My grandfather was a copper miner in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. He worked in the mines until he retired. Copper hidden deep in the earth was contained in rock that was blasted, brought to the surface and then processed to remove the copper concentrate.
What was it like for my grandfather to spend 12 hours underground blasting rock? An article published by Michigan State University provides an overview of the miner’s life.
Miners often brought pasties (meat & potato wrapped in pastry) with them for a meal in their dark workplace. Now there are pasty shops throughout Upper Michigan. When my family spent time in Upper Michigan, we always had a pasty meal. In a previous post I added my recipe for pasties. You can find it here.
I remember my grandfather as a little stoop shouldered, often speaking in Finnish. He enjoyed taking care of the cows that he housed in a barn, walking them to an open field for grazing when he was home for a day.
Recently I came across a book that touched on the coal mines in Kentucky. It was a new release at the library. Connie Blaylock wrote the novel, Light to the Hills. It is historical, looking back at a program that was part of the WPA, Works Progress Administration in the 1930s.
Packhorse Library Project took place to bring hope and literacy to impoverished areas. The main character in this story, Amanda, rides a route on her mule to bring books to rural families in Appalachia. I enjoyed the description of this area and the focus on family.
Some of the herbal remedies mentioned fascinated me. Rural women found methods of treating illness with herbs and practical measures.
The families in the story encounter difficulty. Work in the coal mines is grueling for a family that Amanda meets on her route.
Amanda has a rift with her mother and father that is based on misunderstanding, pride and shame. At first, I was put off because her father was a preacher. But as the story continued, I appreciated the theme of forgiveness and restoration of relationship.