Sunday, September 22, 2013

Sunday Morning Enlightenment


There is something special about the light on Sunday mornings.  Or maybe it's just that I take the time to appreciate it.  This morning found me circling Dewey Lake.  It was a crisp 53 degrees and the crows were shouting to one another across the water.


Fog is great around here in September.

After a relaxing tour of the lake, I headed to Van Lear, where I took a pedestrian picture of the front of the Coal Miners' Museum.  I won't bore you with that one, but here is a more interesting one I took of the back side of the building.


As I was walking back to my car a guy pulled up in a vintage Buick and started talking.  Turns out he was quite the Van Lear historian.  He told me that, contrary to the sign (partly cut off on the left side of the photo), there never was a division of Consolidation Coal Co. headquartered in the building.   He also filled me on hometown star, Loretta Lynn.  He said she wasn't born in the little house passed off as her birthplace, but in an even smaller house further up Butcher Hollow and that the only thing left of that house was the floor.  He told me that Loretta Lynn is "a bitch" that refused to come play at his high school prom so they could afford a good senior trip.  Not sure how that ties together.  But, according to him, Ms. Lynn wouldn't come and said (this part delivered in a high and snooty voice), "I don't owe Van Lear anything."  He added that her sister, Crystal Gayle, also wasn't born in the old homestead, but was actually born in Indiana.  Her real name is Brenda and he said she is "very sweet."

He also told me how some of the most influential families in Johnson County got their start by operating truck mines and paying their workers $8 to $10 per day while they grew rich.  I won't mention their names.  There was also a prominent family that got its money by burning down their store after secreting all of the inventory in garages they owned, then collecting the insurance money.  He knows because he and some friends saw it  through an open garage door as they were coming out of their hollow to go to school.  The family bought their silence with new notebooks for school.  But when they got to school the principal brought them into his office and accused them of stealing such nice notebooks.  Eventually he called the family and they confirmed that they had given the notebooks.  Don't you love a happy ending?

I was about to ask if I could take this colorful guy's picture when two kids showed up and climbed in the back of his car.  There was lots of cussing and swearing all around, but they said they needed to talk to him.  I was thinking that maybe there was a drug deal going down, so instead of a picture, I took advantage of the moment to leave.  On the way back to my car I heard the guy tell them he only had one cigarette left and he was not going to share it with anybody.  So, yeah, a drug deal.

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