Vol. 1-Interview-Charingo


Angela Varesano 7/20/72 Joe Charnigo

Props made of pine and oak logs were used in the mines. Boards were shoved between the prop upright and the ceiling to keep the prop in place. Sometimes they were twenty inches in diameter to prop the ceiling up. Another was laid across the top of the prop to form the hoizontal beam.

In April 1917, he remembers the murder of one of his uncles by the other. These two brothers of his father just got home (on Shandy Street) from drinkijng at a bar in Hazlebrook called The Blue Pig. One got to arguing with the other over some money he owed him; the first brother wanted his money back. The other would not pay. The first brother, apparently having had too much to drink, went upstairs and shot the second brother in the throat, killing him. The murderer only spent six years in jail and then came back to work at Eckley.

Easter Monday, was known as duckin’ day. As the mule drivers came home, they would get splashed by the women at the pump. Monday was men duckin’ the women. Tuesday was women duckin’ the men.

Men used to shovel the road open for the children to go to school. They would also shovel the road to the store so supplies could be reached. All the men worked at this shoveling. They shoveled the railroad trucks so cars could get through and coal mining could progress.

After I left Marshlick’s, Mr. Charnigo called me over to his porch and said he remembered something else to tell me. Then he related the existence of “the love rock.” This was a place used as a central meeting spot for friends and a place to stroll past in couples. It is down the road by Gera’s house. It is a big rock which couples used to walk up and down by (in front of). They used to say to friends, “I”ll meet you at the love rock.” They would sit on it in couples. Sunday afternoon strollers used to go by it in couples, going for chesnuts and huckleberries in the woods. They would also stroll up and down the road (Main Street).


Angela Varesano 7/20/72 Joe Charnigo

School discipline was by paddle. If somebody in class did something wrong, the whole class would suffer because no one would “suck after” or squeal. There would be no recess for a couple of days. They also get paddles. You only got hit twice, but with the suction of the paddle, you wouldn’t sit for a while.

Joe used to play the harmonica or mouth organ, as he calls it, while driving the mules. The mules got so used to hearing the mouth organ that they wouldn’t go without the music. Songs he played included polkas, “My Blue Heaven,” (which was his first harmonica song) “Down in the Valley,” and “Down by the Old Mill Stream.” He used a Horner “Marine Band” harmonica in the key of C.

Hucksters used to come through one at a time. While one was inside a house, they took the whole load of bananas, the whole stock, which was a couple dozen. They took them into the woods and got sick.

Emro Silvasi was the mean man. He had a canvas-covered wagon which was black with red wheels. The canvas could be rolled up on the sides and back. He would blow a horn; he had a scale cleaver, and chopping block. It was pulled by two horses. His mother would always buy her meat from him. She also brought from hackster, bayer, and grocery man.

To play nipsy a circle was made in the dirt and two and a half feet in diameter. Ten steps from the ring is a line. If the nipsy went into the ring, the batter was out and another player took their turn. If the nipsy landed on the line, the batter got one “crack” only. Any place outside of the ring, he got three hits.

A player put their foot on the circle and tried to make it to where the nipsy landed in the number of steps given by the batter. For example, the batter would say, “I’ll give you six steps to make it to the nipsy.” If he makes it, then he gets as many points as steps. If he doesn’t make it, then the other player gets the points.

The night before Halloween they would go around tearing off gates, changing the board walk over the ditches. They left


Angela Varesano 7/20/72 Joe Charnigo

(night before Halloween) the gates in the alley and up by the church where people used to find them and get them back. (He forgets what they used to call that night. ) “He just did it for devilment.”

Men used to wear rings made out of a brass nut. These would be made by leaving one facet and filing off the rest. They used to put sulfur diamonds in these rings by drilling and filing a hole in the single nut facet and inserting a diamond cut to fit the hole. Clarence Drasher of Jupiter Street, Freeland, used to sell these for his uncle.

The McDermant housewas between Sulkasky/Banas’s and Marshlick’s. The foundation is left. Jimmy McDermant and family lived there in the early 1920’s. John Evancho moved there from Back Street in the 1940’s when Back Street people had to go. Paul Menchick was the last one. It was a double house like Sulkosky’s. The above lived on the lower end toward downtown, and Matisaks lived on the upper end. Eva (Sulkosky) Matisak also lived there.

There used to be a club that met in the old school house up by Emil Gera’s. This was before he remembers, however. He heard it had a pool table and the members were required to day dues. He doesn’t remember the name.

The union was an important organization in town for the benefit of the miners. When they used to have elections, there was often a fight and state troopers had to be called in. This happened, for example, during the election of committeemen – the ones who would see the boss in case of workmen’s complaints.


Angela Varesano 7/20/72 Joe Charnigo

There was a gang called the scabouches [sca – boo – ches]. They met in the bummin’, shandyin’ Back Street yard of Kimnel. To join one had to be a working man. If you were a worker, you could become a member. There were no fees. You just got in with them; made friends with them. The younger school kids were not allowed in. This took place around 1927-29.

They usually met in a shandy in winter. They got a carbide lamp, stole it, from the mines for light. Each would bring a bucket of coal to keep the place warm and had his turn to build a fire. They used a “Dooley box” with their name on it. When it was empty, someone had to go out to pick coal for it or get coal from the shed.

The scabouches hung around the school house when the nights were warm. They played cards for pennies and nickels. There used to be a picnic ground where the baseball field is. They went for berries there, got money, played cards, lost money, and went again. Most of them went up to the #1 to swim in a stripping hole. One of the guys fathers drowned in this stripping. He (Petruska) was out for coal and was showing guys how they swim in the old country. He never came up. After twenty or twenty-one days, they found him floating. Two or three sons were members of the scabouches.

Another hang-out was the water works, past Surgent’s near the old ballfield and down the old railroad bed. There was spring water for drinking. They used to go down there, take a piece of bread, and cook bacon. They would swim in the old caved-in mine, in the muddy water. When mines caved-in, they made a hollow which rain would fill.

The “rag man” used to come around. Scabouches sold rags for 2 cents a pound. They would steal them back then sell them again on Main Street. Sometimes they sold burlap bags full of rags and put stones in to weigh more.

When they encountered guys from other gangs out of their territory, they would throw stones at them.

There were four Kimnel brothers. One brought the first dice, crap game, from the army after the First World War. After the Kimnels died, all young, the club broke up. They were older than the rest of the boys. As guys married off, they broke off. Joe stopped going in the ’30’s because he got married in 1937.

Koschak was a boy playing in a coal shed full of hay. His friends locked him in and put a match a match to it. It was burnt to a crisp. This happened on Back Street.


Angela Varesano 6/13/72 Mrs. Joe Charnigo

Mrs. Nicholas, wife of Emory Nicholas, was a midwife in Eckley. She was known as a herbalist and also set bones.

Mrs. Coxe sent in orders for families that needed food. She used to do great amounts of charity. She used to pay the rent of families who lost a husband in the mines.

She came to Eckley at fifteen from Lower Buck Mountain, and she worked in the company store. Women used to talk and exchange recipes there. It was a social gathering point of women. When ladies saw friends, they would meet and talk. Some would come in the morning to get the mail. Sometimes they sent their children. They took time, when they were in the store, to talk with neighbors if they happened to meet them. This took place mostly at mail time. They might come before and wait for the mail to be sorted. The men used to chat there on idle days, especially in winter. These were young men. This was in the time when Reesie had the store, before Jeddo-Highland took over. [Jack Shupeck had it after Reese.] Joe consented on the change of policy of not letting the men stay in the store and use it as a gathering place to sit, “You know, a new broom sweeps clean when you change hands-different rules.” She was referring to the different ideas of the Jeddo-Highland’s ownership.

Reese had a “pay by nine” policy where a certain amount was paid each week.

Some used to put one end of a shutter on the floor and the other against the radiator as a back rest. They would eat peanuts and throw the shells on the floor. Single boys who were working waited for the mail an hour or so. The first mail was brought at 9:00 in the morning and the second was after 1:00. Either people or kids after school used to check the mail. There were no mail boxes. A P.O. box could be rented every three months for 10 cents. If not, there was a general delivery with alphabitized slots. When you rented, you could pay 20 cents every three months and get a key. There were thirty locked boxes with about a hundred and twenty on top of these. There were also thirteen or fifteen alphabitized slots with some of the letters together such as xyz, ab, and cd.


Angela Varesano 7/20/72 Agnes Charnigo

Sugar – For a bit it sold for 5 or 6 cents a pound. A hundred pound bag was emptied into a bin and sold by the pound. ($12.50 for 50 pounds)

Flour – 25, 50, 100 pounds ($3-4/100 pounds)

Lima beans – They were weighed out at 10 to 15 cents a pound.

Kerosene – 20 cents/gallon

Salt – This was sold by the bag of 3 to 5 pounds for 10 cents.

Butter – It was in tubs.

Lard – 10 cents/pound (canned or loose)

Jelly – It was in tubs.

Molasses – It was pumped out of a barrel. People bought quart jars.

Crackers – 3 pound paper box

Cookies – 23 cents/pound, assorted

These products along with miners’ equipment were sold in the company store. Upstairs were stove pipes, and other materials not much called for, along with storerooms. There was a feed room with hay or oats at a dollar a bale or chicken feed for $2/100 pounds. Meats, cheeses, cold meats, and salami sausage because it could be kept and wouldn’t spoil.

The store used a check-off system to deal on credit. Many used it, some for mine supplies. There was a miner’s supply by the colliery.

The suit club was thirty weeks-thirty dollars. One would pick out a suit at the Jeddo-Highland store and pay a dollar a week. An item could be taken out on time. They took it out of your pay. Merchandise could be bought this way too. An arrangment was made with the Eckley paycheck makers. Later furniture and other merchandise was sold by this system. Thus many miners never saw their pay. A “snake” or blue line was an indication that no money was coming to you. They’s loan (borrow) money because they needed cash for the light bill and insurance. So they had to borrow when the paycheck didn’t give them any. Lots of times they worked only one and two days and wouldn’t get much pay at all for the week.


Angela Varesano 6/13/72 Joe Charnigo

School painted walls, and a floor constructed of wooden boards which were “oiled”. each week. In each room were fifty-six seats plus two cloak rooms, one for boys and one for girls. The cloak rooms had glass doors.

Boys used to borrow railroad flatcars [underlined]. One of them spragged it as it went down a grade and hand pushed it until it was at the top of the grade. These flatcars were left on the railroad tracks. The boys would borrow them to “go for a ride.” [underlined]

He worked for three months as a catcher. This work was sprag ging wheels and bringing mules to the miners. It earned 33¢ per hour. Then he drove a mule. He started with one mule and increased one by one to four mules. Promotion was by seniority and job space available. In 1937, the “motor” or electric motor replaced mules [underlinged]. With motor he received 99¢ an hour. In 194[?], he was mining underground. He changed jobs from mule driver to miner because mule driving was a dirty job. It was hot. [?]o[???]ot too much sand and sand dust from the rails and the cars. When the mine closed underground in 1957, he stopped work.

In mule driving to go down a grade, the mules were unhooked on top of the hill and the cars were run down the hill and spragged so they stopped at the foot of the grade. To go up hill the mules pulled two cars at a time. A safety device was used to check the cars’ backward toll.

The worst job in mining was the miner’s-cutting the face. The miners were paid piece work; other jobs were on a “time” basis. Laborers worked just as hard as miners but for less pay ($5.49) a day). They learned the trade of the miner. After two years working as laborer, miner’s papers were gained by a test. Mule driving was a dirty job in which one had to slosh through mud and water and get splashed by the mules. At one time in Eckley there were a hundred mules. They were used for three slopes in Eckley, #10, #6, and #2. Mr. Charnigo started in #2 slope in 1926. He had to go down to the stable each morning and ride the mules down to the manway and muleway then they would go into the mine themselves. Mules could see in the dark, “They can see in the dark, you know,” thus they could find their own way around easily in the mines. You had to break a “leader mule” -first mule in a line – so that he knew the way. Tests were needed to get foremen jobs. Mostly Irish got “bossin” jobs. They had an “in” with the company. “They were here first.”


Angela Varesano 7/20/72 Joe Charnigo

The father’s duties besides work were gardening in the food garden, fixing fences and boardwalks, and replacing the window panes.

His father repaired signs. He had a stand with different sizes of shoes. A pattern was made from paper and put on the leather to cut it and replace the sole.

He remembers one time when he was a kid, he got a cut on the “fat” of the thumb. His father got a candle and dripped the hot wax on it and bandaged it. At the time “there was no doctor around to make stitches.”

For a sore throat he got hot soot from the stove, rolled it up in a cloth, and put it on his neck.

Emory Nicholas’ mother used to set bones and boil herbs. She died when Joe was eleven.

His father’s other duties were picking coal. He took the kids out to pick coal. He took the kids out for berries after work to help get money for the family. He also would shovel snow before work in the morning.

“I still always say, ‘A wife is a man’s right hand’,” because she has to run the household.

His father toook the kids down to Sandy Valley for grapes. They also went down for apples. They just took the stuff; they didn’t ask permission, stole.


Angela Varesano 7/20/72 Joe Charnigo

[Note: This page is handwritten and shows two views of what is described as a water hydrant. The top drawing shows the water hydrant with its faucet spout projecting out from the right side of the hydrant and the lower drawing shows the water hydrant with the faucet spout on the front of the hydrant.]

“Water hydrant”

The top drawing shows a rectangle a little taller than wide that is described as 3 ft. tall. On the top of the rectangle is what looks like a flat lid which overhangs the edges of the hydrant. In the middle of the lid is a nut with an 8-inch lever attached to it, which hangs out beyond the edge of the lid. There is a faucet spout about a quarter of the way down from the top of the hydrant projecting from its right side. To the left of the drawing is written “Lever was a flat piece of iron 1/2 inch thick”

The lower drawing is of a rectangle of the same dimensions, again with the lid, the nut, and the faucet. The lever appears to be described as a handle in this image, and is shown as a small rectangle in the middle of the nut, because it’s projecting directly at the viewer. The lid is described as having a 2-inch overhang over the hydrant. The faucet has a small dark rectangle drawn immediately around it. Below the words “faucet spout” is “cut out section of wood” with a line drawn to the rectangle. There are three vertical wavy lines below the faucet, appearing to represent water, which end in a bucket drawn below the faucet. To the left of this drawing is written “Platform was made of 8 X 8 or 8 X 4 boards.” There is what appears to be a square platform under the hydrant, and below the platform, at the bottom of the drawing is written “Platform 4 ft. square”


Angela Varesano 70/20/72 Joe Charnigo

[Note: This is a hand-drawn and hand-written page titled “Clubhouse Stove (coal stove)”.]

“Clubhouse Stove”

Below the title are the words “carbide can”, and immediately below this are side-by-side drawings of two cylinders, a little taller than they are wide. They are described as 3 feet in height. The cylinder on the left is labeled “front” and has a cross-hatched rectangle drawn above its bottom edge in the middle, described as 8 inches in height, and is indicated as “damper opening”. There are small black marks (indicating holes) about a third of the way from the bottom on either side of the cylinder, with the diameter described as “1 inch”. The drawing on the right shows the cylinder turned 90 degrees counter-clockwise, with the front now facing to the right. There are two small circles drawn on the cylinder, about a third of the way up from the bottom and equidistant from each other and the edges of the cylinder. They are labeled “holes in can, matched by 2 others on other side”. Their diameter is again described as “1 inch”. Below the cylinders is a drawing labeled “Stove poker made of heavy wire”. The drawing is of what appears to be a horizontal rod, its length described as 18 inches, with a 90-degree bend at its right end and the upturned part described as 10 inches in length. Below this is written: “2 Steel or iron rods, picked up around the colliery, were put through the holes to form a grate. The fire would be dampened by blocking the damper opening wiht a piece of tin. A round screen was rested on top of the rods. These rods were ‘segments’ used in the breaker. The screen was a piece of the breaker ‘chestnut’ size screen.” Below this is a drawing labeled “top of stove”. The drawing is of a circle, with a horizontal line across the middle, with a large black dot (labeled “hole for chimney pipe”) above the line and a small narrow rectangle protruding from the bottom edge of the circle. The bottom half of the circle has the description “cut out section with bolted or riveted-on handle. Lid was opened to dampen the fire.”


Angela Varesano 7/20/72 Joe Charnigo

[Note: This is a page titled “Bummin’ Shandy” with three small drawings on the top half of the page and typed text on the bottom half.]

“Bummin’ Shandy”

The first drawing is at the top of the page on the left side. It is square, with the length and width of its sides described as 7 feet. Inside the square is drawn a slightly smaller square. There is a line drawn from each corner of the smaller to the same corner of the larger square, with “45 degree corners angles” written near the top right corner. The spaces between the two squares on the left, top, and right sides are labeled “BENCH”. Between the bottom edge lines of the squares, two vertical lines are drawn near the middle that are identified as “DOOR (hooked on outside and inside)”, with “BENCH” written on either side of the door. To the right of this drawing is one that is described as “SIDE VIEW: Roof over hangs and is made of tar paper nailed on boards.” It shows the side-view of the building, which is trapezoid in shape. Its left side is 8 feet and the right side 7 feet in height, causing the roof to tilt downward toward the right side. There is a small round cylinder labeled “CHIMNEY” protruding from the top. The base of the building is 7 feet in width. The third drawing is below the first one, and depicts a cross-section of a bench. To the left is the “WALL”, represented by two close vertical lines, closed by a small jagged line across their tops and ending at a horizonal line at the bottom labeled “floor”. About a third of the way from the top of the wall are two close horizonal lines labeled “BOARD”, described as 1 foot in width and projecting to the right of the wall. There is a line from the right edge of the board to the floor, showing a distance of 18 inches from the top of the board to the floor. To the right of the drawing is the information “Bench support was made by nailing 12 inch boards against the walls.” [The text below is the typed portion of the page] Two tramps, Jack McAultie who hung around #11 engine house and Jimmy the bum who slept around the colliery at night, used to pick berries for the people. They would come for food and offer the berries. There was also a Porter Swamp bum who used to hang out in Barron’s parents’ place on Back Street. One used to come into Charnigo’s place. He brought boards and other things he’d stolen from the colliery in exchange for food. One winter Jack McAultie was found dead, “Must’ve gotten drunk and fell. Couldn’t get back to the engine house in time.” Some guys used to come around with a bear on a chain. “Used to rassle the bear.” A hurdy-gurdy man had a monkey on a chain and would grind an organ on a tripod. A man with


Angela Varesano 7/20/72 Joe Charnigo

a horse and wagon came around with an organ. There was a parrot that would pick a piece of paper out. Also there was a “fortune teller” man.

Dried apples on a string. When apples weren’t good for eat-ing, garden trees’ were sweet apples, they used to cut them up and string them and hang them to dry behind the stove. Boys used to take a handful in their pocket when they went to school.

Chestnuts. These are smaller than horse chestnuts. They were from the Sandy Valley woods. A cloth would be spread under a tree, and the tree would be “bumped” to get the chesnuts down. They were dried on a chest in the attic. This took two weeks. Then they were stored in a bag or basket and eaten raw. Children filled their pockets with them when they went to school.

They used to get huckleberries around June 15. The “swampers” used to get ripe around the middle of August.

Acorns used to be gathered for the pigs and leaves for the pigs, cows, and chickens. They had no straw. There was a special shed where they were stored. In winter the boys used to go and lay in the leaves. Cornstalks were left after the farmer harvested the fields. They were cut down, and the cattle would eat them. They also got grass from the fields for hay to feed the cattle. The father would cut it, and the kids would father it into bundles. They used to have a stable for the cows. It had a pointed roof. Leaves and hay were stored in the upper part. Leaves and hay were also stored in the “hayloft,” which was a separate shed used for storage.

Stoners were black and gray berries which ripened in September. They were bought for dye and could be eaten, but had a lot of seeds. Strippers were blueberries found on a bush.

A huckleberry man used to come around. His prices started at 10 cents a quart. As the berries got more plentiful, the price would drop to 3 and 4 cents a quart. They used to go to Albrights ville to a place that was all huckleberries. A farmer bought them for 10 cents a quart all year round. If a family had good pickers, they could get $60 a week. You’d sleep in the hay loft in the barn. They’d give you water, and you would stay for a week.

Nicholas had bees in hives. He sold honey in boxes. John Marmello also had bees at one time around the ’20’s and before.

When lokies chugged up a steep run, the hot cinders came out and would land in the woods and set them on fire. That’s why there are so many huckleberries.


Angela Varesano 7/20/72 Agnes and Joe Charnigo

She worked for a short time as a cashier after school and then in a store. She had two years of business school and was out at fifteen. Her mother was widowed so she worked to keep the family. Her mother remarried and had four more children. When Agnes worked in Eckley, she came to live with her grand mother. She stayed with granny Mary Mulchitsky, who lived next door to Bertha Falatko. Her mother lived in Freeland with the children in a house she got from widow’s pension. She worked in a store for years. She also did cashier and post office work. She sorted, packaged, kept track of money orders (for which she had to sign an affidavit), and ordered stamps. Her pay was $75 a month. The hours were from 7:00 AM to 5:00 PM six days a week.

At that time girls found their own husbands (1929). In earlier days parents would arrange marriages. She stopped working when she got married. They didn’t allow married women to work because of scarcity of jobs. This was a policy of the Jeddo-Highland Company. In 1950, she worked again as a time girl, a card presser in a factory. 1952 through 1972 she worked a finishing job in the factory also as a time girl. Time girls work an hourly rate.

Women worked as housekeepers when older. They worked for bosses, as help in homes, because there were no factories at that time. Her mother worked after her children were older (1940 at 40) in a factory. She used to do housework before that time, now and then. Her pay was $20. This would be for a week’s job in Freeland.

A lot of women picked berries to get money for clothes for the children to wear to school.


Angela Varesano 6/13/72 Joe Charnigo

Wood for homes were obtained from a forest down in the area that is not covered with coal dirt. This is located by Emil Gera’s.

Rent was $5 for a Back Street home. Back Street had cheaper, older homes. These homes looked like Mrs. Timko’s house, small.

Main Street is where Irish people lived. If Slavs walked on Main Street, they “got chased in the old days by Irish.”

All families lent chickens, pigs and geese for food. Cab bages, potatoes, etc. were planted for food. The whole yard was used for planting. With these and a hundred pound bag of flour, you will be all set; you had all you needed to eat.

The ambulance was drawn by mules. The mules and ambulance were housed in the mule stable. This was located across from Fatula’s and across the street from where the general store used to be.

The doctor was called for on magneto phones. Miners in the adjourning chamber would hear of the accident and go to help. An empty car was used to carry the victim up. This required a “special trip” for that car. It wasn’t hitched to a full coal car trip. The “owl hole” was worked with an electric motor. He remembers how one night shift a man was killed, and they had to help him in the first aid shandy all night until the coroner came.

Every night both boys and men had teams. They used to play in the field up near the road “going to the church.”

Catholics were buried at St. Anne cemetary in Freeland. They were of the early Eckley churches. There were two other “grey” colored churches which he remembers, one of which was built in 1893.

He went to school in the school house near the church. The school was built in 1910. It was grey “like the church,” and had six teachers. Each room had steam heat from a rad iator. The three rooms on the first floor held the first three grades, the second floor held the fourth through sixth. There was also a library upstairs. In the basement were six toilets-six for boys and six for girls. The stalls had doors that swung open in the middle. There was a janior to keep the place. The rooms were done in mahogany woodwork,


Denis Mercier 7/13/72 Frank Zahay and Joe Charnigo

Stone ditchers were put in by the WPA during Roosevelt’s time. Formerly they were natural erosion. Some were two to three feet deep. They had boards to walk across. There were ditches between the houses, which were outside drains. Ducks and geese drunk the water, and there were lots of bugs.

Back Street homes from the club down had three bedrooms upstairs and a hall down one side. The parlor dimensions were eighteen by sixteen feet.

The empty lot by Frank used to be the location of the school house.

Houses behind Sturgent’s: single, David Ellis; double, David Thomas who was the low side foreman and Noyon who was the stable boss (mean guy).

Daniel Coxe lived in Emil Gera’s. He weighed over three hundred pounds.


Denis Mercier 7/13/72 Frank Zahay and Joe Charnigo

Stone ditchers were put in by the WPA during Roosevelt’s time. Formerly they were natural erosion. Some were two to three feet deep. They had boards to walk across. There were ditches between the houses, which were outside drains. Ducks and geese drunk the water, and there were lots of bugs.

Back Street homes from the club down had three bedrooms upstairs and a hall down one side. The parlor dimensions were eighteen by sixteen feet.

The empty lot by Frank used to be the location of the school house.

Houses behind Sturgent’s: single, David Ellis; double, David Thomas who was the low side foreman and Noyon who was the stable boss (mean guy).

Daniel Coxe lived in Emil Gera’s. He weighed over three hundred pounds.


2nd Section 3(circled)

Date 6/17/72 Topic Tape 20 – 1 Name Joe Charnigo A.Varesano

Page Subjects 1 1926 – Mining Payscale 2 Work schedule – Piece-work 3 “on time” – Contract mining Disconnected Conversation Size of Cars & Track 4 Mule accident 5 Mine settlement – cave-ins Muledriving 6 Mine upkeep 7 “Patching” technique 8 Job promotions 9 “Muleing” 10 “. n – Stablework 11 Stable – Animal care 12 Blacksmith Shop 13 Mule Yard 14 Mule driving 16 ” ” 17 ” ” 18 Electricity in mines – Branches Working the Mules – Training 27 Dynamiting in workings 29 Mules – Working in mines 30 Mine Stories 34 Aging – Miners Names – Pictures 40 Experience – Modern methods Discussion on old Pictures


Second Section A. Varesano interviewing Joe Charnago 6/17/72 Tape 20-1

AV: Well, start out by maybe telling me when you first started in the mine, mule driving.

 JC: Nineteen-twenty-six

 AV: ‘Twenty-six? What did you start on?

 JC: Punchin’ (?) You don’t know what that is, do you?

 AV: Well, I’ve read in a book, but I want to find out from you!

 JC: It’s (?) cars, you know, you couple cars, (?) cars, you just (?) and then it’s mule driver. Oh, then you go up, you know, (?) advance, you know. Get one mule, two, three, four, that’s all you get.

 AV: How were patchers (?) paid?

 JC: Thirty-three and a third cents an hour.

 AV: Who pays them?

 JC: The company. The coal company.

 AV: Oh. Well, I heard that sometimes they have, like, the system of a miner and then his laborers. The miners pays the laborers.

 JC: The miner pays the laborers that much. but still the company pays them somethin’. Know what I mean?

 AV: Oh, you mean there’s a division there?

 JC: See, the miner used to pay laborers two dollars, er, four dollars and then cents. And the laborer used to get five-forty-nine. But the company used to make that up to ’em, you know. You know, just to make it, I said. Five-forty-nine.

 AV: What kind of system did they call that?

 JC: Oh, I don’t know. I know the miner used to get like two cards. you know, and that was four dollars and ten cents. And then the coal company paid the rest, paid the dollar twenty-nine, you know. Now, that’s per day.

 AV: Hmm. So, the laborer always used to get a set amount at pay day.

 JC: Yeah.

 AV: How much usually would he get?

 JC: Five forty-nine per day.

 AV: Oh, and them, just how many days he worked?

 JC: If he worked ten days, know what he got, fifty-four dollars. Fifty-four dollars ninety cents.

 AV: But sometimes the miner was in the red.

 JC: No, I wouldn’t say that. Because if the miner couldn’t get a day’s wages out of that, they’d put him on time. You know? Because I know when I was mining, you know, if we couldn’t make it go, then, we used to state our hours,


Tape 20-1 page 2 you know. You know, they used to put us on time.

 AV: What’s this, “putting on time”?

 JC: Well, you get paid by the hour. You know. Instead of contract, you’re paid by the hour. You know.

 AV: What’s contract mining?

 JC: That’s piece-work.

 AV: I see.

 JC: You know, that’s piece-work. You get paid for timber, and your car of coal, yardage, you know? If you set a face in the mines, there–that’s was a full face of coal?–well, see, if they cut that coal goin’ in, well, they get paid of a yard.

 AV: Per yard?

 JC: Yeah, but

 AV: As much coal as they advanced on.

 JC: you take a six foot cut, so that’s three yards, you know?

 AV: It means that every time they blast, they take out, wedge, and that would be a six foot cut?

 JC: Six foot cut, then they got to put a timber in there, you know, six foot apart, you know, and at the end of the two weeks, well then, you know, they come in and they measure it, see,

 AV: So that’s like contract mining?

 JC: That’s called (?) mining, yeah.

 AV: Not by a ton of coal.…

 JC: No. He gets paid that much on a yard, and that much on a car of coal. Know what I mean?

 AV: So it’s kind of a cumulative deal.…

 JC: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. See, ah, like in a gangway, you would get about six or seven cars of coal out of there, you know. So, first you got the yardage and the car coal price, you know? Now, down at the (?) we used to get four dollars and thirty-two cents a car. You know. But that was a five-ton car.

 AV: Aha. Five-tons.

 JC: Five-ton car. In Eckley over here, they only used to be just two and a half ton cars. So you only got two dollars and five cents per car.

 AV: Less tonnage. How come you had a greater tonnage in the cars down at the ?

 JC: Well, that was a new mine, you know. That (?) at the Jedda Highland, you know. And these mines around here, you know was (?) Company. Incorporated.


Tape 20-1 page 3

AV: Oh, so they had a little trouble getting coal out…

 JC: The Jedda Highland, you know, used to lease their land, see? But down there, you know, [space] they put different track in. You know, it’s a wider track, so they put a bigger car in, see?

 AV: Oh, I see. Hmm. How wide was their track in the [space] Hole?

 JC: Oh, [space], the Eckley track was around three feet–that was over four feet down there.

 AV: Oh, yeah? So this is three feet?

 JC: Oh, a little better than three feet. That one was, well, that was a bigger car. That wasn’t higher. It was wider and longer, you know? Know what I mean? And them cars used to [space] one side, the other side, the [space] [blank]. You know, you [space] could just [space] on one side, but that would take the four wheels, you know?

 AV: How about that?

 JC: Well, that’s, that’s to knock off men off, see, you know? Like a patcher(?) Because [large space] Now, an Eckley car, you gotta [space], you know, the four wheels.

 AV: Oh, you did?

 JC: Sure.

 AV: So, their patchers down there, they had to have more patchers, for less tonnage in the car, and they had to pay more men for less coal.

 JC: Yes.

 AV: Oh, I see.

 JC: So then, then when the motors come, you know, well then you had to [space] the car because the motor used to hold them back, see? You know what I mean? Now, see with mules, it was very different.

 AV: You started working in the [space] Hole?

 JC: No. Started working up in Number Two up here. Right behind where Helen used live, on the Back Street?

 AV: That’s the thing that she could see from her bedroom window!

 JC: Yeah. That’s where I started.

 AV: Oh, so that’s how you know about the

 JC: You know what?

 AV: What!

 JC: I was in the mines three months, and the mule was killed.

 AV: Boy! What happened?

 JC: The rib broke off, you know, off the pillar, and the coal broke. And I was quittin’–I just went up to turn the mules around. And I turned back for somethin’, And if I’d [large space], I’d have been killed with ’em. the whole rib, you know, off the pillar, broke. And they buried that


Tape 20-1 page 4

mule, and the miners had to smash [space] with a pick. You know, that’s how big the lumps was.

 AV: Hmm. The lumps killed the mule?

 JC: Yeah, well he wasn’t killed, he had to get shot, you know. I mean, he was just as bad as bein’, you know. Broken back and everything. And boy, when he hit the rail, he put a kink in the rail, from his back and the force.

 AV: You mean the track rail was bent?

 JC: Yeah. That’s from the force of him, when he fell down.

 AV: He must have been a big one?

 JC: He was! You know what they had to do? They shot him, you know, and they had to chop his four legs off of him.

 AV: Why?

 JC: Because he couldn’t pass out the gangway. That’s how big he was. This guy that lives over here, that’s the guy that chopped the legs off him. You ask him sometime, he’ll tell you!

 AV: Chopped your mule’s legs off!

 JC: Well, he was dead, what the hell, you know.

 AV: How many pounds was that mule?

 JC: Oh, they’re big, they’re all big mules here. This was a big vein you know. Because, like other mines, they just had little ponies. Sure! You know, up at Sandy Run and those places, they were small ponies. It was a little vein. This was a Buck Mountain vein. This was a big vein. This usually goes as high as thirty feet high, you know. Maybe more. And they used to mine the coal from the bottom rock up to the top rock. Chute everything down.

 AV: It would fall down a chute?

 JC: No, you had to scoop it. You know where the chutes are, only, is on the pitch work. And this flat work, you have to shovel everything into the car.

 AV: Oh, so the area around here was mostly flat?

 JC: Flat, yes. Now, Buck Mountain was, that was all pitch work. And the [space] Hole. You should a got that dope from somebody else, didn’t you?

 AV: Not exactly that. They mentioned that Eckley was mostly flat, but, now of course it means more, that I’ve seen it for myself.

 JC: Now see, you know when it is flat, you know, if they take the coal out and the place caves, [space] if it’s flat working. But if it’s pitch work, [space] [space] on the outside, see. You know what I mean? Where flat work won’t. Because the rock just fall down, they fall on top of each other, you know.

 AV: Did Eckley sink like that?


Tape 20-1 page 5

 JC: This here street sunk. From the church…

 AV: Just this area, from the church…

 JC: From the church down to the corner here, you know, down where Joe Solkusky lives, well that was roped off here. Roped off there, and roped off above here.

 AV: So, your house, too.

 JC: The pitch was settling. I was living here. I used to live on the Back Street, when I was single yet, just a boy.

 AV: And the thing sank. How much?

 JC: Oh, I don’t know. Because the kids weren’t allowed to go to school up this way, you know? They had to go up the alley. Right behind here. They had to go up the alley to school. No cars was comin’ this way.

 AV: How old were you when you started down at the Eckley mine, Number Two?

 JC: Sixteen. Sixteen years old.

 AV: And you were patching then? Gee, I didn’t know they would let them start so young.

 JC: Sixteen, in the mines? Oh, yeah. Sure. I only patched about three or four months, and I went to the mule. then I got a raise of forty one seven…

 AV: How do they teach patchers here? How were they taught?

 JC: They break them right in, they break you in. They just learned you know know, how to fix the latches and how to couple cars up, and whatever you are gonna do, you know.

 AV: Did you stand at one place…

 JC: No, we used to ride the cars. We used to have four mules, that used to pull eight cars. And we used to make three trips per day, that was twenty-four cars. And three miners, and each one had eight cars per, you know, each one makes, oh yeah, twenty cars per day. That’s if they could, you know, [space] Always the back car, all the time. If you were goin’ in with the empty coal the empty cars, or to go out, when the cars were full, I used to ride the back.

 AV: Because you were the new man?

 JC: No, no, it’s just the place. On the front car was the driver only. On the back car, that’s where the patcher was.

 AV: So you started out on a team of four mules, that had just one driver and you one patcher?

 JC: Um-hmm. And that was my uncle!

 AV: That was what?

 JC: That was me-uncle!

 AV: Your uncle? Who?

 JC: Oh, he’s dead. He’s dead now.


Tape 20-1 page 6

AV: What was his name?

 JC: Bellis (?) [space]. George Bellis.

 AV: Oh, Bellis.

 JC: Helen knew him.

 AV: Yeah, I think she mentioned him a few times.

 JC: Yeah, he was my uncle, and he took pretty good care of me, you know.

 AV: Did you ask to be taught under him?

 JC: No, I just, you know, went up to the superintendent, and he hired me, and when I come up the next morning, and he said you go patching for him. [space] Just a kid. Sixteen years old.

 AV: So beside your uncle, the first day there was a man that come with you? And he would tell you…

 JC: See, it’s a sort of a like, a company man they call him, you know, that’s paid by the hourly rate. And he would break you in, see, you know. Maybe two days or three days, you know? And then you are on your own.

 AV: What did this company man do beside teach patchers?

 JC: Everything. Everything. He ordered cars, and he used to fix the roads, clean ditches, everything, you know?

 AV: Fix the roads in the city or…

 JC: No, in the mines. Or if they had to put a ceiling or something, you know, maybe the rails were wore out, you know, from the [space] water–it used to eat the rails, you know.

 AV: It did?

 JC: Sure, it used to eat them. And they would just rust away. Where there was a drop coming down on the rail, maybe in a couple weeks there was a hole in that rail. That’s how strong it was, you know.

 AV: Did the company man just replace it, or did he watch out for spots like that?

 JC: No, maybe [space] held out good, you know, until you were derailed. Just when you got derailed with your cars, well they had to put a new rail in or something, or just put it back in the, you know, just in place. Back in gauge, they used to call it. You know, maybe it spread out too far, so they put it back in gauge, you know, and then [space] [space]

 AV: Who used to watch out for danger spots like that? No one?

 JC: No one.

 AV: Just wait until you got derailed, and then you’d figure out what happened!

 JC: Yep.


Tape 20-1 page 7

AV: One of those oak planks?

 JC: Any kind. Anything they could get their hands on, you know.

 AV: Temporary fixing.

 JC: Oh, yeah, temporary fixing, and the next day, they had to put a new rail, in you know, or maybe after quittin’ time, you know, then they used to tear every thing out and put everything new in. You know. That’s after quitting time, you know.

 AV: So, what did this company man do? He stood alongside the cars as they came down the grade, and he told you when to patch?

 JC: No, no. There was no one around. We used to run the cars on it, you know, [space] run ourselves, you know. There was nobody around. But if the road went bad or something, well then we used to you know just report it to the boss, see? And the boss used to send somebody in, you know, to get it fixed. You know.

 AV: I mean when you were patching the first day. How did you learn the technique.

 JC: Well, all the time with him. Just what he was doin’ I was doin’. He would show me.

 AV: He would demonstrate, or tell you?

 JC: No, no, he would show me. Show me how to, you know, [space] the cars, maybe three or four [space] a day, then he’d say, now you do it, and I’ll watch you a while, to see if you’re doing it right.

 AV: Did you do it right?

 JC: Oh, maybe I didn’t do, you know, that’s a long time ago, you know! I don’t recall it.

 AV: Yeah. What did this, what did you [space] with, again, what did it look like?

 JC: Oh, it’s from, it’s from wood, you know, it’s like, it’s a piece of wood about eighteen inches long and it’s pointed out at both ends. And when the cars was comin’ [space] I said you hadda go with your hands this way you know—

 AV: A circular motion?

 JC: Yeah, that’s the way the wheel is going. [Space] put em in like that. No, you, you had to go with the wheel. You had to go with the wheel and put the [space] in.

 AV: So you would end up [space] the wheel on a kind of left end of the tim here as it was going down the grade that way—

 JC: The wheel was going this way, and you’d start to [space] the car, you’d pull over your hand this way and you go with the wheel.

 AV: Oh I see.

 JC: You had to go with the wheel, you know, because you couldn’t poke ’em in, you know, because you don’t know where you’re gonna poke it. So you hadda go with the wheel, see?


Tape 20-1 page 8

AV: I see. Okay. A little trick there! It would be helpful if somebody could show us how it was done.

 JC: Well, now–them days–that’s all over now, you know, because there’s motors now, see? See your motor holds the cord now, your trip back, you know? They [space] the trip back.

 AV: Yeah, it seems like it did hold it nicely.

 JC: They had [space] Was it a big motor down there, or?

 AV: Oh, just a little one. The track was only about…

 JC: Well, that’s the kind you have in that section. Yeah, that’s the kind they have. It’s only just a small track, yeah. So, I guess the motor was about five ton, ten ton? Or bigger.

 AV: It would be around, what–oh…

 JC: Was it as big as this room here?

 AV: Oh, no!

 JC: Well, that’s the kind I used to drive. Went from the back door to the front door.

 AV: Probably no longer than ten feet.

 JC: I used to have a twenty ton, you know. Because I could pull sixty-seventy cars with it, you know.

 AV: Oh boy. That’s a lot of cars to be responsible for!

 JC: Oh, I didn’t care if they jumped the road! No! That wouldn’t stop me, you know! Because you had to open it up, you know, you have to give it the gun.

 AV: So then, how long did you stay [space]

 JC: About three or four months. Then I got my own mule.

 AV: Who promoted you?

 JC: Superintendent.

 AV: How did they do that? Did they come around…

 JC: They have you on seniority, you know. When it is your turn, you get it, you know.

 AV: Oh, if there is a blank space somewhere, then you are advanced?

 JC: If it’s your turn, too, you know? Because you know there is more than one you know.

 AV: Sure.

 JC: See, if there was an opening job for one mule, and I was the oldest patcher, I’d jump to that job, and they’d hire another patcher in my place, see? And that’s the same thing for two mules. If I was the oldest one-mule driver, I got the two mules. You know.

 AV: Did they have anything, anybody to go around recommending you for the job, or…

 JC: No, you just went according to your turn, you know. You know, I mean, you know. When it was your turn, you went. And if there was a lay-off, you went the same way, down the line. That’s what they is called the seniority, (pronounced senority), you know.


Tape 20-1 page 9

AV: Seniority.

 JC: Seniority, yeah. Senority, yes. (sic).

 AV: So, how did you like driving one mule?

 JC: Well, they had more fun in them days, you know. Oh yeah, they had a lot of fun in them days.

 AV: How do you mean?

 JC: Well, I mean, see, like in the mines, like over here, maybe there are eight or ten drivers. But when the motor come in, there was only two motors, you know. They cut out all the work for eight or ten drivers, see.

 AV: So in the olden days, what did you do?

 JC: What do you mean?

 AV: You said it was more fun.

 JC: Well, it was more fun, [space] I mean, you know, going down for the mules and coming up with the mules, you know, and, and if you see somebody gettin’ stuck, in there, just in the mines, you know, and the mules won’t pull, they will balk, you know. Well, you’d have some fun, you know, lickin’ em!

 AV: What’d you use?

 JC: Anything, plank, or laggin’, or whip, anything, you know!

 AV: Gosh!

 JC: Yeah! They had to pull, [space], they had to work, you know. They had to work.

 AV: When did you have trouble with them? Usually?

 JC: Oh, I never did. I never did. When I was drivin’, no. But when I, that’s when I drove with my uncle, we used to, he used to lick them hard.

 AV: He did? With a plank?

 JC: Anything. Anything.

 AV: They didn’t have their own whip to…

 JC: Yeah, they had a whip, yeah. Oh yeah, they had a whip. You know, when I start patch for him, well he was married to a girl from uptown here. And up by Gaffney’s–you know where Gaffneys live?–there’s an old hole down there that used to go into, you know, into the mines. And…

 AV: Number Four?

 JC: Yeah. Well, but that was Number Two up that way, too, you know. And they used to come up that hole, and they used to go home. They used to leave me down in the mines, because he gave me his watch, and he told me, he said, when it’s half past two, you hook onto the eight [space] cars with the four mule team, and pull them to the bottom. No patching, only–I was a patcher, but I was doin’ his work, you know. He was outside, already home. Maybe half past eleven, you know, about twelve o’clock he was home. And [space] [space] And take his team down at the stable yet!


Tape 20-1 page 10

AV: You weren’t supposed to take the team to the stable were you?

 JC: The superintendent told me he said, now, he said, listen to your driver. What he tells you, you do. So, [space] I had to listen to my driver! Which, I didn’t have to do this, you know. I didn’t have to do it.

 AV: Who took the mules back to the stable?

 JC: We did. The drivers.

 AV: The drivers had to do it? And they had to get it in the morning?

 JC: Um-hmm. they would go down for them and bring them up, and then take them down when they were done workin’.

 AV: What time would you start to bring them up from the stable?

 JC: Quarter of seven.

 AV: And when did your shift begin? When did you make your first rounds?

 JC: Seven o’clock you start, if you had the cars, you know. Because they used to hoist, you know, they used to hoist up, you know, your full cars, you know, dump them, and drop the empties back down. So you had to wait for the empties, you know. It was [space] [space] And then, three o’clock, we used to leave, you know, leave the inside, at three o’clock.

 AV: And take your mules back?

 JC: Take the mules down.

 AV: Did you have to put on the harness in the morning?

 JC: No. That was all done. There used to be two men down there, do that. And there used to be two men, you know, you know, you’d bring your mules down at night, they used to unharness them, too.

 AV: Ah, what kind of men were they? Were they stable boys…

 JC: They were, they were from the town. They were old men, older men, you know. They were older men.

 AV: And what were their duties down at the stable?

 JC: Well, they would start work I guess about eleven o’clock at night, you know, and work until seven in the morning, see? They had to clean the stable, you know. Clean up, and if there was any parts broke on the harness they had to fix that, you know. And then, your day shift man would come down, well, he had to feed, I mean he had to put the feed in all the troughs and he had a big long truck, and he had oats and corn mixed and he had to put that much you know–it was like a big trough all the way through–well he had to put that much in all the troughs. And then he had to put hay in, you know, just in the bins you know. Everything was all set, we used to come down there you know to the three o’clock, you know, he unharnessed the mules and you just had the feed there. Water, salt, oats, corn and hay.


Tape 20-1 page 11

AV: Salt?

 JC: Salt, oh yeah. [space]

 AV: Well, that sounds like a good dinner for them! How many times did they get fed?

 JC: It’s only once a day, that’s all. At night, that’s all. If there was any left over for the morning, okay, chew on it. If there’s nothing there, well you went to work, on an empty stomach!

 AV: Well, what did this stable look like, on the inside?

 JC: Well, there weren’t no stalls, you know. Just opening all the way through.

 AV: Open?

 JC: You had [space] But they knew where to go!

 AV: They did!

 JC: Every mule just knew where to go! He had his own place, he knew just where to go.

 AV: How about that! Were they tied in place?

 JC: Well chained, yeah, and then under the halter, yeah. I mean, there were not no stalls, that, you know, with like walls on. Just opening, all the way through.

 AV: And this trough where they ate their food from, this was one long bin?

 JC: All the way through, the whole length of the stable. And their water the same thing, you know. They used to open the water, you know, open up the water, and [space] and she threw everything all the way around, you know, the whole thing. And [space] [space] shut it off, you know.

 AV: And then the hay was a separate rack for each mule?

 JC: Down, yeah, they like a little bin for the hay, see? The oats was here, you know–there was [space] little spot for the oats and corn, and behind that was the water, and in between your oats and corn was the salt lick. And down below was a box, you know, and that was for the hay. And then they used to shoe them right there, too, you know. But they, some of that was bad, they used to put ’em in a, you know, like in a stall, and put a board behind them you know, and they used to put a rope around his leg, and pick him up and tie it there. And that’s the way they used to shoe ’em, you know. And if he was bad, they had a twitch-like, you know, with a piece of rope on, and if [space] get his bottom lip in there and twist it. And if he was, you know, just pretty smart, keep on twistin’ him a little, he would stand, you know.

 AV: Yeah. Have to do it somehow. You mean the bad mules would really kick?


Tape 20-1, page 12

JC: Sure. Sometimes you had to put them in that, you know. [space] [space]

 AV: A town blacksmith?

 JC: Yup.

 AV: He had separate quarters, though, in the town, didn’t–I mean, a different shop in the town?

 JC: He used to be at the colliery, you know, during the day, but early in the morning he was down there shoeing mules, you know. He used to get like maybe two hours extra, you know, just per day. And he used to start early in the morning, you know. And then he used to come back to his own job.

 AV: In the colliery.

 JC: In the colliery, yeah.

 AV: He had a blacksmith shop in the colliery?

 JC: Yeah. Yup. He had a blacksmith shop, blacksmith helper.

 AV: So they had just like one line of stalls going through the stable–or not stalls, open trough area.

 JC: Open, just opening. As you come where the two doors was open, some mules went to your right, and some mule–well, some mules went to your left, and some went to your right, and some went across but not right and not left–you know?

 AV: And there were other troughs on the side walls?

 JC: Yeah.

 AV: So, there were about three feeding areas?

 JC: I would say four feeding areas.

 AV: Oh, because

 JC: No. You’d bring your mules in from outside. And see, the outside door would be right across [space] opening, too, you know. But see, when you come in from the outside, some mules went left and some mules went right. And some mules went right across into the other section, some went right and some went left. You know. Sorta like [space] [space]

 AV: Hmm. That was a big stable. How big was the whole thing?

 JC: Oh, I don’t know. I guess there were over a hundred mules there.

 AV: How much space did that building take up?

 JC: Oh, that was a big building there. That was big.

 AV: Could you say in feet, about how big?

 JC: Oh, more than three houses, I guess, put together.

 AV: Three of those houses?

 JC: Maybe more.


Tape 20-1, page 13

AV: Hmm! That’s a lot of space!

 JC: Yeah. And then they had an outside yard for them. In a, like in the summer time you know, they used to take the harness off them, you know. And open the door and they used to go outside. The first thing they come outside, they used to roll themselves, you know.

 AV: In the grass…

 JC: No, there was no grass there! No grass was growin’, that’s stones. You know, just roll themselves in the dirt there–you’re itchy, you know?–roll themselves around. And they had their feed out there, too, you know. And you know what, when you opened that door, [space] If you’d open them doors, them mules would know where to come in–which was was supposed to come in which door. They’d never get mixed up. They knowed.

 AV: They had some feed out there in the yard?

 JC: Oh yeah. Yeah. They used to [space] some bales of hay out there, you know. But they [space] [space]

 AV: Was it fenced-in, of course?

 JC: Oh, yeah yeah.

 AV: What kind of…

 JC: Usually on a Sunday, Saturday and Sunday, see, you know, just when it was idling, idle, all the mules was outside. All the mules was outside.

 AV: What kind of a fence was it? Strong…

 JC: These rail, you know, like a rail posts, you know what I mean?

 AV: Rail posts?

 JC: Rail posts, yeah.

 AV: Iron?

 JC: Um-hmm. [space]

 AV: So it was an all-iron fence then?

 JC: All the way around, yeah. Not exactly iron, but like this heavy wire, you know.

 AV: Oh, I see. And it had like posts of steel, and there was wire between them?

 JC: Yeah. And I said when the colliery used to go on strike here, if it happened in the summertime–any time they went on strike, you know, I said it was in April–they used to take all these mules from here and send them down to Buck Mountain. Call them all the way down the mountain–there’s a big company field there, you know–acres and acres of [space] green grass. [space] [space]

 AV: It must have been discouraging to see them go.

 JC: Well sometimes, you know, say, in 1922 there was a six months strike. And then


Tape 20-1, page 14

1925 there was another I guess you know just for a few months strike, you know. So the mules used to go down there. Nobody was workin’, you know. Everybody on strike.

 AV: Hard times for everybody, except the mules…

 JC: Oh, they were hard times.

 AV: How long did you stay driving one mule?

 JC: Oh, wait now, I got on one mule in 1927, and I got two mules in ’29. 1929. And that’s all I got, that’s all the further I went. And I got the other one, I got another mule in ’36, and the motors replaced the mules in ’37. And that was the end of the mule.

 AV: And then at Eckley here, Number Two, how many mules did you only have here?

 JC: You mean in the whole mines?

 AV: I mean you yourself, how many mules did you drive?

 JC: Three, that’s all I drove. The most I drove was three, yeah. All depends on the hard pull you have, you know what I mean, with a hard pull. [space] [space] you know, you go up the hill. Or just how much miners you got you know. That’s why you got one mule, you only had one miner or two miners, see? And I said it was short toads [sic]. You got two mules, you had a little bit more work. You got three mules you had more miners. So you got four mules, that way you had a long pull, you know.

 AV: Long pulls and maybe steep grades?

 JC: And I said more miners, yeah. Yeah, if you went in with eight car trips, like when I was patchin’ there, we had to run. we had to pull by two of them. Four mules used to pull two cars up. One come down for two more, come up with them, two more, come up with them until the [space] is up there on the flat. Then when you got eight up on the flat then you went all the way in there just to the miner’s place.

 AV: What happens when you come to a down hill run? What do you do?

 JC: Take the mules off. And you got to [space] your car.

 AV: Did you send them down the hill two by two, or one by one?

 JC: They go back of the cars. They go back of the cars, see? And that’s the patchers job, too, you know, take them back of the cars and turn them around you know, and I said when the cars get [space] and go down the hill, then the patcher brings the mules down. By the time, this driver has all the sprags out. So just hook the mules onto the [space] and you go out to the main bottom when they used to hoist them outside.

 AV: Did you send the cars down the hill one by one?

 JC: No, the whole eight. The whole eight cars went down together.

 AV: And you wouldn’t patch, where would you start patching on that whole bunch of eight?


Tape 20-1, page 15

JC: Well, see, maybe you’d leave a car or two clear, in the front. And then you’d [space] the next six, on both sides. Both sides. the driver’s side and the patcher’s side. Well the patcher would holler. Okay Start! You know. Then you’d start spraggin’.

 AV: There would be two patchers…

 JC: No, the driver used to, he used to sprag too.

 AV: Oh, I see, I see.

 JC: The driver used to, you know, he used to [space] his side. And I used to [space] the other side. But he would take [space] [space] [space]

 AV: And if you had a run of eight cars, you’d start/ [space] with the third car?

 JC: Yeah. From the third car to the last.

 AV: Right straight down the line.

 JC: Right straight on, yeah.

 AV: Would you do the front wheel, or the back wheel, or both?

 JC: Both.

 AV: And both at the same time?

 JC: One at a time

 AV: Oh, one at a time. You don’t do it double-handed?

 JC: No, no! Well, you had your sprags in this hand!

 AV: Oh! You’d carry them in the left hand

 JC: That’s in certain places, you know. But if you had a lot of room, there were like boxes on the car, and there were two sprags in each box. Well, I say, while you were spraggin one you were reachin’ for th’ other one, you know.

 AV: And these boxes would be right on the cars themselves?

 JC: Yeah, there would be two spots where the sprags hang. Two spots.

 AV: Otherwise, if it was a tight space…

 JC: You had to have them [space] or on your arm.

 AV: What’s a tight space?

 JC: That’s the only place you can sprag that you can’t go this way can’t go that way, because you know it’s too tight. You know, because your timber is laid in this way–well, if you had a wide spot there, well that’s where you sprug.

 AV: How wide, I mean, how many inches is considered wide?

 JC: Oh, about two feet.

 AV: Yeah.

 JC: Two feet. And some places it was tight, you know.

 AV: What’s a tight spot? How many inches is…

 JC: Maybe three, four inches from the timber. Well, how you gonna sprag that, you know, I says, you can’t…


Tape 20-1, page 16

AV: Yeah, how are you gonna sprag that…

 JC: …so you hadda go in a spot where you had room. And if you missed any, don’t chase them because you know, let them go. Because everything’s tight there, so how are you gonna catch it, you know? You want to make sure that you got your sprags in.

 AV: Well, do your sprags survive the trip, then?

 JC: Oh, yeah. We used them overs and overs. You use them overs and overs, until the points would break off. When the points would break off, you’d [space] [space] throw it in the water some place.

 AV: Throw it down in the mine?

 JC: We used to get new sprags, you know. They used to come down in the mines [space]

 AV: Who used to make them?

 JC: Oh, I guess up in the carpenter shop [space], [space] eighteen inches long, strip the bark off, and point it on each side, and some of them is thick, some of them is thin–it all depends you know on the size of the wood you know.

 AV: When would you use thick ones?

 JC: Any place. You know. If you had thick ones, or thin ones, just [space]

 AV: Oh, I see. I thought you had it graded…

 JC: No, no. Just under a sprag that’s all.

 AV: Gee, there’s a whole art to that. You really had to watch it.

 JC: Yeah. And sometimes your lamp would go out.

 AV: Oh, yeah, that’s fun, too, I’ll bet.

 JC: Sure. Sometimes your light would go out, and, well, you can’t sprag, let them go.

 AV: What kind of light did you work with?

 JC: Carbide. Carbide lamp. And then after we got these electric lamps, you know They done away with all the carbide lamps.

 AV: Why would the carbide lamp go out mostly?

 JC: Maybe your carbide, you know, is all burnt out.

 AV: Oh, it wouldn’t be for clogged water dripping, or something?

 JC: No. I mean, I saw that do it, too, you know. But sometime you know, I said, your carbide’s burned up, well then there’s no more gas comin’, you know So, open your lamp and knock that out, and push fresh carbide in. You could judge how long it would last, you know.

 AV: I imagine you could…

 JC: Then you have to have water in your carbide lamp to feed it, you know. Because


Tape 20-1, page 17

your water had to hit the carbide, and your carbide used to make the gas, [space]

 AV: Now, you were spragging with the light of just your lamp, and that’s it.

 JC: Yup, and the driver had his own.

 AV: And you could see where to do it!

 JC: But when they put motors in, they ‘lectrified the mines, see, because they had to. Well, every so far was a electric light, you know.

 AV: I’ve seen that’s how it was down at

 JC: So every so far, you know, you got a light, you know. So, you know. But you had a light on the motor, too. And see, when these motors first come down, they used to put a, what did they used to call it, a dead man, on the front car if you were pushing them out.

 AV: What is a dead man?

 JC: It’s a, it’s a red reflector. It’s about that high, you know, it’s m [space] [space] And there were two hooks on it. You’d hook it onto the front of the car. And the vibration [space] ring a bell, steady, you know, all the way out to the bog(?)

 AV: This was to warn…

 JC: To warn someone comin’ in. You know, like a miner walking in, you know, or anybody walkin’ in. The vibration would make that bell ring. And there was a reflector on it.

 AV: Twenty-five inches in diameter.

 JC: Yes, I guess it was. Well, it was like oval, you know.

 AV: Oh, oval.

 JC: Oval. It was high, you know. And a small reflector on it. And down below, was like [space] used to hit that bell, you know. But all by vibration. And as the cars was goin’ you know they’d shake, and this was ringin’ steady all the way up. And if you were caught without that on, buddy, you were in trouble.

 AV: I’ll bet. Those things used to go fast, didn’t they? How fast.

 JC: Yeah. Well, when they first started over here where I worked, it was only a [space] motor. It was only about five ton. But then when they went to the trolley motor, that’s already the wiring looks like a trolley car, you know.

 AV: A wire about four feet off the ground?

 JC: No, it’s more than that. More than that. Because you had [space] [space] [space] Like a trolley car. I don’t know if you ever saw them in the city. Same thing. It all depends what you would go up, because your pull is all time behind you. So if you are gonna come this way, your pull is behind you. So if you’re gonna


Tape 20-1, page 18

go back that way, you gotta [space] [space] [space] Then you had, you had four sandboxes on, you know, because the rails was wet, so you just pulled, you’d pull your lead wrench, you’d drop some sand, and that was your traction, see, your grip, you know, so you’d get started. And once you’d get rollin’, just forget about the sand

 AV: And then when you came to a grade with the electric motor, you would just drive it right down?

 JC: Right down right down. And you know you’re braked, you know. Of course, they used to call them, these ‘lectric brakes, you know, they had like a circuit breaker on, you know. Circuit breaker. And you’d, you know, just throw that brake on, you know. And ah, see the wheels would be in motion, but they aren’t pulling, see, they’re just in motion. Know what I mean? Because if you slide your wheels, it’s no good because you’re like a sleigh. So your wheels had to be in motion. But they weren’t pulling you know. They were just in motion.

 AV: Tricky little mechanism.

 JC: Oh yeah.

 AV: So, ah when you advanced from patching to mule driving, there, that was quite a thing.

 JC: Well, you got thirty three and a third cents patching, and you got forty one cents driving, one mule, then you’d jump to sixty three cents on two mules, sixty nine cents for three, and sixty nine for four, see. Same thing, same price for three or four mules. That was the same price.

 AV: They gave you more because you loaded more cars?

 JC: No, you only got paid sixty nine cents an hour. Eight hours a day. But I mean if you got three mules, you got sixty nine cents, and if you got four mules you still got sixty nine cents. That, you know, that, this other mule didn’t mean nothin’ to you, you know, it didn’t raise your earnings any. That’s the way it went. But, we had more fun in them days, more fun.

 AV: So what was it like driving?

 JC: Oh, yeah, you’d go down makin’ them gallop goin’ down.

 AV: You’d ride them, into the mine?

 JC: No, down, down to the stable. In the morning, the same thing, you know, you used to ride them up to the slope, just light their lamp and let them go.


Tape 20-1, page 19

They knew, they’d [space]. On a hot, you know, like on a bright sunny day, you had to watch them for a while you know, until they got their bearings. But they can see in the dark.

 AV: They can?

 JC: Sure, mules can see in the dark. Yeah.

 AV: And did they know their way around?

 JC: They know’d their way. If you were driving on a, on a, [space] gangway, and if there were extra roads goin’ off the gangway, that mule would know where his road is, he, you know, he wouldn’t interfere with the other roads, he’d go in his own road.

 AV: The gangway is the main tunnel?

 JC: That’s the main one, yeah, that’s the main one. That’s what you call a gangway. That’s what you call a /haulage road [space], that’s a [space] haulage road [space], you know.

 AV: Haulage road?

 JC: Yeah that’s what you call a haulage.

 AV: Ah, yeah, and then the branching tunnels, what did you call them?

 JC: Spares. Spares. If this was your haulage road, maybe there was a branch went in here, maybe was a branch went here, and branch goin’ this way–they used to branch off this haulage road. Well, if your mule as it was going here, he all the time went there, ’cause that’s his road, he knows it. But he won’t touch the/ [space] roads. But the other trip up the main–that mule [space] [space] that he has to go on that road, he went that road. But that’s what you call a leader now, You had to break him in for that.

 AV: You did?

 JC: Sure.

 AV: How did you go about doing that?

 JC: Oh, you have to just lead him around for a while, you know, and just show it to him, you know, that he has to go there.

 AV: You mean lead around by the halter?

 JC: Yup. No, by the bridle, we used to call it the bridle.

 AV: Oh, did they have a bridle then?

 JC: Oh, yeah, but you never drove them. You know what I mean? They had the reins on. As though, you know, if you had four mules, they were one, two three, four, all in a row–not two by twos, you know. All in line.

 AV: So that lead mule had better be trained good.

 JC: That lead mule, he was supposed to be the smartest, he was supposed to do everything. He was supposed to lead the other mules where they were supposed to go.

 AV: How did you go about training one of them


Tape 20-1, page 20

JC: Well, you know, you hadda, well, you know, I guess he got licked a lot of times, to learn, too, you know.

 AV: Oh, you did!

 JC: But every driver had two leaders, you know what I mean?

 AV: Two?

 JC: Yeah. Just, they used to break two in like that.

 AV: Oh. Why would they need two?

 JC: Well, in case they’d all get hurt, and the other one [space] right front, see. But they, they used to get hurt, they used to get cut and every thing, you know. They’d get hurt. They used to get hurt.

 AV: How? Just working, or?

 JC: Well, they used to get sore spots under the collars, you know, and they get red spots you know, like meat, you know, and they had to be [space] laid up for a while, you know. And I said, when they were passin’ the cars, you know, and the timber, just like between the cars, well it was in a tight place that they used to skin their hips, you know, on the cars, or on the coal, you know.

 AV: So you had to have two. Where did you put the second?

 JC: Right next to him. Right next to the leader. And that leader’s job was to start the trip, and as soon as you would whistle, as soon as you [space] and whistle, he was supposed to start the other mules up. And after he starts you the mules out, he just leads them, you know, he has the lamp on, he is just the leader.

 AV: Didn’t he pull?

 JC: Yeah, he pulled, you know, but I mean just, you know, enough to that he had I mean I just stretched up you know, that there is no kinks and all, you know, using a chain. Yeah, he pulled ’em. You’d come out to the bottom, you used to sprag your cars on the bottom, when he come out that far, he woud turn all the rest of the mules around, and as you take the hook off the car, and he’d come up to the empty cars, you hook on the empty cars, and outened his lamp, he would stay there. As soon as his lamp is lit, you just whistle and he would take them again, he’d go.

 AV: Did you give a special whistle?

 JC: No, no, no, just whistle at him. You know, if you had him broke in like that, that’s all you had to do.

 AV: Could you give an example of your whistle?

 JC: Oh, I can’t now, I have false teeth, I can’t no more!


Tape 20-1, page 21

AV: Oh, well! Would it be a single note?

 JC: Oh, no matter how you’d whistle, you know, every doggone different kind of whistle, you know, know what I mean? Every doggone different kind, or you just rattle a couplin’ or something, you know, rattle a couplin’, and oh, he’d start like that, too, you know? It all depends you know, who you had bringin’ him in. But you had to be good to him, you know, you had to give an apple once in a while, you know.

 AV: Oh, you had to be good?

 JC: Sure, you know.

 AV: I thought you had to discipline them.

 JC: Well, I mean, you know, on the leader. You had to be good to him.

 AV: Oh!

 JC: See, because if he pulls the coal down as far as the bucklin’ board, see, and then there is a grade goin’ down, you know, well, then you hooked them off there. And he brings the other three mules behind the cars and turns around and when this trip goes down the run, you know is all you gotta do is whistle for him and he’ll bring the mules down. And when he comes down to you, that’s when you [space] [space]

 AV: I see!

 JC: See what?

 AV: So you gotta reward him, but not…

 JC: Not the other ones.

 AV: The other ones, if they balk, you’ll give it to them.

 JC: Well, they don’t know nothin’, you know. ’cause they’re no leaders, you know. The leader, you, you, you know, help him out a little bit, you know, and then he knows next time he’ll come down, well I’ll get somethin’ more, you know!

 AV: What did you give him besides apples?

 JC: Oh, a sandwich, or anything. It didn’t matter, they will eat it. They just eat anything. They used to even drink the water in the mornings, you know, and that’s all sulphur. They would drink it on their drives, sure.

 AV: Isn’t that poisonous for them?

 JC: Oh, that just cleans their stomach out better!

 AV: Good natural laxative, eh? A little trouble for the stable drivers!

 JC: You should see how they used to be in the wintertime. They used to, you know, sweat inside, and you would take them outside in the winter cold, their hair was froze. I said, even their throats was froze, you know, because they worked steady, you know.


Tape 20-1, page 22

AV: I saw how wet it was down there.

 JC: And you’d come out in the wintertime, you know, jump on a mule and and your overalls was froze and your gloves was froze.

 AV: How did they take care of the mule, then?

 JC: What do you mean?

 AV: Did they “un-thaw” him, or…

 JC: Oh, no. They come in the stable where there was other mules, you know, it was just like heat, you know. It was like heat there, you know, when there’s a lot of mules.

 AV: They treat them rough, huh?

 JC: Um-hmm.

 AV: So, you pampered the lead mule and you ignored the rest?

 JC: Licked the rest!

 AV: I take it you never made a lead mule out of one of the other three?

 JC: Oh, yeah we all the time [space] the other spare one.

 AV: Did you advance the ones?

 JC: We used to switch them. I said, when the guy on lead was gettin’ just a little bit too smart you know that he was laggin’, change the harness on him! Put the lead harness on the other one, put him next to lead. Then this was good for it, because he was glad he was on lead, but when he used to buck a little bit, I used to switch them again. But you had to break him in to ride, too, you know. The [space] would ride, you know. Some of them used to throw you out of the way, you know, soon as you got on them, you know.

 AV: You used to what?

 JC: They used to throw you right off, when they was [space] their back.

 AV: Oh?

 JC: Oh, yeah! You had to break them, you know, as you would break them in. We used to get a burlap bag, you know, and put sand in. And then you divide half of that on each side [space] and throw it on his back, you’ll see him kick! Kickin’ until he’d get tired. After he didn’t kick no more, well then you could ride him, see? So, but these bags had to go on there first, to see, you know.

 AV: To let him feel the weight of it

 JC: Yeah, just to see, you know, then you could take them off to ride, you know.


Tape 20-1, page 23

AV: So that was quite a thing, to train one of those lead mules. What did you do when you called to him to turn right or left?

 JC: You’d just whistle. You just whistle. On your carbide lamp, you know if you had a carbide lamp, you know, there’s a shiny reflector on it. As you take off your cap and you spot it that way and he’ll turn the other way. You spot it this way, he’ll turn the other way.

 AV: He doesn’t like the light?

 JC: No, he knows where he is supposed to go. Because, you know, but he thought, you know, see where the spot of light was there, he thought then you were right there behind him. You know? And I knew a guy, he used to do it, he used to have these little shootin’ crackers…

 AV: Yeah?

 JC: …he would [space] in his lamp and throw it there, and she’d shoot, and the mule would turn.

 AV: How about that?

 JC: Anything, anything, you know, I mean, there’s all kinds of patterns, you know.

 AV: Well, I think I heard Mr. Solkusky say that you used to yell something…

 JC: You used to yell “Gee” or “Geedaho”, you know.

 AV: Gee?

 JC: Gee was for this kind of turn…

 AV: Left?

 JC: Yeah, and the other one, Geedaho, was for the other one, the right turn.

 AV: Geedaho?

 JC: Geedaho. That’s the old-timers was doin’ that, you know, but those guys didn’t do that. They never done it. But they were the old mule-drivers, you know Jim (?) used to be a mule driver

 AV: Yeah, that’s what he was tellin’ me. So, when it came time for you to drive the mules…

 JC: [space]

 AV: Yeah! You just whistled at them!

 JC: Yeah! we wouldn’t do no, no hollerin’.

 AV: How long would these mules last as workers in the mines?

 JC: Oh, some of them used to be around here for twenty years!

 AV: Oh? They’d last that long?

 JC: Oh yeah. Maybe longer.

 AV: That’s the normal life span for a mule?

 JC: Well, there was a mule here [space] when I first started patchin’, and he was with a four-mule team, well then he was gettin’ older, he was gettin’ older,


Tape 20-1, page 24

so they used him as a single mule, see? Know what I mean? Because he was too old for the team, already, you know. So, he used to pull one car, hook the one car, and pull one car.

 AV: Because he couldn’t stand to work with others?

 JC: He was gettin’ too old, he was just like an old man.

 AV: And easier to work on one car?

 JC: Yeah, so he, you know, just himself, and pull the car of coal out and an empty car in. Maybe he’d pull about twenty cars all day like that. Just one at a time, you know. And they knew where to put them, you know.

 AV: What happened to them in the end?

 JC: They just went to the barnyard…

 AV: Well, they’d [space] something useful

 JC: Or [space] you know. They used to bring them in here, I don’t know where they got them from, but they used to come in as they used to call them greenhorns, you know.

 AV: Greenhorns?

 JC: And you know what you had to do? You had to blindfold to get ’em to get ’em down the mines. Blindfold ’em.

 AV: For how long?

 JC: Well, I guess, see that was in the mines, you know, so you’d blindfold them you know and the other mules took them down. You had his tail cut and [space] you know.

 AV: Oh what?

 JC: Well, that’s a greenhorn. That’s a new mule, you know.

 AV: So they’d know that it’s a new mule.

 JC: Yeah yeah. So they used to take them down in the mines, and if he wouldn’t pull, we used to give initiation with a couple of laggins and planks, you know. Give him a good [space].

 AV: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm!

 JC: And then, you know, probably he’d turn out good, and then he’d make a good leader, you know, so.

 AV: How old were they when they brought them in as greenhorns?

 JC: Oh, I don’t know, I don’t know.

 AV: Could be any age?

 JC: Any age, yeah. But see they used to call them greenhorns because they never was in the mines, you know.

 AV: So, would they get hurt more from the beatings they got, or from getting scratched…


Tape 20-1, page 25

JC: Oh, no, they didn’t get beaten every day. You know, only some of these stubborn ones, you know. The other mules would, they were all right, you know, but, well it’s like everything else, there was a black sheep any place, you know. So, it was one of them, you know. Maybe you had maybe for a month you had to, you know, you know, just good with them, maybe he wasn’t feelin’ good, or something, you know, and then he wouldn’t pull. He’d balk the whole team up, see? You know what I mean? Because when the other would start, he’d pull back, you know? So what are you gonna do? You lick ’em. We already licked a mule, I said, me and my driver already licked the mule, then we had to take him out of the team, you know. I said we put him just in a separate spot in the mines and we worked without him, because, because I said you know what happened, I said, he’d [space] the other mules. He wouldn’t pull, you know, he was workin’ them back, see? So we took him out, and…

 AV: Would the other mules get balky, too, or would they just…

 JC: They would, that’s if he was in with them, you know. You know what I mean, sure?

 AV: They’d take the same action that he did?

 JC: Surely, yeah. Yeah. That’s what you’d say, that’s what is called, that you “have the team balked”, you know, that they wouldn’t do no pullin’. Now, I know, I had a mine foreman who lived in Eckley here, Helen would know him, [space] his name was, John [space]. A four mule team was that balked up that he put his cap on a hook and it wasn’t even pulled out. Four mules, that’s how they were balked up, you know. Just one mule would do that now. If this was the last mule and there were three ahead of them, they’d start, he’d pull back. You know he wouldn’t go. He wouldn’t go. Well, you’re lickin’ him and he’s kickin’ and he’s doin’ everything, you know! What the hell, the other mules is there, too, you know, and he just balked them up. The only thing you could do is throw him out of the team, you know.

 AV: Where would you hitch him?

 JC: Put him in a [space] somewhere, tie him [space], you know. Let him stay there, you know, just til quittin’ time. But then you know you only then worked with three mules, so you pulled less coal. Know what I mean? They used to figure two cars to each mule. Two cars to each mule. You had four mules, you had eight cars. You had three mules, six cars. If you had two, you had four, and one you had two. That’s how you figure them out.

 AV: That’s quite a system there. You mentioned the other day how you were playing harmonica as you were going


Tape 20-1, page 26


 JC: Yeah. I used to play lots in the mines. Hell, [space] used to listen to me!

 AV: He did!

 JC: I used to drive for him.

 AV: Oh yeah?

 JC: I drove for him in 1928. I drove one mule from where he worked. And I used to sing, just when he was loading the car, I used to sit back on a pillar or somewhere and play the harmonica.

 AV: Oh, gee.

 JC: What the hell was that song that came out in that year? “Just Molly and Me, and baby makes three”. That was the year when that came out!

 AV: I know that one!

 JC: Yup! That was an old song.

 AV: And you’d put in all the little…

 JC: I used to put the base in, too. You know, just, just bring ’em out there. The song and the base is right there. But you had to know how to use it, you know? Oh, yeah! I done that when I had to work. I used to drive the mules in the mines, and I used to [space] them out again, ride them home, you know, out of the mine.

 AV: You must have been good after a while!

 JC: Oh, well, I had nuttin’ to do. I only had that one mine there, you know, that was Owen’s father, well he used to load six cars. He used to give me fifty cent tip every Sunday.

 AV: He did!

 JC: Sure.

 AV: Oh, that’s why you asked him for a tip!

 JC: No, I never asked him, but you know, he used to give me a fifty cent tip, you know. He’d give me quarters, you know, and sometimes I’d help him, you know, help him load, you know. Of course he had labor, too.

 AV: Sure, that was their job.

 JC: I used to get a kick when he used to holler “Fire!” He used to like sing it, you know, drrraggg it, you know.

 AV: How?

 JC: Well, I don’t know how, but, you know, see, I said, when you lit your hole, you had to holler “Fire!”, you know. And he’d holler “Fierrrrrrrrr!”, he’d just, you know, carry it, you know!

 AV: And he’d cup his hands around his mouth, too? (she chuckles)

 JC: No, no, no, you know, he was a sharpy, you know, I mean, he wa a good man. He wasn’t too heavy, and he wasn’t too tall.


Tape 20-1, page 27

AV: Yeah, I saw the pictures of him.

 JC: He had a mustache.

 AV: He looked kind of skinny.

 JC: Um-hmm. He was pretty wiry. Oh, yeah.

 AV: (Laughs). How far did you used to stand from him, you and your mule, when he used to holler that, [space] you around?

 JC: Oh, the mules was safe when I was safe, you know, oh yeah.

 AV: What was a safe distance?

 JC: Well, like from here to Mr. Gaydos’s house. We’d just hide behind the pillar, you know, that’s where you [space] you know…

 AV: Yeah, where those pillars of coal…

 JC: Hide behind it. But when that hole would go off, then we had to wait for the smoke to go off, you know. Then we’d go in and see how much coal he made for himself, you know. Because sometimes a hole would go off, and I said it wouldn’t make no coal for you. Sometimes it would make too much, you know.

 AV: Sometimes it wouldn’t go off, and then you were in trouble.

 JC: Well, if it wouldn’t go off, then you had to go home. You had to go home. And for twenty-four hours, you know.

 AV: Yeah, I read that in some book.

 JC: That’s your law. I said, once the hole misses, you gotta go out for twenty-four hours.

 AV: Twenty-four! What happens after that?

 JC: Well then it’s safe, you know. It’s safe to go back in. See, sometimes there’s a delay in that fuse, sometimes there’s something wrong with that fuse, you know. If it don’t go off within twenty-four hours, well then, I guess it won’t go off no more, you know?

 AV: Did they have to drill new holes?

 JC: Yeah alongside them. But I seen miners already drill right into the powder.

 AV: Oh, boy! They’re asking for it!

 JC: Right into the powder. Well, this powder would never explode, because you know you have to have a cap in it.

 AV: The powder?

 JC: The powder wouldn’t explode, you know.

 AV: It wouldn’t catch a spark maybe?

 JC: No. You have to have an exploder in it, you know, that’s what you call a cap. And then, after these old men died off, why then you got these wire, you know, these ‘lectric caps, you know. They hadda go, [space] [space], they hadda go, you know. But they were, they were just like


Tape 20-1, page 28

all numbered, you know, like from one to ten. Number one will go off first, Number Two second, you know, and that all depends, you know, which one will go off, you know. [space] [space] Now a miner if he fired holes with fuse, well he used to make, well he used to cut this fuse first, and the other fuses he used to make them two inches longer than the other one, all the time. So that was the rotation that the old-timers had, see? This one would go off first, this one second, this one third, this one fourth.

 AV: He would light them separate?

 JC: Yeah, he’d light this one first, this one second, you know. Now see, these guys come from Old Country, you know, they’re greenhorns. And they knew how to cut the fuse so all the holes wouldn’t go off together, you know. Like I say, you know.

 AV: Short than the other…

 JC: The first one was the shortest. You know. And the next one was an inch or two longer, the next one was an inch or two longer, the other one, and you go up like that, in rotation. Because if your holes would go off together, that’s no good, you know.

 AV: You won’t get your [space] shape there?

 JC: No. You won’t “get your cut out”, they’d say, you know. Because your cut will “stick”, you know. That’s what they call it.

 AV: Stick?

 JC: Yeah, that’s what they say, you know. That your cut stuck, you know, she didn’t shoot out right.

 AV: So it would still be in the face.

 JC: Yeah. But then you had to go and drill overs again, see, because your cut stuck. So you had to drill overs (sic) again. Or you had to chop it out with a pick. That’s if you could. Chop it out.

 AV: Yeah, that’s quite a task. But you never had to do that? Dig at all?

 JC: No, no. Because I went mining, I said that was modern already, you now. That was modern mining.

 AV: Yeah. Did you have any particular mules that you had a fondness for, any good ones?

 JC: Yeah, I had a mule by the name of “Miner”…

 AV: Miner!

 JC: Miner! M-I-N-E-R. Miner. It was a nice fat mule, nice dark black, you know. And he was a good ridin’ mile, nice black, you know, no backbone that you hadda, you know, bounce on. Yeah. Miner. Then I had one, [space] name of Corbett. Corbett. The mule, he was all the time clean, he was clean no


Tape 20-1, page 29

matter what, how hard he worked. That mule was clean, shiny clean. I dunno why! [space] you know, that mule never sweated, you know you know, he never perspired, you know. Just had that little work to do, you know, and…

 AV: He was a one-car mule?

 JC: Umm-hmm. I drove him [space].

 AV: Good disposition?

 JC: Well, I mean you know, he didn’t have much work to do, and he was a nice-built mule, and I took care of him, too, you know, I talked to him, I’d ride him…

 AV: What did you tell him? What did you talk to him about?

 JC: Oh [space] tryin’ to folley me (sic) you know. I had one by the name of Pete, no matter where I’d go, he’d come after me like a dog. [space] I’d just whistle, or I’d call him, and he’d come. He’d come.

 AV: How about that! I didn’t think they were all that friendly.

 JC: Oh, yeah. That’s a leader, you know. That’s a leader. And you feed them good, you feed them, you know, give them an apple, and so on, give him this, give him that, you know, or some sugar or somethin’, or [space] [space]

 AV: Oh, yeah, that too? Ha ha! Oh gee. I guess all kinds of animals understand when you like them.

 JC: They say a mule is dumb. Don’t let anybody tell you a mule is dumb. Because a mule is smart. You know what? If you’re ever ridin’ a mule, and if he trips, he’ll never harm you. He’ll never fall on you.

 AV: No, huh?

 JC: He’ll never fall on you. That’s if he trips.

 AV: He’ll fall the other way?

 JC: He’ll never harm you, never. That’s a mule for you. You know, a mule is more sure-footed than a horse is. You know, because they have them long, them long hoofs, you know, they are like rounded, you know.

 AV: Big heavy…

 JC: Yeah, yeah. Oh a mule will never harm you. But some of them will squeeze you, you know, in the mines, you know, purposely. That’s why, that’s why the mule driver has to [space] have a nail with himself, or a pocket knife.

 AV: Oh, yeah?

 JC: Because some of them used to squeeze you agin [sic] a timber, you know. Know what I mean? They won’t hurt you, but they’d hold you there. The only way to get ’em from [space] is to get a nail and jab ’em, you know! Sure!

 AV: Then they’d move! Why would they squeeze you?

 JC: Some of them, not all of them, you know.


Tape 20-1, page 30

AV: What part of the trip would that be, ah, most likely to occur?

 JC: Well, if you went up, you know, and say you know that you had them hooked onto a trip, you know, and you had to chase them. Well, he would push into you, you know. Know what I mean? Because he didn’t want to get chased. Because you think, you know, [space] and you had to chase them, you’d hit them with something. I guess he knowed that. And he used to push over to you, you know? Yeah. It’s true! You ask Solkusky, he’ll tell you that! They, they would do it.

 AV: Ah, the thing knew it was comin’, he didn’t want to work.

 JC: Unless you put your light out, then he couldn’t see you comin’, you know? [space]

 AV: Did you have any mules that were particularly mean, that you remember?

 JC: No, no, I never did. I never did.

 AV: Well, I think after a while you would become fond of certain ones…

 JC: I used to treat them good, you know. Now, you take the leader, now, you know, I used to give him an apple. But I wouldn’t give him an apple until I took the bit from his mouth, you know, so he could chew it. I’d take the bit out, you know, of his mouth.

 AV: When he’d come down for you, with the team.

 JC: Yeah. I’d take the bridle off him, see? I’d give him the apple, then I’d put the bit back in his mouth, and…

 AV: What kind of a harness did they use on all these mules?

 JC: Well, now, how could I tell you, there. You know what [space] are?

 AV: [space]

 JC: [space]. That’s only [space]. [Space] for horses or mules. [space] balls on top of them. You never seen the mules on, ah, horses on TV, what the hell, the Budweiser beer, the big horses pullin’?

 AV: Oh, those, those round parts that go on top of their shoulder?

 JC: Well, see, there was a collar on it, then [space] they put a collar on. Then these [space] go on. And they buckle the [space]. And then that’s where your straps is, hooked onto the [space] When they pull, see, see, the hinge is around the collar and that collar gives them a cushion.

 AV: Right against his chest, then?

 JC: Yeah, yeah.

 AV: Is that leather under there, or…

 JC: Yeah. But there’s straw in that, you know.

 AV: Oh, there was?

 JC: Oh, yeah. You know, because the mule’s collar, there is straw in that.

 AV: I figured they had to be something special if they were going to haul…


Tape 20-1 page 31

 JC: See, when we used to work in the mines, there was one Portugee (sic) boy, he was workin’ there, you know. And we put ashes [space], you know, you know, the cinders, behind the mule’s collar. And we used to [space] you have to hit them mules to start ’em. And he wouldn’t holler. He used to hit ’em. And this [space], this, you know, this [space] ashes was there [space] stuck [space], you know, stuck on ’em. But, you know, that was just for fun, because [space] you know, the ashes stuck into his meat, you know, into his flesh. And we used to [space] everything, too, with this guy. We used to open up the [space] you know, see because they had a chain they used to hook on the hook and they had a lever to push up, you know, that was to close them. We used to open them up, take this hook off, and everything was hooked onto the [space] Well, this Portugee boy used to come and hook up the mule [space] The mule would go, the harness would stay!

 AV: Ha ha! Tricky! I take it you didn’t like that fellow?

 JC: No, [space] You know what I mean? [space] I said, that’s what they were gettin’ here–first Portugee, and then Germans. You know, and I said there was no money around here, you know, so they were bringin’ them in.

 AV: Then the Slav would come in?

 JC: Oh, they were here already. But this was, I would say this was goin’ back in ‘twenty-nine and ‘thirty, you know, and they were bringin’ Germans in. You know, the Germans and the Portuguese.

 AV: What else jokes did you do, down there?

 JC: Well, I’ll tell you one. I didn’t do it, but I saw it done by my uncle. There was a boy from Drifton, you know, he was patchin’ down there. And so we used to eat together, you know, we ate there, used to have a [space], you know, just our lunch. So, my driver opened up this guy’s can, you know [space] [space] I don’t know what you call them–it’s a lunch pail, but it’s a big one, you know? So this guy has soft-boiled eggs in this–not, not soft-boiled, but hard-boiled eggs, you know. And they were peeled and wrapped in wax paper. And my driver gets a match, you know, those wooden matches, and he breaks off, you know, just where to spark them, and threw that away, so he put the wood into each egg, you know. So when we come to eat, this boy was, he was only about sixteen–he took a bite of egg, you know, and he looked at this piece of wood. He just pulled it out of his mouth and threw it over with


Tape 20-1, page 32

something, you know. So [space] When he went home he told his mother, he said, what the heck, he said. What kind of chickens do we have that they lay eggs with wood in?

 AV: (laughs)

 JC: (laughs) Now, see, he didn’t know the difference, you know! He didn’t know [space] And one other time, you know, if we’d get a guy, you know, just a greenhorn comin’ down in the mines, maybe work a couple of days, we’d hammer the [space] to the [space]. [Space] [space] And then there was one man working there, he used to have his smock hangin’ all the time there. So we tie a knot in the sleeve of his smock, you know. And then put a piece of coal and tie a knot on the other side of the coal. And wet it, you know, in water, and pulled the small knot [space] [space] We used to have that fun.

 AV: What did they do to you? Any goodies?

 JC: Well, nothin’ ever happened to me, nothin’. No, nothin’ ever happened like that, nothing. Nothing ever happened. See, this was after I started work you know. See, the old drivers was goin’ off, the young drivers was comin’ on. The young drivers was the devilish guys, you know. Yeah, not the older guys. The older guys didn’t, you know. No, they were…

 AV: It was those young ones, that…

 JC: Yeah. Yup. Oh, Spongy was, he was a cowboy, too.

 AV: A cowboy?

 JC: You know what I mean, you know. In his days, you know.

 AV: Oh, you mean, ah…

 JC: I mean, you know, he was tough, too, you know, in his days. That’s what we used to call them, you know, cowboy, you know, when you’re tough, you know. He used to live in this house. I think this place was just on fire one time. The mule lamp, you know, on his head, you know, that’s what they used in the mines first. We used to put cotton in the lamp, you know. Sometimes they used to use this wax, too, you know. Then they used oil. Well, one day, I don’t know, he was doin’ somethin’ up there, and he had a big blaze in his lamp, and this wall caught on fire. Because he was living here, I guess he


Tape 20-1, page 33

was born here.

 AV: Oh, that’s right. He was telling me that. Why do they call him Spongy?

 JC: I never knowed. I never knowed. You know I called him Skidaddler.

 AV: Skidaddler?

 JC: Skidaddler. I all the time called him Skidaddler. I don’t know. Ski-daddler!

 AV: Did you know him as a mule-driver?

 JC: No. He’s older. He was a miner then already. I think he even patched for my daddy. I know this man up here patched for my daddy. This Gyurko.

 AV: Oh, that older Gyurko?

 JC: Yeah. He used to patch for my daddy.

 AV: Your dad worked in the mines, too?

 JC: Yes.

 AV: When did he start?

 JC: He was born in 1884. I don’t know. He said he was in the mines when he was about twelve years old.

 AV: In the mines?

 JC: Um-hmm. He was driving the mules already, when he was twelve years old.

 AV: Oh! Driving, not patching.

 JC: Driving. See, if you were a good mule driver, the superintendent wouldn’t give you a job mining.

 AV: Oh yeah?

 JC: Hm-mmm. He would try to hold you there, you know, because you can’t be replaced. You know, what I mean, you know. Well, you can be replaced, but you’re not gonna get that much coal out, you know. Because I know I, I said, I had a hard time gettin’ off them, too, you know, when I asked them, you know, for a change. And there was a guy, that he went to patch when I went to patch, and he never got a mule, because he caused a wreck, see? And that was agin’ him, you know? I said, that was agin’ him. Andrew caused a wreck, too–Mr. Gaydos here! Ha ha!

 AV: What happened with him?

 JC: Well, this mule driver was off, you know, and I said the boss told him to fill in, because he used to be like an hourly-rate man, you know, he will do every thing, see? If a patcher was off, well he’d go patchin’. If it was a driver off, he go driving, and if there was timber to be done somewhere, [space] to be done. So one time, I said, this driver wasn’t [sic] out, so this foreman put Andrew on. And this patcher told Andrew, he said, now, he said listen. He said I’ll take the driver’s side, you take the patcher’s side, he said, because I know where the driver used to sprag. Well Andrew figured, well, you’re a patcher on this job, you know more than I do–so they switched. And when they switched, the trip went down the run without any sprags in it. And I


Tape 20-1, page 34

said, when they come down to the flat, the cars was piled on top of each other. Upset and everything! So the boss told Andrew, he said, Don’t listen to them kids, he said. You know? Ha ha!

 AV: Um-hmm. Um-hmm! But, you never caused any wrecks, or anything?

 JC: Who, me? No. No, I didn’t cause any. Even when I was on the motor, I never caused any.

 AV: Which did you prefer, really? Did you like better mule-driving, or motor-driving?

 JC: Oh, I liked the motor more, you know. But that’s where you got the asthma from, from the motor, from the sand dust, you know.

 AV: Oh yeah?

 JC: Yeah. That’s even worse than the miners’ asthma, you know. This is what do you call sand-dust. Like they call in New York tunnels, that’s ah, what the heck they call it, [space] something. You know when you have to [space] you know.

 AV: Oh, yeah, that kind of stuff.

 JC: So, that’s what the sand was. You know, just spread sand on the rail, and them wheels would you know would grind it [space] [space]

 AV: And even with the muzzle that you…

 JC: Oh, that would, I said, that wouldn’t help you out [space] I used to have a wet sponge in there, you know. And every so often I used to wet it. [Space] I still got asthma. So, in 1947 I asked them, I said, put me off the motor. I said, because the pay was good, you know, but..What do you want? I said, Give me a job in [space]. Well, you gotta take a cut in wages. I said, I don’t care, I don’t care. I don’t want it no more. [Space] [space] That what you call that [space] place, where all these miners used to go, you know. There used to be a place down there. It’s not there no more. I think this Yenshaw was down there. They’re kind of nice down there. You know, you [space] couple months. I think this [space] [space] was down there, the old man.

 AV: [Space] like a hospital?

 JC: Yeah. So, I, I got off the motor.

 AV: What did you do then?

 JC: Laborin’. I labored for a couple a months, I went minin’. But I wasn’t supposed to say that, you know, because the boss you know, the one where I was laborin’, he used to [space] his labor at least two years, you know. But, I mean I got experience anyway, you know, you know, from I used to watch


Tape 20-1, page 35

miners, you know, when I [space] I used to make timber. That’s the main thing I watched, you know, how to make timber.

 AV: So you know where to timber and how to do it and?

 JC: Did that tape run out already?

 AV: No, not yet.

 JC: I mean is it gettin’, it must be a pretty big, that’s pretty big rolls!

 AV: Yeah, it’s a pretty good–a thousand some feet. (pause in the tape)

 JC: Well, what do you want to know

 AV: Well, what you remember about those [space]

 JC: I know them all, I know them even by name.

 AV: Tell me about them.

 JC: What do you mean in what way?

 AV: Well, how you remember them, if…

 JC: Well, we all worked together. There were four [space] and four patchers on here, you know. And two bosses, three bosses, and this guy was a company man. You know, he was all the time watchin’ because, you know– he was a road man, like, you know [space]

 AV: What was his name?

 JC: [space]

 AV: [space]

 JC: [space] This guy was Butch [space]. This guy lives in Eckley, he’s a Falatko downtown, Clifford. This guy is dead, Andrew Patrushko The one up here, that’s Bill [space]. Bill Hill, he is dead. Andrew [space] is dead. Jack [space] is dead, he used to live in Eckley. Then you go to here, John [space] he lives in Highland now. George [space], that’s [space] father. [space], and that’s me. And this is John [space] this is Andrew [space]. That’s all [space]

 AV: What did they do, now?

 JC: Well, drove motors or patched. See, I says, that’s me, this is my patcher here.

 AV: What was his name?

 JC: Bill Hill. And [space] that’s his patcher here. And there’s a motor runner, and this is his patcher here. And this guy is a patcher, but his motorman is not in the picture. You know.


Tape 20-1, page 36

Well, this guy is a foreman, this guy is a foreman, and this guy’s a foreman. This is all Transportation men, you know, that’s what we call them, Transportation men. These guys are all that. (pause) See, see how high the wire is, you know, that the trolley rides on? That’s your trolley wire. See, right behind this motor here is the entrance to the tunnel. That’s where the motor used to go in.

 AV: What tunnel was this? The… JC No, no, this is Buck Mountain, Buck Mountain.

 AV: What number?

 JC: Number two, number two.

 AV: And when was this taken?

 JC: Forty-two, I have it marked, 1942. During the war.

 AV: Were these all experienced men?

 JC: These are all experienced men, every one.

 AV: And all friends of yours?

 JC: They were all, all friends of mine. There are six of them dead. This guy is dead, this guy is dead, this guy is dead, this guy is dead, and this guy is dead, and that guy is dead. And, you know, this guy is dead.

 AV: Is that part of the motor showing in the left side?

 JC: That’s, we’re all all sittin’ on that motor. That’s the big motor I drove.

 AV: How many ton.

 JC: Twenty ton. There’s the bumpers here. The bumpers is way over here. See the springs, you can see the springs there. And if you can see, there is part of the pull, where it used to go up on the wire.

 AV: Yeah, I see it there. And what’s this called?

 JC: That’s a pulley, I said, just where your bracket used to hold the trolley wire up. That’s a pull here, this pulls all along too, like that, on the outside. And inside, they drilled it to the rock, and the your wire goes in. On the outside, you had to put them on poles, you know. So, that’s that. And, do you want to know about this one? We’re choppin’ coal.

 AV: Yeah? This was on a flat?

 JC: Yes, that’s a flat, that’s [space] this was a bucket, used to pull this coal up.

 AV: What mine was this in?

 JC: This is the [space] Hole, This is the [space] Hole. This [space] it was put on, so you hooked the pulley on–see, there’s a pulley here, see, where this rope goes around that pulley? See that? And that makes it


Tape 20-1, page 37


 AV: Easier to…

 JC: Easier for the bucket to pull. And this is what you call a tail rope, see? Now in front of–see there’s a chain on here, but of course you can’t see it. There’s another rope here. And this used to pull this bucket and this rope used to go on this pulley. And when you pushed the, the, as you used to take the bucket back, this rope here used to pull this bucket in, see? So seven of these buckets used to make one Jedda Highland carload [space]. Seven full buckets [space]

 AV: Seven.

 JC: Yeah. Our engineer isn’t on here. He is at the engine. You know, he is up here, there used to be engine, you know, he had to pull it.

 AV: So you’re digging out the coal…

 JC: I was just loosening it, you know. [space] [space] This coal is [space], so we’re just bustin’ it, you know.

 AV: This is right after a shot?

 JC: After a shot, yeah.

 AV: And what year was this?

 JC: This was in nineteen forty nine.

 AV: So you must have been a miner.

 JC: Oh, yeah, I was a miner in forty seven yet. And this guy is my buddy. See, we used to go fifty-fifty on it, you know, our wages.

 AV: Oh, he wasn’t your laborer?

 JC: No.

 AV: Oh. Was this a different system that they used…

 JC: No, they used to have them around here too like that, you know. You know, as the miners was [space], well they used to put two miners together. And they [space] So if you made twenty five dollars that day, so you run fifty-fifty, you got twelve and a half, you know. So, he was my buddy, and our laborer is on the engine, you know. He used to run engine. We didn’t have to pay him, see, because that’s the company, you know?

 AV: Oh, there was a different system then?

 JC: The company used to pay him that. This guy died, yet. He died early.

 AV: What’s his name?

 JC: John [space], he was an Irishman. He was a very thin man. He was willing, you know, but he didn’t know too much.


Tape 20-1, page 38

AV: Good miner?

 JC: He was a willing worker.

 AV: Safe?

 JC: Now, this is all coal here, now, see, all coal. This coal is [space] see this is rock here, this is top rock. So we shot that coal down from here, see? You know, we shot if from here and [space] it down there. This side has all coal here, too. So we’re pullin’ the coal in, see? And then this bucket goes in and gets behind that coal and dodges it out, and pulls it, you know, into the chute. And [space] goes down into a hole, from the hole it goes into a chute, into a car.

 AV: Oh? What would be the next step that you are going to be doing, after that?

 JC: Well, I shall have to clean this coal out. Then we go in further and start drillin’ in. You drill, you know, you chute some more.

 AV: So the next thing would be to push some more coal in this chute here?

 JC: No, I said, this is a bucket, this is a drag-out [space] [space]

 AV: Oh, does this have teeth on the bottom?

 JC: No, no. There’s this opening on the bottom, there’s no teeth at all. But you should see how that thing could pull coal out!

 AV: It could, huh?

 JC: Yup. [space]

 AV: Yeah, you can see it.

 JC: This is, this is what you call the modern mining, this modern mining, already. Otherwise, olden times, they used to have a buggy with four wheels on, and you had to have a track in. And this coal you had to scoop into the buggy and push it and dump it. See, this is modern. [space] [space] And as you’re comin’ out, she’d fill herself up. That’s what you call modern. In olden times, you had to scoop this coal by hand. So, that’s all I can tell you about this. But, here are some old pictures taken at this [space] [space]

 AV: What’s this man’s name?

 JC: He’s dead. Albert [space]

 AV: [space]

 JC: He lived in Jedda. He’s dead.

 AV: Was he a miner, or?

 JC: No, he was a superintendent. Superintendent.

 AV: Why did they decide to take this picture?


Tape 20-1, page 39

 JC: This is when this first came out: the modern mining with buckets.

 AV: Uh-huh!

 JC: That’s when that first came out.

 AV: And they decided to take your shift?

 JC: Well, they didn’t only take me, they took the other miners, too, you know. See, each one [space]

 AV: And each place had this engine with this bucket [space]

 JC: Yup, yup. Each one of them. Eight, there are eight jobs are like that.

 AV: Where did they keep the bucket when it wasn’t in use?

 JC: Down close to the engine. Because your engine is in a safe place, you know. See, when you’re done working, you know, so you pull your full bucket down, last, you know, and you’s empty it, and you leave it there.

 AV: Then you’d unhook this bucket from the engine and use the engine to haul the cars up?

 JC: No, there’s a motor down at the bottom (to) take the cars up. A motor like on, like on, like on here.

 AV: Yeah. This engine was a small thing?

 JC: Yeah, just small. It had two levers on it. One lever used to run forward–one for pullin’ the bucket [space] [space]

 AV: [space]

 JC: What?

 AV: That engine–that little thing?

 JC: The engine? It was

 AV: Electrical-operated?

 JC: Yeah, electrical operation, yeah. You had a, you know, like a collection [space] One lever was for pullin’, one lever was for [space] [space]

 AV: I see! Good!

 JC: That’s all I can tell you

 AV: That’s good experience…

 JC: And this, you don’t want anything like that.

 AV: Well, uh, who is that kid?

 JC: That’s my boy.

 AV: Which one?

 JC: That’s the only one I got!


Tape 20-1, page 40

AV: Oh! What is his name?

 JC: He’s Joe. He’s thirty-two years old now. This was taken in forty-four. See, I have them marked. I [space] marked them, see? Taken in forty-four. And in forty-seven the school was tore down.

 AV: Yeah. That was a good shot. A lucky shot.

 JC: Well, this was from my garden, see–now that’s, these are tomato plants, you know. Then, [space] that’s, that’s [space] place up there, you know.

 AV: Yeah.

 JC: Then, [space]

 AV: Ah, whose building is that?

 JC: That’s Zahay’s. This his, you know the outside shanty. And here is Washko’s house up here already. And then the schoolhouse.

 AV: And, let’s see, what are these, this shack right there in the upper-right-hand corner?

 JC: That’s the outhouse! That’s the outhouse!

 AV: Oh! Oh! that’s not there anymore?

 JC: Yeah, they’re there. But they’re, you know, I mean, this was long time ago, you know.

 AV: Yeah. This was taken from…

 JC: From my garden.

 AV: …your garden…

 JC: Right across…right across…these are the tomato plants there, you know. He was four years old then.

Contributions Message

Melanie Akren-Dickson, Amanda Valenia Malloy, Barbara Olsav-Hudock, Camille Westmont, Daryl Bojarcik, Avery Ohliger, Beverly Brennan and Helen Grebski