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Saturday, 9 May 2015

KEEPING IT REAL with FRIZZY LIZZY

KEEPING IT REAL with FRIZZY LIZZY

Hi dear friends and followers, I am pleased to see you here today. Well after a couple week of absence we have Frizzy Lizz back in action again. Enjoy the story, thank you  

Hello, Everyone! There are those who would swear that I was never a child and that I was probably born 18 years old. Sometimes I feel like they are right. I always tried to do what was the “right” thing and seldom got into trouble with anyone and that made people think that I was born old. I assure you that I was once a child. Trust me.

Earlier today I had coffee with a close friend and we got into the topic of things that we did as children. Within a few minutes, I was transported from that coffee shop on May 9, 2015 to my hometown in 1954.

I was born in a town in the hard coal region of Pennsylvania. It was the largest city of many, with names like Carbondale, Olyphant, Taylor, Old Forge, Pittston, Wilkes-Barre, and Hazleton. I grew-up in the city of Scranton.

Everything there revolved around a substance known as anthracite coal. Men went into the deep mines to blast, dig and remove it from under the Lackawanna Valley. Huge power shovels tore into the earth to get to coal seams that were closer to the surface. Coal mining was life in Scranton.

The black stuff that is anthracite coal is vastly different from bituminous coal. Anthracite, also called “hard” coal burns much cleaner and hotter than bituminous, or “soft” coal. It has less moisture and leaves less ash after burning. Anthracite also has a shiny appearance in contrast to the dull look of bituminous coal. Since it makes a lot less smoke than soft coal, it was used by the Lackawanna Railroad to power its steam locomotives. In the late 19th and early 20th century the Lackawanna Railroad boasted of travelers arriving at their destinations cleaner because they were riding on “the road of anthracite.”

It was shipped from Scranton to the rest of the nation to heat homes, apartment houses, and public buildings. I knew that most people in Scranton were using coal to heat their homes. I could tell by the smell of sulfur in the air on the first cold morning of fall. But I digress.

Every home had a coal bin, a place in the basement, near to the furnace, where coal for heating the house was stored. It was usually about 3 meters square with a wall that went up to the ceiling and a doorway that had boards across it that could be added or subtracted depending upon the amount of coal in the bin.

When coal was needed, a coal distributor was called and an order for coal in pieces of the right size for the boiler to be fired was placed. A usual order was 5 tons or more.

The distributor, also called a coal man, brought the coal in a large truck with a big box on its back that held the coal. I would stand and watch in wonder as the driver backed the gigantic truck close to the house, pulled the levers that made the big box full of coal go up in the air on a scissors lift, and attach the steel chutes to the hatch on the back of the truck. He would then place the chute in the opening on the house that went into the coal bin and pull a handle that opened the hatch on the box.

And the coal came flying out of the box, way up in the air, sliding out of the truck box, down the chute, making such a din as I cannot describe, and into the house!

More often than not, a piece of coal would fall off the chute. I would pick it up and put it in my pocket like it was a treasure, and it was a treasure!

A piece of coal was great for drawing pictures on sidewalks. No one had chalk, so we would draw our hopscotch on a sidewalk using whatever stones we could find. But you couldn't draw on a concrete sidewalk with a stone. For that you needed coal and draw we did! We did not care upon whose sidewalks we drew because we were 3 years old, going on 4, and everything we did was fun as long as we stayed close to our homes.

The front and back yards were huge to me, but then, everything was big when I was small, and everything was new and needed exploration.

I remember the day I found my way under the front porch of our house. It was like an entirely new world to me. I had to open the hatch through which the coal man would place the chute to deliver coal into the coal bin. I did that, climbed up the lattice work, and fell into the world of under the front porch.

The place was damper than the rest of the yard. There were a few blades of grass growing there as well as a misplaced maple seedling and a few little flowers of some kind. It was as long as the front of the house was wide, and tall enough for me to stand up as I explored.

After a time, I suppose that I saw everything there was to see under the porch. It was then that I found a hatch in the concrete wall of the foundation of the house. There were chestnut-sized pieces of coal on the ground in front of the hatch. I lifted myself up to look into where the hatch went and the next thing I knew, I went head-first into the coal bin!

Wow! What fun that turned out to be! Under the porch was fun, but this was even more fun! I could not walk without sinking into it. If I fell down, it was slow and I did not get hurt. That was a grand improvement over the scraped elbows and knees that I was getting. I walked in that coal as though I was on another planet, savoring every moment, every movement, every sound. It was almost pitch dark in the coal bin, but I was having too much fun to be afraid!

This might have gone on for a few minutes when I heard my mother call me. I shouted back that I was in the dark. She heard all the commotion in the coal bin and came down to the basement to fish me out. She was not at all impressed with my exploration.

My recollection is that I came out of that coal bin and my mother got me by the ear because the rest of me was covered with shiny, black, anthracite coal dust. She gave me a good lecture about playing in the coal bin and how it was a dangerous place for a little girl (I never understood that part) and how it made such a mess of my clothes (I understood that part).

She made me undress down to my underwear while I was still in the basement, then she held up my little girl's pants and shirt so I could see that it wasn't dust from the Midnight Fairy on my clothing and shoes.

Then she marched me upstairs to the bathroom and lifted me up so I could see what I looked like. The little girl in the mirror had coal in her hair, on her face, her arms, chest, legs, well, you get the picture. And into the bathtub I went!

I don't really know why I never went under the front porch or into the coal bin again. Both places were there but they lost their “fun factor” for me. Maybe it's because the family next door had a little girl who was a year older than me and we started to be friends and used coal to draw things on the sidewalk, and have footraces, and play games.

And so it was for a little girl in Scranton, Pennsylvania on a day in late 1954 or early 1955. I really was a child. Now I remember it.


Thank you very much again, dear friends, for visiting my blog. Please share your thoughts with us, if you will. Have a great day.
ڰۣIn Loving Light from the Fairy Ladyڰۣ


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