The dinner bucket, as it was called
Was a must-have for a coal miner
No running out to get fast food
Or eating lunch at the local diner

It had two compartments plus the lid
The top portion was packed with food
Cold pump water filled up the bottom
Washed the coal dust down really good

Each day when the dinnertime whistle blew
The miners gathered together to eat
Laughing and talking and chewing the fat
Weathering both the cold and the heat

Daddy told us how they all ate dinner
By the light of their carbide lamps
In places where they couldn't even stand
And heavy tool belts held with clamps

It was a time to smoke or take a chaw
And relax before they started again
Blasting and shoveling and loading coal
Until the workday came to an end

In the late afternoon when the whistle blew
We watched for Daddy to come walking home
Covered with coal dust and shoulders slumped
Probably more tired than we'd ever known

So glad he was safe, we hugged him tight
And took the dinner bucket from his hand
He always left a treat for the littlest one
Who usually just grabbed it and ran

I'm sure there were times he was hungry
But he always saved some kind of treat
A raisin cake, a cookie or a piece of pie
Became a treasure for the baby to eat

At only sixty-one and with black lung
God took him to the Promised Land
I can still see my Daddy limping home
With that dinner bucket in his hand

Kathleen McCoy Eldridge©
August 5, 2007
All Rights Reserved

"As Long As I Live"
Sequenced by Harry Todd
The Country Tunes