Old Carbide Lamp
On a shelf sits an old battered
brass carbide lamp -
used by coal miners down in pits black and
It is there to remind me of the
solidarity of my dad,
who used it
in that job, as a thirteen-year-old lad.
In his quiet docile ways, finer man
ne'er trod the earth.
No man could
surpass him for moral strength from humble
He came into a harsh world, truly
poor as a church mouse;
And he left
without debt, without enemy to his house.
There is something in that lamp that
brings memories of him.
He was much
like his own dad; I was blessed to have them.
The lamp shows his poor start, he
didn't get many breaks.
got, he created - 'man his own fortune
When he died, I asked Mom if she
still had that lamp -
it from my youth, when we'd used it to
It had sound, it had smell, it
seemed something quite unique.
hiss, it would sputter, then become steady
Though he hated that coal mine, and
'the lamp' brought that back,
he was glad
he could use it in such places - far less
But - there's more to the story
than what I have just told -
humor, of his pranks, of his inventiveness
He once told, with a snicker, of one
day in the mine
'had it', up to here, when the mule gave the
He was working alone, beside the
mule with its cart -
and when it
lifted its tail, he was prepared for the fart.
He took lamp off of helmet, aimed it
under that raised tail -
and from the
methane emission blazed a blue flaming trail.
The mule clamped down his tail, took
off running down the track.
know what had happened, but he never looked
Every man down the line asked why
the mule took such flight,
So the kid
'wondered' along with them; but, he'd learned farts do
He had not ever known that, but he'd
surmised from the smell
that it just
might be so; so he figured - trial will tell!
Always thinking, that is how he
learned things all his life.
sense, simple logic, and raw talent he was
He and Mom worked and grew, they
made me feel secure.
way that it worked when hearts sought to be pure.
There were many lean years between
the worst and the best.
But, he was
grateful for his good life when he laid down to
He and Mom were a great team, always
thoughtful of one another.
I thank her
for choosing him, and I thanked him for my
So, I keep that old lamp on a shelf
It, like he
- sure and steady - had a glow of warm light.
He would laugh, if he knew where
it's sitting right now,
pleased with the thoughts that old thing brings - somehow.
Thanks for sharing,
When you get to the information on
the website about the Madonna plaque dedication, LaVeda Cross
want you to know that on
Saturday, May 6, there will 1-hour trolley rides for $2.50 each
available on that day. The first ride will be at 10:00 a.m.
and then 11:30 a.m. and then 3:00 p.m. and if enough still want a
ride, there will be one at 4:30 p.m. The trolley will be in
front of the court house. The trolley ride
will include a guided tour of the town.
And last, but certainly not least,
Jim O'Malley's "Sounds of Lexington" - which I promised last
time. Feel free to add your own sound (or scent!) memories. We'd
love to hear them.
I've been remembering
the sounds of Lexington. The sounds of my
childhood and teen years. I've come up with a list of
ten wonderful sounds.....bells, whistles, music, laughter,
foreign languages....all kinds of sounds that bring warm
fuzzies to me. Maybe your readers can also remember
them and even add some of their own. They're not
rank ordered from first to last, but rather just as they come
forth from my memory. Here they
1. Our wonderful "Town Clock" ringing
on the hour, year after year. Maybe we should call it
the "County Clock" because it's in the Court House, but
anyway, we've been able to enjoy it as if if was exclusively
ours. I always marveled at how my friends and
relatives could look up at it and easily read the
time. It's only been in my adulthood that I was
able to see that well!
2. The noon whistle of the Lexington
Steam Laundry. The laundry was located on Broadway, next
to the Mason Chevrolet Co. When it sounded, everyone downtown
could check their watches and know it was time for
3. Church bells on Sunday morning. What a
gorgeous sound to hear all of them ringing and calling us to
worship. I particularly remember the sounds of The
Angelus being rung at 12 noon and at 6pm at the Catholic
Church. In many Catholic communities when the Angelus
was rung all work would stop briefly and people would say the
Wentworth cannon being fired at the start of Dress Parade each
Sunday. During the early 1940s I would sometimes be at my
buddy Billy Adam's house on 16th Street around 2pm when the
weekly Dress Parade would begin. He lived next to the
AME church. It was during WWII and the sound of that
cannon really caught our attention.
5. Steam locomotives coming and going from Myrick
station shouting their presence with their marvelous steam
whistles. They used to sing me to sleep on summer nights
when we lived on north 10th street. One train came by
every night at 9pm and I drifted off to a beautiful series of
whistles. Man, could that engineer play that
6. The sound of excited shoppers and "Window
Shoppers" strolling up and down Main Street on Saturdays
and on practically every evening in the
summers. Sometimes you'd hear folks speaking in their
native languages. Italian, French, and German were
common in my day. In my dad's time he would have also heard
the Irish Gaelic being spoken.
7. The juke box
playing at the Maid-Rite drive-in.
Before I was in my teens the place for
dancing and good juke box music was at Cue's Cafe on Main,
next to Ford and Rush Drug Store. The juke box was in
the basement and the teens flocked
8. Live stage shows at the Main Street and
Eagle Theaters. In the early '40s the Main Street
had a children's matinee club on Saturdays that featured a
movie double header with a stage show with group singing and
with local kids singing and dancing.
I remember seeing a terrific tap
dancer named Beatrice Jean Glick and a beautiful singer named
Phyllis Jean Wylie. When I was 10 they must have been 15
or 16. I Hope I got their names right. The manager
of the theatre (I think he might have been Jack
Goladay) acted as the emcee
and kids could attend free on their birthdays.
9. The hustle and bustle of Block 42 in the
'30s, '40s, and the '50s. It wasn't just the bars
that were booming. The Bus Station was located at the
Palace of Sweets and you could catch a bus to Chicago, St.
Louis, Kansas City or wherever from there. Several Taxi
stands were on the Block, too. Rides were cheap and
the competition fierce. Many people came from out of
town to shop at Entine's Department Store, Gillan's Hardware,
the Modern Cafe, or to get haircuts from Lucien's Vocate's or
Joe Bales barber shops. Others came to play Billiards at
the pool hall.
10. I have to add one last "Sound of
Lexington" that I remember fondly. That would be the
sound of the juke box at Maud's Tavern playing the Platters,
Artie Shaw's "Stardust," and the sultry voice of singer Dinah
Washington. Along with the music was the sound of
owner Len Kelly standing next to the juke box announcing closing
time by intoning "Gotta do
I hope these favorite
memories of mine bring back many happy memories of your own.
Maybe some of you will share them with us.
Best regards to