Though I lived in four
different houses during my tenure in Nanty Glo, the most vivid experiences are
those lived at Number 2 Ivory Hill. My father and mother had 11 children, and
they were never able to save enough money to buy a permanent home. Consequently,
they moved every several years. My dad was employed at the Springfield Mining
Company, and he was able to walk easily to work from there, since we did not own
The house was too
small for my family, of course, because in those days the original houses had
two rooms down and two rooms up. We had a coal-burning stove in the living room
and a coal-burning kitchen stove. The only heat we had upstairs came through a
small register above each of the stoves, and a glass of water left on the window
sill in the winter would often be ice in the morning. I remember that three of
us boys (we had five), slept together in one bed spoon fashion for warmth.
up on a cold winter morning was a chore, walking across the cold floor to find
clothes for school. There was a corner sink in the kitchen and a cold water spigot
only. The houses sat up on posts without foundations then and, of course, the
water line often froze over night. It was a common practice to draw water at night
into a bucket so that it could be heated in the morning for us to use to wash
for school. And being the "right" age, it was my job to crawl under the house
with the warm water and with a small ladle pour water slowly across the water
line to thaw the frozen pipe.
don't really remember acutely how it felt to sit on the floor of the living room
in cold weather, but the wind coming up through the floor boards must have been
mighty uncomfortable. My mother often let the spigot open a little hoping that
the movement of water trickling through the line would keep the pipes from freezing.
It was not uncommon for us to see an icicle hanging down from the tap when we
came downstairs in the morning.
of us had any "space." Mom could never say, "Go to your room," as I said to my
children. We had no room, so to speak. There was no place where you could go off
somewhere quietly to do homework or to dream. We all gathered around the kitchen
table to do our homework, or we held a book in our lap sitting on a chair in the
It is safe to say that
we were not "raised"; we sort of grew like Topsy. My mother was too busy to do
much raising, what with washing of clothes for 11 children and a mine worker's
dirty clothes, ironing before there was wash and wear, preparing food and cooking
for a crowd; sewing, cleaning, tending to emergencies.
refrigerator was a dynamite box nailed with the open side into the kitchen in
winter. We could store perishables there. Just slide up the window, reach into
the box and grab the oleomargerine, or leftovers. And, of course, we had an outside
"John" up behind the house, a woodshed, and a coalshed, as well.
neighbor kept a cow in a small shed at the back of his yard. She was turned out
to graze each morning on the hillside, and I often went along in the evening to
help bring her home for milking. There was seldom fresh milk for us. We bought
canned Carnation milk, mixed it with water, and put a drop of vanilla into it,
and poured it on to our rolled oats for breakfast. Though we never had any money,
we at least had food to eat and never went without.
that time, the C&I railroad tracks ran between Ragley's Lumber Mill and Ivory
Hill. The tracks were no more than 25 feet from our front porch, and the smoke
and soot and noise were constant. My mother had to time her washing so that she
could hang up the clean clothes to dry when the train was not chugging through.
I often think about how Mom must have worried about us getting killed by that
train running so close to our house.
are too many memories of life on Ivory Hill for one sitting. We lived there from
1938 to 1942. Even though our lives there posed great hardships, my memories of
that period are fond and full of happy experiences.
(Jim) E. George
May 26 2002