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Nanty Glo during the Great Depression

Dear Jon:

Info on company store.... The first store, to best of my knowledge, was located on Shoemaker Street. It was behind what is now Commons Hardware. It was a two-story building. The Heisley Company Store was on first-floor entrance about seven steps above street level. The store used all the first floor.

On the second floor was a hall used by Nanty Glo High School for basketball and other activities; the hall was also used by the Miners' Union for meetings. The basement area had showers and a locker area used by [the high school] football and basketball players. The locker area was also used by baseball and football teams independent of [the high school].

The building at the corner of Lloyd and Davis Streets was constructed in the 1920s by the Webster Coal Company for their company store. They had 800 or more miners at that time. Most of the homes on both sides of Lloyd Street from the store to the railroad tracks at the bottom of Pergrim Hill were owned by Webster Coal Company and rented to their miners.

When Webster closed its operations in Nanty Glo, the Heisley Company Store moved from Shoemaker Street to the building that the Webster Company Store had occupied. Some of the employees at that time were Mr. Harris, Mgr.; Betty Carlisle, secretary; Clerks Vivian Singer, Rose Ceria, Ann Smarts, Johnny Fresh, and Mr. Garis in the meat department.

Since few of the miners had automobiles at that time, the store had home delivery for large food orders and larger items. All items were on credit and [the bill] was deducted from their earnings at the mine. Few if any miners ever received any cash money on pay day.

There were no bargains or discounts at the Company Store. Did you know that there was one taxicab in town owned by Joe Kovak; that there was a livery stable and ice house in the alley behind Hagens' resturant, owned by Rupp Peter? There was a hotel above Mary's tavern near the streetcar depot? You could take the streetcar to Johnstown, the train to Revloc and Ebensburg. The streetcar also stopped at Woodland Park.

Some lower grade teachers were:

Miss Liddy
Miss Washborne
the Williams sisters
John Davies
Mr. Bracken
Miss Griffith
Miss Edwards
Miss Lehman
Mrs. Carlisle

That's all, Folks
Tom [Hawksworth] 3/28/99

Webmaster's note: I wonder if the taxi operation was the same family who had Kovach Taxi in Twin Rocks when I was growing up? And is Woodland Park the same one that's on Route 22 today? Until now, all I ever knew of Webster Mine was that it was the source of the relatively small rockdump at the foot of Pergrim Hill. Nor did I realize that, like miners in other company towns, Nanty Glo's miners "owed their souls to the company store" during the Great Depression. You've educated most of us I'm sure; thank you, Tom. Still, my uncle (Percy Kennedy) moved to Nanty Glo and my dad moved to Vintondale to get work during the Depression. And although Mom and Dad carried scars from the Depression for the rest of their lives, Dad always had work in Blacklick Valley until Cardiff Mine closed and he retired in 1960.—Jon Kennedy

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