When I was growing up we didn’t have heat pumps, oil stoves, or furnaces to heat our home.  We had a Warm Moring wood and coal burning stove.

One thing that would always drive my dad crazy was the fact that there were six kids in the house but not one of us would bring in a bucket of coal to keep the fire from going out in the stove.

I remember the day as if it were yesterday when dad got so mad at us that he made all six of us go with him to the coal pile so he could show us ‘how’ to put coal in a bucket.

So, here we are, all six of us circled around the coal pile listening to dad lay down the law about how that from this point on WE were going to bring a bucket of coal in the house…or we would all get our behinds tanned with a belt.

For good measure dad demonstrated how to properly ‘bust’ big chucks of coal so there would be no excuse for us not bringing a bucket of coal inside the house because the coal bucket was too heavy to carry.

Dad picks up two huge chunks of coal.  One piece of coal in his right hand, and the other in his left hand. He swung his arms up high in the air as if he was attempting to do a jumping jack and then brings in arms back down together at lightning speed to crash the two pieces of coal together.   

I was so in awe of my dad’s display of strength as I watched him crash the two pieces of coal together and it shattering into little pieces!

My ‘in awe’ quickly turned into concern when my dad started cursing a blue streak and yelling to the top of his lungs, “The first one of you that laughs”.  Now I don’t know what else he was going to say because he seemed to have trouble putting words together to make a sentence.

The reason for my father’s sudden outburst is because when he brought the two pieces of coal crashing together he forgot to keep his thumbs out of the way and he crashed the coal on his thumbs!

I must admit that for me and my siblings it was really hard to not laugh when we see our dad hopping from one foot to the other like something out of a cartoon, cursing to the top of his lungs, while clutching his thumbs, and muttering half sentences about kid’s and first one to laugh!  So we did what any loving children would do…we scattered so dad couldn’t see us laughing!

As for me, I learned a very important lesson that day, which is; if you’re going to bust coal always remember to keep your thumbs out of the way!

I don’t ever recall dad ever fussing at us again from not bringing in a bucket of coal.


Donna Faye, CDP