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Erin Ann Thomas

Cymyru

A Coal Miner’s Daughter

Margaret, who was only ten when her father died, worked as a nanny for the wealthy households of Merthyr to help support her family. She learned to read and write while tending the children of a superintendent from one of the local mines. “Let me help you with your schoolwork,” Margaret said when the children came home from school. Understanding her meaning, the children taught her to read from their schoolbooks. During this time, Margaret was baptized into the Church …

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Emylyn’s Memories

The Weekly Snippet: Selection from Coal in Our Veins At this cue from his wife, Emylyn opened his pale, dry lips and began to spin a monologue: “My father worked a seam of twenty-four inches that ran for miles.” In a calm, even cadence and a clear Welsh accent, Emylyn told me about the mines—stories his father must have recited to him that had now been tailored by his own telling. He was a good and steady raconteur, having obviously …

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A Visit to Big Pit Mining Museum; South Wales

 The Weekly Snippet: Selection from Coal in Our Veins Once my eyes adjusted, I sensed a cave-like coolness. I could hear water dripping, and the light from our lamps reflected against slick walls. I felt what the miners meant by the bowels of the earth. In a sense walking in a coal mine was like being swallowed. The stone seeped, suggesting the digestive juices of a black stomach. I understood why on every descent miners considered the possibility of never …

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