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  • Posted by coaldigger 3 years, 9 months ago
    I once had a business associate that flew Spitfires in the Battle of Britain. They slept in tents at the airfields ready to man their planes at a moments notice. Eric was only a teenager but all of his hair had fallen out from the stress. He was terribly embarrassed about his bald head and had two toupees so one was always in good order. He had stands for them when he wasn't wearing them or was sleeping. One night there was an air raid, his tent caught on fire and he barely escaped but both toupees were fire damaged. It was very poor timing because the next day he and others in his squadron were to receive a metal from the Queen. He judged that he could salvage enough from the two wigs to make one if he sewed them together but there were still burn marks. As the Queen was putting the ribbon for the medallion over his head she said "Oh my, young man, your hair is all singed, were you burned terribly in that dreadful fire?" He replied "Not to worry Mum, I wasn't in it at the time." Several of our acquaintances verified this story that was hilarious the way he would tell it after a few pints. He had a lot of other funny stories but they weren't about Spitfires.
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    • Posted by 3 years, 9 months ago
      this is a wonderful story;; I think that I'll nominate it
      for a Best Of.......! -- j

      p.s. it's in the best of category now!
      .
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      • Posted by coaldigger 3 years, 9 months ago
        Sadly, I have reached the stage in life that everything reminds me of a story. In case anyone has not noticed.
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        • Posted by 3 years, 9 months ago
          so, could you elaborate on "coaldigger" as a name
          here in the gulch, mister engineer and businessman?
          you are in fine, admiring company, here, in all respects!!! -- j
          .
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          • Posted by coaldigger 3 years, 9 months ago
            coaldigger is an alias I used on my first post on the internet. It was in the days of dialup and some goofey browser that I can't even remember. The name made sense because it was a sports board for my state university and a coaldigger was my high school mascot. Many of the posters were guys that played sports, at least in HS and the name immediately told them where I came from. Obviously, a town with a football team named "The Coaldiggers" is pretty blue collar but I found a lot of good in the people in those hills and am not ashamed of being associated with them. Miners work with the threat of death every day (near term accidents and long term black lung) but they are proud of what they do. They are unionized but care about their work and how much they know about their job. Many miners were immigrants working long hours in cold, damp and dirty conditions so they could take care of their families and give them a chance at a better life. In time of war they lined up to volunteer even though they were needed to mine coal and could get a deferment. To me they were what made America great. The mines are closed now. Low class thugs have meth labs in the company housed. Their children are addicts or in jail. The town makes Starnesville look like Valhalla.
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            • Posted by 3 years, 9 months ago
              I see that you put a location of New Market Maryland
              into the gulch "howdy" -- might I guess that you are
              referring to a town in WV? . I had a best friend from
              Beckley who passed recently -- his love of life was
              infectious, his sense of humor just wonderful.
              he couldn't make up his mind when he was in
              engineering school, so he got ME and EE degrees
              concomitantly. . beautiful country and beautiful people
              up there!!! -- j
              .
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              • Posted by coaldigger 3 years, 9 months ago
                Gary, WV, McDowell County. We played them in sports, the Beckley Flying Eagles. I went to WVU and drove through Beckley to get there. We had to traverse down into New River George, just outside of Beckley, before they erected the New River bridge which saved an hour and a half off of the trip to Morgantown. Yes, beautiful country but road building was a real challenge.
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                • Posted by 3 years, 9 months ago
                  yes, Don mentioned that bridge more than once,
                  and the antics performed from it. . Gary is listed as
                  having a current population of 925 -- cozy! . I grew
                  up -- or was supposed to grow up -- in a subdivision
                  here in knoxville bigger than Gary. . built into a bend
                  in the tennessee river, with only 6 in and out roads
                  (4 of them torturous), it was fairly quiet and
                  I could get many miles on my bike ... plus many
                  yards on the lawn mower. . they said that I ran the
                  mower "like the devil was chasing me." . I kept as
                  many as 12 lawns, growing up. -- j

                  p.s. could you explain "lovers lane" in Gary?
                  .
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                  • Posted by coaldigger 3 years, 9 months ago
                    Everything in Gary was owned and operated by US Steel. There were 14 "coal camps" consisting of one or more mines, and a community. Each community had a number and a name but all were considered to be Gary i.e. Gary#1=Wilco, Gary #2=Venus, Gary#3=Main Gary, Gary #4=Thorpe, etc. Each had a company store that sold everything you could imagine. Most communities had churches. Main Gary had a drug store, bakery, gas station and couple of restaurants. Gary #7 had a pool room/bowling alley and a movie theater. The most interesting aspect of each community is that since all houses were owned by USS and rented to employees, you were assigned a house commensurate with your position. Common laborers lived in the valley in three room ranch style homes with outside toilets. Salaried employees lived on the slopes of very steep hills arranged in an obvious organization chart manner. Most addresses were on routes but going up the hill would be streets and they would have names, many of which had an obvious origin i.e. Powerhouse Row (the generation plant was at the end which produced 25 cps current for all the Garys.) "Lovers Lane" was a street in Main Gary that had been a dirt road that led to the trash dump. You can easily imagine that company guards (police) did not bother to check o cars parked there at night thus how it got its name. Middle management, engineers, accountants etc. lived on it after it was paved and lined with houses. At its peak during WW II, the population of all of Gary was about 14,000. While company guards protected USS property there was one real cop (a deputy sheriff) and basically zero crime! There was one in and out road, very torturous, and no speed limit signs although George the deputy would pull teenagers over and lecture them if he felt it necessary. If your dad was a manager, there would be a phone and George would call him. If your dad was a laborer, George would put him on a list and go tell him what you were doing after first checking what shift he was on and he would be home and not sleeping.

                    Long answer but your question got me thinking about that life and it seemed like something from another planet. I made a little spending money selling chicken manure that I got from the chicken house at our company store. I put it into my red wagon and sold it to house wives for their little gardens. I was a real entrepreneur!
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                    • Posted by 3 years, 9 months ago
                      whatta story! . 25Hz power? . I bet Elvis sounded
                      strange! . no crime? . wonderful ! . from 14,000
                      down to 925, now that's a big change -- kinda like
                      oak ridge where I worked for 33 years::: wartime
                      population about 50k behind the fence and many
                      more arriving in shifts in busses. . now, about 29k
                      in town and 15k commuting in, daily. . lotsa history
                      from ww2. . the best story is probably the weekend
                      when k25 was nearly shut down for the lack of
                      condoms, they said. . ran out of condoms and they
                      had to send a truck to chattanooga post haste,
                      for more. . many women and few men during
                      wartime made for unusual times. -- j
                      .
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