The late, great Loretta Lynn is one of the country music scene’s most enduring figures. But her path to fame and fortune wasn’t always the easiest. The coal-miner’s daughter grew up in a humble house in a small Kentucky town. And taking a tour inside this home, a million miles away from her later days of fame and success, you can see for yourself just how much the odds were stacked against her.
The country star was born Loretta Webb in Butcher Holler to mother Clara and father Melvin, the latter a subsistence farmer and coal-miner. And it’s fair to say that the latter job in particular wasn’t well-paid.
For every ton of coal that Melvin mined with nothing but his hands and a shovel he was rewarded with just 25 cents. And this wasn’t in pure money terms, either.
Love, not money
Yes, back in the 1930s most miners took home scrip and not cash, meaning they could only spend their hard-earned wages in shops owned by their bosses. Luckily, Loretta and her family seemed to make the most of this poverty-stricken situation.
The country singer often spoke about the fact that while her parents had struggled to make ends meet, they always made sure their eight kids felt loved. What's more, they never complained about their predicament.
In one of several memoirs Loretta revealed how she saw her father as a hero for his physically arduous job. The singer wrote, “He kept his family alive by breaking his own body down.”
While Melvin was out mining coal at the Consolidated Number Five Mine, her mother Clara took care of her eight children. She’d often read to them until he returned home.
Loretta’s childhood was no doubt a slightly insular one. You had to walk 3 miles to Van Lear, the nearest town to Butcher Holler, and a further 7 for the next one, Paintsville.
She was also one of just 4,000 people living in the area at the time. And Loretta had to wait until her adolescent years to experience many of the things that most kids take for granted from a young age.