Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Good Earth?

It is a happy coincidence that the topic for the Carnival of Genealogy this month requests submissions about our ancestors' connection to the land. Today is the 88th anniversary of my maternal grandparents' wedding, and both were tied to the land, but in different ways.

I could write about my grandmother, Mary (Wychulis) Douglas. She always had a garden in her back yard...grew the best tomatoes I can remember. But I've written about Grandma Douglas before.

Today, I want to write about my grandfather, Adam Anthony Douglas. He was born in 1895 in Lithuania and immigrated to this country in 1914. He made his living by working for many, many years as a coal miner near Old Forge, Pennsylvania. I remember my grandmother talking about how he would come home from work completely black in coal dust, except for the white of his eyes. As an adult, I visited a Pennsylvania coal mine exhibit that allowed us to go down into a coal mine and demonstrated the harsh conditions of the miners. At one point, the guide turned out the overhead was a black that I have never experienced before or since. I can imagine that the little lights on their hats didn't allow for much visibility.

But the Grandpa I remember was not at all bitter about the experience. He moved to Washington D.C. after WWII and worked for the DC transit company repairing buses. I remember him coming home from work and sitting with me in his chair, reading the funny papers. I still have that chair.
Grandpa passed away in May of 1956, a casualty of the black lung disease that claimed many.

I'm proud to be a coal miner's (grand)daughter!


  1. Hi Mary,
    What a beautiful tribute to a man you obviously loved so much. It must have been a very hard thing to do to go down into that mine everyday. And I'm not at all sure I could do it like you did when going down in one to experience a little of what your grandfather did. Great post.

    fM did a fantastic job on your Glamour Shot, by the way!

  2. Thanks,Judith!
    I used to keep a little black coal mine figurine on my desk when I was worst day in the classroom was better than his best day in the mine.