Pruden Cemetery stands in the middle of a coalfield, although at one time coal camp houses surrounded it. Upkeep of the cemetery is difficult, since there are so few families nearby. Our group picked up where Berry College and Berea College students left off last week. The progress is amazing, and the work provides a nice opportunity to get some sun, burn some energy, and learn to navigate thorns. Gayle Huddleston told us that there is huge seam of coal under the surface, but families resisted offers from the coal companies to move the cemetery. One section of the cemetery is known to be African American, but, sadly, only stones without writing mark the graves.
Gayle organized a hot dog roast for lunch to go along with the macaroni salad and desserts she prepared for our group. For a few students, this was the first time to roast a weenie on a stick over an open fire. The group worked hard, students and volunteers alike, and the progress shows. Families who haven’t been able to locate headstones now have a chance to find them. Cemeteries are a public space in this community, and the tradition of bringing flowers to graves on Memorial Day is still alive and well. Marie Cirillo, founding director of CCI and community developer here since 1967, reminded us of that fact over dinner.
In the evening, we rode over to Henderson Settlement to watch our young, friend Ariana play her last basketball game of the season. The red team played a good game, and Ariana’s personal cheering section displayed the same amount of enthusiasm and energy from the stands as the teams had on the floor.