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SharePrint Media File

Type: Video

Series Title West Virginia: A Film History

Filmmaker Mark Samels

Company West Virginia Humanities Council

Format DVD


Some company towns were clean and well-maintained, with sturdy houses, paved streets, bowling alleys and a theater.

But many coal towns were cheerless and filthy. Coal dust spread like a thick, black paste over everything.

Frances Hensley: One of the greatest enemies women who lived in coal camps had was dirt – that heavy, heavy black of coal dust. One of the memories I have of my mother is that she was always cleaning. She couldn’t keep the outside of the house clean so the inside of the house, what she could control, had to be spotless. After all her children went to bed at night, she would stay up and polish those floors and polish that woodwork, every night while she waited for my dad to come home from work.

Narrator: In their backyards, women tended chickens, cows and pigs. Few families had indoor plumbing. Creeks provided drinking water and sewage disposal.

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