My Coal Miner Pepaw

By Pam Brennan

I remember my Pepaw Brennan coming home from the mines and being black as night from head to toe except for the whites of his eyes and his teeth. I was terrified! He would flash those pearly whites at me and I would run screaming in the other direction. I was so scared that if he knew I was there he would stop and rinse off in the creek before he came home so he wouldn’t scare me. I do seem to recall the devilish glint in his eye though, so MAYBE he kind of enjoyed it too.

He would make sure that he left something in his dinner bucket for the kids too. (my aunts and uncles are barely older than I am) Nothing tasted so good as a pack of nabs or a Moonpie from that lunch box.  Occasionally there would be some “vi-een-nies in there (vienna sausages – that’s how we say it around here). We would open that can and share the little sausages. They were great! However you can’t pay me to eat one now.

Brennan Family of Rossmore, WVThat’s my Pepaw, Bill Brennan, and Granny, Elaine Brennan. The kids are my Dad, Bill Brennan Jr. and Aunt Wanda. That picture was taken at Rossmore, one of Logan County’s coal camps at the time. They later bought a house at Sarah Ann and I spent my childhood playing all over the base of Horsepen Mountain.

As I reread this blog I wonder if my pepaw used to actually wash in the creek. They spent my childhood telling me to stay out of that creek at the base of Horsepen mountain because it was full of sewer and mine runoff. I know now that most coal mines had showers for the miners. I am thinking that maybe that is just one of those stories that pepaws tell their grand kids.


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3 Responses to My Coal Miner Pepaw

  1. Carla Haslam Herkner says:

    Thank you for sharing these memories, Pam. Just great to read all of the details you can recall!

    • Shelby Burgess says:

      One could always ‘spot’ a coal miner walking down the street; no matter how hard he tried, his eyebrows always appeared dirty with coal dust. The coal dust stuck in the skin for a long time.

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