Memories of Miners and Mining

"I worked in the mines 50 years, 50 long years." Mr. R., born 1911

  • "My father used to work so hard. He used to get up early and my mother used to make his bucket and when he used to come home we had the water ready for him to wash himself." Mrs. F., born 1915

  • "My dad back then did hand loading, they had no machines. By hand loading you dug it.  They didn’t have those conveyors at the time and the men had to see if the roof was safe going in there and they’d get the coal, pick it, shovel it and put it in smaller cars." Mrs. S., born 1910

  • "When anybody got hurt in the mines they would blow the whistle. That was one of the dumbest things they could have done. It stirred up the whole town and before you know it the whole town was down there waiting for them to bring out bodies." Mrs. M., born 1921

  • "They treated the miners lousy at the start even when the union come in. They would still have to go through the company store and the miners always said they was cheated. So they got this thing going where no more did they take miner's money owned to the company store out of the miner's pay. They got together and said no more this garbage." Mr. P., born 1931

  • "I can remember during the strike there was no coal available, there was no coal being mined and my dad and I used to go out to a rock dump near Clune [Coal Run] with sacks and I would have a little bucket and we’d pick the coal out of the rock dump. And daddy used to carry the coal on his back to home so we would have fuel for the winter. Those were hard times during the strike." Mrs. R., born 1914

  • "Some of these coal miners operated their lives so close to the bottom edge as far as their credit would take them. Sometimes the company store would call up the coal company and ask, did Joe Blow load enough coal today to pay for three loaves of bread or whatever he was getting." Mr. S., born 1920

  • "The union was trying to get organized in the 1930s, when Roosevelt got in, that’s when they started to get organized. I heard my dad talk about that strike. Well the coal and iron police was here, all them police riding horses and that." Mr. Y., born 1928

  • "The ones that loaded coal were paid for the amount of coal they loaded. Now each coal miner had some little chits they were about 1 inch by 2 inches in diameter with a hole in it and each chit had a number of it. For example you might be number 77 so you would have a pocketful of those chits and each time you loaded a car full of coal you were suppose to hang this chit on the car. And they would gather these cars up, they’d be a train of them, and go out of the mine and then they would run them to the preparation plant where they had equipment where they would turn the car upside down, unload the coal into the system that would prepare it, size it for sale and they would take the chit off. Well they had a scale on this apparatus and the cars at this mine were approximately 2 ton. But they wouldn’t weigh the coal, and the miner wouldn’t get paid for what he really loaded. And I guess that was a way the company cheated a little." Mr. S., born 1920

  • "Machines were coming and they was laying miners off. The machines were taking the place of miners. One guy had 25 years in the mines and they kept laying off. He said, well, I don’t think they’re going to get to me. He said I got 25 years in the mines. But they reached him, that’s right, they reached him. They laid him off too." Mr. R., born 1911

  • "My father worked in the mines, double shifts, he was a hard worker. He had an accident in the mines, he lost his forefinger. But other than that he got along well with the authorities. He worked in very low coal and he was a tall man and they used to wear some kind of rubber knee support on their knees so that the coal would not hurt their knees. But they worked on their knees all the time cause he worked in low coal. And they would load the cars and they would try to put a lot of coal around the edges so it would weigh more because when the cars came out of the mine they weighed them on the tipple and then they marked the tonnage down for everyone because they were paid by the tonnage. And I can remember when I was a little girl my dad every evening would go down to see the tonnage posted and I would walk with him down to the tipple. He worked hard. " Mrs. R., born 1914

  • "I don’t remember the name but it was across the street from us, I was a kid then. But her husband was killed in the mines and all the neighbors, the women, went over to her house. And she didn’t suspect nothing and she offered coffee. And she kept saying my husband is late from work I’m waiting for him he didn’t come home yet. Somebody had to tell her, who it was I don’t remember. When they told her I think she fainted and somebody gave her a little whiskey to bring her to. She went back to Italy." 
    Mrs. F., born 1915

  • "My dad wanted to take the boys [his sons] in the mine cause he didn’t have enough of money and he sponsored them. They had to go and make some kind of false working papers that we were so poor that they have to take the boys in the mines. They was just in their early teens." Mrs. G., born 1912

  • "There were 1200 people working here in the mines and there was a big strike. And we was told to go to work or get out of the house. The company was driving us out." Mr. R., born 1911

  • "Yeah, that explosion was in 1941. We were up in Indiana with my uncle and there were state police down in Kent. They wouldn’t leave you turn up here unless you showed them identification that you lived here. We showed them our driver's license that we were residents of McIntyre and they left us come up. That guy that I was telling you about, his father and another guy were in that explosion. And he was so strong he got a hold of both of them and he was dragging them both out of the mine. He saved their lives. Brought them out of #2 up here. Drug his dad out and the other guy." Mr. Y., born 1928

  • "I can remember that  '31 strike real good. That was the biggest one. Thousands of people parading up and down McIntyre’s road there. That’s when they started the union." Mr. M., born 1920

  • "I think the R&P [Rochester and Pittsburgh Coal Company] was fair. They had to be fair cause they gave all the miners the black lung pension. At the beginning the wages wasn’t all that great. But every year it would go up. We had a big family but we always had something to eat." Mrs. P., born 1920

  • "Getting back to the Depression era I feel if you wanted to grade the R&P Coal Company I think you’d grade them fairly high in the respect that when the mine was not working very much, one or two days a week, something like that, the company store put everybody on a budget. It went by how many kids you had and so forth. If you had a husband, wife, and four children, you would be allowed so much a day from the company store. And we did all right because one of the things we did was we went out and picked berries. We’d buy a sack of flour at the company store, some sugar and you’d make rolls, buns, your own bread and then you’d have the raspberry jam to put on it so that it was actually delicious. Better meals taste-wise than some of the nonDepression meals." Mr. S., born 1920

  • "Used to be mines in Aultman, Iselin, Coal Run and McIntyre. First Aultman died, then Iselin died, Coal Run died, McIntyre was the last one left. There was a lot of people that moved before the mines closed cause they seen it coming. There’s more people in Cleveland from McIntyre than lives in McIntyre now. But they moved to other cities, Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago too. It was a good town one time, really a good town: never locked your door; never took your key out of your car; never heard of anybody robbing. Well I’ll tell you, this was a good town at one time, a good town, everybody was happy. Nobody had nothing but everybody was happy." Mr. M., born 1920

  • "They took, how much money did the R&P Company out of here? Sure, they made some employment here but what did they take out? It’s about 10 to 1 you know. That’s the story of McIntyre." Mr. Y., born 1928


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