We have a destination toward which we are slowly traveling: Ottawa CA to visit one of our blogger friends for a few days.
We spent Memorial Day weekend at Lackawanna Lake State Park in Pennsylvania. On one of our days there we took a peaceful paddle around the lake in a rented canoe.
On another we went on a coal mine tour at the Lackawanna Coal Mine and Anthracite Heritage Museum in Scranton, PA.
Anthracite coal was all mined by hand in underground mines. It is harder and cleaner than the coal that is mined by surface strip mining, but it is too expensive and too dangerous to return to. These mine jobs are long gone, and will never return.
The average lifetime for an anthracite coal miner was fifty. Many died younger, some made it a few years longer. Accidents and black lung disease were their enemies. Most also suffered from arthritis which the cold wet conditions made worse. The shafts they worked in were only as tall as the veins of coal they were removing. In some cases that was less than three or four feet. A miner would have to work in a crouched or recumbent position for hours.
Boys as young as eight went into the mines to open airlock-type doors, and when they were a few years older, they guided mule drawn coal hoppers.
It was a very hard, dangerous life. If a miner was killed there was no insurance or social support for his family.
After the mine tour, we went through the associated mining museum. It had many items from the everyday life of the miners. Almost all of them were immigrants from Europe. There was a good exhibit about the passage experience.
While the miners worked long shifts underground, their women worked in the silk mills. Girls went to work at twelve or younger.
As they grew in skill, they went from material handlers to keeping the spools on the bobbin winding machine.
The women and girls who worked in the lace and silk weaving mills, probably never got to have or wear any of the delicate fabric they produced. As miners' wives and daughters they were too poor for such luxuries. Their meager salaries were needed to help support the family.
We, on the other hand, have been sleeping late, shopping at Wegmans groceries, and watching the NBA playoffs.
RV Life is good.
Out-of-focus fox running through the campground as we prepared to leave