Mining Town Girl


Other Books by the Author;

A Child’s Journey Through Darkness

Weeping Child to Forgiving Child

A Child Interrupted

And The Child grew Up

Crushed Violets

Love Letters to Daddy


Copyright © 2017 by Donna Nieri

Mining Town Girl

It is a rainy

night in the city

and all is still.

Children are

awakened and rushed

to the car, not

sure where they are.

This is a story

told of a

family’s quest

for freedom and


A mama, a sister and

her brother and

someone they don’t

know. All they know,

he is not their


The travelers leave

the city in their

blue Chevy coup,

as children peer out

the window, kneeling

on a pillow.

Going west, travels

are long, the car

is small and they

are pressed.

The sister and her

brother ride in

the back with

their old black


Mama and whoever he

is, bicker and argue.

There is a strange

smell of liquor as

he takes a swallow.

Going east,

passing the desert

floor, over dusty

sands and hills


unto the high desert.

Large mountains loom

before them, as the

car climbs the twists

and turns, higher and


Shadows of the

Sierra’s fade in the

distance, coming to

a land of lavender

shaded hills and

rugged ravines.

It’s a long way from


Reaching the crest,

the children are

sick and they stop

to rest,

looking around,

scrubby bushes and

stunted trees,

are all they see.

Day begins to close

and darkness falls as

they stop beside the

road of this

lonely land,

unloading their meager


A kindling of fire

sizzles, as they heat

a can of beans.

Chores are easy, with

some coffee to pour.

The sun begins to sink

as children go to

sleep, with old army

blankets from

the car’s back


Sounds of the desert

are frightening at

night, with coyotes,

rattlesnakes and

Great Horned owls.

Stars are clearer

here, a peaceful

scene after the

smoggy skies of

the city lights.

Night is

restless and the

children are scared,

the man sits by the

fire drinking beer

and gin, and then

laughs and grins.

Morning brings more

arguing, anger

and tears with mama,

and the man puts on

his hat and boots

and walks down the

road with his

bottle of whiskey,

waving goodbye

with his shifty


While all of this

is going on the

children wonder

where their father


The sun’s warmth is


waking these

migrants as they

hasten on.

The children have

hungry stomachs,

with no breakfast

and all this havoc.

There is a vastness

here, of dry creeks

and ravines. Clear

blue skies host mean

black birds

circling high.

Coming around a bend

on this desolate road,

there is a little

mining town. They

finally arrive.

Barely a green thing

grows here,

except by the mill

where water

washes ore and

dirt on the

mining floor.

There are people

all around, panning

for gold. Hoping to

strike it rich.


they run to and

fro, one man wins

and another owes.

It hits their brain,

making them insane.

Not much of a town,

main street

has a saloon and

gambling hall

mixed in one. Mama

will go there till

the money is done.

She is always dealt

a shady hand. Then

in her anger she

hollers and

yells and tells them

to go to hell.

The smell of

hamburgers and fries,

tantalize these

travelers, but for

now they will eat

potatoes and beans.

On the windy road to

this town, there is a

castle, some of it is

falling apart, with

ruins on the ground,

but the walls are

standing. The girl and boy

like to play here and

pretend they are kings

and queens. It is a

safe place to be.

When they go to

their mining shack for the

night, mama heats up a can

of Dinty Moore stew in

an old iron pan.

A one room school has

mean ornery kids. They

don’t like these children

and shame their dirty

clothes and hair.

But after awhile

the kids are

nice, they play

kick the can,

and eat honey

grahams and the

children start to

like this place.

Then mama decides

she wants to move,

they head for the

wide open space.

Back in the little

coup, the girl isn’t

sure where she is

going, with brother,

Chow and now a

couple of kittens.

After a few hours they

come to a town, sort of like

the one they just left.

Another school to get use

to with new rules. Fall

comes to an end.

Mama finds another mining

house. Don’t ask how. She

is good at swinging deals,

just not when it comes to

fixing meals.

One that is cold

and drafty and the house

out back stinks real bad.

The girl doesn’t go there

unless she has to, only

when mama is mad.

There is not much in it,

but a mattress and table

with a potbellied stove.

A red quilt with big

stitches that someone

must have forgotten in the

rush for gold.

It has four small rooms

with an old lean to shed

on the back.

A kitchen with a

green wood stove. When

they are lucky, mama bakes

bread and the children are

happy. Then they will get

french toast and bread

pudding if there is any


There are scary tales

about mining towns, as

they sit around the

fire at night.

One of the towns

has a narrow road

running through it

and at the end are

walls of dark slate

rock on

either side, known

as Devil’s Gate.

Almost since man


silver and gold,

it was a gateway

for thousands of


It’s reputation

was forever

tarnished when

the narrow passageway

was known as a

hideout for robbers.

There was a toll to

be paid to pass

through the gate to

get through to the

Comstock Load.

Sometimes there

were thieves and

robbers that

held people up and

stole their riches.

People feared

living here. Guess

that’s why they call

it a ghost town.

One time mama and

the children have

not very much to

do. This night they

play a game called

Ouija Board. It

is dark in the

house and mama asks

it questions. They

tell her to go to

the lean to shed,

there will be

money in the walls.

She looks and

looks and tears it

apart, but never finds


When dead people

start talking,

they run out of the

house and never

play it again.

Mama has another

friend she finds

and they still

argue and yell and

when the children smell


they know there will

be another brawl.

A creek runs

below the house. It’s lined

with aspen and willow.

A place to swim in the

summer and water to haul

when pipes freeze in

the winter.

A road about quarter

of a mile goes to the school,

then up a road to the right,

with swings and slides,

and not so many school yard


A kind lady lives down the

road, when things get

really rough, they

know where they can go.

Running down the canyon

in tears and fright in

the middle of the night.

She makes pasty, what

the miners use to eat. Meat and

vegetable in a crimped

pastry shell.

Eating with delight,

they forget their plight,

returning home just before the last fight.

As oft the case, the old

mining shacks had no

foundation. The miners put

them up in a hurry, just

to get by, so they

could go on to the next

town to get rich, steal

and die.

The prickly pear and desert

peach is about all this damn

land can conceive.

Every mining town has

a celebration. The women fry

chicken and put on their best.

With their red checkered

dress and stroll down town to

hear the local fiddler

playing merry songs. Just for

the day all give their cares

of living in this forsaken place


Children get full on fried

chicken and apple pie and hot

apple cider.

Then they go

home to bed, first checking for

hiders, scorpions and

spiders. They have to be brave

to be saved in this town.

Winter comes on and there is

not much to do. Mama and her

friend lose their money at the

saloon. Now there is no more


One of the rare times, when

there is money, they drive to


Mama puts the children in the

movie house so they can gamble.

If the children are lucky, they

get popcorn and cracker-jacks

and little sacks of candy.

Leaving town,

about a 50 mile ride, to where

they reside, on a windy road,

and nothing between, the Chevy

coup’s spindle bolt breaks,

turning the car over three

times, landing on its top.

Falling on her brother, he

can’t breathe. Eggs and milk

don’t break, guess the car

was not up to such a heavy


Now mama decides she wants to

move on. Once again they head

for the wide open spaces.

After a few hours they come

to a town, sort of like the

one they just left.

Snow in the mining towns make

it very hard to get around.

An early storm makes it icy

and cold, but the snow is

exciting for children from

the city.

It is frozen in the mining house,

12 degrees too cold for 12 inch

buried pipes. The blow torch

takes all night.

Slipping down the icy hill,

they carry buckets of water

from the creek. Sometimes

snow drifts are pretty deep.

The old wood stove goes out,

when they go to school. Things

look pretty bleak.

Their breath, like little puffs

of smoke, mix with frost on the

window panes.

The roof leaks, making an

obstacle course of pans and

bowls, to catch the water

dripping from the holes.

Listening to the rats in the

attic, left alone most of the

time, they scramble to survive,

amazing what children can do.

Winter comes and it is

Christmas time in the mining

town. A time for celebration.

A holiday parade is a lot

of fun. A few of those who

play carols march down the

street along with children

singing and playing to the

drums beat.

Because there are no trees

in the town,

the miners go up into a

nearby mountain and cut

a pinion pine.

The tree is decorated with

sagebrush garland and crepe

paper bells and colorful

candy, fruits and


Gathering around the blazing


jolly ol’ Saint Nick

hands out gifts. No one

thinks about the hardships

here when they have such

a happy time as this.

Some towns are lucky they

live close enough to cut

a tree. In one of the towns

they live, the tree is

called the “never green tree”

where they make one out of

boards nailed together or

some find the largest

tumbleweed and decorate it

with pretty ribbons and


Snow begins to fall and they

run inside, where hot

chocolate and gifts are

given to all.

The skies are overcast and

dark and very ominous.

One winter night, the wind

howls at the door, the stove

goes out, but for a few coals

and thunder rolls. The sleeping

child wakes with a start, running

to mama’s bed but she isn’t there,

a man is instead.

Running to the window, looking

for mama through the icy pane

and the driving rain, she doesn’t

see her and goes back to bed


Another storm of many -

Screeching and howling, a winter

storm tears through the town,

they have a story to tell, one

from hell.

Winter recedes and mama makes

the man (whoever he is) leave.

They are on their way to the next


Part 2

The children have grown to like

this town. They cry with tears

and say goodbye.

Mama says big girls don’t cry.

Heading down the road with

heavy hearts, will this be any

different than the ones before?

One more mountain, one more hill?

Reaching the summit after winding

curves, almost to the top, the

car begins to heat and stops.

Mama sits on a rock,

swearing like only she can and

then begins to cry.

The children try to

comfort her, but she jerks

her head and says lets go,

we have places to go

and returns to the car in

a huff.

She doesn’t mean to be so rough,

it is just that she does what

she has learned as a child and

knows no better.

The car cools down and they are

back on the road. It is dark and

shadows lurk. It seems

the forces of evil are against

these people.

Driving from town

to town, living

in abandoned

shacks, with a dog

and cat and attic

rats, is all they know.

Their eyes get big and wide,

as the sun cast’s it’s spell.

Slants of light reflect the

largest town seen in their

travels and rides.

Nestled in the hills are

little shacks, with

old slats of wood and chimney

stacks. Once, windows lit with

candles, for the last drunk miner

staggering home, now empty and


Huge pockets in the

earth, with abandoned mines and

brown crusty hills.

Boards creak in front of the saloon,

as the children hunt for cigarette


Their first puff of a butt

sends them coughing, spitting

and reeling, don’t think

they will be doing much more

of that.

On the front bench of the

saloon, a few old miners take a

rest, with a bottle of whiskey

and tainted breath.

A church abandoned long ago,

a hymn never sung again. Pages

ripped from the wind.

It is Sunday morning, cold and

dreary, the children wake

to a strange noise. Running

to the window, there is a

group of people singing,

men in black and ladies following.

A box on a wagon is

pulled by a horse, going

through a gate with a sign,

“All Who Go Through

Here Do Not Return.”

Quickly the boy and girl

slip on their boots, running

behind this procession.

A deep place has been dug,

the shovel lays on a

mound of dirt, a song is

sung and a man says a few

words. Ones that mention

things they haven’t heard

before. Ones that will

be meaningful and helpful

later in their life.

Then the box is lowered

into the ground.

The women softly weep and

all is still as the snow

begins to fall and a man

places a wreath of sage

upon the grave.

Another fellow miner lost

to a mining cave.

Shoes dirty and old from

traversing these withered towns,

the girl’s feet grow and a new

pair is well over do.

Shoes without soles and clothes

that don’t fit, beginning the

confusing years of adolescence.

A hand slides down her body,

fingers where they should not be,

she reaches for the side of the

bed. Where are you mama, when

she needs you most? As

most girls do, she is shamed

and nothing is said.

Mama is very lean, a shadow

of herself, she doesn’t eat

much and lives on coffee.

But she packs a lot of weight

when the going gets tough

and things are rough. Better

watch out when she puts on

her Levi’s, boots and cowboy

hat. And has some spats.

There always seem to be a

little sugar and butter

around. Mama mixes it up

and they eat it by the

spoons. The girl doesn’t

know why she feels so blue,

that she has the sugar blues.

Mama meets a man and like so

many in a mining town,

he is very mean when he drinks.

He hits mama real bad and

does bad things in front of

the children, making them

very sad.

One day he comes home drunk

and orders the boy to get

the gun, he shoots the cat

in front of them, they are

stunned. The sound of the

gun in their ears, there

is blood and tears. They

would just have to get

another one.

One night they are sleeping

in a shed on the floor.

A sudden banging on the door.

They awake to pounding of

his fists. He orders to open

at once. They sit quietly

in a daze.

Then it is quiet, where did

he go? Suddenly he is back

with a marlin spike, hitting

the door with three more

strikes. Once more there

is silence. He passed out.

They run, fleeing for their


Everyone needs a horse in

a mining town. Well, that’s

what mama thinks.

They hardly have food for

themselves, but the boy

thinks it is great.

She and her brother roam the


seeking asylum from

the screaming and yelling

drifting from the mill.

These caverns once

teeming with life,

now hushed from

the bygone years

of rush. But

when the

children play and

laugh they come


It is time to go

home, they run

across the earth,

ready for the next

force of evil to

bite at their heels.

On a very difficult day,


on the porch of the mining

house, the distraught girl

begins to cry, tears fall,

sliding down her cheeks,

spilling upon her dress,

drowning her in grief.

She can no longer bear this

pain and seeks solitary peace.

Walking up the canyon, down a

ravine, to a chamber of mines,

maybe here she can hide.

The heat of the day meets the

coolness of earth, creating

a rush of wind pulling her

into a shaft of wandering


She is tired, her mind falls

into a nightmare.

She is fleeing a land of

desolation, one overlooked in

the beginning of creation.

An army of swarming locusts

stampede to war, devouring the

land of all living things.

Tangled vines bury their

noxious seeds.

Puncture vines and tumble

weeds are all that is left behind.

Dry stony gullies and creeks,

as far as the eye can see.

There is a droning

of a mill down the way,

separating ore from dirt,

eating rocks like a

monster with huge steel

teeth, writhing in pain,

as it grunts and groans,

glaring with its fearful


Spitting rocks in the dirt,

it’s tongue swinging back

and forth, tailings oozing

out dung.

The noise is unbearable, many

wheels turning and spinning

in her head, clocks ticking

and chiming all at once.

Spinning, ticking, turning,

tossing in her sleep. Sighing,

crying, grinding of her teeth.

She is pressed on every

side, as ore and rocks are

crushed and washed, of all

dross of confusion and fear,

washed away in tears.

And then there is silence,

but for the stifled cry

of a child, one the girl has

heard before. One she has

ignored and denied.

The child appears for a moment,

then hides.

A rusty cage with

joints that creak and rattle,

slowly descends to a battle.

But there is a toll to pay to

ride this cage. One for errors

and mistakes. She must be

perfect in all her ways.

Alarmed for the safety of

the child, she searches among

crumbling beams, disturbing

lizards, vipers and spiders,

spinning webs in between.

Wind blows making eerie


echoing voices of long ago.

The rope lowers the cage, as

she picks and shovels all day

and night. Nothing moves to

the left or right. The more

she shovels the deeper it gets.

Continuing to shovel, adding

more rocks to her sack. Her

load is heavy and too much

to bear.

Icicles in the cave drip tears

on her mind, drip, drip never

goes away.

The riches of this mine have

long since passed. It is futile

to mine for silver and gold,

but the girl keeps on, it is

all she knows.

Her earthly father she seeks,

the one left behind, perhaps

he can help her find the

child she seeks.

Ore cars with miners, rush

down the tunnel’s rails, bright

sparks light the darkness,

silhouettes of scowling faces

taunt the girl.

She descends even further,

there is a sound of thunder.

Swords of brilliant yellow

and orange leap from

the graves of those below.

Winds shriek with a thousand

demons seeking the girl.

She has arrived to the depth’s

of hell.

Miners in black attire, press

together, marching across this

barren land. Tramping boots and

beating drums with pails of

coal, to lay a stake upon her


Candle lit hats

are slowly snuffed,

leaving them in darkness.

An oncoming army moves from the

east. Marching with their banners

of victory and peace.

There is a lull, as the enemy

retreats. The child caught in

a ring of fire is released.

Quickly, the girl pulls the child,

as a brand from the fire,

now they are one.

Part 3

How does she escape these depths

of hell? Looking up to the

top of this dungeon of despair, there

is light everywhere.

A ladder with six

wooden rungs has

been provided, as

she begins to ascend.

This rung is one of several

she must climb, one at a time.

A rush of wind spews from the


pushing her body around. She

begins to lose faith when

she looks down.

More rungs on the ladder to go,

continuous climbing as

she ascends the next rung.

A false father god beckons her,

he is the one she clings to on

this rung. Coming closer, he

fades away.

There is a wall she cannot

ascend. Even this ladder will

not take her to him.

The rungs are splintering from

constant motion of her feet,

shifting with effort to cling

to this rung of defeat.

Anger grips her, neglect and

abuse leave her resentful.

Eyes full of tears, she cries,

questioning why.

A stronger wind comes up, rain

begins to fall, once again she

holds on to the rope tighter,

than she did before.

Kneeling with one eye

open, gazing through the

darkness not seeing him.

Where is the one she should

be looking for?

The wind has stopped, along

with the rain. The rung is

unable to bear more strain.

One rung left,

Once more she looks up, the

rope is easier to grip. A Hand

reaches to hers.

She has climbed six rungs,

the father she searched for

is gone and dead.

Looking above, she sees another

Father instead. He knows her

struggles to climb the ladder

alone. Though she knows it not,

He has been with her no matter

where she has been.

Part 4

They never did strike

it rich.

But through these travels they

found riches far better than


The earth crumbled beneath

their feet, they felt the

gusts of wind and ate the


It took a lot of trust to

live in a land like this.

Their mama loved them the

best she could, everywhere

she went they went too, taking

them for a ride, over hills

bumps and ridges, that

would become bridges over time.

This is where they should

be, in spite of misery and

despair. They are being

prepared for the lessons

of life.

The years the locusts

have eaten, have been restored

to the girl and boy and

the land has been renewed.

It is a long way from

LA for this mining town

girl today.

The circuit of her travels is

telling a story. One that

unravels in time.

One hopefully that will help

others on their travels as



Mining Town Girl

A story of two children abruptly removed from their home and father. Taken to a dismal land, one of difficulty and abuse. How they learned to cope and later turning it into lessons that would be crucial in learning perseverance and trust.

  • ISBN: 9781370679126
  • Author: Donna Nieri
  • Published: 2017-09-25 03:20:22
  • Words: 3907
Mining Town Girl Mining Town Girl