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Thursday, April 04, 2013

April 4th - My Dad Died Today

Harry Nathan Everhart - 1916 to 1982 - coal miner. This picture was sent along with his application for Miners Asthma benefits. He was 60 here - he died at age 66.

Dad died. It feels like yesterday - but it was 31 years ago in 1982. He was 66 years and 2 days old. He was a coal miner at Number 8 in Coaldale PA for 25 years - 1934 to 1959. It is funny how your job identifies and defines you - his life was dominated by lungs full of coal dust.

He grew up in Coaldale in a company home. When he was 7 - his father left and Dad refused to talk about him ever again. When the company wanted to throw his Mom and the 4 kids out of the company patch home - he agreed to go into the mine and be "indentured" to the company. "He sold his soul to the company store." At age 7.

As he mined coal - he bought a small farm with no plumbing along the Blue Mountain in West Penn Township. For almost 10 years - he tried to mine in the day and moonlight as a farmer. For 10 years he served as the scoutmaster of a Boy Scout troop in Snyders PA - earning the gold key for his service - most of which was before I was old enough to participate.

He would have been 97 - two days ago.

He married my Mom in 1941 before World War II started when miners were considered vital to the defense of our country and exempt from service. Their coal powered the factories and ships that helped defeat the Axis. Little did Dad know that his father was serving as a Merchant Marine - and was killed off the coast of the Dominican Republic by a submarine while carrying those war goods to Europe. I wish Dad knew that.

Near the end of his life - when the mine closed - and then his factory closed - he was suffering from Black Lung. He applied to the federal government for benefits. His case dragged on for years. One day he got a phone call from Washington saying his case was approved and he was getting a back-pay check for $20,000. He was so convinced it was his buddies at the firehouse busting his butt - that he hung up on them - that was my Dad. A few days later - the check arrived - maybe the happiest day of his life. He was too old and too sick for work - his wife was working in the mill - and he was too young for Social Security. He was broke.

One other smart move he made - Dad and I liked to collect coins. In 1960s - I was 12. The government decided to stop making silver coins. We were convinced that someday silver coins would be worth much more money. So we collected every dime - quarter - and half dollar we could. We had almost $1000 worth. In 1978 - 4 years before he died - someone tried to corner the silver market. The price shot up to 23 times face value. We piled the $1000 of coins into our pockets and drudged to Allentown.  A coin collector gave him $23,500. I guess the statue of limitations has run our on claiming it on his income tax so I can brag. Dad was so happy - he was 62 - not yet on Social Security - and this coal miner has a bank account. He never made more that $10,000 a year - and he had a nest egg. Inflation was crazy then under President Jimmy Carter - Dad bought some CD's at 16%. the money was all there when he died and then some.

By all measures - he died a rich man. He was married to the same woman 41 years. He had 3 kids that loved him to death - He served his community as a scoutmaster and fireman - and he worked 25 years in the coal mine. He golfed and bowled the day before he died. Mom said he was even romantic. He woke up Palm Sunday with his family. He had a cigarette in one hand and black coffee in the other. He has a massive heart attack in his easy chair and fell over dead.

He was 66 years and 2 days old. He was married 41 years. I just turned 65 - Lulu and I are married 41 years. I have had it so much easier thanks to Dad.

Dad loved to takes pictures with his timer camera. That is cousin Bob Schleicher on his last day before Marine Boot Camp. Bob and Dad has a special relationship.

Dad used to love to go fishing with his buddies in Canada. They would go into the wilderness for a week and not shave. His grandkids Suzie and Billy like his white Santa beard.

Dad loved to bowl and he was good. He was 56 years old here and president of the league.

Another of Dad's timer photos - that is sister Judy and me there. We are the last two Beatle standing.

This is Dad holding me at the Bungalow Park in Tamaqua PA. I ended up meeting Lulu there and build our home of 33 years overlooking the park and pool.

This was taken in May 1970 in Kutztown PA. That is the first Everhart with a college diploma - Dad with a Camel - Mom smiling. 

Dad never knew this about his Dad - and that is sad.

Dad was the chief engineer at South Ward Fire Company. He loved these guys and they loved to bust each other.

Dad loved his grandkids  - he met every one of them. Suzie Fritz was in her backyard.

In 1978 - we all went on a trip to Florida in my bus. Lulu was pregnant with Keith. Dad loved 80 degrees in February in Doris Meneses's backyard.

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