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A Coal Miner's Life of a Well To Hell / Mining in the Mind

Updated on August 16, 2011

Back in the father and grandfather worked in the coal mines of Eastern Kentucky. More than forty years later he could still smell the dust of the mines. He use to say,"The dogs got paid better because there wasn't a company store for scraps."

The company stores would let the miners run up a tab for groceries and other needs. The miners never seemed to catch up with their bill. Who was it that said,"Let us pay them and make them think they are free!" Coal was needed for industry and heating homes. The miners always came up with the short end of the stick in those days.

I could ask,"How many of you are barely getting by?" The old company store has just evolved into our very own corporate controlled government. The coal miners fueled the industrial revolution and got paid far too little for it. They were the soldiers in the trenches of progress.

Many miners died coughing up coal dust in hospital beds and their beds at home. Their families gathered around them and prayed with tears falling on the miner's bed. It was a hard, hard life and a very dangerous life.

My father learned how to use dynamite at the age of twelve. He worked in the mines long enough to realize that he had to find another way to make a living. Throughout his life..he worked in factories. Dad said,"The work wasn't as dangerous but the assholes were the same."

It humbles me to think of the courage of coal miners. What an amazing people they are!


I have two lousy jobs....I eat one bad meal a day

Got a pain inside my chest....that won't go away

Stuck in behind...a financial fence

When I make a dime....they want eleven cents


They put me on a bucket in a well to hell

I keep on gettin' hotter

I pull myself up and they try to tell me

They want all the water...they want all the water

My daddy told me....hard work pays off

He died at 55 with a coal miner's cough

One of these days....when goes comes around

The good Lord's hand will be crankin'

Them folks down.



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    • To Start Again profile image

      Selina Kyle 4 years ago

      Very nice :) My dad and husband and almost everyone around here does a job somehow related to the coal mines so this one hits close to home. Great hub, Tom :)

    • Tom Cornett profile image

      Tom Cornett 7 years ago from Ohio

      electricsky....thank you...they do deserve more.

    • electricsky profile image

      electricsky 7 years ago from North Georgia

      Thanks for your story. I have relatives that worked in coal mining too. They deserve something more since they risk/risked their lives everytime they go in a mine.

    • Tom Cornett profile image

      Tom Cornett 7 years ago from Ohio

      Thank you Cathi. :)

    • Cathi Sutton profile image

      Cathi Sutton 7 years ago

      It's very easy to feel what you wished to express with this Hub. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with the rest of us!

    • Tom Cornett profile image

      Tom Cornett 7 years ago from Ohio

      Alexander Mark....good point....they are better now....I hope they get better for the future generations. :)

    • Alexander Mark profile image

      Alexander Silvius 7 years ago from Portland, Oregon

      Sounds like a bum deal. This story goes to show that many things are definitely better in our day. Maybe in a 100 years they'll look at today's minimum wage workers and say, "thank God we didn't live back then!"

    • Tom Cornett profile image

      Tom Cornett 7 years ago from Ohio true....maybe the answer is in better ways through make it more safe to mine? Thanks for commenting.

    • profile image

      dreamreachout 7 years ago

      Its a solutionless predicament .. While miners do suffer both physically and mentally, 90% of all our things at home, office and elsewhere wont be there if there were no minerals!! Irony(!!), but whats the answer??

    • Tom Cornett profile image

      Tom Cornett 7 years ago from Ohio

      Thanks Charlie....those were such different days. Dad was the oldest son and had to grow up help out the family. I can't imagine watching my 12 year old son work with dynamite.

    • profile image

      ralwus 7 years ago

      Great tribute to your dad and all other miners Tom.

    • Tom Cornett profile image

      Tom Cornett 7 years ago from Ohio

      greatAmerican....well said...yes it is still a form of slavery.

      Janny...thank you.

      Thanks sheila....very good points.

      Jen.....thank you.

      Thanks.... ladyjane.

    • ladyjane1 profile image

      ladyjane1 7 years ago from Texas

      Very nice hub.

    • Jen's Solitude profile image

      Jen's Solitude 7 years ago from Delaware

      How timely given the latest struggles with so many coal miners dying. They are in my thoughts, I'm glad you wrote this hub about your father's experience.

    • sheila b. profile image

      sheila b. 7 years ago

      I've never liked the way coal miners are portrayed by the media. In these past few days, I think we've seen a better representation of them as their friends and families go on camera. Imagine if there weren't coal miners. We'd lose half of our electricity in America. It's time to appreciate what they do for all of us.

    • JannyC profile image

      JannyC 7 years ago

      Excellent tribute to the mine explosion that happen just recent and the miners that lost their lives. This hub made me think of that.

    • greatAmerican profile image

      greatAmerican 7 years ago

      Tom, slavery comes in many forms, you can be locked in to a

      job/life simply by the law of survival. I know it would be easy to say, well people make choices, some choose to be miners, some choose to wash windows in the Sears Tower. some

      will even be cops in Detroit.. They choose risk, they pay the price. When you get trapped into a system such as those miners were, it is still slavery. Someone has to do the dirty jobs, perhaps the compensation should reflect the risk, such as the window washer...

    • Tom Cornett profile image

      Tom Cornett 7 years ago from Ohio

      Pachuca....thanks and hats off to your grandpa...he did stand.

      Tom....thanks....LOL...excused. :)

      carolina muscle....thank you. is such dangerous work.

      Pop....thanks....mine too.

      Ginn...thank you....I don't think a lot has is still very dangerous work and they are still behind the fence.

    • Ginn Navarre profile image

      Ginn Navarre 7 years ago

      I live here in WV and yes they are amazing people, yet I wonder, has anything really changed for the coal miner's? Thanks loved the song.

    • breakfastpop profile image

      breakfastpop 7 years ago

      Wonderful hub about a very difficult way to earn a living. My heart goes out to the families that lost loved ones in the mines.

    • singlmomat52 profile image

      singlmomat52 7 years ago

      I never Knew any of my family that worked in the coal mines. I only remember seeing on the news about coal mines caving in on the workers, so sad and tragic. Great hub! Thank you!

    • carolina muscle profile image

      carolina muscle 7 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

      This is a fine hub... well done!

    • Tom Whitworth profile image

      Tom Whitworth 7 years ago from Moundsville, WV

      Please excuse my idiocy I read this hub first and didn't notice the link to the song!!!!!!!!

      It sounds great!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Tom Whitworth profile image

      Tom Whitworth 7 years ago from Moundsville, WV


      Have you written a tune for the words? I can picture Toby Keith singing it with great passion like hid patriotic songs.

      I wrote this yesterday morning.

    • profile image

      Pachuca213 7 years ago

      This was a wonderful hub. My grandmother's father was a coal miner from West Virginia between 1910-1940. He actually went to prison for blowing up a warehouse filled with explosives as retaliation to the way the Company used and abused their workers. I don't condone illegal acts but I have to give my great grandaddy props for standing up for his fellow man....I really enjoyed this. Thank you!