Book Reviews - Family - Grandparents - Michigan

Miners, Pasties and Books

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. 

Sharing this post with the Five Minute Friday writing community and Sweet Tea and Friends and also Inspire Me Monday.

Carol is a follower of Jesus and a wife, mom & grandma. She worked for many years as a childbirth nurse and prenatal educator. She recently retired from clinical work. She has written articles for nursing journals and devotionals. Her novel, Aliisa's Letter, was published in 2010 and she is currently working on another project.

3 Comments on “Miners, Pasties and Books

  1. Carol, I love this article. My dad was a Coal Miner from age 7. I don’t recall him taking pasties for his lunch. But I’ve got to tell you that I have had the pleasure of trying pasties several times this year. My friend makes them; she has a recipe from her English grandmother.
    I treasure you sharing this with Sweet Tea & Friends this month sweet friend.

  2. The lives of those we never knew,
    experience beyond our ken,
    a culture that like flower blew
    and now is only ‘way back when ‘.
    But these people, they were real,
    with cherished hopes and fragile dreams,
    who laughed, loved and would sometimes feel
    that survival was beyond their means,
    and I think perhaps there’s something owed
    to those whom we take for granted,
    who fade from us, thin shoulders bowed,
    but who in their day had planted
    the tree beneath whose cool green shade
    we live, and think we have it made.

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