This is the second in the Coal Heritage Series. The cloth cap was given to me by my uncle who bought it new but never used it as he was called into military service and did not work the mines until much later in life and used a different cap. The cap was used by him, with a carbide lamp, but only for his Fox hunting trips at night in the mountains. The lamp is of a different type than in the previous print and was designed to be used with the cloth cap. As is readily seen the cloth cap provided very little protection and was just used to cover the hair and hold the mining light. The boots belong to my brother-in-law. He paid the ultimate sacrifice many miners before and since paid to work the mines underground. He was killed in a mining accident on his Hoot Owl shift, doing the job he loved. He left behind a widow and two small children. He also provided me inspiration and helped me tell the miners story. This and other works serve as his memorial, and I will be eternally in his debt.
The chair and the background in their way tell the story my brother-in-law told me. His recollection of seeing his father come home on a Friday night, sit down in the old hickory bottomed chair, remove his boots, cap and light; and clothes in order to get in an old Number 3 washtub full of hot water. He and his wife would then use strong homemade lye soap and a scrub brush to remove the black coal dust and grimy sweat from his body. The delicate skin around the eyes would often still hold the stain of the coal for many days. A miner would have these black rings around the eyes where the coal would stubbornly remain. On any given Sunday in church you could tell the miners from other men by their black rimmed eyes.
This painting was chosen by the United States Department of Commerce; in a cultural exchange program; to represent artists working in Appalachia to France. The painting was exhibited in the galleries of the Ecole de Beau Arts in