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I was born in 1889, I was born on August 14, and I was born out
MV: What year was you born? 1890?
CC: No, 1889, August 12 in San Pablo Colorado and my mother was Samora. And
then we came...
MV: Your dad, daddy? Your dad's name?
CC: Oh, my dad, they used to call him Pete but his name was Pedro, Pedro
Cordova. Where he worked in the mine they called him Pete, but his name was
Pedro. They was all Cordova's. Your (tio) uncle Patricio was Cordova.. and...
MV: How old were you when your mother died?
CC: How old I was when my mother died? I was three and my sister was two and
my sister stayed with my grandma all the time and I didn't. When my father
remarried, the first time he went to the Valley, I came over with him, I was
five years old and we lived in Old Rouse. When Old Rouse finished and we
moved to, well they called it Lester now, but it never had no name. There
was no store there or postoffice or nothing and my dad went over and he built
a little shack and I'll bet it was no bigger than this. (motions with hands)
with just a stove, the bed, and the chairs and we lived there.
MV: (Que no le dijian el Midway) Didn't they call it the Midway?
CC: My first teacher was, oh what was her name? (Bueno) Well, the first
teacher we had over there...
MV: (Que no era la Mrs. Capps) Wasn't it Mrs. Capps?
CC: Mrs. Capps? No.
CC: No, the first teacher was... the wife of the Wright boss in the mine...
MV: Then you went to school at Rouse, ain't it?
CC: I went to school at Rouse till I finished the 8th grade. That was all.
There was no high school. Then my daddy put me down in the mine. My daddy
took me down in the mine.
MV: What mine?
CC: Pryor Mine.
MV: (Que no fue Rouse?) Wasn't it Rouse?
CC: Oh, no. I never went back to Rouse. I was working at Rouse when I got
married but I didn't go back there. I was going to Rouse to work that morning
but I was staying at my father-in-law's because the old man had no place to
live. There was no empty houses, so I stayed with my father-in—law.
MV: How old were you when you started in the mines?
MV: How long did you work at the Pryor Mine?
CC: Thirty some years. I never did go back to Rouse. I worked at Pryor till
I quit and went to Morning Glory and when I got old enough for the pension, I
quit Morning Glory and I asked for the pension and I never worked in the mines
no more. I got the pension and then got social security and all of that and I
never worked in the mine no more.
MV: What years did you work in Tioga?
CC: In Tioga? I went to Tioga, when let me see, Dick Hooper, the Mine Inspector.
They needed a boss there, they needed a boss there and the mine Inspector took
him, and his wife had to take him to work from Pryor every morning, it was too
far, she was a big woman, she said, I'm gonna
try to get Dick to move
to town and she moved to town right across from, in that house there, by Tom
Conder right in there, she lived there, and Ersie was working for her and she
was so fat, she got pneumonia, and then she died.
MV: So from what year did you work in Tioga?
CC: In Tioga? You mean in Tioga?
MV: Big Four?
CC: In Big Four, Oh, I worked in Big Four, let me see, John Courtney was there,
and my Compadre Abel...
MV: In '27 Daddy. In 1927, in December. In 1927 you went to Big Four, November, December, something like that... because you worked there in '28. Margie was born in 1929 and we moved back to Pryor in '30.
CC: Yeah! Then I got old enough for the pension.
MV: Then you went back to Pryor and worked. You worked until 1940 in Pryor.
That was when you moved to Filda's.
CC: You see this Supervisor wanted 3 good men and Dick Hooper, the Mine Inspector took him over there and somehow it was too far, so he moved, he made him
move to town. Ersie was working for her when she took pneumonia and died and that
was the last.
MV: Where did you and mama get married at?
CC: The father used to go and give church in Rouse and they used to give church
in school, in the Kindergarten, and the big school wasn't there yet. So we
went to the Kindergarten. The big school that used to be in Rouse, they used
to call it, “The All Good Schoo1”, so we got married in the
Kindergarten. And then Bob Harris gave orders to put church in all CF&I Mines
and that's when they built that church at Rouse. Father Morris used to go
there. He had that church, remember? Then they had another one in Toltec
or somewhere and the mine finished and they were destroying the houses and they
took the school and the bricks of the church. I don't know what they done
with 'em and they brought the seats over here to La Veta. There was in La
Veta when they made La Veta and they bought them seats.
MV: So, what year did you and mama get married?
CC: Me and my wife, what year did we get married? Well, I'll tell you. Well,
I was 22 years old. Your mama was 24.
MV: What year?
CC: Uncle Henry used to live down where he had that farm. The people were
talking too much and I told Uncle Ed. (Esta noche boy a pider a su hermano le
dije you, para tapale la baca a la gente que ando hablando). Tonight I am
going to ask for your sister's hand, I told him, to stop the people that are
talking. (Esta noche la pidirmas, well you had to wait, tenian correr bonas
for three weeks you know in case you had promised somebody else. In 1913.
Yeah! Well, we never had no house to live. There was no houses in Pryor.
There were no empty houses in Rouse. Well, I was working at Rouse when I got
married. So the first mine I laid off the one day after I got married. The
next day I went to Rouse, I was going to work. So Louis asked me where I was
going. I says, I was going to work, so he says, don't go to Rouse, they need
drivers here in Pryor. The boss says to get him one so instead of going to
Rouse I went to Pryor. I lived with my father-in-law there, there were no
houses empty. My wife made a room with some kind of cloth, closed it off where
we used to sleep. Mi Compadre Ed used to sleep on the sofa. One day there
were two rooms full of grain, so my wife went to Mr. Bishon and told him, “I
don't have a place to live”. Why don't you have them taken out, there's two
rooms full of grain and hay and I'll fix them two rooms, so I can live in them.
So he went to the store manager and he told him to vacate those, to take out
those bales of hay and everything off. So your mama cleaned it out and papered
it and everything and we moved in there. Where we were staying with my father-
in-law, I was buying in Pryor too, you know. Mr. Bishan came there one day
and said these shacks sure don't look like they used to. We lived there two
years. My dad came there one day and said, “Aren't you going to put up your
house some day? Yes, I said, as soon as I get an empty house. There aren't
any in Rouse. My wife is fixing them two rooms. When we get them fixed we'll
move there. Old man Bishon and Ernest Erskein was the manager in Rouse and he
told me, he said, “Being you got married give us the first chance. Buy your
furniture here. I said, “Okay”. Well, I had a suit ordered there. I'll talk
to Mr. Wilson. He didn't accept it and Mr. Wilson said, no. Ernest said, if
it was me, I'd let you have it right away. Well, never mind, I says. Uncle
Henry is working at Lester, I'll buy my furniture there. So I bought my furniture in Lester.
MV: What can you tell me about the Depression?
CC: The people were on the train traveling, they never had nothing to eat,
they was hungry, so the President stepped in and started delivering the com-
modities. We used to get it where the Community Center is. We used to come
there and get it. When Roosevelt stepped in he stopped the Depression when he
gave the people the right.. The people were traveling, the trains were full
of kids, they didn't know where they was going. When Roosevelt stepped in
there, all of that was stopped. When Roosevelt went out in the ocean they
didn't know where he was at.
MV: What did you do for entertainment when you was young?
CC: Nothing but baseball. Baseball, that was all the entertainment there was.
Oh, a circus would come once in a while. But baseball that's all there was
going on every Sunday. That's where I got the picture that Jeff got.
MV: What did you call yourself there?
CC: In that picture, well, I tried to organize a Spanish team. I had plenty
of Spanish, but Ben Naranjo, Sam Naranjo they didn't want to play. They didn't
want to go out and play someplace. They didn't like to go out of Pryor, so
in order to have a team I had to put in a couple of Slavish kids like John
Surisky, Pat Ritz. There was two or three of them but I just put them in
there as substitutes in case somebody got hurt. We never did no Spanish so
we put him. They got me to organize a team and we bought suits and they cost
us $11.00 and some cents and we were selling tickets to pay for those suits
and we got Modes too, as the manager. We were supposed to be the second team
because every camp had a first and second team. They had a team they called
the first team and they went to Hastings to play ball and they got beat 5 to 1.
So, we challenged Hastings and they beat us yet, once before. Boy, Ernest
Erskein said, “You ain't got a chance.” And I said, “We have as much a chance
as you got. I'll tell you what's the matter”, I says, “You're just scared to
play us.” And he says, “I'll tell you what I'll do.” he says, “I'll give you
the last game of this season.” There was money bet on that team. Old man
Beshon, he had one hundred dollars bet. Dake Wilcox he had fifty. Oh, there
was about three hundred dollars bet and it was bet on us and you weren't supposed to get another player from some other place and they went and got a kid
from Rugby, and some way another, the score was 3-3, the ninth inning. This
kid was called safe on third base, there was the winning score right there.
They were trying to steal the game so, they threw their clubs down. Dake
Wilcox came to me and says, “Are you the captain of this team?” I says, “Yes.
Do you know the way the game stands now it's their game. If you can't
hold this game, you have five minutes if I'm not mistaken, to get out or the
game is theirs. Wait till I talk to the boys. So I went and talked to Lusindo
and told him what was what. So Lucindo got mad and he fired three of them and
they never got in. I don't remember who knocked the winning run, but we beat
MV: How did you get around in those days?
CC: To play ball? Well, if you was a ball player you'd get a job. They always
wanted good ball players. Lusindo asked for a job there in Pryor. Charlie
Beshan was a pitcher on the other side. So, the company, if it wasn't too far,
they used to let us take the mule team, we used to go on the wagon, and sometimes we went on the train. One time we went to play ball by Trinidad and we
went on the train and that fella had a ball team over there and he owned the
mine over there, he brought a bunch of kids over here to Lester and they beat
us. He says, “Next Sunday I'm going to take you's over there and if you beat
them you get brooms and everything” and so we beat them. He had two mines you
see one over there and one over here.
MV: Did you ever own a car?
CC: No, there were no cars in those days. You either went on the train or
well, you went as far as Hastings on the mule team and if you went on the train
well, that train going to Trinidad would go early and you would have time to
play the ball game and it would come back late. You'd go over there and play
ball and come back late.
MV: How about dancing? Did you have dances in those days?
CC: Oh, when we bought those suits the musicians, Sunny Williams, they used
to call him, that's the only musicians in those days, Rouse had him in there
then and they saw him and we were to play ball the next day, so, they saw him
there at Charlie Mitchells house and they went and paid him under hand so he
would leave and we wouldn't have no dance so we wouldn't pay for those suits,
so everybody saw him, so Modes came over here to Walsenburg and got somebody
to play for the.. a dance. We paid for the band just the same and that's the
way we got that picture. I also got a picture when we played Hastings, I think
it was, but that was a separate picture, they took a picture of the ball team
but they took it for them.
MV: How about politics in those days?
CC: You better be a Republican in those days. If you wasn't a Republican you
was fired. You better be a Republican. That's the reason the Republicans
always got in. They were in there 22 years. Jeff Farr was the sheriff then.
If you wasn't Republican you was fired. Ond day I came in the store and
Donovan said, “Come here I wanna talk to you” he says, “What are you? Are you
a Democrat or a Republican?” I said, “I'm neither one of them.” “You ain't
neither one, what do you mean?” I said, “Well, there's good Democrats and there's
good Republicans. There's good men on both sides',' I said, “If he's a good
Democrat, a friend, I'm not gonna vote against him. I'm voting for the man.
“What do you mean?” he says. “Well” I says, “There's good men on both sides
not just because they are Republicans, I'm gonna vote against my friend on
the Democrat. I'm voting for the man”. He never said no more.
MV: How did you celebrate the holidays?
CC: What holidays?
MV: Any of the holidays.
CC: There was nothing but ball games. Walsenburg had about five teams. I
played ball with Bill Atencio. I played with him. They had the Huerfano's.
MV: What was the name of the other teams?
CC: They had players from the Western League. They got put out of the Western
League. There was two brothers. And that's all the entertainment there was.
Like I tell you, we walked from Pryor to see the “Bloomer Girls” play. The
Bloomer Girls were gonna play. They had their own coach. Whenever they had a
game they signed their coach and they called the attention to town you know.
Everybody wanted to see the Bloomer Girls play and come to look at it, they
was all men. You could tell they had wigs on. There was only about two women,
the rest was all men. But I tell you they sure made fools out of Walsenburg.
They had two women all right. They could play all right, but they had a man
there about seven feet high. You couldn't see the ball between the pitcher
and the catcher, and he had a ball right in the middle of his glove here. He
had a bare hand throw. We walked all the way from Pryor, to see that game.
I played many a game right down here, right down this ground here. We always
had a game somewhere, either in Pictou or someplace. Shosky had a good team
MV: What can you tell me about the strikes in the mines?
CC: Well, the strikes in the mines, well, I'll tell you, that's one thing I
hated, was the strikes in the mines. Because if you went to work you was a
“Scab” and the first strike that's come out in 1903, my dad went out on strike
and he was out on strike 18 months and he went to Wyoming and he came back and
he was out 18 months without work, and when he came back he went to Frank
Lavodo there in Denver and Frank Lovado bought a great big ranch and my dad
asked him about the strike and he said “Oh, I don't know what happened.” My
dad got mad. He was out 18 months. So when the next strike came out, I asked
my dad, “Are you coming out on strike?” My dad said, “No'.' I said, “Well, if
you don't come out, I won't come out.” Well, they had these union camps, you
know, and my uncle Pat. My uncle Pat, he was a Democrat you know, so I intended
one time when the next strike come out, I was gonna leave. I was gonna leave.
We were down at the depot and I met a bunch of kids. George Duzneack and all
of them we used to go to Trinidad. He says, “Where you going for the fourth?
“I'm going to Fort Lupton.” I says. “Fort Lupton?” he says, “Why don't you go
to Trinidad with us. You always went to Trinidad with us.” So I made up my
mind, I said, I don't see how Frank is going when he's broke. So I was waiting
there and Frank he says, “So, your gonna ride that rough? Well,” he said,
“let me have five dollars” and the train was about ready to leave. I went with
George Duzneack and I bought a ticket and we went to Trinidad. So, that night
my dad came over and he asked uncle Pat if he had seen me. “Yeah, I seen him.”
“Did he go to Fort Lupton?” “No, he went to Trinidad” He said, “With who?”
“Oh, with his, some of his old friends.” That's all there was, was ball games.
They had some good teams. Shosky had a good team. I got Shosky, what's his
name? Bechaver? Yeah, he was a good player. They had good players in those
MV: What about the law in those days?
CC: The law? Oh, I don't know, that's one thing I never did... I never was
arrested. I never been in court house yet. I mean in jail. I never seen any
jail yet. My father said, “Don't go with bad company.” So I was wondering how
can you tell bad company? You're around with a bunch, they're drinking and having
a good time, how do you know which is bad company? It didn't take me long to
find out. Me and Frank was together and we kinda separated and he went with
another fella, you know. I didn't like his looks. I didn't know him, he
didn't know me and I side tracked him. I left him. I didn't go with 'em. I
foung out what bad company was. After that there was a certain bunch we run
together. We never run around. We met a certain kid in Trinidad, he come to
Lester and he had a sister there and he got friendly with us there and he got
to running around with us and we took him all over and we had a good time with
him and he liked it. One day we was in Trinidad on the 4th and he met us. He
met us over there and he said, “Come over here. I want you to meet my sister,
I want you to meet my sister” and he introduced us to his sister and he had a
boarding house or something. He wanted us to go over there and rent a room.
We already had a room rented so he run around with us. Every time we went to
Trinidad he always went with us. The Mexican kids didn't like me. None of
them liked me because I run around with the Slavish kids and them. See, the little Mexican town was from the creek up and the American
one was this way, and when they came together they always fought. Well, I lived
in the Company's house and I went with George Duzneack and them and the Mexican
kids didn't like me.
MV: What were the schools like in those days?
CC: Oh, there were good schools. That school they had at Rouse, they moved
it from Old Rouse. It was a big school, there was 500 kids in there. They
called it “All Good School.” When they moved it from Old Rouse to New Rouse,
there was about five rooms. The Pryor School was a old church in Old Rouse
and they made a school out of it. That's when Roosevelt made them build a
church so kids could go to church. All the CF&I had schools.
MV: What did they teach you in school?
CC: Oh, they had some of the best teachers. You know, who had the say so
about the teachers? It's the supers. The supers used to hire the teachers.
They used to pick out the teachers. If they didn't like a teacher, she wouldn't
be there long. They would fire her and get somebody else. You take Mrs. Capps,
one of the best teachers. My first teacher was Miss Porter. They were all
good teachers. Over in Big Four it was the same way.
MV: What did they teach you?
CC: Depends what grade you was in. When I left Pryor school, I went to Rouse
school, I was in the 7th grade. I went there till I finished school. There
was no high school. If you had money you know they sent their kids to high
school in Trinidad. Shosky here sent his kid to high school and he didn't
MV: How did your mother cure you when you was sick?
CC: Well, each camp had it's own doctor. They had just as good doctors then
as they have now, maybe better. Now these doctors now take you, they put you
in the hospital, they gotta go and look what's wrong with you and everything.
Before they didn't, each camp had it's own doctor and by the looks of you and
your pulse they knew what you had. They had just as good doctors then as they
do now, maybe better. Now they have to go by the TV and before they didn't.
Rouse had a good one.
MV: Do you remember any remedies they used to use? Remedios?
CC: Oh, that's what the people went by. If you were sick they knew what to
MV: (Que le dovan?) What did they give you?
CC: (Las bejitas sabian.) The old ladies knew. At 4 o'clock I couldn't move
and mama Rafelita used to put me in bed before 2 o'clock and she used to put
some... I don't remember the name, there used to be lots of it in Pryor and
Rouse and all over. She got some of it and put flour, beat it up...
MV: Was it malvas? Yerba de la negrita?
CC:She would come and put me to bed and because it was so
hot, she would put flour and I don't know what else and she would wrap cloths
around me and put me to bed. I got out of it. Nature I guess.
MV: You don't remember any other ones?
CC: I believe its name was Waco. (Echavo uno flor.) (It bloomed) and there
was a lot of it. Waco they called it.
MV: What else did she give you?
CC: You take Alfredo, when they were building their house, this house right
here, at two o'clock I had to quit, I couldn't go no more.. Alfredo was in
the army you know and he said, “Primo do you want to know, (Como curan en la
army) How they cure you in the army? Yeah. He said, laydown and stripped me
down and rubbed some camphor and then he went like this, up and down like this
and then he got a glass and put some candle wax and put the glass upside down
and rubbed it all over and I got over It. (En el ranchito) On the ranch my
wife went to bed and it was too close to the wall and I bend down and I couldn't
come up and Irene had to pull me up and she done the same thing. The next day
I was all right.
MV: How about money in the olden days?
CC: Money? Money was scarce. You had to watch your nickels and dimes. You
had to watch your money because there was no pay, farmers wouldn't pay nothing,
miners wouldn't make much. That's the reason my father went to Wyoming. The
best pay in the mine was company work. If you was a driver, a spike layer,
they'd pay you $2.50. If you was digging coal, you'd make about 85 cents a day,
about $42.00 a week. You couldn't buy no groceries, there was no money. The
sheep here, they'd pay you about $1.00 a day to herd sheep. No, money in
those days was scarce. That's what brought those Honks over here. During the
first strike, where they come from, they all come from Pennsylvania. They
were on strike here and the company had a man over there rounding up men to
come work on the mine. Well, he got a bunch of Honks to come over here, they
thought it was a big money, well, they was always saving their money in case
something happened they could go back, you know. All they was getting paid
over there was 30 cents a day so they started saving their money. Well, they started
making money, bought property, bought houses and they are the ones still here
yet. Them was the ones that broke the first strike. They got them all from
Pennsylvania. There was nothing here but Mexicans. There was
not all the races here. There was no colored people. There was nothing but
Mexicans. Mexicans had good jobs. There was pumpers there was running the
engines. When they come here, they took them off and they bought the job and
they're here yet.
MV: You said your father went to Wyoming?
CC: Oh, my dad? He used to shear 100 sheep. Well, they paid you 7 cents a sheep,
so he would make about 7 or 8 dollars a day see. Where in the mine you was
making 2 dollars the most. $1.80, you never had no money. That's why he used
to go to Wyoming but sometimes he cut circles like this. One time he broke
his collar bone. They put him in the hospital, he had to come home, he couldn't
work, he never had no money. He come home with l5 cents and then he had to work from
Denver to get home. Sometimes he made money, but then he had good jobs in
Wyoming. He had old time bosses. Sometimes he had nothing in the stable and
he'd bring the mail and then he'd move the sheep herders camp. He had lots
of good bosses there, that's the reason he never worked hard. The last time
he was going with this Aguirre to Wyoming so he was supposed to leave on Sunday. When I got there on Sunday, he said he wasn't going, he backed out, he
wasn't going. He had the house for mortage and everything and he gave the
money back he had borrowed for the house. Well, I went home, when I went
home he went to Shoskeys and he met one of his old bosses and he was short a
man. He wasn't ready to go, he wasn't going to herd sheep, he was going to shear
sheep but he never had no herders, shearers or nothing and when he saw him,
he knew him right away... I need men awful bad. He had three bosses going
to New Mexico to get sheepherders and I need them bad. He said, here's sixty
dollars go and get you a buddy and start off tonight. I need them bad he
says, so he went and got the fella that was with him. Eursela's husband, he was from here so when he got there, they gave them breakfast and sent him out with the herd and the boss was in New Mexico looking for
men. When he got back, they were looking for my dad. When he got breakfast
the morning he got there, he left and never come back. He got caught in a snow
storm and the way they herd sheep there, they herd sheep on horses. The fella
on the horse said the camp was over there, my dad said the camp was over here so the
fella on the horse he went and he said you stay there and he'd go find the camp
and then he'd come back after him. The fella he went and when he come back he
couldn't find him. He was eleven days under the snow. It was so dark and it
was snowing and he got anxious and he left to look for the camp and that fella
said he went and couldn't find him and he hollered and everything and when
that fella got back they had 11 men looking for him. Me and Jerry was out in
the hills some place, I don't know what we was doing and when we got back uncle
Selso says, my dad was lost. “What do you mean lost” I says, “I was talking
to him last night?” He said, “There's the telegram” “After you left” he says,
“they sent him out and he never come back” We used to come from Pryor everyday on three foot snow to see about the news you know. Oh, you'd walk the
streets and they'd make you crazy. They'd tell you, everybody says, they tell
me, “They found your father alive?” I says, “I don't know” They just told me.
You'd meet somebody else, he'd tell me, “They tell me your father is coming
on this train now” I says, “I don't know. I don't know nothing” So I told
Jake (brother) “Stay off the street, they make you crazy” So I was at the
barber shop at Bill Atencio's so I told the woman receiving the telegrams,
“Whenever you find out anything new, I'll be in the postoffice, you come in
and tell me”, Well, I sit there for awhile and pretty soon she come in and
said, “They found your father and they found him dead” Well, that was it. I
went up to Esperanza's. And I told
them that they found him frozen. And there was that
Frenchie, he had two lawyers in Pueblo, he was out looking for trials, I guess
he'd get a rake off of them you know. He said, “Why don't you sue that fella?”
That fella was a millionaire you know. He said you can sue him I got two
lawyers here, they'll fight the case if you want them. I says, do you charge
for one half or one share and he went and asked them, and said, “No” They
wanted three hundred dollars down, so I went and told my step-mother if you
want to sue them Jake and I will go and see if we can find three hundred dollars.
She said, “No he's dead and it's no use and money won't bring his life back,
don't go.” I had a new car, see, and they wanted me to go and look for him and
I says what's the use to go and look and you don't know the country yourself.
You might get lost too. They got men looking for him and as soon as they find
him I'll find out, but if you want to go there's my car, take my car if you want
to go but I'm not going.
MV: What was the camp life like? What was it like living in Pryor, Big Four,
CC: Oh, it was cold. Everybody used to come from Pryor and used to be in
shirt sleeves and when you started to go to Big Four, everybody had Mackinaws
and everything. It was colder.
MV: (Come le qustana vivir en Pryor?) How did you like living in Pryor?
CC: I got used to it. I used to like to live in Pryor. That's where I lived
more. When I went to Big Four, that fella asked me, “How long did you work
in Pryor?” “Oh” I said, “About thirty-five years” Boy you're.. You don't
move around very much. I says, “What's the use of you moving around from
mine to mine. Every place you go you have to work. “Well, he says, “You're
MV: Did the people get along?
CC: Yeah, and over there when you went home, just as soon as you turn Old
Turner up, boy it was cold as the dickens. I had a hard time getting used
to that Big Four. The only thing we had in Big Four was a good boss. When
he got to know me I got a lot of good breaks from him. He gave me lots of
breaks, I guess when he looked at me that morning one Sunday me and your
mama went to Rebecca's (sister-in-law) you know, and Compadre Abel was getting
ready to go to work and he said, “What you doing over here?” “Oh” I said, “I
was coming over here to look for work.” He said, “sure, I'll get you some work,
if you wanna work.” He says, “I'll bet you don't dig coal for one month.” I
didn't believe that because they had about four hoist men there, they had to
die before they got another, so I.. that morning he took me up to the super
and still I was on this side of the fence and he was on that side of the fence
and Compadre Abel said, “I got ya another man here.” He said, “Take him down
to the gate. Give him a card so he can go in and out.” I went and got a card
and he told me to go out to work. The next morning I got my brass check, my
lamp check and everything to go out to work. The fire boss come there and
he told the boss, “Johnny is this fella waiting for you?” He looked at me.
I guess he thought I wasn't worth a dime, I was too small you know. “Yeah.”
he says. Come on and he took me down. Then pretty soon he gave me an entry.
I used to load more coal than those big, healthy guys would do it. One
time I had to laugh. I was coming up getting ready to get the man trip and
then the boss was coming. There was two guys working together and they was
arguing about something. And one told the other, “Here come the boss. You shut up and I'll make you
whats da matta with you. So they was two big husky guys. So we come up and
so he asked them fellas, “How many cars, did you load today?” “Six” “Six
cars to a man?” So he says, “There's one man right here that loads more coal
than both of you's.” I was that small according to both of them. (Gesturing
with hands.) They were great big guys. He asked me, “How many cars did you
load?” I told him “Nine.” After that I had all kinds of breaks with him.
One time he says, it was two o'clock. And Issac and I were together and
Johnny, the boss, told us “When you clean up, don't go home. Go pull rails
on number 13 on the other side. I said, “All right.” I figured it was two
o'clock. The most we get is two hours from two to four.
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