Vol. 1-Interviews-Ferko


DM Interview Thomas & Mary Ferko Tape #6 8/7/72

DM: You tell me how tight it was with your expenses, your budget

 MF: When we got married how much were you making

 TF: About 41 cents an hour, $3.33 a day for 8 hours

 DM: And how much was for rent, how much rent did you pay, what year was this about

 TF: 1936, we got married in ’38, when I was drivin’ mules I got $4.62

 DM: And $3.33 is what you started out as a patcher, and then it went up to $4.32 and what was the rent back then

 MF: Then we were livin’ with my mother

 TF: and then we were payin’ $15.00

 DM: $15 with your mother

 TF: No in an apartment in Freeland

 DM: That was pretty high rent then

 MF: Three rooms and no bath, the toilet was just partitioned off, then we moved to Buck Mountain and we paid $10

 TF: No that was no company house that was a house next to _______

 DM: John up here

 MF: No that was up at #2 Buck Mountain, and we had no light and we had to wash clothes by hand on the washboard and scrub carpet on a bench

 TF: Down at the end of town and then we moved here

 DM: Were there pumps where you had to go and rinse your carpet off

 MF: They didn’t have water in the house

 DM: I’m just making notes on this so I know what I’m talking about when I play the tape back, oh you were down by the _______ and what was the company rent then

 TF: What did we pay then, something like $8

 MF: The water was there

 DM: And when did they raise it to $11.50

 TF: Ever since we lived here, and we lived here 27 Years in October

 DM: and it’s been $11.50 for 27 years now you guys can’t talk about the high cost


DM interview Mary & Tom Ferko Tape #6 8/7/72 -2 of living

 TF: Well the people up on the Back Street they only paid 5 1/2 dollars

 DM: As long as those houses were up there that’s all they were, because they only had one bedroom

 TF: Then those people moved out and others moved in they charged 2 more dollars rent now for instance if I wanted to move out of here into Bruno’s house I would have to pay 2 dollars more rent at that time then after we paid $11.50 rent here they uniformed it and everybody had to pay $11.50 and now there are some people in Eckly payin’ $15, see they moved in after

 DM: I spend more rent in a month in a little house in New Jersey than you pay for a year, that’s the thing that gets me

 TF: And you have to pay for your own water down there too I guess

 DM: No the water’s includedut we have to pay the light and gas I had to buy a tank of gas the other day $9 a some cents, we’re supposed to pay $12 but there was something wrong with it and he could only get 9 in

 MF: We get a full tank and we pay 12 something

 DM: Just a brand new tank, yes that’s what they cost but he only put $9 in, that’s still not bad

 TF: That’s cheap operation

 MF: A tank lasts me about 4 months

 DM: And now you can get by with how much to heat the house for a winter

 TF: On a average, $120, that’s for a year, I guess it went up the last time we bought it was $20.50 I don’t know what it is now see they got a rain and I guess it might be up a dollar or two a tob of coal use to last you 3 months in the winter time if it gets cold, I use a ton a month

 DM: Mary when you make the blueberry cakes and stuff do you make them in your gas oven

 MF: Yeh

 DM: Back when you were first married how much did food take out of that, do you remember


DM Interview Mary & Tom Ferko -3- 8/7/72 Tape #6

 DM: I’ll bet you did buy all your food at a market

 TF: Yeh but then there were no markets like there is today we just had individual stores, we didn’t have big markets like A & P like they do today, you could buy all your stuff in one place but it was individually owned just small stores

 MF: __________ they used to have the meat and grocery store together

 TF: And they used to come around here with trucks, they came around and everybody bought Joe Gallio would come in here on a pay day, we lived the house below here, he would come to our place about 4 o’clock in the afternoon, 2 trucks now imagine, full of groceries and everything and then he’d go out of here 3 or 4 o’clock the next morn ing

 DM: Who’d buy food at 3 o’clock in the morning

 TF: Everybody, they’d just wait for them guys

 DM: Like the lady of the house would wait up because the man of the house would be sleeping, you were lucky that you lived down here so you could get them in the afternoon

 TF: That’s all the owner did, the one that owned 2 trucks, he take the checks back to the bank and get the cash his daddy was some hid of vice president in the bank and he made sure he got the money see you got paid by check and he couldn’t carry that much money around so when he got so many checks off of this truck he’s go back to Freeland and cash them checks in for cash so he would have enough for the rest to pay the people

 DM: Boy oh boy things have changed a lot since then

 TF: And then the bus used to come in almost every hour back and forth and it cost a nickel to go to Freeland

 DM: How much would you say you got by with on your food bill, you were making how much a month, $3.33 a day to $4.62

 TF: That all depended how many days you worked sometimes you didn’t work no 2 weeks in them days, pay days you were lucky to get two weeks


DM Interview Mary & Tom Ferko -4- 8/7/72 Tape 6

 DM: You mean because of dockage

 TF: No, they didn’t always have the orders for coal, every town has a breaker,

 DM: You mean you’d walk in and they would say no work today

 TF: No a whistle would blow, at 3:30 a whistle would blow if it blowed one there was work if it blowed 3 there wasn’t any work tomorrow, at quittin’ time a whistle would blow

 DM: How’s come we’ve been here 2 1/2 months and haven’t found that out before, that’s incredible

 MF: That’s true every day at 3:30 the whistle blew

 TF: That’s right if the whistle blew one there was work and if it blew 3 there was no work

 MF: We always listened for that whistle

 DM: If you got 8 days of work out of 10 you were doing well

 TF: Yeh, you didn’t get work too steady then

 DM: I thought all they did was stock pile the coal, make you fellows work

 TF: How many breakers here, they had #5 breaker, you know where #5 is and now over the top of the hill ———— you had another breaker, Sandy Run had their own breaker, Hazlebrook had their own breaker, Eckley had their own breaker, #4 when you go towards Hazleton ——————-There was a breaker there, Harleigh had a breaker, ————-, had their own breaker, everyone had their own breaker

 DM: How did they work it out as to who would work, like would it happen that Harleigh breaker would be down for a week and the rest of you guys would be working or what

 MF: They didn’t have strippins like they do now, it was all mined

 TF: But after the coal started stackin up they wasn’t getting their coal started to tear down one breaker and then Look now they can’t get enough coal for the breakers, her uncle is over at Harleigh and he told me they have 100 gondolas to a shift to operate the breaker now you figure 100 gondolas———- that’s a lot of coal

 DM: I had no idea I really didn’t that things were like that

 TF: Where did you for for your information around here did you go to the woman


DM inter Mary & Tom Ferko -3- 8/7/72 Tape 6

DM: I haven’t talked to as many men as I should have, I like women too much, no that’s really something I don’t think Angela or Wally have found that out see we never have you down talking business we’re always having too much fun, that’s neat, but here’s something you both can answer, about work clothes as opposed to your every day clothes, did you have to buy your clothes from the company?

 TF: You could buy them anwhere you wanted to buy them, your boots or anything an place you wanted to buy them but you could buy in the company store, they were higher there than other places, that’s why some guys that working in the mines would deal in the store and they’d never get a pay, when they got their due bills there was a snake on it and you know what that means.

 MF: There would be no money comin’.

 TF: The store took it all.

 DM: What do you mean a snake on it?

 TF: Like this, there was a thing that showed you how many hours you worked and how much you got an hour and how much you made for the total hours and then there was a small thing like on your check your name and everything was on there, how much money you had comin’ well you tore that off and when you went for your pay you handed that thing in and you’d look for your name and then look for your envelope and then they handed you your money.

 MF: And a lot of guys didn’t get any because they took everything for the store, food and clothing and everything so they wouldn’t get no pay.

 TF: You go up and ask and tell him to tell the truth, he never got none.

 DM: He was alway in the hole to the store.

 MF: Yes because he would always buy everything from the store.

 DM: And that was higher, about how much percentage would you say?

 TF: I wouldn’t know percentage buy it was always higher a nickel for so, I very seldom dealt in the store, maybe a loaf of bread or something like that, but I paid cash. I didn’t have it taken off my pay.


DM inter. Mary & Tom Ferko -6- 8/7/72 Tape 6

 DM: How about transportation did you take a bus into Freeland or did you have your own car then

 TF: At first we took a bus

 DM: Like when Mary would go out shopping

 TF: Then later when my daddy got a car he’d take us

 DM: Well this was after you got married he took you

 MF: Sure

 DM: When did people start to buy cars here

 TF: Around 1930 I guess, from ’30 on, we had one since 1923 we had a Model T Ford there was only 3 in Eckley, my father had one, then he got a 1930 Chrysler that was $1120, then he got a 1936 Oldsmobile that was $980

 DM: I’ve seen some old adds for cars

 TF: 1936 Chevy was$756

 DM: What was the first car you bought can you remember that

 TF: It was a 1939 Pontiac, it was a second-hand, then we got a ’48 Plymouth, then I got a ’56 Dodge then I bought a junk Ford, a ’59 Ford that wasn’t worth the room it took up

 DM: I was just going to say I can’t say much for a ’59 Ford

 TF: transmission was makin’ noise and the oil in it was like mud all the time

 MF: Then we gave it to my son, he had a Chevy

 TF: Yeh I took the Chevy and traded that in

 MF: Yeh we gave him the Ford because he was tradin it in for a ’65 Plymouth

 TF: I took the payments on the Chevy to make the difference

 DM: Well what other luxuries did you have, I notice a lot of people around here go for jewelry and like little ribbons and watches and stuff like that there’s a lot of value placed on that kind of thing even in older days


DM inter. Mary & Tom Ferko -7- 8/7/72 Tape 6

 TF: boys around here, baseball gloves and baseball showes and a sled in the winter

 DM: Sleds in the winter

 TF: Yes that’s what all the kids wanted

 DM: Didn’t Sophia Coxe give them sometimes

 TF: no not here just over at the Protestant Church

 MF: Yeh she always gave them Christmas presents

 DM: But only the people that belonged to the Presbyterian Church

 MF: Yeh, we never got anything like that

 DM: Just a dollar and a box of candy

 TF: Yeh

 DM: That was kind of unfair, I think, in fact it was unfair

 TF: But she was a good woman you have to give it to her

 DM: Oh yes she gave lots of money away, still doing it

 TF: Yes you take all the people that were out of work in the mines they all got free coal

 MF: Your mother was gettin’ it up until when, she gets black lung now from her husband now they stopped givin’ her the coal

 TF: Because she’s gettin’ more money

 DM: What do you mean, stop giving her the coal

 TF: From Mrs. Coxe

 DM: Oh you actually mean the free coal

 MF: Yeh since her husband died she was gettin’ coal

 TF: Well a lot of people did after their husbands died

 MF: Since they weren’t gettin’ black lung or nothin’

 DM: Do she still get the coal

 MF: Now she doesn’t because she gets the black lung

 TF: Not anybody here gettin’ it anymore


DM inter. Mary & Tom Ferko -8- 8/7/72 Tape 6

 DM: Because I haven’t heard anybody admit that they get free coal yet

 TF: Well they wouldn’t

 MF: They wouldn’t say it but there was quite a few women here gettin’ it

 DM: Well when you guys were, well when Piker was working in the mines did you guys buy your coal

 MF: Yes and when we got a chance we picked it too and and when we could afford it we’d buy it, when we lived at the mountain we use to pick all our coal there because we were right close to the strippin there it was right across the road so we use to pick all our coal down there same thing down there we use to pick coal

 DM: What about the Coal and Iron Police did they ever give you any trouble

 MF: You would just have to watch or they’d catch you

 DM: I don’t blame you I’d be out there picking coal too, if I was a coal miner you couldn’t get me to buy coal

 MF: When I was home yet livin’ up on the Back Street yet after school we always went down on the coal bank back of there and pick coal and take it home and as soon as you seen the cop we’d run and how many times he’d catch they kids and smash the buckets

 DM: Is that how they did it they’d smash their coal buckets, I heard a couple people say and I don’t know how true this is but on a couple tapes I heard they said that if you were caught continuously picking coal they would report you and you would either have to move or change your name

 TF: They could put you out of your house if they wanted to because they woned the property

 DM: And then you would have to move and change your name to avoid prosecution

 MF: I don’t know about changin’ the name but they could put you out of the house if they caught you a couple times like that, but everybody picked coal around here

 DM: Who were the Coal and Iron Police people from the town


DM inter. Mary & Tom Ferko -9- Tape 6 8/7//72

 TF: Spade Detective Agency was here the biggest part of the time he’s still around here

 DM: Who

 MF: Spade Detective Agency, Howard Spade

 DM: If you’d have said Sam Spade I would have wondered

 TF: No he’s up here he has, thru Belmont and Kingsly he has guards all around there

 DM: I shouldn’t say this with the tape on but I’d go walking in the strippings and I’d be walking around and I’d find these big chunks of coal and I bought them and put them by the fence around our house so that anytime anyone wants some coal that visits us I’ll say here, here’s a piece of coal for a souvenir Annie Maloney came over and took them all (big laugh from all)

 MF: Well she’s one that picks it

 DM: She came over and took everyone of them and I saw her later on breaking it up with a hammer and I said something like, “Annie where did you get the coal,” and she said, “Oh I have my places and my ways of gettin’ coal,”

 MF: Emory Nicholas use to always pick he down the back too

 DM: Oh I know, Emory had a little shanty built to put his ( with is lined out) big chunks of coal in in fact there’s still a couple

 MF: Maxie had a brother that was killed he went for coal in back here and he was covered up

 TF: It was this black dirt it’s like dead dirt

 DM: The stuff like down here around the curve

 TF: No, no this is different that’s silt that comes from the breaker this was regular black dirt and you think you’re pickin’ and the whole thing comes down

 MF: Right down in the back here

 DM: That’s another death in Eckley I didn’t hear about

 MF: And Wanda Denion had a brother, he was down on the coal bank crackin’ coal and it was lightning and thunderin’ and it struck and he was killed


DM inter. Mary & Tom Ferko -10- 8/7/72 Tape 6

 DM: And the hammer drew the lightning I guess, any other accidents in the coal picking

 MF: My uncle was crushed in the mines

 TF: My uncle was crushed in the mines

 TF: A lot of guys got that

 DM: Well didn’t Bruno’s daddy die with a thing on the back of his head that come down and hit him in the head, somebody said it, I think it was Mr. Feissner said, they took Bruno’s dad out of the mines and there wasn’t a mark on him he wasn’t even dirty he just got there

 TF: Down there where I worked # 10 a big chunk came down and killed a guy down tehre and he had glasses on and every bone in his body was broke and you know what happened his glasses didn’t break and he had the little rimmed glasses too no the kind that you have on just that tiny rim of what you call it every bone in his body was broke when we picked him up but his glasses wasn’t broken

 DM: That’s the funny thing about Bruno’s dad there wasn’t any bones broken on him

 TF: And he didn’t lose a drop of blood this guy

 DM: I was going to say he must have been like a bag of jelly

 TF: And when we put him on the stretcher any way we put his that’s the way he went

 DM: Just like a rag doll

 TF: That’s right, I just got home from work and I got called right back

 DM: When you talk to these people around here they never bring that stuff up, until something like this when it just comes up in conversation, you people are really tough, because my father’s always worked in a factory which I don’t think is any better than working in the mines but he doesn’t consider that to be any big thing either, I guess it’s what you do

 TF: It’s too bad there’s no mines open here or I’d take you in and show you

 DM: I would love to go in a mine with somebody like you

 MF: I was in once and I never want to go in again, you think you’re gettin’ closed in there and this guy he thought he was outside he’s so used to it but I don’t


DM inter. Mary & Tom Ferko -11- 8/7/72 Tape 6 I didn’t like it

 DM: Isn’t there a superstition about women in the mines around here

 TF: I never heard it

 DM: Nothing about women are bad luck in the mines

 TF: No, I don’t believe any of that I don’t believe in the superstitions I don’t believe nuthin’

 DM: I agree with you, it seems that a lot of people do believe that if a woman comes in the mines, especially if there are men there that it is bad luck, it doesn’t make any sense to me

 MF: I guess there are a lot of people believe in different things just like my daddy and mother they say if a picture falls off a wall somebody’s going to die

 DM: That happened at our house a couple weeks ago

 TF: Or a black cat crossing the road something is going to happen, I don’t believe nuthin’ like that

 DM: I don’t know what to say about that one of our pictures fell off the wall about 3 weeks ago and nobody’s died yet at least that I know of

 MF: That’s the same thing, like when we lived on the Back Street my brother was just a small baby and he had bronchitis and that was the 7th time and they said that when you get it that many times something will happen and the same day that he had the attack like that the picture fell off and my mother started cryin’ she said he was going to die and he’s still livin’

 TF: Yeh but she didn’t say when

 DM: Yeh that’s right we’re all going to die but we don’t know when

 TF: That’s like Shaeffer said he was going to put new roads thru here but he didn’t say when, when he was over here

 DM: ANd we’re going to get a new weather boar but when

 TF: That’s hogwash

 DM: And the state is alway 2 or 3 years behind their predictions, never fails


DM inter. Mary & Tom Ferko -12- Tape 6 8/7/72 I was talking to Berger up here something is going to happen next summer if they get the money they’re already to go

 TF: Hooper said the sewage is going thru for next summer

 DM: They’ll tear the town to pieces

 MF: It couldn’t be any worse than when they put the power line in

 DM: That’s true

 MF: You should have saw this place, oh it was a mess

 DM: I saw pictures of it

 TF: They had power lines right along the highway and you can’t even see where it is now

 MF: They had right across the road ditches, and right along our boardwalk where we come in right down thru the lot that’s why it settled

 TF: the guys didn’t fill it in underneath

 DM: Did it all settle and you had to fill it in

 TF: We had to put blocks right where it comes in there

 MF: They had 2 blocks in the front there

 TF: Go get me a cigarette, honey

 MF: I knew you were going to say that I saw you lookin’ at me

 TF: Or I’ll give you my false teeth to chew on

 MF: Do you want a Salem

 DM: No I have some Winstons here

 TF: So you got lost pickin’ huckleberries what a horses tail of a guy

 DM: Well we got lost on those roads

 TF: All you had to do was get up on a bank and you could see where you are right away

 MF: Why didn’t you talk to my husband he would have taken you’se out

 DM: Well I thought that Monete Carlo Chevrolet was out here was your daughter so we took off

 TF: That was my nephew


DM inter Mary & Tom Ferko -13- 8/7/72 Tape 6

 MF: That was next door that wasn’t here

 DM: I thought you had company, we were going to go out and do that before we came to talk to you, but we got lost out there, we lost a couple of hours and didn’t have a choice if I wanted to eat I had to eat with them they wanted to charcoal some hamburgers and the whole thing took a long time so

 MF: I saw when youse went down you could have stopped he was done eatin’ dinner her just went to bed and slept all afternoon

 TF: You didn’t walk up where the water come from did yah, up along the crick

 DM: No but I’d like to see it sometime

 TF: You know where that water is where I told you on the left hand side where there is a trough you walk up along that trough and you come to an opening in the road and you go right thru cross and go up along the railroad track where the water comes thru, the spring down here at there’s a beautiful spring that’s on this side, there’s a nice spring down there I take my grandchildren and catch these greenies in there oh they have a lot of fun catchin’ them

 DM: Greenies

 MF: Yeh greenies, toads, frogs, we call them greenies because they’re green

 DM: They’re all brown where I come from

 TF: No that’s a frog that’s brown we call them greenies we used to eat them when we were kids

 DM: Eat the greenies before they became a frog

 TF: No they’re frogs but they’re green, we used to catch them and cut the back legs off put the skin down and make a fire and roast them to eat them

 MF: Yeh you use to get the frog legs too

 DM: It’s hard to keep you guys on an one area question

 MF: My daddy would take us out in the woods and take bacon and put it on a stick and make a fire roast it on a fire


DM inter. Mary & Tom Ferko -14- 8/7/72 Tape 6

 TF: Oh every night we use to be roastin’ potatoes here make a fire and wiat till it was charcoal and the charcoal would be about that big and we’d eat the charcoal and everything

 DM: Isn’t charcoal good for you, my mother use to tell me it was

 TF: We use to eat it and Jeez we never got sick

 MF: Do you know what my mother use to do in the old days if the kid would get sick they would say the kid got “overlooked” and they use to take and burn it and then drop it in water and if it went

 TF: If it floated / it went down if it stayed on top it was alright or whatit was I don’t know, by God we use to do that too

 DM: No the “overlook” wasn’t that the evil-eye

 MF: Yeh

 TF: And then you had to turn your socks backwards so you wouldn’t get “overlooked”

 MF: That’s the things they use to do in the olden days, so you won’t get “overlooked” they’d say turn your socks inside out or your undies or have something inside out

 DM: On you but inside out

 MF: Yeh

 TF: That’s what a “ginny” is a “nigger’ turned inside out DH That’s what my grandpa said an Irish guy was, I guess it just depends on what part of the country you’re from and he grew up in western Pennsylvania, he was a foreman in Alcoa Aluminum in Kensington, right outside of Pittsburgh for many years

 MF: Well we were born and raise here he was born right in this house, right in that parlor there and I was born up on the Back Street in my grandmother’s house they burnt that house down too

 DM: Yes I was about to say there’s nothing left buy a bunch of foundations there

 MF: That’s all, and they were nice homes, I was was just thinkin’ if I would have that old furniture my grandmother use to have, them old dishes and everything, boy would


DK inter. Mary & Tom Ferko -15- 8/7/72 Tape 6 boy would that be nice now she had a lot of old stuff

 TF: Everybody had old stuff then

 MF: They didn’t have any rugs on the floor, in the parlor they had, the carpet was thin it wasn’t carpet like that it was green or red and it was flowery designs the kind that she had in the parlor

 TF: A lot of people used burlap bags for carpets

 DM: Burlap bags the same ones they use to make dish towels out of

 TF: They were potato bags then brown ones

 DM: Did you guys ever go in for decorating with feed bags that were already printed up with designs on the, curtains and

 MF: We made pillow cases Bruno’s wife use to make all the underwear for her family

 TF: Make shorts and stuff out of them, they had a lot of chicken they use to buy a lot of feed

 MF: Same as with my mother she use to make all that

 DM: I saw some stuff around her Eva Sulkosky stll has some curtains made out of it, Margaret Maloney has a whole bunch of dish towels she gave us one out of the feed bag and it’s beautiful right out of, all you had to do was bleach it out, wash it out that’s all

 MF: Yeh I use to make my pillow cases and all out of that

 DM: Did you guys get any extra money when you were first married you didn’t take in any boarders did you, you just lived off your check

 TF: No, but before that everybody use to have boarders

 DM: You said everybody

 TF: The people that come from Europe they almost all had boarders the people would come from Europe and stay with relations

 MF: So they’d take them in

 TF: Like if you pee on my fence you’re my relations

 DM: Is that what they use to say about it


DM inter. Mary & Tom Ferko -16- Tape 6 8/7/72 I know Mr. Nagle said about the Irish, he doesn’t like the Irish, the Irish were so lazy they would sit until 6 inches of ice would form

 MF: That’s true, that’s absolutely true, still today the same thing

 TF: Same thing today they have the best jobs

 DM: Around here

 TF: Yeh, you take them Irish they never worked in the mines a day in their life because

 DM: But if you pee’d on somebody’s fence

 MF: You were related

 TF: That’s what the Polanders use to say, we use to say about the Polanders they’re all related

 DM: Everybody in this town is

 TF: Years ago they were

 DM: Literally they are no joking around

 TF: I guess in a certain way, there were only two people what the hell we’re all related

 DM: Somewhere we are even if we have to go back to Adam and Eve’s time

 TF: They talk about nationality, this and that, this guys marrying an Irishman, this guy’s marrying a Protestant, what’s the difference, they’re all human, I don’t believe in that stuff

 DM: In the mining days when you were working did you have groups of people like certain ethnic groups like did you have the Polanders working together

 TF: No they were mixed

 DM: No work crews were all Irish or all Welsh

 MF: No everybody worked together

 DM: Now do you recall before you guys were her anybody talking about the Irish working together, or Polish working together

 TF: I never did, maybe before my time they did

 DM: I didn’t realise that, because there’s still a lot of prejudice still

 TF: The Irish couldn’t work together because they were too godam lazy they had to


have a goddam dumb Hunk or something that would go up and make the quota to make enough money

 DM: Did they drink as much as everybody says they did

 MF: Are you kiddin’

 DM: They really put away the juice

 TF: Everybody drank but them, they would drink behind the door where nobody could see them they’d get so slopped up they couldn’t find their way home

 DM: Was some of that because mining work was so dangerous

 TF: Everybody made moonshine, almost every house you go in you could get some moonshine, beer and porter and their own wine they used to make there was a lot of booze flying around then we use to go up to Freeland but he’s not operatin’ any more you’d get 6 shots for a quarter and 6 beers for a quarter in a half an hour you had enough

 DM: In a half hour that would last you for a day, I heard that they use to make moonshine in the kitchens of the shantys in the back and every once in awhile one would catch on fire

 MF: We made it

 DM: And the firemen would have to come down from the colliery and put the fire out

 MF: Well ours never caught on fire but I know we made it and was that stinky, barrels in the shanty behind the stove

 TF: Everybody use tomake it there wasn’t much down this way

 MF: Mostly uptown

 DM: What did you make

 TF: Moonshine, whiskey

 DM: Rye whiskey, now when you say rye as opposed to other kind of whiskey

 TF: You don’t blend it with nothin’ it’s just straight rye whiskey, that Seagrams and PM that you buy in the stores that’s all blend whiskey straight rye tells you right on the ( bottom, crossed out) bottle, 100% but that’s the best whiskey to drink if


If you’re going to drink whiskey, that’s pure the other stuff has to much dope in it

 MF: Plain alcohol my mother use to put some water to it she use to get some kind of stuff from the drug store to flavor it

 TF: and give it a color too you know if it was 100 proof you diluted it down to 90 or 80 or whatever you wanted

 TF: Moonshine is pure white, that’s just like alcohol, that’s what it is when it comes out, and you gave it a coloring

 DM: Wasn’t that a caramel flavoring

 TF: you gave it any kind you want

 MF: Cherry flavor she used to get

 TF: We use to get all kinds

 DM: Incredible

 TF: yeah but these were the good old days

 MF: I wouldn’t want to go back to them

 DM: Now you have to pay all that tax on the liquor and it’s really expensive, I started to talk about jobs but I got lost somewhere, I think I already talked to you about this but I would like to ask you some more about it if I could about how you moved to a higher position like from one position to another you atrted off as a mule patcher

 TF: You had to follow in line

 DM: Like the seniority system

 TF: Yeh, then you went to two mules or if a job opened for laborer that paid 5.49 then you had to go for your minin’ papers and then if a job opened for minin’ well

 DM: Now how did you get your mining papers

 TF: You had to go and take an examination

 DM: Up at Freeland


TF: No to Hazleton

 DM: How did you study for this or how did you work for this

 TF: They asked you different questions about minin’ what you should do and what you shouldn’t do all different questions they’d ask you

 DM: Which most people could answer is they worked in the mines

 TF: Yeh if they worked in the mines they could answer them questions but the bigger part of the thing was crooked anyway if you slipped them 2 bucks you was alright

 DM: That’s what I heard, Bruno took an ICS course, correspondence course to get his foreman papers and he had to do that too probably, that was pay-off too

 TF: Yeh pay-off, that’s how everything was

 DM: But that’s how you went up and the biggest job, the best job other than a foreman even better than a foreman as far as money, was a contract mining wasn’t it

 TF: Yeh, that’s providing you had a drag with the committee or boss to get a good job then you could makemoney like up here

 MF: He’s dead now

 DM: What do you mean you’re making reference to something I don’t know about

 TF: Yeh he was a regular suck-ass he had the best job in the mines

 DM: Annie Yenshaw’s husband

 TF: Yeh he always made big money

 DM: Well she still screams and hollers

 MF: She always does

 TF: She’s a big mouth

 DM: I don’t like her very much, I shouldn’t put that on tape either

 MF: Nobody does

 TF: Nobody in Eckley likes her, we just talk to her but as far as likin’ her well there aint many people like her she has too big of a mouth

 DM: Well she must have some relatives or something because she’s mad because they didn’t get a job with the work crew and all that she has a thorn in her rear end


DM inter Mary & Tom Ferko -20 Tape 6 8/7/72

on account of that I guess

 TF: Same as Holly Maguire she was supposed to get everthing just like[?] her husband but he didn’t get it and was pissed up right away they were supposed to get everything and everybody else was supposed to get nuthin’ that’s the kind of people they are the sonofabitch he promised me a job that I was goin’ to get a job up here at the breaker he told me about it and after I took it to the district office he denied it I should have grabbed him by the throat and threw him out the window

 MF: He was an official in the union at the time and he went up to the district office with him first he told him he was goin’ to get him a job and then when he took him up to the office he denied everything

 MF: My own uncle did the same thing, don’t worry you’re goin’ to get the job

 TF: He said you’re from Eckley you deserve the job he said I’ll stick with you and we went up to the district office and he never opened his mouth and I told him about it

 MF: They’re both dead now

 DM: Now was age a factor whether you got a job or not

 TF: Yeh, you had to be 18 yrs. old to get a job in the mine because the insurance wouldn’t cover you see if you were under 18 you wouldn’t get a job

 DM: But once you got the job it wasn’t how old you were, if you were 19 or 20 could you get a job contract mining if you were good at it

 TF: If you were good and providing you had the papers and if there was jobs open like say they opened another gangway well 10 or 12 jobs open, well if you wanted a job you got the job because the other guys had jobs there was always more jobs developin’ all the time as they were goin’

 DM: Well now say, not you in particular, but say somebody in town, if they had a low job and got advanced to a higher job would they try and move in to a different house or would there status in the community rise


DM inter. Mary & Tom Ferko -21- 8/7/72 Tape 6

 TF: No the people here mostly lived, some like on the Back Street where they had these small homes but the family got bigger they’d look for bigger homes

 DM: Only if there was an opening would they try to move in because this used to be the high class section too

 TF: Yeh

 DM: All the way up to the office where we work

 TF: All the foremans lived there

 DM: Yes the foremen and the big shots

 MF: Yeh that’s what I thought. he had lots of money because he lived down here and I lived on the Back Street but he fooled me

 DM: He fooled you huh, what kind of people lived on the Back Street when you were here people with lower paying jobs

 MF: Oh yeh

 TF: Not exactly lower paying jobs but that’s where they live were no homes down her that time, it was hard to get a home

 DM: But can you remember any stories or any experiences where they got a new job and he thought he was God’s gift to everything and strutted around town and tried to move into a big house and all that

 TF: No you couldn’t do that

 DM: The way the housing situation was

 TF: It was always full

 MF: Even when the people moved out of here we had a hard time gettin’ this place

 DM: Yes how do you got hold of another house

 TF: We had to go up to Coxe’s office in Hazleton the big shots were Coxe’s up there

 MF: And you had to have somebody to talk for you

 TF: If you didn’t have nobody to talk for you you could go up there early in the week

 MF: And you wouldn’t get it, maybe one of their friends, many people that we want to


Inter Mary & Tom Ferko -22- 8/7/72 Tape 6 see to get this place when we heard they were moving out

 TF: It was just like everything else and then I finally told them either I get your house or I’ll move to Freeland and the hell with your goddam house and I was workin’ and came after me and he said come on we have to go up to Hazleton and sign up for the house I said either I get it or I don’t get it I’m tired of that kind of stuff I told him right off

 DM: Did you have to meet any requirements or just

 TF: No we just moved in but what the hell it cost to take care of the home they fixed this window and the roof was leakin’ and I got all new windows in my house here

 DM: I was going to say you got beautiful windows

 MF: Right before they quit they gave us all new windows

 TF: And my cement porch they were always puttin’ boards on and the boards would rotten and I said give me about 5 bags of cement and I’ll put on my own porch in and I put my own porch in and I’m done with it don’t have to worry about the boards all the time they’d give you the stuff but you had to help yourself but the biggest part of the people didn’t want to help

 MF: We painted almost every summer, you had to take care of them

 DM: I figured that

 TF: But you look across to these homes here they never touch them

 DM: Look one of the worse houses in town we live in I want you to know that, our house you can pull nails out of the side of the house, I’m serious I don’t think Emory ever touched the place

 TF: He didn’t


DM Inter Mary & Tom Ferko -23- 8/7/72 Tape 6 M a lot of cold air comin’ in M with those windows you can shut them and the air still blows thru they have little pieces of nails keeping the windows in and all

 TF: Yeh but this is not in tight that holds the window in tight

 DM: But that’s a beautiful job I noticed your windows look like you put them in

 TF: Same as Bruno he paints them everyyear, he takes them out every spring and scrubs them with a brush

 MF: No just scrubs them to get that coal dirt off and all

 TF: And then the next year he’ll paint them you don’t paint then every year now I didn’t paint mine this year I painted them last year

 DM: They look like they’ve been painted

 TF: No not this year but next year if they look bad I’ll paint them

 DM: Do you use a guide to keep the paint off the window pane

 TF: No just a hand brush

 MF: And then if he gets paint on I just, I take a razor blade if he gets it on the window

 TF: Not even a trickle in there

 DM: No I see, solid as a rock

 MF: I wish I had nerves like that

 DM: I would like to be like him, not worry, but I do

 TF: You’re not supposed to let it get the best of you, you just shake your head and think of something else

 DM: Yes Piker but you have a woman to worry for you my woman won’t do my worrying for me she makes me

 MF: He leaves everything up to me he won’t pay the bills or nuthin’

 DM: Where she getting what

 TF: What she gainin’ by worryin’, nuthin’

 MF: Just a couple headaches and a couple grey hairs


DM inter. Mary & Tom Ferko -24- 8/7/72 Tape 6

 TF: Well that’s your problem not mine I ain’t tellin’ you to worry you ain’t got nuthin’ to worry about, but if you wnat to just keep it up

 DM: Well I’m always worryng about whether my boss is going to like what I did if I get in some sort of a jam, if I goof something up, what’ll happen

 TF: Well when I worked I didn’t worry about my boss or no one else I did my work and if he didn’t like it he could tell me about it then when he told me about it then I told him what I thought that’s the way we got along if he could get someone else to do better, more power to you and in the end he’d come around and say he’s sorry, I did a good job

 DM: Then there wasn’t any of this o.k. you’re the boss you know everything there was more independence

 TF: Oh there was some jobs where he would take over he would try to act like a big guy the guy didn’t know nuthin’ in other words I know we had he didn’t know the first thing about mining he didn’t know how to drill a hole then he’d try and tell you how

 DM: Like the Army the guys out of West Point coming in and telling all the people that was in for years how to do it

 TF: Tryin’ to tell me how to mine and I told him right off I told him to mind your own business

 MF: That’s Thomas

 DM: When you were down in the mines did you ever do anything, I know you’re a joker practical joker, did you ever have any jokes and tricks down in the mines

 TF: Oh yeh we use to nail a guys can to the and he’d go to go home and grab the can and the handle would come off and the guys that worked up in the timber yard my uncle worked up in the yard and send the timber down to the mines well see they had these flat trucks with the holes on each side they use to drive these pegs to hold the timber and they would take the pegs off this side and that side and the timber would fall off any side you wanted it to


inter. Mary & Tom Ferko -25- 8/7/72

 DM: fall on well when you put this peg in they would drive a spike in at the bottom of the peg and when they got them up to the timber yard they’s pull and pull and then they’d have to chop it off they couldn’t get it out it was in the bottom underneath

 MF: They had the timber year right up where the school was

 TF: Right behing the school, all the timber use to come in these big flat cars by rail

 DM: How did they get it up there

 MF: The railroad track went all the way up there it used to go all the way down to #10 and then they had a bridge too down there

 TF: Yes but that was for small cars, but this was a big railroad car the use to come up with a big engine use to go up behind your place up to the timber yard

 MF: Yeh, they had a small truck and the big tracks were right above it

 TF: They use to come in to the breaker the gondolas

 DM: But it was an extension of the same track

 TF: Yeh the same thing

 DM: What was the idea of having the timber yard way up there if the colliery was up here, that was in the center of all the operations

 TF: That was more in the center, #10 and #2 and #1 over here and would go around and go to #6 over here

 MF: There was a railroad track that went around

 TF: All way around into Drifton

 DM: A big circle of railroad track and that was right in the middle of the circle

 TF: Yeh and of the colliery even down at Buck Mountain they use to take the timber from here

 DM: Yeh we have pictures of the timber yard, timber stack or whatever they call it, you know you are taling about Polanders versus the Irish and the Welsh and everything did they do anything different when they mined was there any different mining


DM Inter. Mary & Tom Ferko -26- 8/7/72 Tape 6 techniques did the Irish mine a spot differently

TF: No there wouldn’t be no differences in a mine almost the same technique regard less of what nationality you were, you know what I mean, only thing was they were’t as good workers or they would depend on the other guy to do the work do the dirty work

MF: The Hunkies were better workers

DM: By what I read that’s true

TF: Supposed to go where it was dangerou and he wouldn’t go I’ll stay back if you get hit more power to you

DM: Did you say you wouldn’t

TF: I would but the other guy wouldn’t

DM: Well still that’s the most dangerous part, riding back

TM way up high and you had to sneak in there

DM: If you would have been in there and I would have been following I would say, look Piker I’ll see you later on at the cross hatcher I’m not going up in there

TF: I never sot a scratch only on my nose here

DM: One of your coal mining cuts

TF: Yeh that’s all I got, a couple smashed fingers but that’s all, nothin’ serious I got the high ones but with a piece of rock outside of that I never got hurt to go to the hospital

DM: But you breath in all that dust

MF: Especially when he worked up in Wilkes-Barre, that was dusty up there worse than here

TF: It was because of the dry condition they had no air circulation like they have around here here you hardly have any gas around here up there it was full of gas

MF: Up there it wasn’t as high as here

DM: Do you mean you breather the gas or the dust how come if it was full of gas it was dustier


inter Hary & Tom Ferko -27- Tape 6

 TF: Well it was dry that’s what caused the gas, dry air and the fumes if there wasn’t any holes where was it going to go see there was no ventilation but what the hell what circulation they did have it heading it would go out and come around again so you had the same dust all day long

 DM: That wasn’t very smary, I didn’t know were working in Wilkes-Barre

 TF: I worked all over Wiles-Barre

 MF: He had to crawl on his belly it wasn’t high to stand like it was over here

 TF: You had to be bent over all the time it was only 4ft. high

 DM: Of that would drive me crazy

 MF: But over here it was high you could see the top in some places

 DM: Didn’t is settle down somewhat this town, whole town

 MF: Yeh the place settled down this house too

 TF: Yeh but this rock in here is pretty hard yet this is like iron I worked up in here I drove mules and I decided but this rock’s so hard wouldn’t break and when it settled it settled all in one big slide

 DM: That’s what I figured it just slides down real

 TF: And the other places when it would get the weight it would break off, this rock over here this is too hard like iron this rock

 DM: Did you guys have the buddy system back then

 TF: Some places there were 2 buddies workin’ other places there was a miner and a laborer

 DM: But the miner and the laborer took care of the buddy system here

 TF: Well not all over all depends what kind of job he had, there were 2 buddies, 2 miners we called them

 DM: Is that the same thing they do when they go swimming or diving or something, just one guy look out for the other guy

 TF: Well you worked together and one guy was always lookn’ out for the other guy especially when you’re robbin’


DM inter. Mary & Tom Ferko -28- Tape 6 8/7/72

 DM: How did you pick out your buddies, would the bos tell you who the buddies were

 TF: The boss would send a guy into you and that was your buddy now up in Wilkes-Barre you could pick your own laborer you wanted you could even bring your own laborer from here up there

 DM: You’d go out and hire him

 TF: You’d bring him up and they would hire him

 MF: They needed workers up there any time

 DM: The conditions being what they were I imagine they did, I don’t see how you could stand to work after working there

 TF: Well what were you going to do

 MF: There was no job here he was laid off he had to go some place

 TF: There was nothin’ here then same as the railroad so where was you goin’ to go, there was no kind of factories or anything

 DM: That’s the hard part for me to comprehend, there wasn’t anything else

 TF: No it was all mines, mines and the railroad where was you goin’ to go, there was no factories here, mines and the railroad and the breakers that’s all and with the breaker you got more dust than you did then in the mines, if you got a job pickin’ on the table where the rovers were

 DM: Yes but that’s pretty lousy after you’ve been in the ground for a while to come up and do that kind of job

 TF: But if you didn’t have a job you had to take it, you couldn’t do anything about it

 DM: How long did the little boy stale pickers last

 TF: I don’t know that was before my time, the slate pickers you’ll have to ask Bruno or someone about that he picked slate with my daddy

 MF: My daddy use to walk all the way to Hazlebrook

 DM: To pick slate

 TF: Sure my daddy was only 14 years old and he used to go down to Hazlebrook to pick slate and at dinner time he was draggin’ on the snow


DM Inter. Mary & Tom Ferko 29 8/7/72 Tape 6

MF: He used to walk

 DM: But they had that cone system up here where you were working, that big water cone or whatever you call it

 TF: They had the cone of sand and water

 DM: Was it from before you worked here until you quit, was it before you got a job here they had the sand and cone at the breakers

 TF: Oh no by that time we had jiggs and rollers

 MF: That was this breaker up here

 DM: But no kids picking slate

 TF: No not up here

 DM: But there were some in the beginning, right

 TF: No you didn’t need, see I worked up not this breaker here or that one there was a breaker here before that one

 DM: Oh I don’t mean this one

 TF: I can just about remember this breaker up here

 DM: We got a couple pictures of that too

 TF: But with the cone system you don’t need anybody for pickin’ slate that takes care of the slate picker see your coal come up and your slate goes down to the bottom and when he traps the coal comes out the bottom your force of the water takes the coal down to the shaker

 DM: Now you guys will be amazed when this museum gets finished and you find how much we really found out

 TF: Yes if we are not gone

 DM: You’ll be here, it’s not going to take that long and there will be a few more gray hairs on your head tho

 TF: Maybe tomorrow when I wake up you’ll see my name in the paper, how in the hell do you know

 DM: That’s true I can’t say that I can predict how long anybody’s boing to live but


DM Inter. Mary & Tom Ferko – 30 – 8/7/72 Tape 6

 DM: still, in the next five years or so you will be able to see some results, every year you’re going to see something new

 DM: Are you ready for this I think we’re coming back next summer

 MF: Are you, that’s good

 DM: There’s so much to learn here, we’ve learned an awful lot this summer and I hate to say we’re finished

 TF: You’re never done learnin’ you can alway learn something all the time

 DM: But just for what the museum wants to find out, there hasn’t been a day go by that we haven’t found something new everyday but to take it in three months I think that’s terrible what I would really like to do is just to stay here for a whole year so I can be here in the wintertime see what you do in the winter not just you but everybody in town and fall and spring and the whole bit instead of just being here in the summertime because there’ll be different things going on in different stages of the year because we’re going to miss the canning season I’m going to talk to your mother about that

 MF: Just start canning I don’t do too much of that for 2 of us before I use to can tomatoes and beans, manglers and hot peppers for him, chili sauce I use to make {???} chou chou

 DM: We have 3 jars of that stuff up there, Eva said I’m going to make some chou chou so you can have my old from last year, and I said, o.k.

 MF: That’s good when you have meat and something with it, mashed potatoes

 TF: I like the jice with the mashed potatoes, juice from the chou chou

 MF: The same thing with chili sauce and he mixes it up with his mashed potatoes

 DM: I’ll have to try that one because we have so much of it I’ll have to find ways using it

 TF: you never eat like I eat

 MF: He’s sloppy joe

 DM: No I don’t think I could eat thing for thing with Fiker{?}


DM inter. Mary & Tom Ferko 31 tape 6 8/7/72

MF: He can sit and eat more hot peppers I don’t know how he does it

 DM: He was here one day eating hot peppers and Wally all he does is look at one and his stomach turns over, that stuff is rough, a couple of odd ball questions just to get the thing rounded out, you were telling me the other day about the WPA{?} and the bench they made clear up there in the middle of no where, didn’t they also make the street drains

 TF: Yeh, they put the foundation in and it was all cracked by hand that’s why you have such a good road here

 DM: I was going to say that looks like one of those old ancient Roman roads

 TF: You see up by your place, that was all cracked by hand that that was all put in the WPA{?}

 DM: Was that concreted in or

 TF: No it was just laid in like that

 DM: Boy it’s still there it hasn’t moved a bit

 TF: No that was just laid there, there’s no concrete

 DM: That’s what I’m afraid they’re going to ruin when they put that sewage system in, I don’ know where they’re going to put it for sure, what they out to do is run it right down the middle of the road and at the same time turn this back into a clay road and put the other access roads in OPINION

 TF: I imagine they’ll put the sewer system in back of the homes that’s where the people have their all they have to do is lay a line this way and one that way and cross over and then you’d have the 2 in one if you put it in front of the homes how in the hell the gardens or cellars to the kitchen on to the pipe. see all of the kitchens are in the back of the home

 DM: I guess it wouldn’t be bad but I don’t know they’d have to run 2 mains wouldn’t they

 TF: They’d have to run 2 mains

 MF: Up one side and down the other side


DM inter. Mary & Tom Feerko – 32 – 8/7/72 Tape 6

 TF: yeh but look how much more your gonna hafta like come across at Bruno’s all the way up same as here how would you het out there, out of the house or ho{?}

 DM: Yes that’s what I mean it would probably be simplier to put 2 mains in, you should keep talking to – whose going to get that contract, no Berger is the building contractor

 TF: Yeh but he would take the contract anyway and sublease it, that’s the way he does it with everything

 DM: He gets everything that gets done in this town

 TF: Yeh all these big factories and everything he gets all the jobs and then he subleases them out

 MF: Just like he did for the masons over there

 TF: Yeh the masons overhere from Hazleton, what the hell was his name, he subleased it out to him for the chimneys

 DM: I didn’t realize he had a finger in

 MF: If you would have saw these homes

 DM: Well I saw one I saw what Romel’s looked like he hadn’t cleaned anything

 MF: He wasn’t too bad on our side he didn’t crack it all the way down because he took everything out on this monther’s side her place was all soot, that black stuff we got some here but not as much as she did

 DM: I’ll bet that drove you crazy

 TF: It wasn’t too bad they put plastic all the way round here

 MF: They made like a tent around so the dust

 TF: You still got some but the boy he took it nice he realized he

 DM: Well he had to be impressed at how clean and how well kept it was

 TF: But see he was Tom, our boys, buddie, they palled around together

 MF: His mother didn’t like that too much either but

 DM: Does she have a whole house full of nice furniture

 MF: Yeh a nice parlor and she has a dining room. the whole dining room suite


DM inter. Mary & Tom Ferko – 33 – Tape 6 8/7/72

DM: Oh another thing can either one of you or both of you help me out where the old water hydrants used to be located in this town

 MF: Well one on the Back Street all they way up where Scanions live, where Mary Zurko lives, right there and where George {?} lives right below Joe there was one there and then where – across from Helen Federsha I think there was one right there

 DM: These were the spigots

 TF: No these were the pumps

 DM: Oh do you remember the pumps

 TF: Yeh it was no spigots it was a pump you had to pump your own water in, the old style pumps yet

 MF: You had to fill a boiler and put it on the stove to wash your clothes

 DM: What year was this

 TF: I guess 1923 when they put the water in, I can’t remember when they put the water in here that was before my time we always had water here that’s on account of the church being here see,

 DM: I thought it was because of all the big shots living here

 TF: Well the big shots and the church and you had the store here and then you had the mule stables down here and that’s why the water was put in here

 MF: It must have been 1925, 1926

 DM: You mean to tell me that after they tore the pumps down all the houses had water

 TF: No they put the lines in first then they got rid of the plumps if they took the pumps then how would you get water

 DM: That’s what I meant, you didn’t go to an intermediate stage with a hand pump to a spigot, there were no outside hydrants with spigots

 TF: No there was all pumps, 1923 I think when they put the water line in up town here

 MF: And they had one right by Scanions and we’d fill the buckets

 DM: Was that the kind of place where everybody socialized and you got to meet your friends


DM inter. Mary & Tom Ferko – 34 Tape 6 8/7/72

TF: No you had to hurry and get your water or you didn’t get it, a lot of people had to go Sunday night at 12 o’clock at night they were carryin’ water for Monday morning because people had to have water to wash

 MF: Big boilers we put on the stove and we heated the water in that, copper boilers his mother still has one

 DM: I’ve seen them around I didn’t realize what they were for

 MF: She heats her water she doesn’t have hot water, she heats it in a boiler yet

 DM: So do we, so don’t make her out to be Daniel Boone

 TF: She won’t get hot water in no matter what you do, she’ be afraid of this or that

 DM: Like Annie Maloney, she won’t get gas in her house, she doesn’t even like those 2 tanks out behind our place, she doesn’t like that at all, she mows the grass right up to those gas tanks, she won’t go near them

 MF: They won’t hurt her

 DM: You can’t tell her that

 TF: That’s the way some people are

 DM: Some people won’t fly in an aeroplane they said if God intended us to fly he would have put wings on us, well I think we’ve done amazingly well I think I’ll say thank you and we can kill this for awhile this is great we covered a heck of a lot of ground end 883


Law & Order Thomas “Piker” Ferko (7-27-72) House I. In 1925 George Hooper Sr was the coal policeman in Eckley for the coke mines. In 1938 Louis Stoltz{?} was the coal policeman for Coxe mines. When Jeddo Highland took over (around 1945) Spade detective agency patroled Eckley II. There was a aquire in Jeddo Borough where offenders were taken. The offendere usually just had to pay a fine. Very seldom did anybody have to go to court, if they did, the closest county court was in Wilkes-Barre. III. They was a jail house in Freeland, in the borough building, where an offender may be kept overnight – but never longer than one night, unless the person was a murderer. There was nobody in Eckley who was convicted for heinous crimes, so there was nobody who was held in jail for long. IV. the major law in Eckley was the parents, who were quite strict, & kept the kids in line. V. In the mines the men were kept in line by the superintendent, who would fire the men if the men were troublesome – or give them a warning if they were making mistakes. VI. During the 1920 to 1940 period there was very little trouble in Eckley. There was also next to no law. A man could go into someone elses property and take some of his belongings & very little could be done about it. The offender had to be caught “red handed” by a constable to be arrested. It was during this period that the children would steal alot of vegetables out of the neighbors gardens – and if they got caught the most they would get is a licking if the parents found out about it.


D. Me[?]uor

Thomas Ferko (#142) 8/5/72

Woods Lore/Surrounding Area

Down the hill past Surgent’s there is a clay road bearing off to the left. This was the original path to Hazle Brook, once a thriving patch town of about 100 homes, but now has only 5 or so. It is still a good place for a woodsman to explore, however, because along this road one will find many “swamper berries” and a fresh water spring.

All foods now are chemically treated or chemically induced. People spray the hell out of fruit on trees and vegetables in the ground. Meat is chemically treated to retard spoilage. Hens are given chemical injections to stimulate egg laying.

One thing, believe it or not, that would stop a lot of this would be more brush fires. Fires burn out bugs and their eggs so you don’t have to spray your trees and plants. Groundhogs and rabbits that now plague the town would have many tender young plants to feed on in the woods if there were periodic fires. Without fires, the brush literally chokes out much of the wildlife and, by comparison, peoples’ gardens are easy pickin’s. Huckleberry bushes, always very low plants, are choked out by faster and taller-growing brush — unless fires burn them out. In other words, over-control of fires is upsetting the balance of nature.


[??????] Ferko/142/8-5-72 Cont’d

Strippings, ironically enough, help the town by keeping the snakes out. There is plenty for them to eat (small animals, insects, etc.) and miles[?] better places to sun themselves.

Anyone can shoot, grab, or kick a snake with absolute accuracy if he knows one thing — that snakes instintive ly follow motion and that their eyes do not move. They therefore can be easily “hypnotized” or frozen in concent tration. It is best to get a pole and hold one end near the snake’s head in his field of vision and start moving it rhythmically. The snake will follow it and move accordingly. Stop the movement of the stick and take aim!

The stone bench on the Buck Mountain Road was built by the WPA.


Waln {?} K. Brown 7/27/72 Thomas “Fiker” Ferko

In 1935 George Hooper, Sr. was the coal policeman in Eckley for the coke mines. In 1938, Louis Stoltz was the coal policeman for the Coxe mines. When Jeddo Highland took over around 1945, Spade Dectective Agency patrolled Eckley. There was a squire in Jeddo Borough where offenders were taken. The offender usually just had to pay a fine. Very seldom did anybody have to go to court. If they did, the closest county court was in Wilkes-Batte. There was a jail house in Freeland, in the borough building, where an offender might be kept overnight, but never longer than one night unless the person was a murderer. There was nobody in Eckley who was convicted for heinous crimes, so there was nobody who was held in jail for long. The major law in Eckley was the parents, who were quite strict and kept the kids in line. In the mines the men were kept in line by the superintendent who would fire the men if they were troublesome or give them a warming if they were making mistakes. During the 1920 to 1940 period, there was very little trouble in Eckley. There was also next to no law. A man could go into someone else’s property and take some of his belongings and very little could be done about it. The offender had to be caught “red handed” by a constable to be arrested. It was during this period that the children would steal lots of vegetables out of the neighbors’ gardens, and if they got caught, the most they would get is a licking if the parents found out about it.


Denis Mercier 8/5/72 Thomas Ferko

Down the hill past Surgent’s there is a clay road bearing off to the left. This was the original path to Hazlebrook, once a thriving patch town of about a hundred homes, now of only five or so. It is still a good place for a woodsman to explore, however, because along this road one will find many “swamper berries” and a fresh spring.

All foods now are chemically treated or chemically induced. People spray the hell out of fruit on trees and vegetables in the ground. Meat is chemically treated to retard spoilage. Hens are given chemical injections to stimulate egg laying. One thing, believe it or not, that would stop a lot of this would be more brush fires. Fires burn out bugs and their eggs so you don’t have to spray your trees and plants. Groundhogs and rabbits that now plague the town would have many tender young plants to feed on in the woods if there were periodic fires. Without fires the brush literally chokes out much of the wildlife and, by comparison, people’s gardens are easy picken’s. Huckleberry bushes, always very low plants, are chocked out by faster- and taller- growing brush unless fires burn them out. In other words, over-control of fires is upsetting the balance of nature. Strippings, ironically enough, help the town by keeping the snakes out. There is plenty for them to eat such as small animals, insects, etc. and much better places to sun themselves. Anyone can shoot, trap, or kick a snake with absolute accuracy if he knows one thing, that snakes instinctively follow motion and that their eyes do not move. They therefore can be easily “hypnotized” or frozen in concentration. It is best to get a pole and hold one end near the snake’s head in his field of vision and start moving it rhythmically. the snake will follow it and move accordingly. Stop the movement of the stick and take him!

The stone bench on the Buck Mountain Road was build by the WPA.


MCS {?} Mary{?} Ferco House {????} June 1972

Talked to her daughter-in-law Mrs. “Picker” Ferko, and she (and Bruno Lagonosky who overheard) said that Mrs. Mary Ferko was in such ill health that they “strongly recommeded” (i.e. forbade) me to talk with her. They further said that she is amost totally deaf and that I would either have to shout at the top of my lungs or communicate in sign language!

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