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Providence Ky, Coal Town USA

Welcome to Providence, as you drive under the arch to my home town.
There is no town square, only a single traffic light to mark uptown.
Where on Saturday nights we would all collect and hang out
looking for something to do, take in a movie or shoot some pool.
Like a village lost in time, nothing seems to change,
streets are quiet by ten at night as if everyone had gone to bed.

Theater, restaurant, department stores and two pool halls,
police and fire department make up the main business section of town,
live stock auction and stockyard, just a block away.
Let's take a tour to my home from the center of town,
on my bike I can coast to within two blocks of home,
like a roller coaster ride down the long hill.

South down the hill for four blocks, past Coopers clothing store,
Plymouth dealership, Methodist church, Piggly Wiggly store and barber shop,
strong smell of coal dust as we cross the railroad tracks that skirts the town.
My grammar school is there on the hill to the right with dirty dark bricks,
like a prison waiting to hold us hostage most of the day,
swings moving in the breeze as if children were still at play.

Next door to the school stands Victory Baptist Church were we attended.
My favorite teacher, Mrs. Nickels, lived two houses ahead on the right,
The first home I remember is next door on the corner with white shingles.
A cinder block wall around the yard along the sidewalk was great for climbing.
Here I learned to first ride a bicycle down the alley and to the church,
shot a hole in my thumb with my first bb gun.

We moved across the street, second house on the left.
It looked huge when I was a child, imitation stone and two story,
now that I am older it looks like a small New England cottage.
Business have now closed, a statue of a miner stands were Coopers store
once stood, theater, restaurants, stores and pool halls all have gone.
Providence, a coal mining town, slowly drying up and dying.

--Hubert Crowell

2010 Hubert C. Crowell