Classic Nanty Glo memory:
the coalminer in the wash tub

Letter No. 245 | April 9, 2001

Dear Jon:

You have opened up a can of nostalgic worms; being as old as I now am. I have a virtual barrelful of Belsano, Nanty Glo, and Johnstown memories. I dearly love reliving them.... When I was a teenager in the early forties I lived in Johnstown and worked part time with a "huckster." He would go to Bedford County and load up the back of his old Packard with apples, then sell them house to house all over the Greater Johnstown areas.

On one occasion we were doing the lower Nanty Glo area adjacant to the Heisley Mine. It was a warm summer day, so people had doors open with only the screen doors keeping the flies away. I stepped onto the front porch of one miner's home and was about to knock on the screen door when I saw that the miner was sitting in a galvanized wash tub in the middle of the kitchen floor. He had obviously just finished a shift in the mine and was bathing in the then-customary fashion.

He was totally oblivious of me as he was preoccupied with calling to his wife to come and wash his back. There on the middle of his back was a "literally" coal-black square about two inches square which could not be reached without help. That black square loomed as a badge of honor amid his light Welsh skin, and made a rather comedic impression on me, that I shall never forget.

I sold no apples in that house as I had chanced upon a dramatic moment in the life of a coal miner in the midst of a pre-dinner crisis, and who did not wish to acknowledge my presence at all.

Walter E. Cameron
Mesa Arizona

P.S. Does anybody (old folks) out there remember Leonard Sheen, whose parents owned the Nanty Glo Hotel? He and I were coworkers in the Machine Shop of Republic Steel Corporation in Warren and Youngstown Ohio (Small World).

 


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