Category : Life, Death, and Beyond Smiggle’s Bottom

How we came to Smiggle’s Bottom

I didn’t grow up in one place. My family didn’t make far-flung “military relocation” moves but we didn’t stay in one town as most people in northern Appalachia do—for generations. I was born in Pittsburgh—only because my mother and I were very sick, sent to Pittsburgh for consultation, and the doctor deemed it wise to perform a C-section then and there. We went home to a little town on the Monongahela River, Belle Vernon, Pennsylvania. When I was four, we moved to the north side of Pittsburgh, an ancient house in an odd neighborhood on Jack’s Run Road. When I was eight we moved to Connellsville, Pennsylvania, where I lived until I went off to college in Morgantown, West Virginia. In between we visited family and friends in many small towns in the valleys and mountains of southwestern Pennsylvania. What was once a thriving coal and steel area, was in it’s demise when I grew up. The scenery varied from wild natural woodland and mountain vistas to streets of decrepit company homes, abandoned coke ovens, slag heaps, weed-covered rail road tracks, oily rivers, and slumped neighborhoods—the result of mine subsidence.
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