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World War II emigrations from Valley

Letter No. 187 | July 23, 2000

Hello John,

You remarked in a message to me that you had relatives, including a cousin who graduated from Nanty Glo High School in 1943, who relocated to Detroit during the World War II years. Work in the steel mills and coal mines must have slowed at the time, and Western Pennsylvania natives were forced to move elsewhere for a livelihood. It seemed a lot of people migrated to Detroit then, including my parents for over a year.

Also, two maternal aunts and a paternal uncle with their families relocated to Detroit during the World War II years. A 90-year-old aunt and an 86-year-old uncle still reside there. Another aunt and an uncle, both in their early eighties who lived in Detroit since the early '40s, passed away in 1999.

From these signs, I hope the family longevity remains an inherited trait or maybe I should have moved to Detroit to breathe the air. During my parents' stay in Detroit, I remained in Nanty Glo at the home of my grandmother and attended school at St. Mary's Parochial School. My parents abandoned their home, nextdoor to my grandmother's, and it remained vacant during their absence. There were few oil or gas furnaces; mostly coal in those days, for heating a home. Winter and cold weather took its deteriorating effects on the residence.

Towards the end of the war my parents did happily return to Nanty Glo, when my father gained employment at the Rosedale Mines in Johnstown operated by Bethlehem Steel.

Best Regards,
Frank Charney

The list recently added for members of the Nanty Glo High Class of 1943 included my first cousin, Betty Kennedy, who still lives in the Detroit area (but with a married name not remembered; I haven't seen her since I was a young lad and she was already a married adult). I hadn't known she'd graduated from a local school, having been only age one at the time. As for my late uncle's emigration from the Valley, I think it was mostly because “the coal mines were not for him.”—webmaster


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