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MARY’S MEANDERINGS: August 28 — The Versatile Coal Miner’s Dinner Bucket

I have a coal miner’s dinner bucket, but it’s missing the pie tray. Surely, there’s one out there someplace.

What brought the subject of a coal miner’s dinner bucket up? Let me explain.

A neighbor visited with me the other day and it seems we tried to crowd everybody and everything we both knew about our community…Jenny Lind, into our conversation before our visit was completely over; since we’re both coal miner’s kids who never left this place we love.

It was a visit of pure enjoyment for both.

We talked and talked.

As my visitor was leaving, the last thing spotted was my miner’s dinner bucket (dust and all) on a shelf that holds other coal mining memorabilia.

That dinner bucket was the reason my neighbor decided to “stay a little longer” as questions were asked and answered and the word REMEMBER was used over and over by both of us.

My visitor asked, “After the coal mines shut down and the miners found other jobs, knowing their mining days were over, I wonder what happened to their old dinner buckets?”

Standing right there, in a few minutes, we figured it all out…after all this time and both wondering.

The coal miner’s dinner bucket consists of four pieces. The water bucket, dinner deck, pie tray and the lid.

Of course, some did weather the storm…like mine, but over the years and during these times, little was discarded and the family might just acquire a bucket for milking, just right for picking blackberries, wild plums and huckleberries.

I remember my brother, Price, carrying Daddy’s to the creek, filled with crawdads, and after fishing, bring it home, filled with blackberries. Yes!

The dinner deck was very useful. Mama washed dry beans, mixed biscuit dough, chipped ice and made homemade flour starch.

The pie tray was used as an extra cake pan, to bake bread and sometimes (when all the others were dirty,) used as a plate.

And the lid? Not quite as versatile…but I’ve seen my mama more times than one, holding it in her lap piled high with potatoes to peel.

The only reasoning we could “come up” with for the old miner’s dinner buckets being so hard to find…and we both agreed. Maybe…over the years they just “wore out” from “family over-use.”

I’m so proud of mine!

If anyone has a pie tray, please call 479-996-2227.