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RED JACKET, WV

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Sep. 2001 image by author

Small truck mine coal loader between Red Jacket and Matewan.


Sep. 2001 image by author

A coal camp named Red Jacket, built by the Red Jacket Consolidated Coal & Coke Co. and later owned by the mighty Island Creek Coal Co.


Dec. 2006 image by author

These homes in Red Jacket were probably constructed for officials of the company, and are similar to the ones the company built in Wyoming, WV.


Dec. 2006 image by author

Former Red Jacket school.


Circa 1916 Coal Age image via Google Books

Men working the picking tables in Red Jacket Consolidated Coal & Coke Company's tipple at Delorme, WV.


Sue Shields Ratliff recalled her childhood memories from Red Jacket to the Bluefield Daily Telegraph:

"In 'the camp,' children played from dawn to dusk in the summer time, (and sometimes later). We had the run of the streets and alleys and as traffic was almost nonexistent and the few cars that did travel the camp watched diligently for playing children. Between the four-room houses and the five-room houses was a 'V' alley where there was enough room for a makeshift baseball diamond and where you could always find a softball game in progress. With no formal recreation areas the people in the camp made do with what was available to them. We had box suppers, talent shows and other community gatherings in the union hall in the upper end of the camp.

"There was the big company store for food, clothing, furniture and all the necessities of life, a post office, a community church, (Baptist one Sunday, Methodist the next), and a doctor’s office.

"Dr. J.C. Moore, who watched over all the medical needs of the community, had his office near the company store. When anyone came down with a cold or the flu or chicken pox etc., Dr. Moore was there to see to our needs. Dr. Moore’s nurse, Mrs. Arnold, was always there and about as good at doctoring as Dr. Moore was. His office consisted of two examining rooms, a back storage room for medicine and such, and a waiting room. There was no receptionist or appointments. Dr. Moore would just open the door of one of the examination rooms and call out, 'Next.' After treating you he took you into the back storage area (which was also his office) where there were shelves full of pills and liquids of all sizes shapes and colors. Dr. Moore would select the right medicine, put a handful of pills in a small white envelope, lick it to seal and write the directions on the front of the envelope and send you on your way.

"Many of the woman of that day had what they called 'nerve problems.' This could consist of any thing from a argument with their husband to tragedy in the family to mid-life crises, or menopause. Dr. Moore was famous for his green nerve medicine that he dispensed regularly to these ladies. No one ever knew or cared what it was or what was in it but it worked and was in great demand. All medical care was free (including the green nerve medicine), if you worked for the company and paid into the 'doctor bill fund.'

...

Rarely a day goes by that I don’t think of the wonderful days growing up in the camp. Families in the camp were close. Everyone knew everyone else, what house they lived in, the names of all the family members and even family members who did not live in the camp but came to visit. Life was simpler then but life was also rich, rich in family, friends and neighbors. Rich in the great education both formal and informal that was gained by being a part of that community. Rich in the simple fact that you were from 'down in the camp.' I never knew of anyone who lived in the camp being financially rich when I was growing up. Some had a little more than others but in the camp it did not matter. Many valuable lessons were learned by growing up in the camp and many life-long friendships were made. Many of us have moved on, some have moved away, some have even made their final move, but today I feel richer because I grew up in 'the camp,' a place I will never forget and people I will always remember and love."


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