Mining artifacts highlight exhibit at Coal Show

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CARMICHAELS – Among the coal artifacts on display in the Carmichaels fire hall this week for the 61st Annual Bituminous Coal Show is a special collection owned by the late Joseph G. Cerar, a coal miner and collector.

On Tuesday evening, Ed Begovich, representative of UMWA District 2, presented Cerar’s niece, Suzanne Giles Burrell, with a shadow box containing UMWA pins for Cerar’s 70 years of service. Begovich also gave Burrell a proclamation of recognition and thanks for Cerar’s years in the coal mining industry and preserving its history. He worked in the Gateway Mine.

At the time of his death in November 2013, Cerar was four months shy of his 100th birthday.

Burrell told Brice Rush, the current owner of Cerar’s 75-plus coal artifact collection, her “Uncle Joe would be so proud that all of his stuff is on display.”

Included in the collection are folk art pieces by Alex Kanalis of Denbo. Among other items are photographs of John L. Lewis, former president of United Mine Workers, pins, ribbons and various unique framed proclamations, coal miner photos and more. Many of the framed pieces are inscribed to Lewis himself.

Rush and his wife, Linda, have been collecting coal memorabilia for decades and said this is one of their new favorites.

“The boss (referring to his wife Linda) always says, ‘If we are meant to have it we will,’” Brice Rush said.

Included in Cerar’s collection was a book from a numbered set of 1 to 1,000. The Rushes already owned a copy of it, but inside the back cover was something that made them know this was meant to be.

“That is our phone number, or at least the last four digits of it,” Linda Rush said. “We don’t have to go and find things, they find us.”

Of special interest to the Rush family, among Cerar’s artifacts, was artwork they identified as that of artist Vachel Davis, known for depicting the subject of coal mining. Several pieces of Davis’ art is among a collection acquired by the Rush family that was displayed during the 2013 Coal Show. Some of that work and other items from their personal collection from local coal mining artists, Charles Benick of Republic, and John M. Novotny of Isabella, will also be on display.

The annual Bill Gideon Decorated Bicycle Parade will take place tonight with line-up beginning at 5:30 p.m. in the Yoskovich Funeral Home parking lot.

Friday evening, a performance by the Hit and Run band will take place on the grounds of the fire hall from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Also beginning at 7 p.m. Friday will be a coal information presentation inside the fire hall given by the Coal and Coke Heritage Center from Penn State Fayette. Beginning at 8:15 p.m. Friday there will be a free screening of the “Bituminous Coal Queens of Pennsylvania” inside the fire hall.

Saturday’s events will begin at 10 a.m. with the King Coal Charles Workman Memorial Auto/Motorcycle Show at Wana B Park and the Michael Auto Tractor Show at Michaels Auto. The King Coal Charles Workman Auto/Motorcycle Parade will start at 3:50 p.m., followed by the 61st annual King Coal Show Parade at 4 p.m.. Winning parade units will be announced on the fire hall grounds throughout the evening and a performance by the Hampton’s band will take place from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.

There is no cost to view exhibits in the fire hall or to listen to the bands.

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