Jimmy Lynch of Bridgeville would not have been able to relate to a lad born with a silver spoon in his mouth. He was a simple guy with big ambitions.
He spent most of his life building a small entertainment business in his native Bridgeville, on his own, from the ground up.
He built a pool hall, then saved some money and expanded his little empire to include a bowling alley and a motion picture theater. After that, things went bad, really bad. His business crumbled. Jimmy lost all of his property, including his home on Chartiers St., as The Pittsburgh Press reported.
“Jimmy Lynch was a man with no present, no apparent future and a past that was interesting but insolvent,” a reporter wrote to describe the life of Jimmy Lynch before black gold — as coal was called back then — was discovered on a sorry looking piece of land he put a down payment on thanks to a borrowed few hundred dollars. It would cost him $3,000 in the end.
The reason why Jimmy bought that land was because he needed a home and because he was hoping that he could make a few dollars selling off top soil to be used in new building sites.
“The top soil started to come off and so did the bad luck of Jimmy Lynch.”
This is no April Fools’ Day joke. Lo and behold! Underneath Jimmy’s estate was “one of the finest seams of strip coal ever seen in this part of the state.” It was easy to extract because it was close to the surface, it was thick and was of an unusually high quality.
In his entrepreneurial mind, Jimmy figured he could sell his coal rights to Pittsburgh Coal Co. and make some good money. He did so in April 1948 for $8,000 ($80,277 in 2015 dollars).
Soon after Jimmy’s land turned into an extraction site, the company installed a tipple and paid him $140 a month (current equivalent of $1,400) for reining the ground on which it stood. In addition to that, Pittsburgh Coal Co. paid him a royalty on every truckload of coal it moved.
For what he paid for his property, Jimmy “will probably, make about $75,000 from it the next four years” (current equivalent of $752,600).
As a giant shovel scooped coal from Jimmy’s land on the Canonsburg Rd., Jimmy bundled up his wife and daughter for a sojourn in Florida. Because… why not?