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Consolidated Coal Company of Pittsburgh, 1977

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Darla Baker was employed by Consolidated Coal, 
the largest coal company in the United States at the time.
She worked in Wheeling, W.Va.

They called her Deep Throat Darla,
the blowjob miner.
They spread rumors she worked as a prostitute,
kept a mattress deep in the belly of the mine,
where she offered her services.
They tried to rape her, underground,
pinned her arms to her sides
slammed her against the earth
rubbed her face in the sooty coal dust.
When she ran, they tried again.
They slashed her tires,
felt her up in the breakroom --
their black handprints on her coveralls a scarlet letter
she did not deserve.
The boss told her to expect a lotta shit,
That a pretty girl like her should expect to be grabbed
by the ass and boobs.
He said there's nothing I can do to stop it.
So she went higher up, to her local -- to her union.
She told them the men graffitied the mine walls with chalk
wrote nasty things, drew pinups with large breasts, long hair, spread legs,
drew arrows that pointed to where she was working in the mine,
a road map for easier access.
The union just laughed,
Don't start no shit, Darla, they said,
or you'll be blackballed.
Women don't belong anyway.

-- Stephanie Brea

 

Stephanie Brea lives in Jeannette, and works as an office administrator for a museum-exhibit fabrication company. She hosts Get Lit, a monthly literary series, at DV8 Espresso Bar and Gallery, in Greensburg. Many writers featured in Chapter & Verse are guests of Prosody, produced by Jan Beatty and Ellen Wadey. Prosody airs at 7:30 p.m. every Wednesday on WYEP 91.3 FM.

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