We’re spending some time in rural, western Pennsylvania. Where towns are named for coal companies. And families still live in company houses they bought when mining companies collapsed. And we drive by the old bar where Tim’s grandfather and his mining buddies burned the coal dust out of their lungs with hard liquor. And generations of these men have been lost to the dust and the drink and the smoke.
But the women live on. And they speak with loud, steel-strong, unapologetic voices. And the grandmothers make kolaczki the way their grandmothers made them. And stories are passed down like fables—the distant relative who lost his hand to a company scab while at a secret union meeting, the eccentric great-great-great uncle who lived in a cave in the old country. And the mountains loom large out of the fog-filled valleys.
And I married into this, and the history is now mine. And I teach Aunt Molly Jackson, and I teach Woody Guthrie, and I teach Pete Seeger, and I teach Bob Dylan, and even Bruce Springsteen in the light of this nearly mythic place.
Joanna & Tim
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