september 19, 2015

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“You had the power all along, my dear.” ~ Glenda, the good witch

 

Cannel City
Cannel City

 

In the early 1990’s I recorded interviews with all four of my grandparents, asking them to describe their growing up, genealogy, and other stories. I’ve been listening to my grandmother Terry’s recollections. She was born in 1916 and raised hardly a mile from this very spot in Cannel City. The city was still thriving when she was born, digging coal from the deep mines and shipping it out by railcar. The family farm was at the head of Railroad Fork, so named for the track that ran beside the creek before tunneling through the mountain headed to Jackson. The railroad stopped its route in 1931, when Mamaw was sixteen, but her life wasn’t necessarily centered around the decline of the town and its quickly dwindling industry. Instead, she spent her time helping on the farm. Nevertheless, she married a coal miner from Hazard and spent her earliest married years raising her children in various coal camps around Kentucky. She eventually came back to Cannel City to raise what would ultimately be fourteen children, as my grandfather traveled to and from Cannel City to work in the mines throughout Eastern Kentucky. Few people living today have an understanding of what this kind of life is like; raising children in a coal camp, traveling great distances to work, being away from the family weeks at a time, digging coal a mile under a mountain, and so on. I admire the way they survived to raise good people. Their sacrifices and tenacious attitudes are part of the family’s gene structure now. What’s not to appreciate about that?

old railcar
old railcar

september 13, 2015

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“When you least expect it something great will come along. Something better than you ever planned for.
Be patient. Be smart. Stay focused.” ~ Unknown

 

old bank vault
old bank vault

 

The bank is gone but the vault remains. This is the backside of the vault that sits in DeLancey Park. It’s a glimpse of the advanced city Cannel City used to be. Every person that comes to Pickin’ in the Park helps promote the town’s memory, and its remaining sense of community. The latter has never been lost; buildings crumbled to dust but people never stopped being together in one way or another.

 

it's about the people
it’s about the people

 

I didn’t get too many shots of folks yesterday. This, I learned the hard way, is the sacrifice I make by taking Wally along. He’s very good with people, and good with other dogs, but he seems to think horses, like squirrels, are something to be barked at. He also insists on walking, and that makes it nearly impossible to visit with anyone.  That said, I did manage to sneak up on David Campbell yet again. I caught him at the concession stand completely unaware of my lens. Another gotcha moment.

 

that burger is not on the diet menu
that burger is not on the diet menu

 

As Ron Gevedon (top with camera) pointed out, the next generation of Cannel Citian needs to step up and take an interest in this event. Right now, I think they’re busy playing in the park. That is as it should be, and it will help them understand how important this place and these people are one day. We’ll all benefit from their memories, as they are benefiting from ours.

 

plenty of room to run
plenty of room to run