More from the Mound 'o Paper
Settummanque, the blackeagle (waltoml@WKUVX1.WKU.EDU)
Fri, 23 Sep 1994 01:02:17 CST
(this is an example of what you will find in the Scouts-L archives: )
To: MX%"SCOUTS-L@TCUBVM.BITNET" "The Electronic Roundtable Meeting"
Subj: Labor Day Posting (*long posting*)
When I was at Eastern Kentucky as a student, my first exposure to what REAL
LABOR was all about was when I went to Hell on Labor Day, 1978.
I'll explain that in a minute. (and yeah, it was HOT!!)
The American Labor Day holiday is designed to recognize those women and men
that have made America a great powerhouse by the sweat of their brows, by the
insistance that there's something worth doing and doing as well as they could,
and in the belief (good or bad) that if you work hard for something, you will
be compensated for it. It is a day in this nation for speeches by labor and
management, for picnics and parades, and large shopping center and mall sales
-- because traditionally, this holiday also signals the "end of summer" for
Americans and the return to school for children in many areas of the nation.
We in Scouting also pay attention to this holiday weekend, because it marks the
start of two very significant events in our program: the start of a new
program year, with the fall recruitment of youth and adult members; and the
start of the United Way/Appeal/Community Chest programs which funnel in many
areas significant amounts of monies to support local Councils and their
programs. While we can debate the United Way thing until Elvis comes back to
sing, we can all agree that the Scouting programs *need* the monies that those
appeals and localized campaigns bring to them...and to a host of other
organizations that assists many of our community members (and a whole lot of
our Scouting families!)
I spent Labor Day weekend in 1978 (and actually, the week from that previous
Wednesday through the Tuesday afterwards) in eastern Kentucky. There, I saw
firsthand what poverty was all about: the run-down shacks with families of
ten and twelve...the outhouses standing several feet away from the house, with
the stink able to be smelled from the roadway...the "closed" signs in dusty
old downtowns...the brightly painted "Commonwealth of Kentucky Cabinet of Human
Resources Food Stamp Assistance" signs, with groups of people standing outside
the offices, and many more crowded inside (something I learned firsthand later
is that food stamps come out on the first weekend of the month...)...and the
dirty feet, bodies and faces of the people I would drive past on my way
I saw also how people coped. They shot their food: rabbit and squirrel. They
planted rows and rows of garden veggies and was willing to shoot anyone that
came close to them as if they were gold or platinum bars planted there (and to
them, it was the same). Even though there are large grocery stores and a host
of smaller ones, many of the residents in this part of the state would rather
"catch it themselves" or "grow it themselves" than to give out more money to
get something. That "we'll do it ourselves" theme runs though much of what
life in this part of the state is all about. They shared their food with their
neighbors and sold what they could it to those that would come by. Folks,
despite their "lot in life", always had a smile and a "hody" and "set your self
hier" and no matter where I went, always waved.
And I would wave back. More out of respect than good manners.
My college roommate, a tobacco-chewing, stocky and truck-driving man, invited
me to spend a couple of days with him. The Island Creek Coal Company,
headquartered in Lexington, also invited me and several others to come out and
tour a coal mine as part of an United Fund campaign kickoff.
So I decided to do both, and also to tour the area where I would start working
later as a Paraprofessional (I had the application in the Regional office at
the time, but it was not approved yet).
Jeff Brock met me at his mother's home, a longbed trailer right up the hill
from Fishtrap Lake (one of the largest lakes in eastern Kentucky, located in
Pike County). We ate "'abbit" and "fish" , along with enough veggies and other
things for a crowd of ten or more (and it was just the three of us there).
We small-talked with his mother about friends we knew that lived by, about
college and what we expected from it.
That evening, Jeff took me to where the Island Creek #77 mine was. It didn't
look too bad, until we passed the sign where the mine was located in.
It was in Hell. Hell, Kentucky, that is. If you blinked your eyes twice, you
would have passed the place right by...there's only a post office, a store,
about five or six "houses" and then you started seeing the signage for the
"You're sure you wanna do this??", Jeff asked. Memories of watching television
reports of mine fires and cave-ins kinda turned my stomach somewhat.
Or perhaps it was the ''abbit. I had never ate rabbit (which is a little more
chewier than chicken) before then.
We went back to his mother's home, and I rested on the most comfortable
featherbed...Jeff explained that it belonged to his grandmother and that she
*made* it, frame and all, for her daughter's wedding present. Jeff's mother
was 83 then. She married at 15 (older than her sister, I found out later),
and had nine children. Jeffery was the "baby".
In the morning, I woke to a strong smell of coffee and an even stronger urge to
go to the bathroom....while I was "doing my thing", I looked out the window to
see that right across the street...I guess not EVERYONE was blessed with "city
water and sewers".
Or could afford it, as I found out later. The sheer cost of running pipes up
and down mountains and large hills, and the pumps to keep the water and sewage
flowing and sanitary is a large bill. Some people get assistance to pay those
high bills from a United Fund agency called "Pike People". But the money runs
out faster than the people it can support.
After breakfast, I drove back to the minesite, and waited with the other
members of the "tour group" for the official tour of a coal mine. We donned
lighted helmets, heavy jackets and then took tour of the office area. It
was explained that we would be going to the third level of this eight-level
mine and also were instructed in the safety aspects of the tour. The women
were asked to use the bathroom BEFORE they went down, because there were no
"facilities" in the area that they were going to. We were also told to stay
together and NOT to wander off for ANY REASON.
That alone, scared me. But what REALLY scared me, was the long trip down the
elevator...it was dark, very dark, and the only light you saw was the overhead
light getting dimmer and dimmer as you went down and down. And then the
elevator SNAPPED and stopped. The door was opened, and the gate let down..
and then, someone quipped "Welcome to Hell, ladies and gentlemen".
I was ALREADY scared!! That was overkill.
It was extremely hot, hotter than the warm morning three-quarters of a mile up
on the surface. We were shown how the coal is stripped off of the walls, how
it is carried up to the surface by convevior belts and how downright dangerous
this work is. It's no wonder that the United Mine Workers insists on more and
more money! The noise was deafening, even with ear protectors on. You couldn't
see very much in front of you, except for the flood lights from various areas.
No telling WHAT it was I stepped on at one point, except that I wasn't going to
look down to see and it didn't bite me....I quickly stepped away from that
point (it was a cable).
After our fourty-minute trip around, including a walk though a narrow
passage, we then returned to the surface, and walked out of the mine and
back into the blinding sunlight. There were people there to give us a boxlunch
and then to show us to a building and seating.
Once inside, the folks of Island Creek explained how important it is that they
supported the local communities. "Our workers come from here. They are key to
our success, so we support their efforts to make their lives better for
themselves." They explained that they give to the United Ways in all areas of
their service area, and why. They were very convincing, and as as result,
their United Fund kickoff was a overwhelming success. I even pledged $100 from
my student salary at Eastern.
I was firmly convinced that *these people*, coalminers and their families,
were the real examples of Labor Day in our nation. Even though I can cite
examples of military people doing hazardous jobs, of police officers and
firefighters braving near-death, of teachers imparting knowledge to young
minds, of other laborers from plumber to mechanics...coalminers are "it" !
Imagine doing this every day of your life, living like rats or mice or some
other animal, then coming up in the evenings to go home, take a long shower and
eat dinner...only to do this again in the morning...and every day. I couldn't
live like that...I couldn't live in a place where food and water were luxuries.
But there are places all over this nation where we do allow people to do just
One of the "undesirables" of Scouting, as stated by then Chief Scout Executive
Ben Love, was that of "poverty and the conditions which causes it". We in
Scouting have an duty, if not a personal obligation, to help eliminate poverty
by our efforts in education and teaching values of leadership. We have the
personal obligation, found in our personal religious upbringings and in the
"codes" of Scouting (the Cub Scout Promise, the Scout Oath and Law, the
Varsity Pledge, the Explorer Code), to help others at all times we could be of
In addition to our support of Scouting by encouraging youth to join, by
informing adults of what we are about and how we could use their help, and by
assisting our communities with the organization and extension of new Scouting
units..... also, please give a little of your time in support of eliminating
one of the divisions of this nation by your personal support of organizations
like the United Way/Appeal/Community Chest. If you find in your personal
convictions that you cannot support their efforts, then give your time and
energies and monies to those local agencies that *need* your support.
Labor Day is a day to rest and relax. I was able to do both today. But I am
ever mindful that my electricity, my water for my coffee on my desk and a lot
more came from coal power (in this part of the state). That coal came from
miners in Kentucky or Tennessee or West Virginia or Pennsylvania. Those men
and women work *really hard* to make sure that I can drink my third mug of
coffee, listen to CNN while I am typing this to all of you. I will always
respect the hard work of ALL of America's men and women that have toiled for
the things I take for granted.
Even if some of them had to go to Hell and back to do it for me.
Settummanque, the blackeagle... (MAJ) Mike L. Walton (
co-Owner, Blackeagle Services ___)_
(h) 502-782-7992 (f) 502-781-7279 (w) 502-782-7467 |-=-|]
5350 Louisville Road, #52 Bowling Green, KY 42101-7211 -=====-
Internet: WALTOML@WKUVX1.WKU.EDU/America OnLine: KYBLKEAGLE@AOL.COM
Blackeagle Services is NOT affiliated with & does not speak for Western
Kentucky University but is the home to Leaders Online! Ask us about it!
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City