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Posted by ESC on August 28, 2003

In Reply to: Not even in jest? posted by Brian from Shawnee on August 28, 2003

: : : : : : : My wife is a Coal Cracker, meaning that she comes from the anthracite coal mining region of Central Pennsylvania. I come from New Jersey, which isn't geographically very far away, but I'd never heard the term before I met her.

: : : : : : : I was just wondering if the term is used in other coal mining regions of the country, such as Western PA, Kentucky, West Virginia, or even another country? I'd be interested to know if it's a local expression, or which region it may have originated in. I have a feeling the term must go back to the heyday of coal mining, prior to the 1920's. Thanks...

: : : : : : I'll look up "coal cracker" in my regional slang dictionaries this evening. I've never heard this phrase -- I'm a coal miner's daughter from West Virginia. I've done some online research and searched new and used bookstores trying to locate a miners' slang book. No luck yet.

: : : : : Brian, what's the context of your wife's usage? In more Southern areas, 'cracker' isn't the same as 'hillbilly', but it carries a similar connotation. Coal-mining areas in WV and PA tend to be rural and impoverished, and people there might sardonically refer to themselves as 'crackers'. On the other hand, it might be a slang term for some technical coal-processing activity. Context is everything.

: : : : 'Hick' is another similar word.

: : : I believe this is a different type of "cracker." And I can assure you that nobody in my region ever referred to himself as a cracker or a hick.

: : They do where I come from.

: In central PA the epithet "Coal Cracker" is spoken rather proudly. When I'm in trouble my wife solemnly intones "never cross a Coal Cracker"!

It's like "cutter" in the movie "Breaking Away."

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