GFunk, had the coal regions been able to diversify 40 years ago we wouldn't see the economic devastation of the coal regions of today. 41 years ago I was a young lass flittin' around and about our county. Being female and watching kids I had grown up with burning gas in their GTO's, Monte Carlos , Camaro's and such, I would sit in wonder at Scottie's Hamburger joint, thinking "how on God's green earth can I ever afford a payment for one of those rides?". I watched these fellas going in circles from the Pineview Drive In, up to Blair's Lake and sometimes into Harlan and Evarts, wishing I might someday be able to buy a beautiful car of my own. Realizing I had no education and no chance to make the kind of living that could afford that kind of car payment, I begin to imagine how different it would be if there were jobs, other than coal mining, that would pay as well as the mining jobs my male classmates had went on to get after finishing high school. It was upsetting because I knew a good lot of these fellas personally, and a good many were dumb as a sack of rocks. Yet they were by all standards "successful", and I was not. I studied a bit on grant writing, with the hope I might obtain seed money to start a business. One that could be successful. Strip mining was becoming an issue, along with land reclamation and I thought about Ireland's wool industry, and how the reclaimed land might be suitable for grazing sheep. If I could get a sheep cooperative going, it might be an industry that could compete in wool and other products and bring jobs to people like me, who were locked out of making a living in the coal mines. I applied for a grant with the Ford Foundation, and several government agencies. Even tried to get seed money from The Quaker organization. Nothing. Nobody was interested in anything I had to say about economic diversity in the coal fields. Coal was King and i came to realize everybody thought it would always be. Eventually, I had to give up and move out of state to make a decent living. I share some of my history with the hope that the young people left, will open their eyes and fight for an opportunity to stay in their homeland. Without economic diversity, there is no hope.
Time & Tide Changes Everything