here they have never failed to appear at this time during the summer to do their mating dance of light and love. They have never failed to amaze me. They have never failed to make the world a little brighter. It has always been such a joy, too, knowing that God created such wonderful little creatures that can shine their own light and make the dark meadows look like the starry skies above. They make me want to share my own light as well, even if it isn’t that bright and even if it does tend to blink now and then.

Robert Fulgham wrote, “I know some people who give off a lot of light. Because they have absorbed a lot of light themselves. They shine.” I don’t know how much light I’ve absorbed over the years, but I do know that I won’t keep it hidden under a basket. I will shine it. I will share it. I will use it to bring as much goodness, love, joy, and wisdom into this world as I possibly can.

Read more: Little Blinkers


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