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Scanned by Dick Chenault
Edited by Shelley Leonard
Date of Interview - 8-2-1979
Interviewed by Rosalyn McCain
ROSALYN: What are the names of these books that you have?
PETE: I don't know. You want to see them? I'll show them to you. I got a book that they talk about at the museum up here. Nobody's got what I got. I got the trials and everything, all the names and what all these people do. I have pictures of people that were killed years ago. Can you see the name there?
ROSALYN: Let's see. Conditions in the Coal mines of Colorado, Hearings Before a Subcommittee of the Committee on Mines and Mining, House of Representatives, 63rd Congress, 2nd Session, Pursuant to House Resolution 387 Authorizing and Directing a Committee on Mining to Make an Investigation of Conditions of Coal Mines of Colorado. This is really something. This is the second volume?
PETE: The other one is in there. But this is the one that has got the pictures in. And it has got my name in it. See, they had a shooting up here years ago, and it shows the car they killed these guys. See here, that is the mine. They killed five men in that truck. I got all the maps, maps where it happened and everything. I went… You know, where the hill is going toward Alamosa? You go up that way. You know, where the dump is? There used to be a little lake there years ago. The dam is still here. That is where the shooting got started. This here book here, I had a guy. I'm going to tell you something. I had a guy from Washington come here. How he knew I had these books, I don't know. They might be the only ones. I don't know. I could tell a lot of things, but I was into it myself. You know, what I mean? My name's in that book, too. And all these people that's here and had these trials, I know them all. See, there was 28 of us, was in those trials. They was in those trials. They was going to take up to Trinidad. But we had our own lawyer from here, and they took us to Pueblo. 28 of us, but we all got out of killing these guys up here. The only ones living that it happened to, is just me and my brother, just two of us.
ROSALYN: And what is your brother's name?
PETE: Joe. He lives in Canon City, see.
ROSALYN: So these were mine guards that were in the car?
PETE: Yeah, they were mine guards. You see what happened, a guy come down here and he had a toothache. At that time La Veta was hopping. Cause, we had coal mines and everything. We had a dentist here too. He came down here and he knew me well because I worked with him. And that's how I got in trouble with him, see. He wanted to make a phone call, but I tell you what I do. We wanted him to join the union. And he wouldn't do it see. So finally he said, “Well, I'm going. Can I help with the phone? I guess he got his tooth pulled. I said, “Yeah.” So he called the guards to come down and kill all them miners.” But they came downtown, got him, and when they got on top of that hill, goodbye. The only guy that got saved, he went back to Wales. He was the one that made the phone call. He got shot through the butt here, you know? They took him to Pueblo, and he got cured and he left and you hear no more about it, you know. There's a lot of things in this book here. There's a lot of things I don't want to say, you know, because all the people that's done the shooting are all gone, but I ain't going to say who the others were because I was only 17 then.
ROSALYN: When did you start working in the mines then?
PETE: When I was 11 years old.
ROSALYN: Oh, so young.
PETE: Sure, see, you have to make…
ROSALYN: There weren't any laws or limits then, were there?
PETE: No. We worked for $1.10 a day working ten hours. Then after the strike they raised it to $3.45. But I never went back to the work till later on. I fooled around there. Then I went to… I had a friend who was Superintendent of Building's son just about three miles outside of Walsenburg. I went down there to work. Then during the war there was this manager, he wanted this mine up here, a big company, you know, from New York. He sent for me, see. So I went back up there to work.
There used to be two mines up here, Oakview and Ojo. They named the Post Office Ojo, and the name of the mine was Oakview. But it was Oakdale Coal Company, and the other one was Lance Coal Company at Ojo. So they went out on strike. I worked at Ojo, and they signed up with the Union. Me and my brother and my dad, too, we worked up there. Then in 1916 I worked at Ojo, and my daddy said, “Son, I got to get something else. I'm getting too old to work in the coal mine.” So we got him down here. It's all tore down now. You know where the park is right across from the Odd Fellows Hall there? You know that stone building? I belong to the Odd Fellows myself. There used to be a store and pool hall in there. So I said, “Dad, you're too old to work the mine.” So we bought that pool hall for him. We give three thousand dollars. We borrowed the money for it, three thousand dollars. And he stayed in that till 1931 when he passed away. And us kids kept working in the mine and this and that. I took a lot of chances.
ROSALYN: Did you have any accidents in the mines?
PETE: No, just my eye.
ROSALYN: What happened?
PETE: I ran into a wire, see. I was in the haulage room, where they got two wires and they stop the cars. The cars are pulled by a cable. My light went out, and I ran into the end of the wire. It hit me right here, so they took me down here to La Veta, but the doctor couldn't do nothing because I had lost some of that water in that eye. But I could see light. That's all. I can't read. But like now (takes off his glasses) I can see, just light like that. If it is bright I can see a little more. I just got operated on about a year ago on this eye here for cataracts. I went up to Canon City and got operated on. If I hadn't, I would be blind. I just only had that one eye. It wouldn't do no good. And so I got operated on. And when I got out of the hospital, they gave me one pair of glasses. Then I got a second pair of glasses. Now I got a third pair of glasses. But everything looks big. Like this book here. I can cook and everything, but everything looks big. When I eat a meal I got to watch it cause everything looks big. I'm glad to see. I'd rather see than be blind. How it started, one morning I was sitting here and, “Gee Whiz, I can't read that paper.” I had a different kind of glasses. “By golly,” I says, “It's getting darker and darker.” My sister lives down at Miss Wellesley. I called her up, and I said, “There's something wrong with my eyes.” I couldn't read, and I said, “By golly, It's getting dark.” So I called my brother. There's a pretty good surgeon there in Canon, so I called up there, and they said, “Make an appointment. You're going to get operated on.” If I hadn't I would have went blind. Now I can see good, except that things looks big, you know. Everything looks big. Then if I turn on the side, it looks good. If I turn on the side, the door there looks crooked. If I look straight, it's all right. Where do you live?
ROSALYN: I live over on Pass Creek Road near Redwing.
PETE: Is that near Gardner? I had a friend. He passed away about four years ago. We used to go fishing up there. We were going to go across around by Baldy. There's good fishing up there. When we got up there, the bridge was washed away. They had a big washout there. It must have been about eight years ago, I guess. They must have had a cloudburst. You know, I love to fish, but I can't do it any more. Like I told this lady down here. I had to get my food stamps, and I was talking to her this morning. I said, “I sure love fishing, but I can't do it.” Maybe I can fish in a lake. My cousin from Illinois is going to be here Tuesday, and maybe I'll have somebody with me. I might step on something. It's hot weather. There's a lot of rattlesnakes this year. Right up here by my sister, a little kid killed a rattlesnake. The cat was playing with it and making a lot of noise.
ROSALYN: I'll have this all typed up, and I'll bring it back for you to look over. Then if there is anything that I have wrong or anything that you want to add, you can let me know.
PETE: As long as I'm telling you the truth, you know what I mean? You don't have to bring it back, because I don't care. I don't want interference, you know, this and that. You know, I only went to school second grade, and I started working in the mines when I was ten years old, so you know
ROSALYN: What was it like when you started working? What year did you start in the mines?
PETE: 1904 or 1905. I started at Sunnyside. I started picking slate. You know, they got big screens, shake the coal and pick all the rocks out. And then we moved from there in 1906. We moved to this mine up here in 1908.
ROSALYN: So that was after the first strike, wasn't it?
PETE: No, we didn't have no strike.
ROSALYN: Didn't they have a strike in 1903?
PETE: Yeah, but in Walsenburg, not here. So we kids was working. We were trapping. There used to be a haulage. It had big doors. We were trapping. There used to be a haulage. It had big doors. We had to open the doors to circulate the air. When the cars come by, we open it. Then when they go by, we close it.
ROSALYN: Did they have mules?
PETE: Yeah, they had horses and mules. I worked there until the strike. We all moved down to La Veta, the whole family. When we got out, we moved across out over here in a house by the park where the motel is over there. We had a little house and lived there. Oh, yeah, we had to leave, the kids, we were all out on strike. We didn't want any killing business. We didn't want to kill anybody or this and that. But they begin putting guards in that mine, see. And some of the mines signed up, we all, the family, went to work at that time. And the other mines still got guards.
ROSALYN: And they had those stone guard houses, didn't they?
PETE: Did you see them up there?
ROSALYN: Yes, I went up there.
PETE: There's another one on top of the hill. There's two of them. You have to go towards Ojo and come around to it.
ROSALYN: We took a field trip up there with the school kids. We took them up to the top of the hill.
PETE: You're lucky you didn't get caught by the rattlesnakes up there. But it was still cold then. Yeah, I know. We had a couple of sharpshooters. They killed two guys. They shot through them holes. See, now, then they brought in the militia. They started trouble in Ludlow down here. They killed women and children. That's what started the war.
ROSALYN: Did you know any of the people at Ludlow?
PETE: No, except big John the Greek. He was a big man. That was the only one I knew. He went from here down to there. The militia men. See, what they done, the militiamen came around first. They started that first. They came around and collected all the guns here. I know I had two guns, two 22's, and I never did get them back. But I had a lot of guns put away at that time. But I ain't going to say where. But when it started, it started here, and the guards started coming down here. They were going to come down here and kill all the miners. We had to protect ourselves.
ROSALYN: Particularly after what had happened at Ludlow.
PETE: Killing women and kids. That's what started it all. We had miners coming from Wyoming and all over to protect, to help kill. They started sending the soldiers in. The miners killed all the militiamen. In Walsenburg about three years ago, they still found skeletons down in there, yeah. Then going towards the north there, there used to be a lot of mines in there. There used to be a hogback there right into Walsenburg there. That's where the mining was. They tried to kill all the miners, but they didn't get to it. They killed all the militiamen. And finding it was getting bad. Down at Ludlow and Trinidad and all over, so they had to send the regulars in. But the regulars sure hated the militiamen. Generally, you know, me and my brother, we got acquainted with two young kids, three, four young kids. At that time there used to be a passenger train come through here, and we got acquainted with them. They was militiamen. They didn't know what was going on, what happened. They didn't know what it was all about. They didn't know. They was just young kids, just hooked them up. We told them. We said, (whisper) “You want to go back home. Just take your clothes off, and we'll get you some clothes.” So we bought their ticket and sent them back home. They said, “Do you want my gun?” We said, “No, just throw it in the creek there. Throw it outside. We don't want to take that. We got plenty of guns.” We sent those three kids, me and my brother Joe. Boy, I'm telling you, you don't know. It was awful, killing them kids, women and children at Ludlow. That's what started it all.
ROSALYN: That's right. That was just terrible. Did you ever meet Jon Lawson, the union organizer? He came out here and you met him?
PETE: Yeah, I met them all.
ROSALYN: What was he like? Was he a big man?
PETE: Yeah, he was pretty good sized man. They got it fixed pretty good down there. Did you ever go down those steps? Have you been down to that? (The Ludlow Monument) They made it all cement. At that time it was just dirt. It looks nice. I got a picture of that put away here somewhere. I got a lot of things, you know. If I see things in the paper, I cut it out. I got stuff that's from 1958. I cut them, and got some of them, fix them together, what was happening years ago and this and that.
My niece was here from the Hawaiian Islands. She was here this summer about two months ago, a month and a half. She wanted to take a trip all the way around there. She took a picture of those towers when we went up there and around. But she didn't get a picture of the other one because we couldn't get around to it. The old buildings are all torn down. I worked in that mine until 1928 after the strike, until it was finished.
ROSALYN: When did that mine shut down?
PETE: 1928. Then we went to Alamo. There used to be two mines over there, so we went to work there. I was single, see… They laid me off and they kept the married people working. I've never been married, see. How do you like my house?
ROSALYN: It's a nice house. I like it here.
PETE: Years ago, during the war, I used to tend bar over here on the corner where…right next to that tavern. So the guy was bootlegging years ago. He couldn't get no license. So, he passed away. Naturally, he was so young, it was a deal there. He carried insurance. I had to pay it, but I didn't want to pay it. I didn't want to pay it because he had insurance. They kept the place closed for about a month. I'd check it every day. So these guys came in there and said, “Your lights are on.” I kept the lights on until this lady, a friend from California, came in. So this guy said, I had to have the money. I said, “I ain't got no money.” I had it all right. But I didn't want to pay it. That guy had insurance. So that guy said, “I'm going to sue you.” For everything I had. So I turned everything I had to my sister. Everything I got here, it's hers. She fixed everything up. I just pay the taxes and just live here. Who cares? Here they were going to sue me for $125, the county sheriff. And he had $3,000 insurance. That lady's got to pay me so much a month. I used to own that building. (The Bottle Shop). And he used to pay me so much a month rent til he was about to buy it. When he passed away he owed my $1,100. So that lady form Witchita, from California, paid me off, see. So they took it over then. Boy, I had a tough life.
ROSALYN: When did your family first come to this country?
PETE: The first time they came to this country was in 1904.
ROSALYN: And where did they come from?
PETE: Well, we came from Illinois. They had a strike there. There was four boys born in Illinois, me, Joe, Tony, and Johnny, four boys born there. See we came here after that strike. My dad came here and he used to work at that mine at Maitland, right there next to Walsenburg, on the corner towards that way. Then we stayed there a year. Then we went to Sunnyside, another mine. We stayed there two or three years, then we went up here to Oakview, Ojo. We all came from Illinois. I was born in Illinois.
ROSALYN: And where did your family come from before that?
PETE: From the Old Country, Italy.
ROSALYN: When did they come from Italy?
PETE: in 18-something. I don't know. I was born in 1894, I don't know, about 1850 or 1860, something like that.
ROSALYN: Had your family been miners in Italy before they came here?
PETE: No, my dad used to work in Detroit, a quartz mine, when he came over here from Italy. They he came there to Illinois and worked in the coal mine. I don't know how long. We was just kids, you know. And we had a hard time during the war, during '17. We didn't have no birth certificate or nothing. We had a hard time. The church, we had everything marked down at the church in Illinois. It burnt down. We couldn't get out birth certificates. But we finally got them, you know. My sister had a hard time getting hers. My brother had a hard time getting his. Everything burnt down, couldn't get no records, see.
I like La Veta. I like a little town like this. I might stay here till I die, I guess. No where to go. I get my pension, social security, and I get by all right, I can live. Keep carrying on, keep carrying on. I get a lot of exercise. I can't lay down, like a lot of old fellows, get my age and lay down. I have to get up. I have a garden out there, and I sawed wood yesterday. I got a bit pile. I got I already cut except a few more pieces. I'm doing all right.
ROSALYN: You keep busy all the time, right? What was it like when you started working in the mines when you were 11? Were there a lot of kids working in the mines?
PETE: Yeah, you said it. Young kids, you know.
ROSALYN: What kind of jobs did the kids do?
PETE: The stipple, they picked rock off the mine, coal in a big shaker, you know. They picked the rock out of there. They picked the rocks right out of the dump. I saw a kid do the tapping, walking, tapping in the door in the mine and this and that. We was busy. We got $1.00 or $1.10 a day. That was all right, you know. $1.10 was just like now $20 a day. We used to get bacon for 10 cents a pound. Everything. It shows in this book but this book here has been to Illinois and all over, Indianapolis, Alaska. Pat, she sent me the book, she passed away about five or six years ago. She said, it took her about two months, three months to read it all. It has all the trials, everything. My name. I'll show you. We got a little time. I got a lot of time. See how they put the coal in the car? You know, I've had these books since that time, and I Haven't read them that much. I just save them for the people that I knew that were working in the coal mine and all that stuff. Right here, see. I got to put my glasses on to read. This is all about here. See, it gives my name right there. See if you can read what happened here. You put your chair around here. You can read it that way. My name is Baione, but they got Bioni.
ROSALYN: They left “a” out and changed the “e” to an “i”.
PETE: You know when my Daddy came from the old country, it was Bjone. You know, when he came to this country, he put the “a” in there. Baione. But these people didn't know it. They put it Baione.
ROSALYN: I'll read this out loud. Question: Was there anyone else with you? Answer: There was Pete Baione and this young Ed Richards, a red headed fellow, no one else.
PETE: He's dead now.
ROSALYN: There was some man way down the road. He told me to get out of the rig, and I said, “What for?” And he says, “You are not going back to Oakview.” And I says, “For what reason?” And he says, “we are going to hold you down here and compel you to take out a card.” And I said, “I can't do that.” And he says, “Look here,” he says, “If you don't get out of that rig,” and he brought a six-shooter to my face. While he held the six-shooter, Baione searched me to see if I had a gun on me. Question: He went through you pockets? Answer: Yes, sir. I naturally got out of the rig, and we went due east down and saw this Lucky Richards. I had to get out of the rig. The mailman didn't drive on because he says, “I don't want to get shot.”
PETE: Yeah, he did, that mailman. We stopped the mail. We didn't stop it. We dragged him off of that buggy. We grabbed him and shoved him off. See, we didn't stop the mail. If we did, we would have been in bad shape. We knew that, see. The guy kept driving on, see.
ROSALYN: Question: This was the mailman? Answer: Dominick, dark complected, he is. He said he couldn't go on because he saw the guns out there behind. I never saw them. He says, “You better get out. I can't drive on.” Who the fellows were, I don't know. I went back due east and found this Lucky Richards, and he says, “Are you going to take a card?” “No,” I says, “I'm not. I told you I didn't want to.” Question: You went back to the tents? Answer: No, I went due east to the county road there. Question: On the north side of the railroad track? Answer: Yes, I went down there and out across the same stream, went over the bridge and turned directly toward the depot, to the car. Lucky Richards say, “He's not going to take a card.” And he says, “Take me to the Union Headquarters.” I get up on the railroad track up to the depot, and I found quite a bunch there and was held there. There was probably twelve or fifteen. I got in the middle of them. Question: Men who were there whether they said anything or not? Answer: Well, there was John Forcart (sp?) and Eli Cartwright. I wanted to go ahead and go on a way, and I says, “I got no business with you and I'm going.” And Frank says, “Wait a minute.” And I says, “Come on, I want to get away.” Then he says, “You had better get a card. It will only cost a dollar.” And I said, “I won't take one.” And I head out right away keeping the lead to get in and they says, “Won't you come in and have a drink?” And this here Frank and I says, “No, I don't want anything at all, and I don't want anything to do with you.” I retraced my steps and came back up in the direction of the telephone office. As I was passing there, I stepped into the telephone office. As I was passing there, I stepped into the telephone and telephoned up here, and I waited there until the automobile came. Question: Who answered the telephone up there? Answer: Charles Recht, he answered the telephone and told me stay there until the automobile came down. Which I did. During this time there were pickets outside there watching to see where I would move. Question: Do you know who they were? Answer: No, I know them by sight. As soon as the automobile come down, I got in and drove and nothing occurred until the shooting occurred. Question: Someone in La Veta said the Marshall told you to take this road, was very careful to direct you to take this road. Answer: No, there was never a work in it, and there was never a person spoke to us. Question: When you got in the automobile to come back, did you see Frank Crupa or any of the Richard boys or Pete Baione? Answer: Yes, I saw Pete just by the Kincaid store just around the corner after we were coming up with the automobile coming back here. Pete wasn't in the shooting. I saw him on the corner of the street after we turned the automobile to come home. Question: No one ever gave you any warning? Answer: None, whatever. Question: After you came by that Rio Grande reservoir, did you see anybody up there? Answer: No, I never noticed an individual on the road. Question: Where did you pass the two boys, Billy? Answer: Between the other side of the city limits between the seed board and the railroad. Question: Two boys hauling a load of coal up from here. Answer: And they signaled to the chauffeur to stop. They were going to tell them what they had seen back at the reservoir, that they had seen men building a fort with ties. That is what I was told the boys were going to report. They were taken by surprise as soon as they got on top of the hill and we were just turning to go directly north. We were going direct west up the hill, and as soon as we turned direct north, the first shot hit the automobile, and as far as I remember, the second shot was the one that took me. As soon as the first shot was fired, all of us jumped out of the machine, and while I was turning around to get up, it was then that the shot grazed me. We stopped the machine right away. Captain Brian was the first one to drop out. He was probably thirty feet from us. He dropped out on the left side. Whitten was on my right side, and I was in the middle, and Adam was on the left side. As soon as the shots were fired, we all rose up to get out, and the automobile was stopped as quick as we could. Before the automobile was stopped, the man at the wheel got shot so he couldn't move. Question: Brian was a way back now? Answer: Quite a little ways. I don't believe that there was more than seven or eight shots fired from our men. That would be the extent. You couldn't see anything. You couldn't distinguish nothing. Question: Could you tell from which directions the shots were coming? Answer: Yes, you couldn't see an atom of anything, and the man at the wheel stayed in the automobile, and he says. “I can't help you.” And I told him to lie down somewhere in the bottom of the automobile, and he said, “I can't move.” Us three, that was me and Whitten and Adams went on the left side of the automobile. Question: After it stopped? Answer: Yes, I don't believe Adams fired any more than one shot when his arm was broken. Whitten probably fired too, and the shots that stuck him when he was laying down on his face, I imagine, struck him in the breast. The firing kept up for some time afterwards until they were practically sure that everybody was killed. There was no doubt about it. But I, in the meantime I was defenseless.
PETE: See, that's where they had me, see. On account of, this guy here that got shot, he didn't see me when they was shooting. See, that corner where the liquor store is? That is where I was standing, when the guys left. Lot of reading here.
ROSALYN: That's for sure. How many pages in this volume? Let's see, 2,838.
PETE: And the other one has got just as many. It has got all the trials…You see, all I read was just what I knew.
ROSALYN: Did the union help you find a lawyer?
PETE: Yeah, they paid for everything. There was about eight guys that I knew that was on trial. Me and John and Tony here we worked at the coal mine up there. My sister lives right across the street from the store there, Mrs. Foots. And we used to go fishing, and the militiamen used to come after us all the time. And they took us down there to Walsenburg and took us down to Jeff Farr. He was the sheriff. The sheriff told him that he was with the miners. And he said to him, “You can't get nothing out of them two kids.” Well, the big shot, he got killed. They killed him down by Walsenburg. He said, “You can cut them inch by inch, and they won't tell you who done the shooting, but we wouldn't tell. They wanted to know, see. Right there is the big power plant down by Walsenburg, just out of town is the power plant. That's where they had the militia camp, the militiamen. They kept us there about a week or so. We didn't eat nothing but, I got tired of eating pork and beans and crackers and that's all. We had to open everything ourselves. We thought they were going to poison us, you know. The lawyer told us that. Don't eat anything that is already opened. So I ate so many pork and beans there, me and him. Crackers and pork and beans and water. Oh, boy. He's in California. He's about my age. We used to go together all the time. When he left for there, I never seem him any more.
ROSALYN: Who is this?
PETE: John Tonehauser. You know Mary Foote? She lives right straight across from the store? Kind of a little house there? That's his sister. I used to go with her years ago. I used to have a lot of girl friends. I didn't want to get married. Til I retired. I used to work in one mine, then another. I used to work in Utah, coal mine, Wyoming. I had a Model T Ford Roadster, and I used to drive here and there and look for work and see the country. Never had a chance to put any money away, see. Gardner hasn't grown much, has it? Is it growing a little bit?
ROSALYN: A little bit.
PETE: We went there, me and my brother and sister, five of us, my brother-in-law, my sisters, me and him went over there for a Senior Citizen Meeting one time. We went over there.
ROSALYN: They're going to have the Chuck Wagon Diner over there Saturday.
PETE: I'd like to go over there to that. I'm afraid my company, they said, they would leave the 6th and be here, but I don't know. They might be here tonight. You never can tell. You know what they want honey? I go to the store, and I get some hamburger and I got to get some spaghetti sauce and all that stuff. They want me to make regular spaghetti. They're Italian, you know what I mean? When they get here, they want spaghetti. So I got to make spaghetti. But I'm just going to make the stew. It'll be ready for them when they come.
ROSALYN: Did other members of your family have many accidents in the mines?
PETE: Well, I got hurt in this eye, and then I got another brother in Canon. He got hurt, not too bad. He got a cable hit him or something. He worked there when they had an explosion in 191 too, you know. I was gone. I think I went back to New Mexico. I had a job there. Come back to New Mexico. A guy came for me on a horse. When I got out, I told this guy, “When I got my check, they cut my wage. Put me on at $7.75. I got my check, and I only got $2.50 a day.” So I quit. So I had a little money, and I decided to go to El Paso, Texas. So when I got my ticket, a guy said, “Did you hear about the explosion in Colorado?” I said, “No.” He told me what happened. I told him, “I got two brothers working out there.” One guy I was living with out there got killed, and my brothers got safe. They were supposed to go through the other doors, you know for the air circulation. That saved their lives. It killed 19 there. Gee. When I come here to come to the funeral for those people that stayed in my house, I couldn't get there until twenty-four hours late. They were already buried. That was bad.
ROSALYN: Did conditions in the mines get safer after the strike?
PETE: It was a lot safer. But now, the government in the last 15 or 20 years has put it more safer. But still, they do something wrong in these mines. Sometimes they try to get smart, you know. Maybe they get mad with the Superintendent. Or maybe they get mad at the Pit Boss. Or maybe they get mad at the other guy, you know. The Superintendent had a man under him, see. He circles all the mine all the time, to see hoe everything is going. Well, this guy that caused the explosion, he denied that he ever saw light to shoot coal down on the men in the mine. But he done it anyway, and killed himself, too. Killed 18 besides him. My other brother-in-law, my other brother that married my other sister, he said, “We saw it all.” They was below, but I was in New Mexico. I got the pictures somewhere, the helmets to get these dead men out. They only saved one, I think it was. He was an old man. They saved him. I don't know. When I got home, it was awful, tore everything up in the mine, my brother told me. I worked in Starkville. Then when I went to New Mexico, I walked, I went broke. By golly, I got to the New Mexico, I went to the mines. I went to New Mexico to work. A guy gave me a ride to Starkville, Colorado. About forty miles, I was walking. I had a suitcase. I got a job there, a shoe mechanic, he knew me. During the strike, he wouldn't give me, but he was an Odd Fellow. That's how I got the job.
ROSALYN: Did it happen to a lot of people that after they had gone out on strike they couldn't get a job?
PETE: They had some of that. They had some of that, you know, this and that, a good many of those tings. See, the same company that had the explosion at Oakview, they owned those two mines at Alamo and barber, see. When I quit there in 1928, then I went over there, see. Then they started laying me off. They laid me off. Then I went up to Summitville up above Del Norte. I worked the quartz mine up there. I worked there about for years. Then my mother passed away. She got pretty sick. I don't know what happened. She got pretty sick. It was the wintertime. When I got home, she had just passed away, when I got home. I had to walk three miles through deep snow, cause a guy had a model T For to meet me there, about three miles. I was plum wet, you see. When I got home, I come here right away. I wanted to go to my mother right away. She just passed away when I got in the house. I put clean clothes on. I was all wet, you know. So this other guy, he went back to Del Norte. He was a friend of mine. He stayed over night with me after my mother passed away. Oh, I had a hard luck times. I used to go prospecting, gold prospecting.
ROSALYN: Did you? Where did you go prospecting?
PETE: Oh, up on Baldy Mountain toward Grey Black Mountain over La Veta Pass. And I went over there by Gardner in the Wet Mountains over in there. Oh, I prospected all over. Then I prospected over in Summitville. I was working eight hours in the mine up there. Then in the summer I prospected at night. I lost money. I might just as well have kept the money. That prospecting. Then a guy, they're all dead, you know, we opened up a coal mine, tried to get a coal mine up here, you know, at the time of that boom. There used to be a big trestle. I guess you seen one going up from here, big slide washed out that dirt. That was the only way we prospected the coal. Yeah, we made a little tipple and dug that. We hit four feet of coal, and we got coal for ourselves for awhile. The thing went out. There was no more coal. We came and we started to reach that coal. I came down with a case of beer, and the four of us would sit there and drink. That's when I got that Frigidaire. Still running. It's forty years old or more. So I had just bought that Frigidaire, and by golly, it wasn't no more than a week, no more coal. Well, just bad luck.
ROSALYN: Did you ever find much gold?
PETE: No. We found some on La Veta Pass, there on the other side of Grey Back on the Trinchera there. We found patches of gold dirt during the Depression. We only made a couple of dollars a day was all. It was hard work, you know. Sometimes the deadpan (?) popped, you don't want to do nothing. I drink about, myself, my sister, she cleans house today. She comes up here, takes, she likes a little drink. I like a little drink now and then. I drink about a pint a week. That ain't bad. I don't drink a lot. I drunk over a quart. I was sawing wood today. I killed that pint up there. I bought tow more quarts when I got back. I don't drink much. But I like a drink when it's like wet, you know. I was going to take a bath before I went to Walsenburg. I decided to take a sponge bath, soaped up and washed myself good. Get the sand off. But I got the bathtub. I'll show you. It's the old kind. The old kind is easy to clean out. (We go into the rest of the house and Pete shows me his old camelback trunk from Italy, his picture albums, etc.)
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