Stuart Lidster Memoir
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University of Illinois at Springfield Norris L Brookens Library Archives/Special Collections Stuart Lidster Memoir L619. Lidster, Stuart (1907-2002) Interview and memoir 2 tapes, 180 mins., 55 pp. ILLINOIS COAL: THE LEGACY OF AN INDUSTRIAL SOCIETY Lidster, coal miner, discusses his career as a coal miner in central Illinois: his immigration to America from England, family life, the mine wars of the 1930's between the Progressives and the UMW, his jobs above and below ground. Also discusses mine safety, different qualities of coal, and WWI and WWII. Interview by Kevin Corley, 1985 OPEN See collateral file Archives/Special Collections LIB 144 University of Illinois at Springfield One University Plaza, MS BRK 140 Springfield IL 62703-5407 © 1985, University of Illinois Board of Trustees Preface This mmuscript is the product of a tape recorded interview conducterl by Kevin Corley fur a special project, "Illinois Coal: 'Ihe Legacy of an Industrial Society." 'Ihe project was sponsored by the Illinois State Historical Society and funded in part by the Illinois Humanities Council and the National fudoWIEnt fur the Humanities. Additional support carre fran the Oral History Office of Sangamon State University. Joyce Fisher transcribed the tapes and Susan Jones edited the transcript. Stuart William Udster was born in london, England on September 8, 1907. He grew up near Banbury, Englarrl until his father, following the death of his wife, inmigraterl his family to America in 1921. After his father's death in 1923 he liverl with his Aunt May and her husband. Mr. Lidster began work picking rock in the mines the day before his sixteenth birthlay. For the next 50 years he had various jobs as he worked to support his family mich included three children, Lila, Connie and Jerry. He took part :in the M.llkeytow:1 March :in August of 1932 and joinerl the Progressive Miners of Arrerica upon their conception in that year.. It was not until he rejoined the United Mine WJrkers in 1943 that he fuund stealy anployment. Fran then until his retiranent in 1973 Mr. lidster V~t>rked below ground, the last thirteen years in Peabody Mine Number Ten at Pawnee. Readers of the oral history nawir should bear in mind that it is a transcript of the spoken word, and that the interviewer, narrator and editor sought to preserve the infonna.l, conversational style that is inherent in such historical sources. SangaiiDn State University and the Illinois State Historical Library are not responsible for the factual accuracy of the mem::>ir, nor for views expressed therein; these are for the reader to judge. The IIBilUSCript may be read , quoterl and cited freely. It may not be reproduced in mole or in part by any 'l're811S, electronic or machanical, without pennission in writing fran the Oral History Office, Sangamon State University, Springfield, Illinois, 62708. Table of Contents Family History . 1 First Experiences in the Mine. 7 The Unions 7 'nle Mulkeytown Caravan 8 The Progressive Union. .11 Peal:xxly Coal Company .14 The Different Q..talities of Coal. .17 Mine Safety. .21 Wages and Benefits .24 World War I. .27 "Campus ~rk". .32 Work History .34 The Trip Rider .38 Saint Catherine Mine .40 'lhe Treat:nEnt of Foreigners. .41 Prohibition. .42 The Unions .43 Mr. Lidster's Family • .44 ~rld war II .45 The Jump Boys. .47 The Decatur Caravan. .48 Stuart Lidster, Taylorville, Illinois, July 2, 1985. Kevin Corley, Intervie\\er. Q: Mr. Udster, w:mld you please state your full nama and the time and place of your birth? A: Stuart William Lidster, September 8, 1907. Q: Okay, ani where \\ere you born? A: Well, London. You see, in Lorxlon, it's made of a bunch of boroughs. I.ondcn greater, I nean London proper is only one square mile. The lord, the mayor of that borough is the lord mayor of all the other boroughs, there's all kinds of other boroughs. London proper is just one square mile. Q: I see. A: And then there's just, you know, it's just a big place. I can't aren think of it right now. My birth certificate, I ~t 011er and got one in 1971. There's a place in L::>ndon if you ~re born anyYhere in the British Isles you can look it up. You have to look it up yourself and--What do they call that building \\here you can do it?--Scmmarset House I think it is. Samerset House. There's big volUIIes that wide, and I think they cwered three m:>nths and you just find the three IIDnths that you want. That thick (about six inches), turn around, just a board, a plank, you're up on I'd say, almst the second floor. You're just above the ground floor, looking doWt, though it's open. You look it up, take it dovn to the office and they fix you up a duplicate. Q: All right, before ~ go any further, I should point out that joining us in this interview is Kenneth Dariery. Kenneth has had eighteen years experience in the mine, and he's a friend of the Stuart's. Mr. Lidster, ..J:lat do you know about your family surtlaiiE? A: My family su.rnama, Udster, originally came from Wales. My dad's dad, father's father, \\hatev-er you want to call it, he left Wales and ~t to Nottingham and becan:e a lacemaker. I had relations in Wales. In \obrld War I it was in, I guess, the News of the W::>rld--that' s a newspaper p.lt out in London that goes all 011er--my dad had, I don't know, got sorre stripes, ccmnitted some act of bravery and it was in the paper. My m:>ther got a letter fran SCIIIE of these people in Wales. That's only, all I know about Wales. Q: 'lhen your parents grew up and lived their lives in England? Stuart Lidster A: NJ. Q: In the British Isles? A: \Ell, my mother did, yes. My dad was here in this country, in Nokomis, in 1912. He WJrked at the north mine in Nokomis and then he v.1mt back. He had pre.tious serJice in the marines and ~nt back. He was in France in six \eeks, in W:>rld war I. In six ~eks, he was ewer in France--or less, I guess--fighting. He was sergeant a couple of times and ended up a private. (laughs) Every tine he got close to Paris he'd be Aw:>L I guess. Fnded up being the MP at Le.Harve. Q: What other stories have cc:m! dov.n to you about your parents? A: My toother died in 1918. My dad had been here, as I say, before \<brld war I. Thought ti.nes \llere as gocxi over here as they \llere there. In 1921, ~ came aver here at north mine in Nokomis. \<brked sixty-three days in 1921. Q: <bly WJrked sixteen days? A: Sixty-three days in the whole year. Q: Vby is that? A: 1921 I guess was a bad year. Q: Just not nuch demand for coal then, probably? A: I've got no idea. Q: lbw did your father cCJ~Ie aver as a coal miner then? A: He came ewer and the only place he'd ever worked in a mine was in Nokomis in 1912. I guess he'd joinerl the service vben he was young. He was in the marines before he was ever married. Q: So "t.tlat was the date that you came to America? A: 1921. My brother had a third birthlay on Ellis Island, May the 14th. I don't remember now if that was the day after \lle vas on Ellis Island or the day ~ got there. Q: Tell t.re, so you w::>uld have been about thirteen years old? A: I was thirteen. Q: 'Ihirteen years old. A: '!hen fourteen in September. Q: Tell t.re about that trip aver. What \llere your feelings at that time, coming to America? 3 A: I didn't want to cooe. I wanted to stay with my grarrlm:>ther. (laughter) No, I didn't want to ce>IIe, but I got adjusted. It didn't take ne long to learn the difference between fifty cents and a half a cr()';N[l, that was English nnney. I 'WaS all wer when I \InS on that ship. ~ was third class, of course. Sane other passengers give IIE maybe fifty cents or a half a crow:1. Well, I knew fifty cents was w:>rth nnre than half a crot<ill, so I'd have an extra half a crown in my pocket. I'd give the Steward the half a cro\\11 for three oranges. People thought they 'WaS great for sea sickness. I didn't get seasick until the fourth or fifth day. ve didn't have anything to do, just skipped rope arxi stuff on the deck, you lmow. All different kinds of nationalities, of course. ~ sailed fran South Hampton, stopped at Cherbourgh ani then cao:e across. I guess a lot of Fllropeans get on at Cherbourgh, see. Q: \Vhat 'tiBB your father's full n.aJ.Ie? A: Stuart William David Lidster. Q: Stuart William David Lidster. And your nnther' s? A: Isabell King. Her maiden ~. Q: Right, Isabell King was her maiden name, and she die:i in 1918. You VUlld have been about eleven years old then? A: Figure it up. I was bom in 1907. Yes, I wuld have been about eleven. Q: All right, how many children ~re in your family? A: Five. Q: l:bw many boys? A: 'I'm. Q: '1\vo boys and three girls. there ware you locate:i? First . . . A: The oldest. Q: You're the oldest. After your nnther passed away, did you have responsibilities of helping to raise the younger children? A: You could call it that. My dad wrked. We lived in a village. My dad wrked in a to\on four miles away, Banbury. Ever hear that rhyme, "Ride a cock horse to Banbury Cross"? Q: No. A: ·~o see a fine lady riding on a ~ite horse." Q: No. 4 A: Well, that was Banbury. &lppose::l to have been mere they originate::l Hot Cross Buns too. Q: Ch. (laughter) A: 'Ihat's W:l.at they all said. 'nlere was a cross there. It looked big to n:e '\!ben I was a kid, b.lt ~Iwas CNer there in 1973, it didn't look SO tall. 'lha.t1 S 'ihere Lady GcxliVa 'WaS supposed tO have rofe by On that white horse, naked. Q: I rananber that one. (laughter) A: \ell, that was "Ride a cock horse to Banbury Cross." 'nley say it -was Collentry now, b.lt you can1 t tell anybody in Banbury that though. M:iybe she starte:l in Cov'entry. Q: Did you father ra.narry? A: tb. Q: Never did. Fbw old was the youngest brother or sister at the time he cane to ~ica? A: Like I say, he had a third birthday on May the fourteenth on Ellis Island. Q: Right. It lD.lSt've been pretty rough on your father to cane CNer with five kids and one that young and start all CNer. A: Cb top of that, he -was shell shocked. Q: Shell shocked fran the wr? A: Yes. left a pension CNer there, small pension. 'lhen he came here and that kind of ~rk, well ••• 0: [Kenneth Damery] How old was your dad men he cooe aver the last time? A: Well, he came CHer in 1921. Ie dial in 1923 and he was 42 when he dial. 'lhirty-nine or forty I guess. Q: Did you 'W:>rk as a child? A: l'b. I had a job picking strawberries tw:> weeks after I hit Nokani.s. I starte:i picking rock in the mine. My dad dial in August and I started Septanber the seventh, the day before ~sixteenth birth:iay. But you got to bear in mini that the mine only ~rked about tw:> days a -week and if I wanted a day's ~rk, I had to start the day before my birth:iay. You're suppose::l to be sixteen, you know, at that t:i:Jm. Q: W:ly do you think your father chose this area to cooe to? A: vell, he had two sisters here in Nokomis. Q: I just ~ndered TNha.t brings people to a certain area, like I w:>nder wy his sisters came to this area? A: \ell, they came here eight years before he did I think. I'm sure my one aunt cane in 1907. Her lrusband ended up • • • of course, he w:>rked in a mine in Nottingshire in England. I think he started YDrking in Kentucky, do~ there in the DDUiltains, in the mine. Then he rroved as far up there to Athens, Illinois. Q: Were there a lot of other people frcm England around this area then? A: Ch yes, several. Quite a few. Q: Cl<ay, my don't we stop just a second here. (tape turned off m::mentarily) Before I turned the tape off, Mr. Udster was telling us a little bit about his father. O:ruld you tell us a little bit oore? A: Well, he died in 1923, in August. My aunt, of course, started writingthe British goverrnnent and they referred it to the veteran's administration in llintreal, I think. That's where I never did get my birth certificate back fran. That had two or three generations back on your birth certificate, it was about that long. Never did get it back and she was writing for a pension you know. My dad had been drawing a pension before he left. 'Ihey said they'd pay us one over there. They knew I didn't want to cone CNer here, but there was no way they were going to get ne back now. Well, the fact that the kids in my rocm at school had already taken a collection and bought ne a fountain pen to go take back (laughter), you know, engraved on it. I never did see it but it was so. I told them there was no way you're getting ne to go back. She got a snall pension,about ten dollars a uonth, frcm her sisters and brothers. Before she got it, I was sixteen. I didn't get any. Ten dollars a 1IDI1th. Of course, that was sorrething. Q: Vben. you were young, W:lat did you do with your earnings? A: My earnings? Q: Yes. A: It wasn't m.1eh. I was picking rock at four dollars a day v.hen they w:>rked. I was tickled to death after the checkoff if there was ninety cents spare change because that's ~t I got. Of course, I was stayingwith my aunt, living with my aunt. Q: Did all the children stay with this one aunt? A: No. Q: They were seperated? A: Yes. Just two boys stayed with one aunt, two girls with another aunt. Q: All right, ....no h.an:iled the finances in your household once you trOJed in? Did you just h.an:i the m:mey rNer to your aunt? A: Uke I say, there wasn't IlllCh. Q: Wasn't IWCh? Okay. A: l'b. Q: Well, caning fran Englarxl, ...tlat did the American Dream IIEan to you? A: I didn't have any idea at all. I had all English history in school. Q: W:lat Y~ere your expectations? A: Didn't know. Didn't have any expectations. Q: Just one day to the next. A: Well, like I say, it was a shock to my dad. He was w::>rking, he left there, hal a small pension, had his beer When he wanterl it, &OOke:l his cigarettes, bet on the horses once in awhile, C()[re rNer here arxl nothing. 0: Did you have a happy life, Stu, when you was a kid, or not? Did you have fUn or were you serious? A: Yes. 0: As I always say, we ha:l IIDre fUn 'Iitten we didn't have something than wa do -when we • A: Ch yes. B.rerything aver there was asphalt then 65 years ago, but if wa 'WBilted, we made our O\'Kl ft.m.. We'd pour water on a hill, sidewalk probably, go in and let it freeze arxl then cane out and just slide down it. (laughter) Run and click your feet together and just slide dovn that ice. We had lx>bnailed shoes, paper soles. You'd kick t:w::> or three hobnails out of the toes and that was it. My dad always threatened to get IIE a pair of clogs. We played soccer on the asphalt playground at school. Easy to kick a couple of hobnails out of the toe and then your shoes are gone then, because of that damp and wet climate. Soccer. Soccer. We used to kick a soccer ball all day long IIDSt of the tinE. Vben my dad ha:l a Sab.lrday afternoon, maybe go to a soccer g.:m:e in some other tm-n. 'lhey ha:l big crowis. Ride on what they called a lorry. It's just a truck with tarp rNer the top of it. Called the truck a lorry rNer there. Q: W:len you cane to AnErica, soccer probably wasn't played very often, was it? A: l'b • (laughs) Q: How ware holidays celebrated in your family? A: \<ell, I have some good aunts. Birthiays and Christtnas, they all send presents. I can renenber when King George the Fifth got coronated. E.Very kid in England got a coronation lD.lg with his picture on it. Q: (laughs) You still have it? A: (laughs) No, no. I was real young then. Q: Cklce you began ~rk then, describe to rre your first experiences ~rld.ng in the mine. A: vell, picking rock. I ~uld say mst of the contracts they had w=re railroad contracts and mine run all the coal CariE dovn one chute, mine run. You don't know v.hether it CariE down there a car, tw:> cars twice a minute. The only way you could pick rock was to walk across the top of the car and throw off ~t -was showing on top, see, and stand out there. The win:l -was in the l.eSt, why, drunks of coal as big as peas hit you in the face, dust. Stand there and hug the tipple, see. ve w:>uldn't get off the car. Step across fran one to the other one, and the other one was a:npty--ma.ybe it was a hopper, but the top of the hopper was about four inches wide, you'd step across fran one to the other and hug that tipple. Keep away fran that dust. (laughter) The picking tables, you had to walk the picking tables to keep warm \\hen they was screening the coal. Ch yes, walking fran one table all the tilre. You couldn't afford a pair of overshoes. Wrap newspapers around your socks. Sitting down at one of the other tables throwing rocks off the edge with a rrut. You'd sit there, keep tapping your feet or jumping up and down to keep warm in the wintertime, it was dusty. Q: Tell rre about the first t:iroo you \~lent dovn in the mine. A: Well, I didn't go down in the mine, not to w:>rk, but I could have va:1t down there at that north mine in Nokomis. Kept asking Johrmy Craggs eJery DX>rning for a job down below, then when he finally told rre, "Go change your clothes," and I got dovn to the bottan, I changed my mind. Q: Vby did you change your mind? A: Well, my uncle was loading the coal. He was running, he was on a cutting machine, said if I l.ent dovn loading coal with him, he li!Ould sign up for rre. I decided I didn't -want it, so he didn't make me do it. So I stayed on top, company "lJrk. Went fran picking rock on the empty hill, and then to running the empty hill, and then fran there to the blacksmith shop. 'Ihen they shut dovn. Sixteen years and all I had was tv.u kids and one in the hopper to show for it. Sixteen years, nothing. Q: You have how many kids now? I'm sorry. A: Three. Q: Three. All right, v.hen did you meet your wife or men did you get married? A: 1930. Q: 1930. All right, let's talk a minute a.l:x>ut the unions then. Vbat can you tell ne about the unions in the 1920s? A: \ell, I don't know III.lCh about the unions in the 1920s, you l<now. Working on top, they were United Mine W:Jrkers there. United Mine W:Jrkers until 1932, and then they joined the Progressive Union. I was v.orking aver there, I was Progressive too. Q: Vbat problems did they have with the United Mine W:Jrkers that made the miners decide to go Progressive? A: \ell, in 1932, the miners ha:i to vote on it, had to vote on the contract. The secretary of the United Mine \brkers, I think his nama was Fox1UJ.ghes, he stole the ballots and ran do"Nt'l the alley with them in Springfield. A lot of them were displeased. They figured that the contract was voted down or he v.ouldn' t have stole the votes. 'Ihat's all I know. Q: Had you heard that he had stolen the ballots? A: I had heard that, yes. Q: That's \~hat roost of the miners around this area thought then? A: Yes. Q: His story was that someone had attacked him and this other fellow and taken the ballots. But I guess you guys never really believed that? A: l'b, I suppose not. I didn't have nuch to say about it. Q: Yes. All right. Now, John L. Lewis being the U1W president at that ·'1 time, do you think he gave the orders to have that done? · A: I don't know. An Englishman that was superintendent of a couple of mines in WilliS\Tille, Illinois that finally shut down and he got a job as state mine inspector in Springfield. His daughter v;as married to John L. Lewis' private secretary, Orvil Garrison. He, not Orvil Garrison, the other fellow, he ran for state representative or sorrething. But I think John L. Lewis put him up to it, between us. It's okay I guess, but I di.dn' t vote for him. Q: Vbat were your personal feelings about John L. Lewis? A: Well, it wa.sn' t John L. Lewis, it was just that the idea of stealing the ballots ani pushing it down your neck. Talking about the trip to M.llkeytom. They carre up fran southern Illinois first to pull us out up here and then went back down there. Then they came up here and went to v.ork. Q: Ckay, tell ne a little bit about the M.llkeytown caravan then. You started out in it? A: Started out fran Nokomis. Q: W:lose car were you in? A: A fellow in Nokomis. He had a 1928 Chevy, disk vheels. We came home on four rims. Run out of tire patch. (laughter) Didn't have a bite to eat either. We got dow to I:lc>wel, and the mayor of I::lowel, he turned us arouni. We went back to Coulterville, drank black coffee all night bythe fire. I didn't like black coffee either. 'nle next mming they were supposerl to barbecue a calf in the baker's shop someWhere. It was about the t:ime it was done, the State Police came up and ran us out of tot-.n. I was going to wait for a sandwich but the fellow I was riding with and the other three fellows in the car was already taking off. I had to run them dowt. I didn't get a sandwich either . (laughter) Q: lbw long was that caravan? A: Ch, I wuuldn't know. Gee vhiz, I was telling the driver, "Go around than. Get up in front." Good thing he didn1 t because one of those in front got shot like sane of them. They got through Dowel, see. Q: How many cars do you think were in it? A: <11, I 1Am!ldn't know. There were miles of them. Q: How TAaS the v.hole thing organized? How did you hear about it? A: I don't know. It just started in Gillespie, I think. Fellow I rode with, his well was full to the top with surface water. We were ~rking on the pump and he dropped a pipe wrench down there and I went dol!.ll the bottan of the pipe, turned loose and got his pipe. Went dom the rest of the way and got his pipe wrench for him. I got in the car with wet 0\Teralls and shirt on. Wet overalls. We started dol!.ll • . . 0: What time of the year was that? A: Oh, I don't know. Maybe that fire doWl there in Coulterville was just to cook coffee on. Ch, no, it was warm. Vhat t:ime did you say it was? Q: It was August, 1932. A: Yes, it was 'WBDD. "Weather. Q: lbw many people vere in the car with you? A: I think there was four of us. Or five, four I'd say. Don1t re.oenber uuch about it, only that it was a wild goose chase. Q: Were there any weapons carried by any of the ••• A: Not in our car there sure wasn1 t. But I don1 t know. I don1 t think so. Q: Did you take DllCh nnney with you? A: Di.dn't have any IIDOey. Q: ~ IIDOeY. (laughter) A: We'd been on strike since April the first. Q: So nnst of the guys WJ.o went down there were pennyless? A: Oh, yes. I didn't have a d:in:E. Q: Can you tell ma any mre about the caravan? Some things you'd heard or A: ~-<hly thing is that they were going to barbecue this calf and I saw sandwiches and didn't get one. State police c~ in and ran us out of town. Q: Vbat about the people that were ambushed? A: 'Ihey were about five miles ahead of us I'd say, aliiDst. MulkeytoW1. is just this side of ~1 isn't it? Q: I don't know. A: I thought it was Dowel, just before you get to ~l, where they were ambushed. I was in Dowel one t:in:E. I was doWl. in Catherine "Mine in Dowel in 1929 I think it was. Q: Tell ma about ~of the strikes in Christian County in the 1930s. A: Cllristian County. I didn't start here in Cllristian County until 1943. Q: Okay. So what county were you in at that time? A: M:>ntgonery County at that north mine in 1939. They shut dOWl in 1939, April first, in 1939. Q: Did you wer help to organize a strike? A: Ma? ~. (laughter) Q: FNer l«>rk for the union? A: ~. Q: Never did? A: U.ke I say, I was trying to make a living SOIIE way. Fran 1936 until 1939 I liverl on a farm. Got up at four o'clock in the IIDrning and ferl hogs and cattle for $25 a nnnth on the farm and then I ~rked the mine when it ~rked, "*rl.ch wasn't very often. Q: Okay. Vha.t spurred you on to join the Progressive Union? What made you make that decision? A: 1he 'Yhole miner's local joined the Progressives. Q: Just because of the ballot stealing and • • • A: Yes. 1he 'Yhole mine, the ~ole local joined the Progressives. Q: Ib you feel like the Progressives made sOJ.Da gains then in those years that they l.\ere active? A: I don't think so. Q: Ib you feel like you'd been better off staying with the United Mine Workers? A: Wall, I might have been better off mney-wise, but not conscious-wise. Q: Explain that. A: It's hard to explain. I'm just not built that way. let tha:n p.1sh sanething dowt your throat, but they did. All they did was p.1t fences aro.md. all these mines and that was it. 'lhere wasn't any fence, chain link fences arOI.Jili here until then. In 1943 you couldn't have liJ)rk.ed for a better canpany than Peabody. But good times make good conditions. Q: So the \<brld War II effects on the econcmy helped out and made the conditions a little better? A: Wall, they had to get better, they couldn't get any ~rse than they l.\ere in 1932, you know that. 'lhey couldn't get '\\Urse. Wa ~rk.ed all the way through W:>rld War II without a raise. I started at Number Nine at seven dollars a day, seven ani a quarter riding trips, six seventy-five, I think, labor. There -was no portal to portal that was at the face, quitting time at the face, inside, starting time inside. 1he last, maybe the last year of the war, lAe '\\Urked an extra hour, nine hours for an extra dollar and a half. Eight and a half a day. I've got SCJ:JE statem:mts to show that. Wa got the raise in 1946 wasn't it. First vacation pay was $20 dollars a year. Q: Wlat difficulties did the Progressives experience during the mine wars? A: Ch.ly difficulties I could see, lAe -was fighting a losing battle. Q: Why TNere they losing than? A: '!he N:>rth Mine that I '\\Urked at slut down April the first in 1939. United Mine W::>rkers CallE! out on strike. Coal Corporation OWJ.er, Steffens was his name, probably trying to salvage something back by junking it. If he'd have stayed open mile the United Mine l«.>rkers lJI."ere on strike, he could have probably operated a lot longer. He could have sold all the coal he could put out, you l<now. But I guess he'd already started the proce:iures to shut it dawn. Shut it dawn. 0: There's still sone Progressive mines down south now, right? A: I think there's one or bu. 0: I didn't tlrlnk there was such a thing but A: You see, all the mines do\on around Staunton and Gillespie and all that, Virden and that, they shut down. They ~ren't too big of mines anyway. That north mine in Nokomis, up in 1921 had the ~rld 's record for misting coal in eight hours. Six thousand tons, a little aver. That was a big mine. Claim they had fourteen hun:lred diggers at one time. That was, you know, loa::led coal by hand, got paid by the ton. But I never did load coal, I was always a company man. Q: Did you participate then in strikes? A: Not too tDJCh. All wild goose chases. \E ~t to Decatur one time, caravan fran Nokomis. An old coal truck, with about thirty tren on and no brakes on it. Frierrl of mine driving the old coal truck and I was the brakeman, ha::l to use the anergency brake, you know. They turned us around in the middle of the bridge there going into Decatur, the city fX>lice turned that truck around with thirty guys on it (laughter) and no brakes. Q: W:lat was the purpose of that caravan? A: I don't know. There was a mine ~rking in Decatur or sonething. I didn't know much about it, only that the president of the local, v.hen ~ got there turned us, he was an Englisbnan, turnai us around on the bridge and he was one of the first ones caning, ~ passed him. He was caning back before they turned us around. He said, ''W: cama too early." Early, yes, too early, he said, though. They knew ~t time~ left Nokomis. They knew in Decatur and ~didn't know we ~re coming. Q: What year 'NB.S that, do you know? A: That was probably 1932 too. Q: W:lat YVere the strike goals at that time? You say there was a canpany ~rking in Decatur. Trying to shut it do~? A: I suppose. A small mine w:>rking up there. Q: Vby don't you canpare unions today with union back then. 0: There's not Illl.Ch difference is there, really? Probably depends on who you are. A: Yes. 'Ih.ey, like I say, gcx:xi times make goa:! conditions and gcx:xi bosses. Gxxi times make good conditions make gocxi bosses. Q: let's stop there a secon:l. (tape turnai off m::mentarily) Vbile the tape was off, I askerl you about the National Guard and it's effects on things. Could you tell IIE a little about that? Stuart Lidster A: Well, they were in Orristian County and, of course, those days there was M:xiel A Fords and they use:! to meet, say four or five, maybe not that many, some that v.Jere living in Nokomis world.ng. UMWA in Christian County. They v.uuld U£et than at the county line, which was about three miles out north of Nokomis. Well, those fellows didn't get there that n:orning, so they drove into Nokomis, bright lights on. We saw than plain as day. City cop was in the restaurant and we asked him if he'd saw them. No, hadn't saw them. Went do...n to the State's Attorney and asked him, in Hillsboro, Tthat business they had in Christian, in M:mtganery County. He said, ''None." They didn't do anything about it. 'lhose fellows didn't work that day, I don't think. Q: Why didn't they ~rk? A: I don't know. Afraid SCXIebody was going to stop than if they did. Q: Did you ever see any beatings or things when you were working? A: M:>. Q: Heard about ld.llings and things? A: Ch, you heard about than, but I've forgot them now. GallE over here a couple of tines fran Nokomis to Fifty-eight to picket. I suppose you could call it to picket. State militia was there. I know I was in the front row and they were crawling fran behind. I was afraid a kid was going to stick me with a bayonet he was shak:i.ng, you know. And sorrebody' s pushing you fran behind to get close look, you know. Like I say, it was a waste:! cause, that's all. Q: So you sound like you were kin:l of pessimistic about strikes and picketing and the 't\bole thing. A: Well, anymore, vhy, you don't get anything. That coal , if you loose a day's work, that's that IWCh coal lost. See, years ago the miner's contracts ran out April the first all the time. 'Ihat' s when there was no demani for coal. 'Ihe coal that they burn now, screens, fine coal, they crush it to make it. 'Ihat was all you'd know in those days. 'Ihat North Mine I worked at, if they hOO a lrundrErl and so many no bills, they couldn't work the next day. 'lhey ~d sell that coal on the open market fifty cents a ton, just to bring the no bills doYn so they could work and get a little domestic coal , lump coal you know, for heating stoves and stuff, furnaces. And railroad coal too. Now they crush it all, powlerErl. Fnd of Side One, Tape One Q: Okay, before the tape ran out, the question I had asked was what role did the WOmm' s Auxiliary play at this time during the mine wars? A: About like ~, the role YalE1 play in anything when they're outside away fran housekeeping. (laughter) Stuart Lidster Q: W:lat role did they try to play? A: Ch, they ~ld tell stories arrl tales they'd heard about someone CNer here that run the boarding house arrl all that stuff, and didn't have a boarding house. Had one of her brothers staying there, that was all, and lAUrl<ing here, you lmaw. 'Things like that. Q: Just spreading gossip? A: Yes, that's it. Cause a little trouble. Q: Did you ever see them picket? A: W::mm? Q: Vbnen. A: No. Q: W:lat about the ccmpany? What are your feelings about the coal companies themselves? Are you . . • A: Well, I told you. Peabody's the best place I ever W,)rked. It got better all the tine. Tines got better. Q: Ib you feel that without the unions they still v.ould have made that progress? A: 'Ihe way I feel that it's just like a carton of cigarettes go up seventeen cents a carton, ani they raise, the stores raise it tvienty cents. 'Ihat' s the way it was with the coal companies, wi.ch is the way it's done I guess. Raise the wages arrl the fringe benefits, raise the price of coal. C'..cmoon Wealth, cOOJDercial on TV in 1960, coal was six dollars a ton, now it's fifty. But there's a limit. I I'IEBil. fifty bucks a ton is a lot of mney for coal. 0: \buld you tum that thing off for a minute? (tape tum.ed off nanentarily) Q: All right, before ~ turned the recorder off, Kenneth had m:mtioned the fact that some w:>rkers nowadays are not quite w:>rking, you indicated that they \lleren't w::>rking to the sane stanlards they usai to. 0: Well, no. They say the reason~ have such a cut back now, you know. See, ~·redo~ to four days a ¥.Eek ani ~haven't had that for years, but they claim prcxluction per man is worse now than it's been in several years ani eve~'s going up now, you lmaw. But I don't know, you take a YflY that if he don't know how long he's going to have a job, but when they first cane up here, ~11, ¥.E w::>rke:l six days a 'Week, nine hours a day and you could work out a day if you wanted to. But the theory is that a lot of the guys fran the southern states, you know, if they want to take off three or four days or a Y.Eek ani go J:nmting, they done it. You'd have to say that oh, ninety percent of the m:m that 'W:>rk at Peabody, the local m:m, they put their five days in. There's always a few, you know, that want to layoff, but it's like they said, the boss asked this 15 one 'i!PY how cane he just \'lJrked three days a week, and he said ~11, he said, he couldn't get by with t\'lJ. Isn't that true though, Stu? A: Yes. Bu.t I knew sane that came up fran Kentucky, Jump boys, they'd work TNhen ~'d wildcat. I told one of than, Jim, I said--Jim Jump--! said, "Jim, ~you die, they're going to have to send to Kentucky for pallbearers." Him arrl his brother, Henry, was the only guys working dovn there men wa 'd have a wildcat. Th.e wildcats weren' t no gocxi , but then they \\UU.ldn' t have lasted long anyway. That one shift's not going to make or break somebody. 0: Bu.t I've heard though, that some of the guys, the union man, are giving the canpany such a hassle that fran the main office, ~y, they saythat the canpany is still going to run this place. Th.ey said it's not impossible to close Ten dow:1. It's one of the largest, it's the largestunderground mine in the w:>rld, right? It could be shut dm.n. A: It's the largest in voltlllE but not in output now, not in tomage by a long shot. It -was. I've got a certificate at lu:ma mere they put out six million ton a year. Q: W:lat year v.uuld that have been? A: Ch, I don't ratanber. But I do know that in 1960, they '(lllere putting out 27 ton per m:m, and coal was, the cost got up to $1.90 a ton and theytried. to cut down a little 011ertine. Cost got up to $1.90 in 1960, the cost of the coal. But since then, the safety regulations arrl all these safety laws that's cane on, they can't rut out that truCh coal now. See, at that tine, wa had one run with a loading machine and t:w:> buggies and an extra loading machine in there in case the one broke dam. Two sets of drillers to drill that coal run and start that loading machine up. Now all those, everything, the big nntors and all that stuff, takes oxygen out of the air, see, and then they change it 011er. A long tine back, you could only run one machine on account of air. That cuts dov.n on the tonnage. Yes, the safety cond.itions, they're all right, I guessthey're okay. 0: fu.t they claim just cutting out the 30 minute dinnertime for e;ery man wer. at Number Ten, that it ~dsave the ccxnpany quite a bit wer a million dollars a year. N::>w, that don't seem possible, but \'~hen youfigure it up • A: Wall, yes, but you figure up just one twJ \'eek payroll at Ten before this cut doWJ.. 0: Right. A: Che tw:> weeks. I'll bet it was aver a million bucks, tw:> week payroll. 0: Oh., I'll bet. But it's also in the contract, Stu, vhere they can stagger the rren. inside you know, v.hich don't stop the production. Now, you take a guy that's w:>rking main line or what not, that don't have anything to do with prcxiuction, Yhy, he's going to quit dinnertime anyway. It didn't have any effect on IIE because they didn't pay ma dinnertime anyway, rut it makes quite a difference in a guyIs pay though. ItIs about like . . . A: \Ell, all that staggering they ever done, it didn't last long. O:le time I vas w:>rld.ng at Pana, Seventeen, Pana, Illinois, John L. Lewis got us a dollar a day raise. Cll.a.rged us a $20 assessment for getting it for us. 'lhe canpany cut out the noon hours, ani ~ was twJ or three m::>nths before TNe realized cutting out your noon hour and $20 assessment, it was t~ or three m::>nths before you realize anything out of that dollar a day raise. Another nine m::>nths maybe, another contract caning up. 0: But I don't think dinnertime, I don't think getting paid through noon will ever ccm; back over there. A: Well . . . 0: I don't. A: . . . your other mines don't pay it. 0: I know it. They never heard of it. A: At Pealxxiy it was ~ust an established conlition and it got ~rse. I saw the time when they d just do a little less w:>rk. Not me, I always tried to be caught up. 0: Well, that's like these guys A: It's easier to keep caught up than stay behind and never caught up, you know. 0: It's like these two, if the belt g<?es down and if I don't shut the other belt off to unplug the chute, it's going to leave rre three or four hours w:>rk to do. I don't care if it is dinnertime, I'll slut that belt off and clean the clrute ani go ahead. I don't care if it's paid rre or not. A lot of guys say, ''Well, I'd let that thing sill up." I said, "Yes, -who's going to clean it up? If I don't get it done today, it'll be there taoorrow." But before hand, before all this took place, if I had probla:ns and had to w:>rk dinnertima, I'd just tell my boss you kn.cYW, and he'd say, ''You're paid," and that's all there is to it. But I mean, if it's a quarter after ~lve or quarter to one and there's sCJriething wrong, because I figure that's my job to see that the belts are running right. If them belts don't run, they're not running any coal. A: N:>. 'Ihat was just like, you know, I was riding trips at Number Nine. Johrmy Hardy told me one ti.me it's not ~t each one of these machines loads, it's ~t gets on top that counts. Like splitting the a.npties, a fellow, he was a pit coomitteeman. He got pit can:nitteeman and took a job bossing. I ha:l that one loading machine, a unit, loading on a track, and a battery m:>tor and load the cars you know, and I was riding trips on a relay and I was splitting a.npties. :Elnpties cooe in and the other nntor man said, "Give rre a couple extra this t:ime, Stu." I said, ''You left two in there." I just give him ~t he'd brought out. He'd brought out thirteen loads, he got thirteen empties back was all. My mtonnan and I 17 were taking empties into a buggy run. \Ell, they could loa:l. That was the first luggy run in Number Nine. The first buggy run. 0: Was the first m:iner did you see operate? A: Bolta::l behind there was Goodman miners at Pana. They got n.u Goodman miners. '!hey just cut a big circle and you could put three bolts across. '!hen S<JilE superintendent got the big idea, he wasn't satisfia::l with the nine foot cut on the cutter bar, -welded another six foot on there. You know, made a thirteen foot cut I think. Slabba::l those entries with these Goodman miners running, you know, roans, slabbed than up both sides, set a driller on each side to drill all the holes. Somebody come along and tampa::l than and wira::l them up, shoot it all at once and loa:i in there all day, you know. But because the squeeze had to take one miner and mine right straight through to get the other one out. We lost all kinds of machinery in there. It's still dowt there. Same superintendent I was bolting, and Pana was just full of slips the way I figure it. I think it was the highest place in the county. When this coal was formed , I think it was a duff, glacier age. And this stuff this mi..n.e down was so fUll of slips that it had to fill up slowly or som=thing. You know, from all sides. \Ell, vtlen I put my bolt up on the board. 'lUrn my board to catch up a little slip that maybe petera::l out there. Maybe a chunk that big might, it'd only fall out, but it'd fall on a guy's bare shoulder or bare hand. It hurts you know. 'lliis superintendent, he came in, I did that, turned the board straight so it'd look pretty. 'l\Jrna::l it straight, you know, because those slips, they was all 011er there in that top and that's \tty bolts held good in Pana. Like I 've saw big falls maybe t.YEnty foot high where saxe of those big donkers of soapstone would come out from the rib out like that. Well, your bolt anchor in that, they didn't fall. It was still the biggest part was in the rib, if it didn't fall then ~en the rest of it fell, that's where the bolts would hold pretty good sometimes down there, on account of those slips. fut sometimes the slips w:>uld be • • • and I never saw anything auch fall in in Pana before the ribs cut down both sides. But at Ten a different top altogether. I seen it fall right in the middle of an entry or a room. Q: was the coal of different quality in Nokanis than in other areas, like softer? A: You took a shower after you come out of Pana, you might use a little more soap and stand in there a little longer to get clean than you did at Number Ten. M:>re oily. I believe you could've took a ma.tch and lit a thin sliver of it. It was oily, and they claimed "*ty they shut it down it 'WB.S too salty. That' s ~t they claimed. 0: Now, you w:>rked the north side all the time didn't you? And they claima::l that coal on the northside is quite a bit harder than the coal on the southside? A: Yes. It all depen:ls if you get a run that it's w:>rked out on both sides of it, I don't know, it seems like it's harder. We had one run there was really hard. Of course, our loa:ling machine operators now, you Stuart Udster know, I seen him roll those around on aheal of that 11 BU, that's conventional loading machine, until they're plumb round. 0: But there'd be people ask me, say, ''Why, so and so's been out to Number Ten for ten, twelve years." I'd said, ''Vbere does he w::>rk'?" Said, ''He w:>rks the north side." I w::>rk the south side. 'Ihere's guy's been out there as long as I have, and I bet if they walked in the door here I \llOUldn' t know Yho they were. A: vell, how far w::>uld it be from the end of the north side to the end of the south side? 0: Twelve miles. A: Oh, farther than that I'd say. 0: Ill, for \\Orked out coal, it'd be further than that. Yes, quite a bit further than that. A: Yes. Have they got another shaft sunk yet? 0: Well, I 1lEBI1 they've got it there at •.• what do they call that, name of that little, mere they used to have a grocery store? A: Roby? 0: No, right straight south. A: Oh, south. 0: Yes. Vbere they're supposed to p.1t the new wash house men they get to it. A: I don't know. I don't know IIDJCh about it anynnre. I 't\Ouldn' t know • . . 0: lnyway, they -were alreaiy having the . . . A: ... half the fellows that V~Jrk out there. 0: . . . they've got a hole down arrl they got power dow:1. there, but they say, well, they've got all the botta:n ready for it, you know. But now they claim that before too many n:ore years that that straight south, you know, the nain south, will be the canplete mine. Well, we've got one, t.v.u, we've got four units down there now, you know, W:l.ere the . . . A: Well, farther they go on, the maintenance. New mine, new shaft, but they still got all that belt. New shaft is less portal to portal, get to 't\Ork faster. 0: Well, if they'd get that new shaft in, I could walk to ¥here I w::>rk in five minutes, ten at the IIDst. A: \ohen I first started down in that north hole, ~ walked in the bottan to v.urk all the tim:!. I bolted that south hole on idle shafts on the bottom, that south bottom. 0: Yes. See, that v.uuld eliminate all the north belt, and then all the fifth ~st, you know, where the old intersection used to be, off the bottom? See, that w:ruld eliminate all that. There'd be several miles of belt, and any tim:! you have belt, you're talking about A: Yes, rut which way are they going to go? 0: Straight south. See, they've got ... A: Have they got a new belt laid on the south side from the bottom? 0: Yes. A: They've got one laid? 0: Yes. I mean we're at least better than half the IIEl1 on the south side that go doWl. It's really A: Fran the slope I mean. 0: \ell, but there' s just one • • • it's mre of a clean up crew in there right off fran the slope south. See, we're up to the •.. A: 'Iha.t's in case they should have to lay a new belt right quick. 0: Right. But see, ~'ve got seventh east and the seventh "~Nest is far enough along, it's already, you know, for it. And see, they cut off after they decided to drive SOliE of these runs. Well, they've got fifth south that runs off of the sixth west? All right, they're that far back in there already nOW", see. I DEan, they're really getting that south side developed. They claim, and I believe it will happen, that that will be the complete coal mine, especially if they have to mix that western coal, you know, with it. 'lhat mine will see the time that 500 men will be, that will be tops I w:ruld say. A: Probably, yes, but the werhead. 0: \ell, that's ~t they're trying to get away from. I mean the maintaining, like ~they seal thEm places off. A: 'Ihey still have to maintain that belt though, from the slope. That's where the coal comes in. 0: Yes. Well, see, they tried to get right of way, you know, to have a belt, like they got dow:1 south. overhead belt? I don't know, they claiue:l they had mst of the right of way fran it where they could do that, you know. A: Well, that'd be fine. fuild another slope? 20 0: lt>, it'd COOle right straight south fran the dovn southern tip of Illinois "Where Peabody had the mine for years. A: Freeman, at Freeport, or Freeburg? 0: No. It was farther. A: At. Carroll? N:> • 0 : It's an old tovn, Sh.aw:leetovn. Ibw:t. there they've got almst a mile of werhead belt, you knCM. A: You mean on top of the ground? 0: Yes. A: Well, v.here are they going to bring it up at? 0: Well • . • A: Up a slope, or up a shaft and dump it on the m:rund. 0: I guess that's how. A: Hoist it up a shaft? 0: Yes. A: Well, if that's the case, they might as ~11 just open up Number Eleven wer here. They got a ~le new coal mine. They got air shaft and main shaft already sunk if they want to have a shaft mine. 0: They claim all they'd have to do is pump the water out of it. Right or wrong. A: Oh, yes. 0: 'Ihat was the big talk of things vben guys was talking about these guys fran Taylorville, you know, and they have about four or five, what is it, five miles? A: Pelt it over there SOD:Jev.here by the billow I think. 0: Well, they had track laid, you know, too. There'd be guys that ~d 'WOrk a closed shift at Number Ten and sink then and p.tt in another shift sinking the mine. Right Stuart? A: I don't know. Q: When was that? 0: Well, how many years ago was that? I don't know. Well, Cornbread done that for • . • A: Earl Coulian helped sink it, I know that, but I don't know that he vtOrked at Ten too. I think he got the job at Ten after they sunk Eleven. 0: You knew that Cornbread did that. A: How do you know he done that? 0: You nean you didn't know that? He wasn't the only one either. A: Wabash laid a spur out there, all the way out there, ani tore it upand sued Peabody for the cost of it, two and a quarter million wasn't it? 0: How many years ago was that? That'd been twenty sane years ago? A: I "WOUld say, yes , along there. Q: Listen you guys, it sounds like B<mEthing you've talked about here is that the unions haven't changErl Dl.lCh. 'The canpanies have made sc:xm impr0\7a:nents, but the w:>rkers it sounds like are little different than they ~e when you started. 0: Ibn't you think, Stu, the main, I think, mere the union benefits, like ••. oh, a non-union mine that the union, they push that a mine is really safe to w:>rk in, right? Wouldn't you say, Stu, they make certain that it is examined, maybe it isn't completely, but I nean it's . . . A: Yes. 0: You know that--! know myself, I'd hate to go to w:>rk in a non-union mine for that account. Because there's guys just mney lumgry, they'lljust keep );UShing ani wait until a dozen guys get c0\7ered up SOOEtime aver sooebcxly's mistake. That don't bring than guys back, but it makes you look at it a lot different. A: There's laws that c<.Ner everything and if it's not safe, if you're not safe, it's your fault dov.n there now. 0: Well, but you still have to take another man's w:>rd mether it is safe or not. A: Well, yes, but like you're w:>rking down there ani they cut. They're allo~ how many cuts ahead of air? Four, or three? 0: '1\.u. A: I don't know. I did know, I've forgotten. But if you don't say SOIIEthing about it, sane bosses will keep cutting that entry if it's good top and he w:>n't tum the crosscuts. But it's your fault if you don't refuse to go in there. 0: But there is runs down there that are, in Ntnnber Ten, that . . . well, Freddie Parson has told IIE. Fred, you know, he always ... well, I mean he had his problems, but, like the time we had the fire <.Ner there. Now, Fred told IIE this himself, he said if sanebody else v.ould have been there that was acquainted with getting out of there, you know, he said there was so many detours, so many falls back there but it just so happened old Fred was there and there could have been some guys got it fran smoke there. A: Well, before I quit, they had drills every once in ami.le. Q.lit t~ty minutes or a half hour early ani walk to the bottom doW'l. there. I did it about twice, and I don't know, did you ever do it? 0: No. A: I did it. Q: What? You did \\hat now, you walked the bottan? A: Yes. It was UDre like school kids having a fire drill. So you knew the way to get out. Q: Yes. 0: But Yo"e have A: Yes, we had that while I was down there. 0: ••• we had reflectors ••. A: I was down there a couple of times. 0: . . • up now though. Your green reflectors show you the route you srould take to get out, you know. If it was filled up with smoke, that T.~~UUld be a different set up. But fran where I w::>rk, I could get to that last air shaft they put down, you know, which they have, they can take rren up on it, you know, rut I'd say I could be there within less than ten ndnutes, to walk there. Q: So how far T.~~UUld that be? 0: Well, the air shaft is right at 224 crosscut and I w::>rk at 234, and it's about five crosscuts on in then. But they say that you'd have to--but my theory was, if a man say he was bleeding to death or broke his back, rather than to take him five miles on a n:vtor, to take him mere he could get on top, you know, is where there, you could take him in on a stretcher and put him on that cage--mi.ch there's enough roan on the cage to put a man on a stretcher. But you know vhat the mine manager told IIE, said, ''\-hat w:ruld be the benefit of it?" I said, "Well," I said, "In that cage you know, that's strictly an emergency." He said, "But there'd have to be somebody there to run it," you know, "that had papers to be a hoist engineer." But he said, ''Now, this is off the record," but he says, "you could go 011er there and get yourself up if you wanted to. I mean there's power on it, you know, and you could bring the cage dov.n and get on it ani bundle yourself back up." He said, ''Now that's strictly against all by-laws, but," he said, "if it came to that, it could be possibly done." ~---~---~---~ Stuart Lidster A: You ~the cage you go down on on the south side? 0: No. 'Ihe cage there at the air shaft. See, there's a cage there at the air shaft. A: Oh. 0: It's strictly open. 'Ihere's snow gets down there in the wintertime, ani birds, ani it looks kind of strange to look up--wilat is it, close to 300 feet?--looki.ng straight up, you know, and • . • A: A little past the fifth south that they never did put a cage in or anything. Did you wer see that one? You can look up and see . . • 0: But they had a bucket where so many men could c~ up on it though. You mean the south, right? A: Yes. 0: Yes. Because they had to check the cable out every so many months or wilat have you, you 'know. I think it's a law that after so long a ti.ne they have to change it. Q: Did you ever have to escape fran the mine when you began, back in the 1920s and 1930s? A: N:>. I never was down there until 1943. See, I worked sixteen years on the top. Q: \Ere there many accidents? A: At that nd.ne? Yes, quite a few. :Even on top. 0: Vben I started at Ten, that's mat I was doing, was riding loads, you 'know. But I 'd say man per man, I mean take percentage wise, I think in five years I got l:rurt twice on top, and I 've been below now, ~11, ~lve, thirteen years • . . A: N:>w, you see, you take 30 years before that, these railroa:i cars that Ajax brake like that, that was new. Ninety-nine percent of the cars had this ~eel brake, you 'know, a shaft with a Wl.eel on the top, and they put a brake stick through it and if the brake shoes started grabbing, if you didn1 t tum loose of that brake stick it1 s liable to pull you off the front if you 'WaS on the front of the car. Or if you did turn loose of it, it's liable to hang in there and care arouni and hit you in the ribs. Of course, I was always a little light in the butt, rut I always made sure of the brakes. Had the brake chain hooked up to them anyway, ~en I vas riding empty. I gave a guy the chair one ti.Ioo. He YBS helping ne on the empties, you 'know. I only had five nationals up there, and he ne.rer \\U'Uld look at the brake chains or nothing. I saw the fifth car didn't have a brake chain on it. I saw he1d cut the other four off and took the four dom and he said, 1'W:lat do you want ne to bring dom now, Stu?" I said, "Bring that other. It didn't c~." (laughs) Well, I got down and I let them cars roll, you know, pretty fast to get dow:t to the tipple and m:ike it back. Just walking by the switch that let out onto the lead where the mine engine shoved the cars high, you know. 'lbe mine engine was sitting rut there too, on those, I think, way down the track. He IlllSt've hal a hun:lred cars on it, sitting dow:1 there. 'lbere he -was a waving (laughs) his arms. He didn't have any brakes and he was caning like hell. I reached dow:t and threw the switch and threw him out on the lea:i. After that, he checked them brake chains. Q: Let's stop here. (tape stopped m::mentarily) A: Well, I retired June 22, in 1973. Q: Okay. Ani what \YaS your pay Yhen you retired? A: well, I don't know for sure V!ether it was $50 a day with noon hour or with 0\Tertime. I think it was alxrut $50 a day with noon hour. I can check, I've got the stata:Ielts. 0: I'm on the lowest pay scale there is and make $106.75 a day. 'lhat's without dimertime. A: Let's see, W.t does a bolter make? Bolter's top wages, "*tat does he make? 0: Well, since they don't give him dimer, he makes about $8 a day here than I do. A: well, see, that's m:>re than double than W:l.en I quit. 0: Yes. A: In 'Delve years. And the benefits are way better. Q: How are they better? Vlla.t' s the difference? A: Well, you get m:>re. You get make-up days, don't you? And nore holidays and rrvre time off • . . 0: We get five paid, five personal days or sick days, you can take them ho'iNe'Ver you want. was you getting your birthiay V1en you was there? A: Just getting it, but I nwer did li\nrk mine couple times for birthiay. 0: Well, you see, they changed that a year or tw> back then. lfhy, my birth:lay always cane T4ri.le 'We was sl'Ult dow:1 for ~~eks vacation, sarenth day of July. All right, but they'd pay me a day's pay, see. But then they come out--it's in the contract now that arery man is eligible for a triple time shift if he wants it. I mean, therefore that means I can change rirJ birthiay to W:l.atwer day that, the first day I go back to Vl:>rk or ¥hat have you. See, I can go ahead and tell the clerk that morning, ''Well, make today my birthlay." A: At first there was sare chances there that you couldn't even get a triple. You couldn't aren Vl:>rk your birthlay and get triple time if you cane on an idle day, like on the \\l!ekend • 0: Right. If it came on Saturday, you1d get double time and a half. A: If you w:>rked it. What if you wasn1t ordered out? 0: \-ell, you just got paid straight time. A: Straight t:ine, yes. 0: And the same way if I came on a Sunday. A: I never did get triple t:ine. It was only :i,n affect. a couple of years, I think, men I quit. I'm not sure. 0: But now like if you -went to w:>rk on the day shift at eight o'clock, all right, if you got hurt at 9:30, lEll you got paid for that day's w:>rk. I IIEan it used to be that you got paid for the day's w:>rk if you cane back before the end of the shift, right? A: I don't know. 0: But now • • • A: Cll., if you got hurt and -went to the hospital got doctore:i and cane back and -went to YDrk you IIE8Il? 0: It used to be that way. But now, you get paid for the full shift whether you cOIIE back or whether you don't. A: Well, I've w:>rked out there when they eren didn't pay me to, quit my pay • • • I got lulrt and go out and the t:ine stopped inside. Not even pay me to get to the bottom. 0: Yes. Well, how many years 'Ne have '\\hen you get three days bereavemm.t you know, in case one of the family passed away. You didn1 t usa:! to, well, you didn't get anything did you? You could have the time off but it was without pay. A: kl.y time off you took was without pay. 'Ihere was no strike pay and no sick leave then, rut you pay insurance for that sick leave now, don't you? I don't know anything about it now. 0: 'Ihe only thing we pay for is t:wJ dollars a m:>nth for our dentist, for our dental insurance. But the rest of it, I mean that's figure:i in with the .... A: I get a statEm:mt fran W:lat's her I1BII.'e, Patton. Oh, fran the clinic in Patton? 0: Missouri? A: In Missouri. You'd think I wooldn' t ov.e them anything, but I paid the deductible, but it says I o~ them $54.50. Peabcxiy admitted they're resJ?OnSible :fur my n:e:lical. G:> get S<lie breathing pills, they w:>n 't pay for them. You go see Suon:ers, that's a JXllm:>na.ry doctor, once in six mnths, they VfOn' t pay for that visit. And then I guess E!llen if theydon't, see, you could turn it into miner's welfare as long as the deductible is paid. Put I shouldn't owe a dime should I? 0: I ~dn't think so if your deductible . . • A: I'm going to have to go in and see her. It says if there are any questions, call her. I called her the last ti.n:e about that old Republicinsurance, and she said they don't pay for anything but bronchitis. Well, I've got a letter at home, I've kept it ever since 1968 I think it was--they said I had pneumoniacosis class B. Q: Have you suffered fran black lung disease? A: Well, that's what they claim it is, yes. I dr~ black lung E!ller since I quit. But the goverl'llllE.mt is holding the coal ccmpanies responsiblefor it, ani there' s a law that anybody that quit the job before July 1, 1973, the ccmpanies are responsible for the IIEdical end of it. That's that Old Republic insurance in there. They VfOn't pay nothing. I got a letter fran than one time, said I never 'W:>rked for Peabody and I never ~rked in a coal mine in my life. That's Old Republic insurance. 0: You knew they changed insurance this time. A: Was you paying Old Republic before? 0: Yes. But now it's, I forget What it is, but it's a different company.See' it used to be what they called mat we paid into miner's velfare right, so m.JCh a ton. A: Well, there used to be a royalty, but that's What we get our pension out of. lbere's t'WJ different contracts now, t'W:> different funds, the 1950 pension plan and the 1974 pension plan. I'm under the 1950 pension plan. I retired at $150 a mnth fran the union, and the 1974 pension plan, if you retired after Jarruary 31, 1976, if you ha:l enough years, youcould draw up to $700 a mnth pension, couldn't you? Of course in the meantime, in that 12 years, all the different contracts and ten, fifteen dollar a IIDnth raises a year, mine's up to $325 now. Started out at $150, flat $150, rut it didn't make no difference if you had 50 years.But you had to have 20 and had to be 55. Of course, you couldn't afford to retire at 55 with a $150 a m:mth pension. 0: But Peabody, the way I understanl it, they claim that the reason they're, see, they have I don't know how many insurance gals CNer there, say just at Ten. That don't count What they have dow:1 in the St. l.Duis office. But they claim it costs so tDJCh rore just to take care of it, that's the reason they took it wer, see, they used to call it the welfare insurance, right? 'Ihat was . . . A: Well, the 1950 plan is the mi.ne;r's welfare. kt.y doctor bill (tapeends) Ehd of Side ~, Tape One . Q: All right, Mr. Lidster, last time lE talked you told ne that you ~re in Englani up until you were thirteen years old, and W:>rld War I would've been going on at that t:iue. Could you tell ne a little bit mre about that? A: t-ell, like I said, my dad was in the United States in 1912 and w=nt back in 1913. My nother and myself and I believe one, tw:> sisters, were all the family at that time. ve never did cane aver here in 1912 when he did. He VDrked the mines at Nokomis. I don't know exactly how many years, about maybe one year, maybe a little mre than a year. 1hen he had had previous service in the marines before he was married in England , and When World war I broke out, Wl.y, he was in France right away. No training probably, you know. He was in the 'iNai', V«>rld war I, four years and 183 days. He was VDunded, he was in the battle of the Marne, got a Marne Star. Know wbat the battle of the Marne was? Q: l'b. A: That was one of the nost important battles in V«>rld War I. I.eMarne or Marne, you'11 have to look that up. Q: Okay. A: ~A-R-N-E I think it was. Q: W:W.d 've been in France? A: In France, yes. Th.ere wasn't very many survived that battle I guess. He had a Marne Star, he had a tredal. He w:>re it to the until the ribbons were so dirty that . . . my sister has it. I don't know W:ly she should've got it. W:ten my aunt died, why my sister enied up with it. I didn't get it. I was the oldest, you know. He had kept a lot of m:dals too, I don't know Wl.at the n.an:e of those were. But the ribbons on those were clean. He didn't ~ar than like he WJre that Marne Star. U.ke I say, during the war, W:ly, the brea:l you bought was alnost black. 'lhey say there 'INB.S a lot of potatoes in it ani I believe there was because all of it, just about to the bottan of the loaf there was a strip about an inch wide that was like dark mashed potatoes. (laughs) Of course, sugar was rationed, everything was rationed. Street lamps were all painted black within about a couple of inches of the bottom. Q: was that for . . • A: ve were afraid of bcmbings, you know. Q: Yes. A: Zeppelins were caning aver and bombing L:>ndon at that time, or trying to. I had S()[IE aunts that lived in l.Dndon. I had three aunts that lived in l.Dndon at the time, my rrvther' s sisters. If you didn't have your shades pulled dovn by six o'clock in the evening, the police, or bobbies as they call than aver there, cane arourrl ani knocked on your door, you know. Had a thousand German prisoners in that tow:t., at Banbury. 'lhey stayed at W:lat used to be I guess you w:>uld call a poor fann or WJrk fann or whatever it was. Anyway, they stayoo out there. Th.ey were ruilding an ironstone railroad , Oxford and something, fran Oxford to someWhere. But the German prisoners marched to "W:>rk on foot everyday and the officers were, I guess, were forewan. I don't think any of them ever tried to escape. I think they ate better than we did. Q: Yes. How did the people of Banbury feel about the prisoners being there? A: I don't ranember. I don't think they thought so rruch about that. Another deal w:~.s, of course, we didn't have to, if you had room, you had to room--! think, I'm not sure--roan some British soldiers, you know, that were there. But I'm not too sure about that, because we didn't have the roan that's for sure, you know. My dad came bane on leave once in amile fran France, not too often. He ended up I think as a m::runta:l police at LeHarve, France after he w:~.s 'W:>'I.lnied or something. He got a small pension, and while he w:~.s in the war, my rrother had a chance to m:J'Je next door to her rrother, my grandnnther, in a town named Crawfordy, not a to\<ill, a village. Crawfordy, it vas four miles from Banburg, before the war was aver. 'Ihen of course Dad got out of the war, \'by he had to live there too. He v.orked in Banburg four miles away. Rcxie a bicycle in good ~ther to 'W:>rk and rode the train When it was bad weather, back and forth. Q: You say your rrother DDVed to that house. Did the children DDVe also? A: Oh, yes. Sure. ~ were kids. Oh yes. We lived next door to my grarrl.rrother in this little village of Crawfordy. Biggest thing in Crawfordy was the clulrch. It was there in 1600. 'Ihe year 1600, Oliver Cranwell used it for stabling his soldiers, I suppose, in the Civil War in England. 'Ihey had a battle there. 'Ihey called it the battle of Crawfordy Bridge, in the Civil War in this little . . • I think it was, if I remember right, the date on the bridge said the battle was 1647. I'm not sure. was only like you say, ~lve, thirteen years old. My mther died in 1918. My kid brother \\US six weeks old. My dad boarde::l him out to sam friends in Banbury. 'Ihey wante::l to keep him after he'd paid board for him for three years, and v:ihen we canE to this country and he said, ''No, we're going to bring him along." It was in 1921, he had his third birthday on Ellis Island May the fourteenth. Q: Vhy did he board him out to them? What's that rrean? A: Well, I uean, let sooebcxiy raise him. He was only six weeks old when my mther died. Q: Yes, I see. A: Then I had a sister tv.u years older that one of my mther's sister's adopted her. 'Ihey didn't have any children. They lived in l.Dndon, and she is still aver there. She's about 68, no, older than that, about 68 now maybe. Q: IX> you keep in touch with her? A: Ch, yes, at Qrristmas. I don't write IlllCh. I don't corresporxi rruch. I have scm=, her and three nieces and a nephew there that they do all right. (he of than is, one of the nieces, is married to a printer and they went to Australia a few years back and stayed a couple of years. He's a printer by trade. But she wanted to be close to her m.nn, as she calls her, and they went back to England again. Q: let's back up just a secorrl. I:bw did your IIDther die? A: Well, she died fran canplications, I guess, after my kid brother was oom. Q: Why did your father ccm= to ~rica in 1912? A: He had 0\u sisters and a brother 011er here. Q: vell, did he need the -w:>rk? A: vell, I don't know about that. I was, like I say, I was a kid. In 1912, I w:>Uld 've been five years old. I ~oom in 1907. But he thought that things v.uuld be the sane in 1921 as they were in 1912, I suppose. Q: How ~re they different? A: Well, there wasn't any -w:>rk I guess. Q: Not as JWCh -w:>rk. A: I.J.ke I told you before, that mine -w:>rked 63 days in a Whole year 011er in Nokomis that year, 1921 I think it \<las. Of course, ~ ~ren't there the ¥hole year. We didn't get there until May. Q: You cane over you said because your sisters ~re here. What brought your sisters . . . A: No, his sisters. Q: I'm sorry, his sisters, right. A: Well, they came here earlier. They was just like any imnigrants I suppose. 'lhe United States, you 'kn.c:Y.N. They wanted to improve theirselves I suppose. Q: N:>w, they v..ere married at the time? A: Yes, they ~remarried. Q: Okay. Well, it sounis like A: Well, one of than, the first one that ccm=, her husband and her I think they lande:l in Kentucky and he -w:>rked in the mines down there. And then they liDVe:l fran there to Illinois. But I think that one aunt was instna:rental in sending for the other aunt and her brother, another uncle . . . Q: W:lat ~re their ~s? What was your aunt's ~that sent for the others? A: M:irried nane? Q: Yes. A: Stapleton. Q: Stapleton. Vbat w as her first naJie? A: May. Q: May Stapleton. So she sent for her sister to cane over with her husband? A: Yes. Q: W:lat was her sister's name? A: Florence Roberts. Q: Florence Roberts. Were there any other of your aunts that came over also, or just those two? A: N:> • An uncle, Fred Lidster, and he eventually IIIJV'ed to southern Illinois. He cane to Nokomis an:l he eventually 1ID\7ed to southern Illinois, West Frankfort. He died, I don't remember llihether he was 86 or 8 7. He died four or five years ago. Q: VJhy did so many of the English people cane to this area? A: I suppose coal mining. 'lliere's several English coal miners, old English people here I suppose. Q: So they learned the traie back in their country an:l came over. A: They worked in mines. At least my two uncles did, or three. Q: Did the people fran Englani help their 0\\111? A: I know that my aunt and uncle, her husband, paid our passage aver here. Of course, expecting to be paid back, you knaw. Cane aver on the Olympic W:ri.te Star line. 'Ihat WiB suppose:i to be the biggest passenger ship at tl'lat time. A sister ship to the Titanic I think. Olympic, I heard it WiB a sister ship to the Titanic. Q: lbw did your father die? A: Just got pneuDDnia and canplications. Q: Okay. Can you describe to IE the degree of poverty that you experience:i during that time of your life? A: It -was just poverty, and English are kind of proud. 'lhey v.un' t take anything. My dad t~as at v.ork one t:in:e •.• we were in Nokomis living in what you might call a shack. Man fran the, had a good job at the depot, railroad depot, and knocked on the door one mrning. Said he'd like to help us, and I was just about fourteen. Shut the door in his face and said we didn't need any help. 'Ihat's just the difference, of course, I'd got CNer that. Q: What do you rrean you'd got CNer that? A: Well, v.bat you call pride I suppose. Q: In order to survive? A: Well, not really. I survived. 'lhen 'tohen my dad die::l, vby, my hmt May Stapleton, tw:> boys stayed with her and the tw:> girls stayed with my Aunt Florence Roberts. Q: Vby did they do it that way? ( A: I don't know. Maybe my aunt wante::l the boys, one aunt wanted the boys and the other one wante::l the girls. I was the oldest and my kid brother was the youngest. Maybe they split it up that way, I don't know. We had bu sisters in between us. Of course, it -wasn't too long after my dad, about a mnth after, I got a job picking rock at the coal mine. Q: Yes. So how long did you live with your Aunt May? A: Ch, until about 1928. Q: Okay, so you v.ould 've been alxmt 21 when you left? A: Yes, practically, yes. Q: Describe to ne your aunt and uncle. Vbat -was Aunt May's lusband 's name? Did you tell DE that? A: Albert Stapleton. Q: Albert. What were they like? A: 'lhey ~re okay. Of course, t:in:es were rough. In 1927 there t~as a miner 's strike. I vatt to Clrl.cago, I "W3.S nineteen then. Q: W:ty did you go to Chicago? A: To w:>rk. I w:>rked up there all Sl.liiiier. In fact, see, it -was about a six mnth strike. Q: Vllat year t~as that? A: 1927. Q: 1927. Vbat'd you do in Chicago? A: I first w:>rked at the lh.iversity of Clri.cago, campus w:>rk. Went up there April the fifteenth. Q: Vltat is that, camp.lS w:>rk? A: At that time they was building the university hospital. ve ~re planting trees in that courtyard, and the first job I got at the university was cleaning out the physiology building. I think at that time there v.ns 39 wildings at the University of Chl.cago. Different wildings, you know, all close together. Just 39 different buildings. I'd clean out the physiology wilding, Start at the top and COllE dov.n to the bottom. Started at seven o'clock in the DDrning. You ~nt down to a basement in one of the wildings, I've forgot 'litlat building it was, and the man in charge I1.ai:OO w:~.s Oberhiser. He'd sit at a desk and read the paper, look up and say, ''What were you doing yesterday? Well, go do it again. Go back today." I think I w:>rked in that physiology building a ~ek. A couple of days after I was done, v.lellt over there, he'd send re over there. 'Ihen of course men school got out' my' they laid us off and hired students. But we'd plant these trees and that. It WiB sand, all sand, maybe a half inch of black dirt and the rest pure sand you know. The University of Chl.cago is on the east side, you know, 58th and Ellis was the main address. You figured three of those tree holes, ten foot in dian:eter, circle, three a day was a day's w:>rk. It w:~.s easy for a friend of mine, Jim 1-tPh.erson, that I went to Ori.cago with. t-e 'd dig them three in a day easy, and have time left over. I had one partner one time, nicknamed him Radio. He'd stand and talk and let you do the w:>rk. (laughter) You know that sand, ~'d start out taking half of it apiece, you know. \Ell, you get a couple of spades deeper than he is why you've got to go over ani get his. That san:i w:ruld cave in on your side anyway. It was pure sand \<tlere the lake, it used to be lake I guess. Q: Right. That's South 58th Street? A: 58th and Ellis is south, yes. I forget \<bat they call that hospital now, University or • . . I helped haul cabinets in there ani everything, metal cabinets at that time, ~en it first started to, we w:>rked there before it was finished. Q: That WJU!d be near ~t now also is there, the M.lseun of Science and Industry. A: No, that's way down . • . Q: It's on 55th Street isn't it? A: Vbat? Q: 'Ihat IlllSeun is on 55th Street, I think. A: I don't think so. I think it's way downtm.n, way dov.n next to the lake, Grant Park or some\\here, isn't it? Q: Maybe \E.'re on a different side of town. thiversity of Chicago, is that now University of Cllicago circle? 0::> you l<now that? A: It's 58th and Ellis is just, Ellis was just, they COV'er several blocks, the 39 wildings. Ellis was just the address. Q: Ch. A: Pnyway, I used to get off at Cottage GrOV'e and 58th Street--Cottage GrOV'e was 800 east of State Street--and walk. Ellis YR:~.s, I don't remember, oo or three blocks 011er, ride the streetcar. I lived at 73rd and Cottage GrO\Te, ride the streetcar do'liln to 58th. It was a gocxl place to W>rk. Fifty cents an hour. Five days and a half, four hours on Sab.lrday I think it was. I made $27 .SO a \E.ek. Of course, when I got laid off, then I went to w:>rk at Reuban H. Domelly. Q: was that in Chicago also? A: That YR:~.s at 22nd and Caltiiet, right on the lake. The farther south you go, the farther away fran the lake you get. 1\-.alty-second and CaltliiEt was only about oo blocks off of Cottage GrCNe, and there you ~re right on the lake. I \\Or ked at Domelly, Reuban H. Domelly hired a whole bunch through the sun:nrer and on the book binding floor that I was on, Wily, they'd already done the laying off arrl they told IIE I was there to stay, but . . . Q: You ~rked just for the Sl.liiiier then with them? How long \E.re you in Chicago altogether then, just about a year? A: N:> . About six m:.mths . Q: Six months. How'd you hear about the job in Chicago in the first place? A: 'tell, this friend of mine and his brother and sister and her lrusband, they \E.re Scotch, M:Pherson. 'lliey l<new another Scotch family in Chicago by the name of Ree:l, and \E. \E.nt up there on an excursion train fran N:>komi.s one night. Got to Cllicago at seven o'clock, got off at Englew:>od Station and that wasn't too far, that was 63rd and EngleWJod I guess, and these people lived at 73rd and Evans. That was just a block ~st of Cottage GrO\Te, about 900 east. Of course, the M:Pherson' s all l<new these Reed's, but I didn't. But Jim M:.Pherson, my age, \E. walked in and put our suitcases down and vent out the front door to find a friend of ours that used to live in Nokomis, Scotty M:.Kinley. He lived at 111 South Thrupe Street, Waich is just a block, eleven door rrumbers up fran Madison Street. Well, Jim and I finally ended up at lllth and Thrupe. 'te learned Chicago in that one day. (laughter) Q: Yes. K:i.nl of missed it didn't you. A: Ride the streetcars. You could get a transfer you l<now, as long as you vent the SBDE direction, couldn't backtrack, but get a transfer. The streetcar fare was seven cents. Q: Did you like it in iliicago? A: Yes, I like it. fu.t after eJeryone else had went back, you know. Q: W:ly did you all go together and leave together? Just friends around fran this area? A: Fran Nokanis. Well, I was a friend of Jim McPherson's, and like I say, there was three McPhersons and one of the McPherson's husband. They got an apartment and we all boarded with--Annie did the cooking--and we boarde:l for the Slliiiier. Ten dollars a \leek. Q: let's continue on with your '\\Urk history then. Before you left for <lrl.cago, ~tmine were you ~rking in? A: They called it mine Number Ten. At that t~ it might've been the Keller Coal Company. It was n.u miles north of Nokomis, a mile and half north of Nokomis. Q: I see. Vhen you came back fran Chicago, did you go back to the same mine? A: Yes. Ch yes. Q: And how long did you ~rk there? A: Until they shut dov.n in 1939. Q: All right, mat was your job at that tim:!? What machines did you ~rk? A: I lNOrked on top the mole pericx:l. Q: Oh, that's right. You \'ere up on top all the tinE. A: I went fran picking rock to running the anpty hill. That mine didn't ~rk too often. Q: Tell ne sanething about vben you picked rock, I had heard fran other miners that v.nrked below that a lot of ti.ue they were supposed a lot of the rock out, and When it got up on top, a lot of tinEs the canpany \o\OUld A: D:>ck you. Q: • • • dock than. A: \ell, they got paid by the ton. They prepared those, mat theycalled diggers. 'Ihey had pick loading and machine. \-ben they pick \«>rked, they ~ld mine underneath, lay down on their stanach and mine coal out. I don't see how they done it as hard as that coal is. 'lb.ey'd mine in under there . . . Q: Swinging the pick uniemeath it? A: Yes, and racking it out because T.J:ten they shoot the coal, you know, you've got to have a loose en:l. 'lhey got to have a loose hand. And they got paid I think $1.07 a ton at that time, but they bought their OWl pmder, the canpany sharpenerl their picks l:ut they charged them so IIUCh for it. 'lhey bought their OWl povrler, they drilled their OWl holes, and they shoot it, they oought their ow:t fuse. Q: Where did they buy all this stuff fran? A: 'Ihe canpany. Q: The COOJPany store? A: 'lhe canpany, and it W'iS checked off of their payday. But then they w:mld, the COOJPanY had cutting machines where they paid the cutting machine operator by the ton, and that cut the coal. That eliminated that hard w:Jrk of mining. But they still had to drill their ovn holes and tamp then and shoot them. Q: Did that cutting machine replace a lot of men? A: NJ, the cutting machine just . . . that was in a real hard coal, you know, see. The diggers only got eighty-eight cents a ton for that coal because the ccmpany had to pay cutting nachine rren so Ill.lCh a ton. Then in 1929, the ccmpany ~t to preparing the coal and everything was paid by the hour, hourly rate. First started with just coweyors. 'Ihe company prepared it, shot it dow:~. you know, cut it, drilled it, had it ready to load. 'Ihen they had just had conveyors and the men scooped it on the conveyors and the conveyors load it in the cars. Then fran that they went to the loading machine. 'lhe rren didn't scoop it on the conveyor, the arms on the loading machine loaded it into cars. Up a conveyor into cars and then fran that, now they 'i.Ent to the miners they call them, contirn.lous miners. They do the mole thing. Don't even have to shoot it, drill it, or cut it or anything. Q: Yes. I've heard about than. A: I hear now that's all they have at Ten now. I think they had 0\u, three conventional runs \\hen I retired in 1973. Q: So those machines started caning in, the cutting machine came in in What year now, 1929? A: <h, the cutting machine, W1en the cutting machine for the diggers W'iS there a long tinE, but it wasn't on, it wasn't on wheels or on rubber like they are now. well, they \ere just, it was a cutter bar, chains, big blocks, and jack pipes, and the IlDtor that run it of course, real hard v.nrk at that time I guess with that cutting machine. Q: \ttat type of dangers \ere there for the w:Jrkers at that time? l.Dt of accidents? A: Ch, yes, there was a lot of accidents, but I like to say that at that time, I 'iiBB w::>rking on top until 1939. Q: Going back. you said that those w::>rkers ~re sooetimes docked. \obo 'Mmld dock than? Was there a ccxnpany man up there? A: Yes. Yes, they had what they called a dock boss. If it was on the picking tables, it'd be the lump table, you know, and they'd dump tt\U cars at a time. Well, tt-.u cars dunped in the hoppers up in the tipple. The cage had hoisted tWJ cars at a time. They had tWJ cages, one WJUld go up and the other ca:ne down, you know, and there's four hoppers. Of course, the diggers had their O'Wl check mnnber, a little pasteboard check nUIJber on the cars on a nail that was bent CNer, you know. 'Ihe eager up there in the tipple, he WJUld dump one of those hoppers at a time, you know. W::>rked pretty fast, dump one, walk CNer and dump the other. But the coal was kind of, just separated just slightly, and he had a phone right there. Get one with a lot of rock with it, he'd stop the tables and call the tipple and get the check number. We'd throw it out. If there was just so m.JCh, Wl.y it was a camnn dock. 'Ihey fined than I think fifty cents. If there was a whole lot, it was an aggravated dock and they were fired . Q: Aggravated dock, v.hy'd they call it that? A: Because there -was a lot of rock, you know. I suppose those diggers, they could tell when they ~re loading the coal by hand, they could tell how heavy their scoop 'NB.S whether it had a chunk of rock in it or not if they wanted to, you know. Q: Did the company e~er cheat a little bit ani throw sane rock in on top? A: N:>, and after that, that mine had a dirt clrute. 'Ihey w::>uld hoist rock fran down below, you know. Uke they'd be grading or sorrething, have a big fall and clean it up, they'd load it into cars ani dump it into this dirt clrute arrl haul it out. They filled in a swamp there with that, piled it up high, you know. 'Ihen they w::>uld clean that dirt clrute out in the II'Dming and dump one car at a time in that dirt clrute, and they had tw::> tracks there. 'Ihe dirt clrute had a clrute on it where you raised the door on it so high so it w:ruldn' t all corre out at once. Hal a car and two tracks there, then they put a plank across the top of this, this one car and you stood there, a couple of rock pickers this dock boss right there watching to see that you didn't miss anything. Scoop a scoopful at a time doWJ. that clrute, pick out the rock and throw it in a box, w::>oden box made with handles on it. 'Ihey'd put it on the scales and ~ight it after. Of course, they had a couple of rock pickers doing that, one on each side of the clrute. 'Ihe dock boss had to watch you all the tine or you WJUld, see a piece of rock, you'd either shovel it dovn fast so he didn't see it or throw it under the car. Q: So you ~re helping the v.orkers down below a little bit? A: (laughs) We didn't get by with m.JCh. &.lt that way he was sure he was getting the right one, you know. Up in the tipple, they eliminate that in the tipple I think ¥hen they \\e!lt to that dock chief because v;e did it all day long. Q: So you never saw the can:pany, the dock man, throwing rock on there or anything? A: N:>. Q: Never did that. N:>w, sone of the v.orkers dov.n below claim that that 'WaS happening. A: 'Well, the only thing it could be, you know, \~\here they could get, like I say, dump those hoppers fast up there. Might be son:e of that one car on the shakers by the time the other car was dunped. See, the four hoppers and the hoppers v;ere scales. 'Ihey had dial scales up there. The last hour when they v;ere averaging, they had a company .....-eigbman and a check v;eiglunan, the union v;eiglunan up there, and these scales, these hoppers v;ere scales you might say, had a dial scale, it'd flip right around. Like the veight's maybe 61, 62, 59 , vell they v.DUld iNrite the ~ights dov.n. Then at the last hour they'd be averaging, see. 'lb.ere -was 1,200 diggers, you know. 'Ihey'd be averaging those and then I'd go up there the last hour and hang checks. 'lhey had a big board full of nails and you hang these check numbers on there. '00 diggers might get six cars the tum. '!hey didn't get no IIDre than six, you know, sanetimes didn't get that lllJCh. They couldn't only make so lllJCh you know. I don't know about that. I know the dock boss there. N:>body liked the dock boss, you know. Q: Vby didn't they like him? A: 'Well, you know, just because of the job he had. (laughs) Q: Oh, because he had to dock him. Yes. F.nd of Side One, Tape Two Q: In the last intei.View, you told ma about a thing called the empty L. fu you rema:nber talking about that, or maybe I misunderstood you vhen I listenai to it. A: Empty what? Q: You callEd it an empty L. 'We v;ere talking about trip riders and things I think, and then • • • that1 s all right. I '11 con:e back and check on that later and see. A: Empties Y.Ere just anpty cars. 'We called them anpties. Empty coal cars. Q: Ckay. .Elnpty coal , maybe that's \>hat you 'Were saying. A: fulpty coal cars. Q: Okay, got it. That's vbat I wanted to check on. A: W:lat was the L? Q: I don't know. You know that's probably, SOIIEtimes W:len you transcribe you can't hear it too ~11. Another thing you talked about that I wanted you to tell ne a little rrore about, you talked about the trip rider. W:lat ~re you doing on the trip rider? A: See, at that time, they had the loading machines and track. Track right up to the loading machine. The coal was cut, drilled, arx:l shot, and then this loading machine ~t in there. The loading machine had cats on it of course, but it traveled on the track going in. Then \\hen it got into the coal, it YoOuld load off to the end of the track arx:l load these cars, three ton cars. The trip rider rode the front end of the car into the machine, he had a v.histle, he blowed the v.histle for the rotorman to pull back a little, and \\hen the car was loaded, he blov.e:l the v.ihistle for the IIDtonnan to take off and the loading machine operator ~uld shut the machine off. You rode the back end of the car out, arx:l you switched it in to cut it off, ~nt back and coupled onto the other loads that you'd already loaded. Did that on a fly if you didn't get squeezed. Q: Squeezed frcm what, the tw::> cars? A: In between ~cars, yes, it was timing. You had three lengths at Number Nine, three lengths, and like the door, the lengths were on the end of the car that the door dumped. Vben it ~t to the tipple there was a lip, an iron lip on the door that W:len it was hoisted up to the tipple there was iron things that hung out like that, arx:l a bar across, and they v.xruld catch this lip arx:l vhen the bottom of the cage ~uld flip up, I nean this ~ld catch that lip and raise that door and the coal would empty out of the car into the hoppers on top, see? Q: Yes. A: Well, a lot of times that \ol:>uld hit too hard maybe, but that door YoOUld be hanging out, sprung, maybe hanging out aver, the bt.nnpers were about that wide . . . Q: About W.t, six inches? A: Yes. But scmetimes that door ~uld be sprung out and there w:mldn' t be hard!y any bumper left. Anyway, even if there was a bumber, the ~ of them together, men the cars get together, if you was in there like that, you're going to get your shoulders shoved up under your chin and maybe a collarbone broken. Q: Really? Did you ever get hurt doing that? A: I got squeezed, yes. Yes, I got squeezed. Q: Break anything? A: '!hey said there \\Rsn' t anything broke. Q: Felt like it? A: I swear there \\as. I had a knot there for a long time, and there .. Q: Cb. your chest and back? A: My shoulder up there. Q: Yes, shoulder. A: Yes, but. . • • Q: Did anybody ever get killed frcm the cars, frcm the squeeze? A: Not really. I don't ren:enber anybody that way. Q: Get hands caught in there, maybe broken? A: Oh, they got a lot of fingers cut off, yes. 'lhat used to be a joke in those days about that finger's a new Cll.evy you know, Wei1 ilievy's were about $500. Q: (laughs) So if you broke A: No, they Q: • you got canpensations then. Is that \\hat you're saying? A: Yes. Th.ey got . • . Q: So if you lost your finger, you got ccmpensated and you could buy yourself a Chevy? A: '!hat's W:tat some people claim some guys did on purpose, (laughs) but I never did. Q: I see. A: '!hat was done men I was a kid playing marbles in the old country. Q: Your fingemail there? A: My finger was hanging off. See \\here it \\aS all just, all smashed. My dad carried ne to the hospital in Banbury and I heard a doctor say about cutting it off, and like I say, he carried ne up there with a diaper 011er it that \\aS one of my sister's. When I heard the doctor say cut it off, I ran h.orre and he ha:i to carry ne up there again, but they didn't cut it off. Q: How did you do that? A: Playing marbles down in the gutters. See, in England all the streets at that tine ~re asphalt and big iron grates, you know, for s~rs, stonn sewers. Che of my marbles vent down there. 8c:Jtoo other kid was holding that big heavy iron grate and I reached dow:1 feeling for the marble, you know, m.tSt've slit my finger down on the a:ige or someway, anyway, he let it doWl and it mshed my finger. Of course, I was real small then. 'lhat was right after my dad came back fran this country. That was a long ti.n:e ago. But closest I ever corre was had my head betv.een two loads and cut a little chunk off my ear. Q: Off your right ear? A: You see that blue mark there? Q: Yes. A: fusta:i my hard hat arrl my head was aching. Q: Oh, boy. A: If it wuld have been another half inch . . . Q: Soo:eone w.:>Uld 've got SCIIIEthing, but it probably w:mldn't have been you. (laughs) A: It W)Uldn' t be ue, no. Well, I got squeezed this way. I was off six ~eks that time I think. Supposedly nothing broken. Q: Okay. let n:e ask you another thing that I'm not sure I unierstood on the last interview. In 1929, you said you had visited Do\<Vel you thought, the city of Dowel. A: Yes. Q: Did you say something about a Catherine mine there? A: Saint catherine Mine -was what it was. Q: Saint catherine Mine. A: Yes, at Do~l. Q: Did you W)rk there for awhile? A: lb. I was just visiting. I r,vent down, the people wa ware visiting, they ...as English, an:l he W'iB safety man or sCIIlEthing at that time and he took us down there. It was, at that time, a mxlem mine. 'lbey had a skiff arxl it dtliilpErl these cars on the bottan. Instead of hoisting them, it dunped them on the bottom and they went into--they was on, it was track--the cars 'Went into this thing like an iron cage or sorrething. So the cars couldn't get out of there, and they'd turn ccmpletely CNer and dumped into this skiff and then the skiff hoiste:i it up to the top. Q: So that was 1929, that was a little bit ahead of its time then, that mine? A: I ~uld say it was as mxlem as they ccme then, yes. Q: Did it last long? Was that mine open for long, because ~ haven't heard about it before. A: I don't know. I don't know, it was a big mine. A big mine, like in 1929, see, that's a long time ago. Q: Yes. Okay. A: We vent down dur~ that national miner's trouble it was, that ~ v.eren' t ~rking. 'lhat s when I was boarding then with this other English widow and her son, and that's vben I had my first experience slrucking com. Q: Ch. A: (laughs) Yes, that was S<mathing. Q: Tell J1'e about how the different ethnic groups cooperated in the mines. A: Ch, ererylxxiy, as far as I know, they got along fine. Vben I was riding trips, I got along fine. Riding trips inside, any time a timberman needed a lift or a little help, I'd help him. They appreciated it. Ev'erybody, they was good people. Q: Well, from What you said, it SOI.ll'ds like your friends \Ere kind of from back h.olne, you know, from England, even Scotland. A: Well, S<ma of than, yes. Q: Remember \'\hen you told J1'e about your classmates getting the pen for you, you know, when you ~re going to go back to England. A: Well, I didn't know anything about that until after it was all CNer. I didn't see the pen. Q: Were your classmates mstly from England also? A: No, no. Q: All CNer. A: They were just American kids. Q: How did people treat the foreigners at that t:irm in the 1920s? A: Well, okay as far as I know. First haircut I got CNer here, a colored barber in Nokomls. My uncle took J1'e up to get a haircut an:i the colored barber said , '\-bat do you want, a panpadour?" I looked at him and didn't know vbat he was talking about. He said , "Or a combback?" I said, "A combback." (laughs) Q: Vbat did that nean, he just canbed it back? A: Yes. Well, the pompadour, that was a combback. At that t:i.ne they called it that, yes. Q: You know, the reason I asked that, my grandfather was in Herrick back in those days, ani he was a member of Ku Klux Klan, and they ran the Catholics out of town. You know, there ¥ere no blacks, but they Y.Uuldn't let the Catholics stay in tom. A: (chuckles) Q: You know, there's just different stories about how people treated foreigners and stories about the foreigners themselves. People didn't like them or trust them or ... A: No, I never experienced any of that. Q: Vbat taverns did you go to back then v.hen you ~re first old enough? A: Oh, ~11, taverns didn't cOIJ:E in, you know, back in until 1933, wasn't it, 'With Roosevelt? Q: Right. Were there speakeasies or anyplace you ~nt to? A: Oh, yes, I v.Ent to bootlegging joints. Is that what you nean? Q: Yes. Well, you \'l:luld 've been in Chicago about the t:i.ne Al Capone was up there. A: Yes. Q: Were a lot of people afraid of him at that time, or was he the big hero? A: I don't know. ~had, at that time in 1927, there was another family rume:l 1-tClain fran Nokomis had relation up in a suburb of Chicago, what was the name of it? We visited there one Surrlay afternoon. Of course, that was prohibition days. Of course, you could buy it and ~ bought it. Rode the el and streetcars, ~ rode the el out there and back to where \\e lived in Chicago. lie could buy cut alcohol or whatever it was about a block fran where ~ lived in Chicago. Q: A lot of gambling back then? A: I ne.rer v.Ent to any gambling places. Q: Did they have slot machines here in the taverns here in Nokomis? A: At one time, l:ut nx>st of the slot machines I ever played was in Taylorville. I lived in Taylorville since 1944, around Taylorville. Stuart Lidster Q: lrbo was putting the slot machines in, do you know? A: No, I don't. Q: Somebody must've been getting a cut off that stuff. A: Well, s~ of than omed them, you know. Q: Yes. let' s talk about the unions here for a mi.nute. W:lat' s the difference between the Progressives and the UMW? A: Ch, there was no difference, really, only that contract, that 1932 contract. They didn't agree on it, and of course you know, they tried to start another lmion and they did start one for awhile. Q: W:lat v.nuld determine how long a miner v.nuld stay with the Progressives? A: I don't know, unless the mine sl:ult dam.. See, \Jlen you 'IA'Orked at a mi.ne, the whole local, if the local ~t Progressive you Y.Jere autOJlBtically Progressive. The vbole local union you know, that one local, you "Were autOJlBtically a Progressive. At that time I believed in the Progressives. I thought that they "Were right, but then of course .•• I stayed Progressive tmti1 1939. Then I ~t to Fort Wayne, Indiana and 'IA'Orked for three years and came back, got on at Peabody, United Mine W::>rkers, in 1943. Q: So from 1939 to 1943, you Y.Jere in . . • A: Fort Wayne, Indiana. Q: Wla.t 'Were you doing there? A: I was 'IA'Orking for a trucking ccmpany, and then General Electric. Worked both places for awhile, see. Q: You ~rked both places for awhile, General Electric and ••• A: Yes. A little \Jlile, yes. Q: W:ly did you go there? Why did you go to Fort Wayne, \Jly didn't you stay in this area? Laid off? A: Well, there iNS.sn' t any 'IA'Ork. I was 'IA'Orking for $17.50 a ~ek in Nokomis. At that time, see, prior to 1939 I got my citizen papers. In fact, I never did get any relief. I didn't get my citizen papers until 1939 and I didn't get any WPA or any of that. Q: Okay. So you ~t to Fort Wayne, Indiana just for the n:.oney n:.ostly? A: Vby yes, n:.ostly to live, yes. Q: Yes. A: I found out there it took everything I made to live up there too. If the kids had ever got sick and needed a doctor, my, there you are. Q: Yes. And you had ~children, is that right? A: Three. Q: 'Ihree? What are their nanes? A: Lilah, Connie, and Jerry. Q: Lilah, Connie, and Jerry. A: There's Jerry. You've probably saw him. Q: Might have. Vbere's he, what's he do? A: Well, he was in Taylorville. He had Century 21 until he left a couple of years ago he want to Phoenix. Here's Jerry's family several years back, several years back. Todd now is 21. He just got married this spring. You've probably seen Todd arout:rl, but he doesn't look like that now. He's six foot four. Todd Lidster. Now here's my second daughter, Connie. 'lb.ere she is just taken ani there's one about three ~eks ago. Q: Vho did she marry? A: louis Claypool fran Niantic . Here is the other daughter. I don't have any pictures handy of Lilah. She's the oldest. She's fifty-four. Here's Lilah ani Bill, that's her lusbarxl. You've seen Bill Crone, he sells cars up at Trinity M:>tors? Q: Ch, yes. A: Has for years. Q: Bill Crone. A: Yes, he sells cars up at Trinity. Here's Lilah, they look alike there. That's taken too close up I think. She's got glasses on there. Q: So do you have a lot of grarxlchildren? A: Yes, gobs of than. Q: Yes. A: Vby, look. Eleven. Q: Eleven grandchildren. A: There's one, Jerry's daughter Robin; there's Dave, he graduated from Eastern. That's one of Connie's oldest boy; this is Carmie's second boy, he teaches at Kansas State University. Here's their daughter, Debbie, she's about 20, she put in one year at Southern and then figured that she didn't like it. Didn't take it up, -w:>uldn' t go anym:>re. He lives at Manhatten, Kansas. Dave, he took up the long deal I think, he majored in joumalism and ccmn.mications. Cot a job, a part time job, at WAND you 45 know. That's part time, so he quit. Q: Well, you ~re pretty busy then • . . A: Rormie, he was a judge at the international speech deal. Q: Oh, really? A: He represente:l Bradley as their judge. But he -was w::>rl<ing, he was teaching at Manhatten. He took up speech, drama, and English before it was 01er. Of course, they're both good with their English. Q: Yes. A: He wante:l to be an actor. He ha:l the lead in a play that I saw, it -was good. My Fair lady up at Bradley, I saw that. He had the lead, it was good. Well, he ha:l the lead in sareral up there. But I think he'd still like to get m acting, I don't know. Q: Soun:ls like your children and grandchildren have kept you busy. So during the Depression you ha:l to help provide for these three children. What years ~re they bom? A: 1931, 1936, and 1939. Q: Okay. So in 1939, you ~re just getting ready to m::we to Fort Waynewhen your last one was born. A: Yes. Vben I m::wed to Fort Wayne in March, I think, of 1940. I think it was March. I already had cabbage plants planted, and onions and stuff like that. Q: Vben World War II came, Yha.t effect did that have on your family? A: It didn't have any effect. Before, I guess it was 1939, I registered of course, and then I went to Litchfield. I think it was Litchfield, for an examination ani the doc punched 112 there. I always was tanned, youknow, I'd been \<lerking out on the farm and on top, and Ibctor Plate came out ani took a look at 1:1e ani p.mched DE there, and says, "Don't that hurt?" ''No." ''Well," he said, "I'd swear you had liver problems."''No." Then of course, I \\ellt to Fort Wayne and then everytine they'dcorrespond I'd register. But I was w::>rking for Hayes, they were hauling goverrment material. In fact, I was foreman and dispatcher there. One night, Bare Air Force base up there callerl in and wanted G.u or three empty trailers. I said, ''No "Way. Can't unload them. Got that yard full of trailers all full. Can't get an anpty trailer." They said, "We' 11 serrl. you saoo soldiers in to unload them." I said, "Send them in." We paid them fifty cents--there was a dock there, wages you know, dock lNB.geS wch is about seventy-eight cents an hour. Q: So they tmloaded the trucks. They mJSt've really needa:i them bad. A: Yes, they wanted them for sanething. Then of course, ~en I went to General Electric, I went to school for than. I got as uuch going to school almst an hour as I did WJrking on the dock for Hayes. 'lhen it was a brand new plant, brand new everything in there. Brand new machineryof every ki.rrl. Got tlDre mney there after I went into the plant, and it was a war plant for sure because they made super chargers for the B-52's. Q: Yes. fut you said General Electric trained you. Vbat did they train you for? A: To run lathes and turret lathes. Paid you, I think it paid seventy cents an hour for that. Of course, v.b.en I was doing that I was WJrking for Hayes too. Q: So how many hours were you WJrking a day for the twJ jobs? A: Oh, I don't know, nine I think seventeen, sooething like that. Q: Seventeen hours a day, oh boy. M.lst 've been bringing in the money. A: No! Seventy-eight and seventy, rut I had a place for it. Q: So ~y did you cane back in 1943? A: The grass is always greener doW'l. horre I guess. Q: Yes. A: like I say, if one of the kids ever got real sick or sorrething, had a big doctor bill, I'd be still paying for it. Q: So you made IJDre DDney in the mine ~en you carne back? A: I didn't get on right away. I had a few savings bonds I lived on for a~ile and then got on. Came back in March and got on for Peabody at Number Nine in May I think, in 1943. Q: Okay. How long did you w::>rk there? A: Oh, until they slrut doW'l in 1951. I went to Pana the next day. It was a new mine, stayed there until they strut down, and then I was twJ years before I got on at Ten. Q: Vba.t did you do for those tv.u years? A: I w::>rke.d out here at a sheet rootal deal for awhile, and v.urked at the elevator in Owanako. Q: So mat year w:Juld you have been 00W after--letIS just keep your WJrk history up here for a minute--it 'W:>uld 've been 1953 now? I'm sorry, youVl10rked for tv.u years at the sheet rretal and at the elevator in Owanako? A: Yes, from 1958 until 1960. Q: Okay. Then vbere did you v;ork after that? A: In 1960 I got on at Peabody mine N.Jmber Ten at they call it Pawnee. Q: Yes. I:bw, are you doing the sane 1.\0rk at that time, above ground and picking rock? A: Ch no. I 1.\0rked ~relow all the time I iliOrked for Peabody, fran 1943 on until 1973. Q: Yes. All right, and that's vben you retired, in 1973. A: Yes. Q: Okay. So fran 1960--wh.ere \iere Vie at?--1961, you \iere with Peabody . A: 1960. Q: 1960. A: February in 1960 until June in 1973. Q: All right, at the sane mine then. A: N.mlber Ten. Q: At Nl.mlber Ten. Okay. All this time, did you have to tiDVe from one place to another? like when you lived in Pana, did you m:we here? A: fu. I lived in OWanako fran 1944 until 1968, 1967 or 1968. No, I rcxie fran (Mnako to Langleyville, and fran Owanako to Pana, and fran Owanago to Number Ten. Q: Okay. W:ly did you stay in coal mining all these years? A: I don't know. It sure "Wasn't for security because there -wasn't any security or any pensions or anything up until • • . the first pension 'Was $20 a year. Not pension, first paid vacation was $20 a year and that didn't care until 1946. Q: When did the pay start really getting gocxi, the 1960s? A: Well, not near as goa:i as they are now. Q: Yes. \hat have you got, your check stubs? (tape turned off m:mentarily) Wlen we talked about in the last interview, you n:entioned the Jump boys. Is that J-U-M-P, just like jump? A: Yes. Q: ware they a family of boys? A: N:>. They were tt.K> brothers fran Kentucky, I guess close to the Tennessee border. I don't know, I think they cane from--Wla.t' s that county down there? Where they had all the mine trouble? But they were both good "WJrkers like I say. The only thing is, if there's a wildcat strike, they \ollere the only ~that v.orked. Th.ey were good boys, they're good Y.Orkers. They both ran buggies ani that's all they ever done. Now, one of them, he told rre that he ran a buggy in Kentucky mere you laid dow:t on it to operate it. That's how low the coal w:Ls. He laid doW'l. and run it. Q: Gee miz. Vbat kim of boys were they? Were there just tt.K> of them now? A: 'Ihey both died. Of course, there might be some of their boys v.nrking out here yet, I don't know. They both died. though. (phone rings and tape is slut off 1IDtiE1tarily) Q: Before the phone rang, you were telling ne about the Jtunp boys. that else can you tell ne? W:ly did they v.ork and no one else did? They just A: Well, I guess they were up here to make mney. (laughs) Q: Yes. Did the people around here like than, that they did that, that they scabbed? A: Well, you couldn't call it scabbing. Wildcat strikes, we ended. up going to v.nrk back to all going back to w:>rk anyway. No, the Jump boys, they're all right. Che of than ran a buggy in our run for years. Q: Okay. When you talked about that caravan in 1932 that you took to Decatur, how did they know you were caning fran Nokomis? A: Telephone I suppose. Q: Vbo do you think told them? Was there spies or SOII:Ething, labor spies? A: 0::1, sure. Well, probably the nerchants or anybody. I don't know v.ho called, but they knew we were coming. They \ollere waiting for us. Q: Yes. A: Yes, they were wild goose chases. Q: Well, ~ were just listening to an interview the other day about another miner W:lo bad talked about the Decatur caravan, and we didn't know about that, you know, before you naJ.tioned it. '!hat w:LS something we just hadn't heard about. Can you tell ma mre about that? A: Only that we left probably midnight or some\toih.ere around there or later. <bt up there they turned us around in the middle of a bridge there. I guess that tvas it. 49 Q: Yes. The :POlice tumed you around? A: Yes. Q: You said that the Englishman that was in charge of the thing A: He was president of the lreal. Well,~ said, "What's the matter, Jack?" He said, ''We've cane to early," or something. Q: Vllat did he rrean by that? A: I don't know ~the reant. We got there early, ~ sure didn't because they knew wa ware coming. If we'd gotten there any later, they'd have been there too I guess. Q: Yes. Okay. So the p.rrJ?Ose was to try to slrut down a mine that was in operation there during a strike. A: Picket it I supJ?Ose. Q: Yes. Okay. A: Just a little mine anyway I think it was. Q: Okay. Ib you remanber the Wilsonville sit-dovn strike in 1937? A: WilsoiiV'ille, no I don't. Q: Were there other sit-down strikes that you're aware of? A: No, I don't remember. Q: Okay. Were you with the group that cane to Gillespie to fonn the Progressive Miners Association? A: N:>. I never was in Gillespie. Q: Okay. Vhat vere your feelings on job sharing? You know Wl.at I mean by that? A: Well, that division of w:>rk was so that they w:>uldn't have to lay any one off. 'lhe north mine at Nokomis that I \<\Drked at, they had as high as a one-twelfth division. If they w:>uld w:>rk six days around Easter, the way the mine w:>rked, not very often, they -was off until Cllris tma.s. But I worked on top and was on a five-sixths division, mich I was only off six days and w:>rked thirty. Then it enled up just lucky that the other fellow that w:>rked on the empty L with me, he couldn't handle the job of running the empty L and I got to w:>rk study. Q: N:>w, you said empty L again. A: Eblpty hill. Q: Empty hill , there -we go • A: That 1 s the hill mere the train p.1shes the b..mch of flats up on the hill. There's four tracks up there, there was at that mine. Then you dropped than down to the tipple on four, five different other tracks fot' different kinds of coal to be loaded in. Q: Okay. :tbw V.Je got that solved. (laughs) A: Flnpty L, huh? Q: Yes. That1 s that English accent I think, caning through. A: You think so? I thought I said hill. Q: Yes. A: No' I donIt drop my H's. That's mat Johnny Bulls are noted for' dropping their H's. Q: Yes. Ib your friends call you Johnny full a lot? A: Yes, saxe of them. Not very many of than. Q: W:lere did that tenn cane fran, mat does it l'Iean? A: John Bull? Q: Yes. A: Well, Jo1:m Bull • • . I don't know for sure. John Bull is just an English by-word. Q: \mat are the Englishnen like? Are they stuboom, maybe full l'Ieans stuboom? A: Kind of, a little bull-headed , yes, I guess. Stubborn. Q: Yes. Are you a little stubborn? A: Yes. Q: Yes. (laughs) A: You have to convince me. Q: Okay. Just trying to un:lerstand it. All right, can you tell me anynnre about the Progressives ani the membership back then? A: Now all I can say it was a lost cause. I could've worke:l CNer here for Peabody a lot sooner than I did. I could've worked 011er here in 1932, but like you say, I was bull-headed and ld.nd of believed in a lost cause there. Q: So v.hy did you f:inally care back to Peabody then? A: Well, I can:e back from Fort Wayne, Indiana, I guess I had it in my heal to get a job aver here at the mines. Had a promise from relatives that talked to the superintendents at tw::> of the mines. Didn't get a job there, got one on my own at one of the other ones. Didn't even have an introduction tour. Q: Is that how you usually got a job back then, with an introduction fran a relative or . . • A: I would say so, yes. Q: All right. Well listen, I'll tell you, I don't have any other questions here right now, but if I care up with sare later I'11 get in touch with you. But I think this has been a valuable interview. We've learned a lot about things I don't think we'd have fourrl out about otherwise. So I just want to thank you a lot. A: The superintendent that ga:ve rre the job at Number Nine in 1943, he 'WaS just broad minded. He 'WaS a pretty good fellow. Q: Wlat do you maan broad mi.rxied, he just • . • A: Well, a lot of instances. Heard him say one tine he carre dovn, he was on the job, too, he came down in the mine at seven o'clock every IIDrning. I had a little trouble getting the battery notors out of the ootor barn because I don't know, one trip rider was mad. He thought he should 1Ve got a ootor ~another fellow was off, and he got mad ani he was going to go home. He was going home. 'llie superintendent said, ''W:lere are you going?" He said, "I'm going home." ''t-hat's the matter?" He said, "I've got a sore ann." He said, "Oh, you're just mad because you didn1 t get that mtor . " He said, "Well, When you're sore, you're sore all aver ain't you?" And the superintendent just laughed. In another instance they had trouble getting the battery mtors out of the motor bam. Cbe mtorman had to go, and he came back and the superintendent said, ''Vbere you been? You're holding up ootors." He said, "I had to go." Superintendent said, ''Well, you can1 t stop nature. W:1en you got to go, you got to go. " That's Why I say broad mi.rxied. Q: Broad mi.rxied • A: I mean he was Q: Vba.t "Was his nane? A: Johnny Hardy. He was the son of old Jolm Hardy, the superintendent at 58. Q: Did you know of a man named Harry Hershey Who was an attorney here in Taylorville in the 1930s? A: N:>, that was before my time. I guess not really before my time, but 1 t I wasn too interested in politics at that t:ine. Still not too interested in politics. Q: Well, anything else that you can tell ne that ~uld just A: No. I done told you that Pealxxiy w:.~.s a gcx:xi place to ~rk. From 'What I hear, a lot better than other coal canpanies. That good times make good conditions. Q: I think I 1Ve heard that. (laughs) A: That covers it about all. Q: That1 s it, okay. Vhy don1 t ~ stop right there. Errl of Side '00, Tape '00
|Title||Lidster, Stuart - Interview and Memoir|
Coal Mines and Mining
Coal Mines and Mining--Strikes and Lockouts, "Mine Wars"
Emigration and Immigration
Progressive Miners of America (PMA)
United Mine Workers (UMW)
|Description||Lidster, coal miner, discusses his career as a coal miner in central Illinois: his immigration to America from England, family life, the mine wars of the 1930's between the Progressives and the UMW, his jobs above and below ground. Also discusses mine safety, different qualities of coal, and WWI and WWII.|
|Creator||Lidster, Stuart b. 1907|
|Contributing Institution||Oral History Collection, Archives/Special Collections, University of Illinois at Springfield|
|Contributors||Corley, Kevin [interviewer]|
|Digital Format||PDF; MP3|
|Relation||ILLINOIS COAL: THE LEGACY OF AN INDUSTRIAL SOCIETY|
|Rights||© Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois. For permission to reproduce, distribute, or otherwise use this material, please contact: Archives/Special Collections, University of Illinois at Springfield, One University Plaza, MS BRK 140, Springfield IL 62703-5407. Phone: (217) 206-6520. http://library.uis.edu/archives/index.html|
|Title||Stuart Lidster Memoir|
|Source||Stuart Lidster Memoir.pdf|
|Rights||© Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois. For permission to reproduce, distribute, or otherwise use this material, please contact: Archives/Special Collections, University of Illinois at Springfield, One University Plaza, MS BRK 140, Springfield IL 62703-5407. Phone: (217) 206-6520. http://library.uis.edu/archives/index.html|
University of Illinois at Springfield
Norris L Brookens Library
Stuart Lidster Memoir
L619. Lidster, Stuart (1907-2002)
Interview and memoir
2 tapes, 180 mins., 55 pp.
ILLINOIS COAL: THE LEGACY OF AN INDUSTRIAL SOCIETY
Lidster, coal miner, discusses his career as a coal miner in central Illinois: his immigration to America from England, family life, the mine wars of the 1930's between the Progressives and the UMW, his jobs above and below ground. Also discusses mine safety, different qualities of coal, and WWI and WWII.
Interview by Kevin Corley, 1985 OPEN See collateral file
Archives/Special Collections LIB 144
University of Illinois at Springfield
One University Plaza, MS BRK 140
Springfield IL 62703-5407
© 1985, University of Illinois Board of Trustees
This mmuscript is the product of a tape recorded interview conducterl by Kevin Corley fur a special project, "Illinois Coal: 'Ihe Legacy of an Industrial Society." 'Ihe project was sponsored by the Illinois State Historical Society and funded in part by the Illinois Humanities Council and the National fudoWIEnt fur the Humanities. Additional support carre fran the Oral History Office of Sangamon State University. Joyce Fisher transcribed the tapes and Susan Jones edited the transcript.
Stuart William Udster was born in london, England on September 8, 1907. He grew up near Banbury, Englarrl until his father, following the death of his wife, inmigraterl his family to America in 1921. After his father's death in 1923 he liverl with his Aunt May and her husband.
Mr. Lidster began work picking rock in the mines the day before his sixteenth birthlay. For the next 50 years he had various jobs as he worked to support his family mich included three children, Lila, Connie and Jerry. He took part :in the M.llkeytow:1 March :in August of 1932 and joinerl the Progressive Miners of Arrerica upon their conception in that year.. It was not until he rejoined the United Mine WJrkers in 1943 that he fuund stealy anployment. Fran then until his retiranent in 1973 Mr. lidster V~t>rked below ground, the last thirteen years in Peabody Mine Number Ten at Pawnee.
Readers of the oral history nawir should bear in mind that it is a transcript of the spoken word, and that the interviewer, narrator and editor sought to preserve the infonna.l, conversational style that is inherent in such historical sources. SangaiiDn State University and the Illinois State Historical Library are not responsible for the factual accuracy of the mem::>ir, nor for views expressed therein; these are for the reader to judge.
The IIBilUSCript may be read , quoterl and cited freely. It may not be reproduced in mole or in part by any 'l're811S, electronic or machanical, without pennission in writing fran the Oral History Office, Sangamon State University, Springfield, Illinois, 62708.
Table of Contents
Family History . 1 First Experiences in the Mine. 7 The Unions 7 'nle Mulkeytown Caravan 8 The Progressive Union. .11 Peal:xxly Coal Company .14 The Different Q..talities of Coal. .17 Mine Safety. .21 Wages and Benefits .24 World War I. .27 "Campus ~rk". .32 Work History .34 The Trip Rider .38 Saint Catherine Mine .40 'lhe Treat:nEnt of Foreigners. .41 Prohibition. .42 The Unions .43 Mr. Lidster's Family • .44 ~rld war II .45 The Jump Boys. .47 The Decatur Caravan. .48
Stuart Lidster, Taylorville, Illinois, July 2, 1985. Kevin Corley, Intervie\\er.
Q: Mr. Udster, w:mld you please state your full nama and the time and place of your birth?
A: Stuart William Lidster, September 8, 1907.
Q: Okay, ani where \\ere you born?
A: Well, London. You see, in Lorxlon, it's made of a bunch of boroughs.
I.ondcn greater, I nean London proper is only one square mile. The lord,
the mayor of that borough is the lord mayor of all the other boroughs, there's all kinds of other boroughs. London proper is just one square mile.
Q: I see.
A: And then there's just, you know, it's just a big place. I can't aren think of it right now. My birth certificate, I ~t 011er and got one in 1971. There's a place in L::>ndon if you ~re born anyYhere in the British Isles you can look it up. You have to look it up yourself and--What do they call that building \\here you can do it?--Scmmarset House I think it is. Samerset House. There's big volUIIes that wide, and I think they cwered three m:>nths and you just find the three IIDnths that you want. That thick (about six inches), turn around, just a board, a plank, you're up on I'd say, almst the second floor. You're just above the ground floor, looking doWt, though it's open. You look it up, take it dovn to the office and they fix you up a duplicate.
Q: All right, before ~ go any further, I should point out that joining us in this interview is Kenneth Dariery. Kenneth has had eighteen years experience in the mine, and he's a friend of the Stuart's. Mr. Lidster, ..J:lat do you know about your family surtlaiiE?
A: My family su.rnama, Udster, originally came from Wales. My dad's dad, father's father, \\hatev-er you want to call it, he left Wales and ~t to Nottingham and becan:e a lacemaker. I had relations in Wales. In \obrld War I it was in, I guess, the News of the W::>rld--that' s a newspaper p.lt out in London that goes all 011er--my dad had, I don't know, got sorre stripes, ccmnitted some act of bravery and it was in the paper. My m:>ther got a letter fran SCIIIE of these people in Wales. That's only, all I know about Wales.
Q: 'lhen your parents grew up and lived their lives in England?
Q: In the British Isles?
A: \Ell, my mother did, yes. My dad was here in this country, in Nokomis,
in 1912. He WJrked at the north mine in Nokomis and then he v.1mt back. He had pre.tious serJice in the marines and ~nt back. He was in France in six \eeks, in W:>rld war I. In six ~eks, he was ewer in France--or less, I guess--fighting. He was sergeant a couple of times and ended up a private. (laughs) Every tine he got close to Paris he'd be Aw:>L I guess. Fnded up being the MP at Le.Harve.
Q: What other stories have cc:m! dov.n to you about your parents?
A: My toother died in 1918. My dad had been here, as I say, before \