The picture in this post is of my Dad, Odes Robinette, and other unidentified coal miners in Lynch, Ky. They worked at Portal 31 which has now been preserved by the State of Ky as place where students and other folks can come and learn about coal mining and how it affected the mountains in Eastern Ky. My siblings and I went to Lynch several years back to see a stone that we had purchased to honor our Dad and all the workers of U.S Steel that worked at Portal 31. U.S. Steel owned the entire town, the houses, the schools, the grocery store and even the hospital. I was born in a hospital owned by U.S. Steel. Now students and others can ride a coal car back into the mine and see what the miners actually experienced. Lynch is the only coal mining city in KY that is still intact with a coal mining museum to learn even more about that era. My siblings and I expressed our gratitude, on that trip, that our parents moved us to Oak Ridge, TN where my Dad worked on the Manhattan Project and we lived behind the fence in the “secret city”. Later we moved to West Knoxville, where I grew up. I still go to the same church that I attended when I was 6 years old. I go to church with friends there that started first grade and went although high school together.
This picture made me think about how the people in our lives influence us for the rest of our lives. It made me think about all the service men and women who have given their lives so that we can be free and that we should not take that freedom lightly. My Dad was call to military service but he was working at Oak Ridge, and that was essential to the war effort, so he was sent back home. He didn’t even know what he was working on. He heard it on the radio, like everyone else.
I am proud to be a coal miner’s daughter but unlike another coal miner’s daughter, I could not sing so I sell printing and mailing. I am grateful.