Memory of a Miner
Peabody Camp 31, Black Mountain – down the tracks to the tipple. (Our house, still there today, sits just back and out of view on the right.)
You did WHAT with them beans?!!!
Storytelling was a big part of coal camp life in Black Mountain (Kenvir). Of Dad’s many tales, here’s one of my all-time favorites. It highlights Dad’s personality and a colorful Harlan County character.
Dad had a friend from back in one of the “hollers” who bought a new pair of “dress shoes.” They were a bit snug and since Dad was respected as one who had a lot of common sense, his friend sought his advice for how he could remedy that.
Dad told him to lace the shoes up, pack them with dried beans as full as possible, and leave them overnight. This action would stretch the leather a bit.
Dad picks up the story here . . .
“Well, he got up the next morning buddy and the uppers of both shoes had busted loose all the way ‘round. The leather busted right apart from the stitchin’ to the soles! He come over and showed ‘em to me. I’d never seen anything like it! I asked him what in the world he had done!
I said, ‘Did you do it just like I told you?’
He said, ‘Yeah Carl, I laced ‘em up, packed ‘em as full of beans as I could, wet ‘em good, and set ‘em to stretch overnight, just like you told me.’
I said, ‘Wet ‘em?! I didn’t say nothin’ about wettin’ the beans!’
He said, ‘Well Carl, you always soak beans before you cook ‘em!’
I said, ‘Lord have mercy, what did cookin’ beans have to do with this?!’
That cliff ape had soaked them beans, buddy. Well they went to expandin’ you see, overnight, and somethin’ had to give! It give alright! Both shoe tops give completely loose from the soles!”