Tom Rosko Memoir
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University of Illinois at Springfield Norris L Brookens Library Archives/Special Collections Tom Rosko Memoir R731. Rosko, Tom (1903-1993) Interview and memoir 2 tape, 150 mins., 47 pp. ILLINOIS COAL: THE LEGACY OF AN INDUSTRIAL SOCIETY Rosko, coal miner, discusses coal mining in Montgomery County during the 1920's and 30's, mechanization, accidents, the Progressive Miners, the Progressive Miners Women's Auxiliary, and unemployment. Also talks about politics and work as Mayor of Witt, Illinois. Interview by Carl Oblinger, 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 manuscript is the product of a tape recordEd interview conducted by Carl Oblinger for a special project, "Illinois Coal: Th.e Legacy of an Industrial Society." The project was sponsored by the Illinois State Historical Society and furxia.i :in part by the Illinois Hl..mlanities C'.ol..locil and the National EtliOWJED.t for the Humanities. Additional support cme fran the Oral History Office of Sangamon State lliiversity. Linda Jett transcribEd the tapes and Carl Oblinger edited the transcript. Tan Rosco 'HaS a coal miner in M:>ntoganery Cotm.ty during the 1920s and 1930s, a county in which coal mining was a particularly unstable job vhen contrastEd to ~rk in Orristian County mines. In this nenoir Mr. Ros:!o discusses his mining career ar.d his experiences with the Progressive Miners Union. He also discusses his political career and the problE!II3 he faced as mayor in Witt. Rea::iers of the oral history rrenoir should bear in mind that it is a transcript of the spoken ~rd, ar.d that the intervie"~Ner, narrator and editor sought to preserve the informal, corwersational style that is inherent in such historical sources. Sanga.oon State University and the Illinois State Historical Library are not responsible for the factual accuracy of the m:nnir, nor for views expressEd therein; these are for the reader to judge. The manuscript may be read, quoted and cited freely. It may not be reproduced in whole or in part by any ID::Um.s, electronic or treehanical, without pennission in writing fran the Oral History Office, Sanga:non State University, Springfield, Illinois, 62708. Table of O:mtents Family History 1 'Ihe Depression . 8 'Ihe Division of Work . . . . .10 ~chanization of the Mines . .11 Mining k.cidents . .13 Jim Andrews. • • • . .16 Mr. Rosco 's Political Career . . .17 Th.e Progressives . . .19 Una:nployed Miners. . . .28 'lhe 'Wol:1'en1 s Auxiliary. . .31 Jerry Allard and Tam Battue1lo .33 Mrs. Rosco ..... .34 Miner 1 s Cooperatives . . . . . . . .36 Benld, Illinois••...••....• . .39 'Ihe Tavem Disp.1te .41 President Roosevelt. . .43 Tan Rosco, April 3, 1985, Witt, Illinois. Car1 Oblinger, Intervie~r. Q: You worked at the Coalton [Coal Canpany]? A: Coalton. It want by the nmre of Nokcmi.s Coal Canpany. Let ne put it that way. Q: It was opened by Nokcmis Coal. A: Yes. A fellow by the narre of Roy Smith. Q: Yes, I 1ve heard his name. A: He OWled that. Q: Okay. Vbat I 1 m doing is I 1 m just asking all the older coal miners about Where they cane fran, their experience in the mines, about the Progressives , town life, families, things like that. I interviev.ed Jolm Bellaver on M:mday. A: Yes, he1 s about ~years older than I am. Q: Yes, yes. He's in good shape. A: I haven't seen him since my Martha passed aw:~.y. That1 s been tw:> years in July. I don1 t make it around nuch anyroore. Q: vell , you1re in gcx:xi shape. A: I 'm in gocxi shape rut I donIt know. I 1m not a visitor. I 'm not like Trrf wife. If I had had her personality I w:ruldn' t have cared. I don't care now anyway because I 1m too old to care about everybody. Can1 t hive it I guess. I \<aS the shy type. Q: ltben ~re you oorn? A: I -was oom in what they call Dawson, Pennsy1vania. Q: Dawson, Pennsylvania. A: D-A-w-8-0-N. Q: And lihat part of the state of Pennsylvania is that? East or ~st? i' A: I lAUUldn' t know. That w:ruld be in the coal fields m.erever that's at. Q: Ckay. Dawson. Is it near Pittsburgh or can you ranember? A: Well, it's not too far fran that. Q: Your father came wer to this country did he? A: Austria-fungary. Austria's still there but they turned Hungary into v.hat they called Czechoslwakia during the First Vbrld War. Q: VJhen did he leave Czechoslovakia, that area of the Austro-Hungarian El:npire? t : A: Well, let's see. I can soon tell you pretty ~11. I '11 have to I, : calculate. He died in 1956. And he -was 86 years old. Q: So he ~uld have been born in 1870. About that time. A: Yes. He w:~.s 88 years old v;hen he died. Q: Vhen did he leave the old country to cane to the United States? A: Well, I imagine he IID.lSt have ccne in here---wasn't Taft the president in 1890 or something like that? Q: Okay, it was 1-t!Kinley. M::Kinley ms the president back then. A: Well, that's it. My dad cane in here I guess along about 1890. Q: Yes, yes. Why did he cane, do you ranember? A: He WiS just like everybody else. He figured it was a good country to live in see. ~dad was a cripple. He 'WaS an orphan at about eight years old. Just a lot of them ccne arxl they all landed, just all landed in Pennsy1Vania. Q: Why is that? A: That's \tlere the ones, the Slavic nationality ones, cane here first. 'Ihey just follovai than--just like the English. You take what they say about the English fellows , you know. I don't know t<lhether you mnt that 'i on there or not. Q: No, that's 'illhat I 'm interested in. I 'm interested in your background. A: Well, this is the English people, you know. They had this saying, a lot of Fnglish people here see. A fellow by the name of Henry Heyward--no disrespect to than, don't misunderstarxl IIE. They'd get on the boat and then they'd get here. Q: Around this Witt area? A: Yes. '!hey lived right in Witt. Q: A Slovak background? A: Yes. Q: Oh, yes. A: I don't know how cane he landed in here rut I guess they had too nuch WJrk. You take in Pennsylvania there, they'd go dom and shoot and then trey'd go down and load their coal afterwards . So he cane to Illinois and he landed in here in 1906. I li.BB three years old. Q: 1906, yes. A: I'm the only one of the Rosco' s here. All the rest of then is in Chicago and stuff like that. I vm; three years old \\hen my dad caroo here. VEll, he cruldn't get a job here, see. '!hey was sinking that new mine, v.E had a mine over in here. He couldn't get a job there so he went to ~aqua and got a card . And then fran t-bv.Eaqua he 'l'.o.Urked there long enough to get a card and then he cooe back in about 1908. Q: Got a card fran the UMW? Q: Okay. But before that he \IBS in Dawson, Pennsylvania. A: ~. yes. Q: 'lbat was 1906? A: Yes. A: Yes. Q: How did he hear about the jobs here in Witt? A: I don't know. Just like everything else. You see, they had friends arourxl here and that's the way he cane in. Q: Are unst of the Slovak people aram:l here fran a certain area of Czechosl011akia? A: Yes, yes. Q: Wtat area is that? A: VEll, W:tat they call--I don't know how you pronounce it--mat they call Slovakia. In other '0\Urds, they just had a group of our national;i.ty Ybich was Sl011ak. You've got sane at Coalton. Their alphabet is i"u· a little different in their speech than c::m=s. There's different pro iation, let me p.1t it that 'NaY. And our people, Yhen they cane here, they e all Greek Catholic and Orthodox because [the Coalton people] v.Ere all un:ler the Pope. I guess that don't have to go in but they ~re all ufrler the Pope. Well, after the First World War there was 80 families here1. 'lbey had a big church here. Yes, I used to direct people that way, MJe had a great big clruch. But anyway, they broke up afterwards. SaiE wanted to go with the Pope and ~didn't. Boy, I 'm telling you it was brother against brother, son against son. Q: Be~en the Ortb::xiox and the Reman Catholic. A: Yes. So then these other ones; they vere always R<mm Catholics. Q: W:lere' s the place in Czechosl017akia? Is it near the Russian border, ~ethey came fran? A: Yes, it was all under the Russian rule. My dad can ranember at that t:i:roo he wa.s Yibat they called the big ruler under the Kaiser. See, after that he got out and then after the First Vbrld War they 'Went to Czechoslovakia. Q: then you first came here, all the Slovak people were here. Was there a certain church they \\OUJ.d go to? Was it a Sl017ak priest that wa.s called in? A: N:>, they either stayed ~and prayed themselves or they 'Went to the Rcmm Catholic church. 1he Catholic cl:rurch up here. And then I guess they got enough in their parishes and enough leaders so they built a church of their owt. Ani they had that church going for a good vbile. Q: Wlere was this church at? A: Right Oiler here on the other corner, just two blocks up here. Q: Yes, I think I passed it. It's called a Christian Ourch now. A: Yes, yes, Christian. And that had a bi~ dane en it see, and you could see it. And so SaiE guys \\OU.ld say, ~11, ~edo you go?" I'd say, ''You hit Main Street up there ani go do\vn there as far--When you see that daiE cl:rurch just turn right." It was on the corner. Q: Was that Orthodox? A: Yes, that was the Orthodox church. They could really chant. ~11 the colored people \\OUJ.d practically all chant. We Catholics userl to really chant. I tell you it llllOUld make chills go through you. :< you talk about going to church. Now SaiE of us squawked because we'd stay in church a half an hour. We used to go up here to Mass for bNo hours. Q: 'lbat long? A: And I '11 tell you mat, men they buried a fellow, a person rather, you could go there at eleven o'clock, go hare and have dinner and care back at one o'clock and they'd still be there. :< that's the way they'd do. Q: \here did the priest ccm: fran? A: Ch, fran various places up around Pennsylvania, than places. Q: He cam= do~ here permanently? A: Yes, he w:~.s here pennanently. Q: Wmt was his narre? A: Th.ey had three or four. I coo.ldn't name than. 'lliere w:~.s, heck, I guess that clrurch's been gone--heck, yes. I've been ma.rrie:l, I was married 55 years ani that church was already gone then. Let's see. Maybe they're like everything else. Th.ey've changed. Q: Th.e clrurch change:l. A: Yes. Q: So you rrean it disbanded or folde:l? A: Well, see after they had this trouble, an:l with only 40 people, they couldn't hardly maintain a priest. Q: I see. So part of the congregation split off. A: Ch, yes. It split down the line SQ-50. Q: I don't know if I shculd ask the question rut ~t was the occasion of the split? Why did they split with each other? A: The Greek Catholics vere under the Pope before the war. And then after the war, well, you know how it is with religion. Sane of than say, ''Ve don't 'Wmt to follow the Pope." 'lliat was one of the things. I cruldn't say. I know it w:~.s one of the Popes that they didn't wmt to follow. Then lot a tines they did.n't give so m.Jeh trirute to M:>ther Mary. fut your Masses ~re the same thing, you know, like the Protestants; they changed it a little. \E say the "OJ.r Father" like everybody else. It's practically the sarre thing only just a few ~rds in there to make it a change. Q: Yes, I've heard that before. \-ben your dad came here in 1906, mere did you live here? A: \ell, v.e used to live O.U blocks OJer there on First Street right OJer there. And then when he cane back in 1908, \\hen he cc:me fran 1-bv.eaqua then--! think about 1909--he wilt that house right across the street \\here my boy is. Q: He lives over here. A: Yes. Q: I talked to him this xooming. A: Ch, did you? Q: Yes, I called here and he said you'd gone dovn to the office. A: Yes. That's where he lives. Q: Ch, I see. You just live right nearby here vbere you had your bane. A: Yes. Q: vro did you buy the bane fran? A: 'Ibis one here? Q: Yes, the one you lived :in. A: Oh that. They b.lilt that. Q: (h, he did. A: Yes. Q: Vbo built the house? A: \Ell, it used to be a fellow by the name of W:litenick. He was a carpenter. He had a l:::uddy and I can't think of his nane. But I knCM W:litenick b..rl.lt it. But I don't think Umningham built it because OJnningham used to live CNer there. But it was W:litenick ani salEbody else involved :in that. Yes, he built that house. Q: Was the Whitenick family arOI.ll'Xl here a long time? A: <11 yes. '!hey '\Ere all citizens, too, you knCM. Q: So that's how you got your hare b.lilt. A: Yes. Q: He wilt the hane for you. Okay' so then you \\ere living here again in 1908? A: Yes. Q: \here was your dad 'WOrking then? A: At all of these mines. M:>stly they used to be into v.hat they cal,led the Indiana. I don't know Wl.at they called it. There used to be a Dti..ne right out here. · Q: Is that the one that the Indiana-Illinois bought fran Peabody? A: Yes. Yes. Q: 'lhey bought the mine I ' A: 'That's the one. See there v.as cne aver there. Q: Wlere was that at? Coalton? A: N:>, just a mile fran here. You coold take this road right here and you'd go right--~11, you can't see it; there's a farm. But just a mile, exactly a mile. I walked on it and fran here to there is a mile. It's pretty near tw:> miles to and fran. Well , anyway so ~ w:>rked at that mine. I~ : Q: Vba.t was the nane of that mine? Did it have a nane? A: It ~s Indiana-Illinois Coal. Q: Okay. A: Let's see. It slru.t down in about 1921 because I started at that mine in 1919. I v.as sixteen years old. See, then \\hen that slrut doWI there used to be a mine right here on this lUJmp. Q: Oh, yes . Right aver here. A: Yes. And that w:~.s What they called Old Sue Bone. Q: Old v.hat? A: Old Sue &me. Q: Vhy did they call it that? A: I don't kn.ov;r. \Ell, it w:~.s sunk in about 1899. And~ w:>rked there and then it slrut doWI. '1hen years later then I va1t to Dowell and my dad was off a long time. ve got a job at Coalton aver here. And that slru.t dov.n in 1925 men these tWJ mines opened up. Then~ got a job at Coalton aver here. Q: And that slru.t dovn in 1925. A: The first time. Q: The first time? A: 'lhe first time see. And how I got it I was v.urking at ~11 and my brother v.urked at Dowell and my dad v.as off; Coalton v.asn't w:>rking. A fellow by the nane of Snyder said, "I'11 give your dad a job," because he'd seen him. My dad v.as crippled. He had t-hat they called "running of the knee.'' He was an orphan. By poltices is the only way he got cured. It VBB in 1922, I think, we got the job and in 1925 it slru.t doWI. So before it was shut down, though, they opened this mine. Ani it just goes to shCM you the breaks we got. So this mine we 'WaS v.orking there; this mine opened up in 1925. My dad -was aver there so we went aver there. Dad said, ''No, we better stay with this mine here," with this Coalton : ' mine. And that was known as the Reliance Coal Canpany at that time. So ~ stayed there. Well, this mine v.orked thirty days ani shut dOWl. Q: In 1925, just thirty days it was there. A: So Dad said, ''W:! was lucky." And about a v.eek after that thing shut down this shut down. i i Q: And vtlat happened then? i : A: I went to other places for w::>rk, see. Rice Miller opened the Coalton mine up here in 1937. It just goes to show you how gocxl the organization was at that time. The people that v.nrked there v.ere the first ones to get the job--after tv.enty-five years. And I've been laid off [so many times] that I feel there's no such a thing as the rights to your jobs. Q: Well, Wla.t happened to you in 1925--you an:l your dad? W:lere did you go to w::>rk then? A: In 1925? Q: After thirty days of v.nrking, mere did you go to w:>rk after that? A: \o.bere did I go then in 1925? I don't remember. Oh, wait am.ile. In 1925 \Jlen Coalton shut down, my dad v.asn't v.nrking. I v.ent to Pennsylvania to try to get a job. I v.as in Farrell, Permsylvania and then I was in nmora, Pennsylvania. Both them trips and nothing to do. 'Ihat was during the height of the Depression, see. Q: And there's nothing doing out there. A: So then I care back here. I canE back here and Number Ten at Nokanis was w::>rking and I got a job there. Q: And that was in v.ben? A: That was in about 1925, 1926. Q: So you just v.ere out there for about a year? A: N:>, I was only there about ~mmths. I couldn't get no job, so I canE back in September of 1925. I care back and got a job over at Nokanis. Q: Vby did you go out to IX>nora and Farrell? Did you know somebody there? A: Yes, my dad had a stepbrother over there. Then in Farrell, Pennsylvania my :trother had tv.o sisters there. And I was trying to get a job in the steel. I was on call out there you know. In Denora, Pennsylvania I ~nt i : there trying to get a job. Dad only had one brother and my mther hal two sisters besides herself. They lived in Farrell, Pennsylvania. Q: Sharon and Farrell, they're right there together. A: That•s right. Q: So :you 'illere doing a lot of tJD\Ting around. A: I guess. I v.urked at several mines and everyone of than shut dow:l. After that Coalton shut down for goad in 1952. Q: So you stayed there after 1926 wer here at Nokomis? A: Yes. Q: thtil 1950? A: No. I stayed there and then this Coalton opened up in 1937. Q: Oh, I see. A: So fran 1937 to 1952 I worked there. Q: At Coalton. A: Yes. 'lhen I wrked two years down at Collinsville in a Progressive mine. Q: W:len 'WaS this? A: 'lbat 'WaS after Coalton shut down in 1952. Q: Ycu w:mt doWl south to v.urk at Collinsville. Ycu v.-ere out of v.urk tle:n fran time to time 'illeren' t you? A: We used to take turns driving to Collinsville. Che winter I was caning hcJ.'.i'Ja • • • Q: And this 'M'lS fran down at Collinsville? A: Fran Collinsville. We got dov.n to Mt. Olive on one of the trips ~re you tum into Mt. Olive caning that way and I thought I felt scan.ething. I said, "You feel anything?" No, all v;ere asleep Wc.h I cculd neve~ do. Well, anywa.y I made a mistake and 'ille 'illent the old route. I started qp and I w:mt toward the Mt. Olive City. 'lba.t used to be an old route ; arcun:l there, see. I said , "Well, I '11 take it." 'lba.t was the l!Drse thing I could ever have done because it's elevated. I bet you they pushed ne out of the snO'W three or four times. So my wife said, "I 'm not going to p.1t up with you." So she got ne a job at Allis-<ha.lners. I worked there at Collinsville two years then I got a job with Allis-Chalmers. And I l!Drked there eighteen !ll>nths. And I couldn't get no job after that. '!hen I was off five !ll>nths. And I thought, ''Oh, oh." I was wer 54 years old and I went and checked with Social Security. So finally my wife "WaS wrking at the glass factory CNer here and she knew the chief of personnel. He called ne up one day. He said, ''Tan, you want a job as night watchman?" I said , "Anything. " ' ' ' ' ; ' i' \ i ,: I ' ' '' ! Tan Rosco 10 Q: And you got the night wa.tcltnan job. A: And I got the night watclman. So finally \\e was night watchman-~ and another fellow for about tW'o years. Finally I got a job that li~Ent over ten years at the glass factory. Then l\hen I becaiiE 65 it was canpulsory retirement. Q: You had to improvise, you had to make do with Yhat you could get? A: Oh, yes. Q: Vbat happens back there in the 1920s vhen you \\ere out of IDrk? Did all of you people help each other out? Did ym share things? Now did you Imke it through the hard times? A: It goes back to the 1920s ; ~ ~nt fran one place to another. toe was at What they called the N.lmber Ten, that was Indiana-Illinois Coal Canpany. I got a job there in 1925. vell, they started intrcxiucing machinery, you know. Yru shoveled and there was three guys doing that, and then they loaied it in the car. Then the Progressives cane in in 1931 and liiE used to divide v.urk. Sareti.J:!Es v.e 'd only get a day or tYD a ~ek. In other IDrds, too many people w:>rked this shift. Q: Vbose idea w:1s that, the division of v.urk? A: vell, instead of Yhat they're doing tcxiay of just laying you off--I don't know whether they had any canpensation in than days or not, in 1920, 1926--so rather than to lay people off, the union was strong enough in than days to divide the v.urk. We figured, ~n, give everybody a chance. Q: Vbose union? Which union \tia.S it? A: lbited Mine Vk>rkers. The Progressives care in in 1931. Q: You maan before the Progressives you liiEre dividing the v.urk up in the 1920s? A: (h yes, in the 1920s. Q: Vbose idea? I Jrean did that cane fran the top, fran the union, or did it cane fran you guys? Didn't it cane fran rank and file? A: See, at that time, the big shots more or less made it. I think it was left to the organization but they had to canply with the regular thing. All the mines more or less divided the w:>rk vhen it was necessary to divide. Q: was that a time honored practice or is it sanething new? A: Well, at that tine it was new. Q: It was new. And wose idea was that? Tan Rosco A: It was contracted beneen the United Mine WJrkers International am the coal caopany. M::>stly it~ the districts. I don't know to.bat the rest of the states done, rut Illinois done it that way. Q: A lot of districts didn't do that, no. Illinois is unusual. But you know, in 1932 John L. lewis and a lot of guys didn't want to hear about the dividing of v.urk. A: N:>, not after that. Q: Vby not? A: I don't know. Q: And Progressives did. A: Yes, Progressives did. Q: But that had been a practice for amile? A: Ch yes. vell, everytime they p1t a machine in ~ v.uuld lose a lot of people. Q: Wlat kind of machine? A: vell, at first they hal a machine that ~ld just load their car, you know. There's twJ people loading--by bani they were loaded. There ~re cars there and the loaderman w:n1ld p1sh a car in there and wait until they loaded it. 'lhen eventually they p1t in ~t they call "the miners," to help scoop us coal after they shot the coal, the miners. I IIEan they had to shoot it all the tinE. 1hen they had a machine that conveyed it in a car. Q: I see. The machine itself w:n1ld pick up the loose coal and p1t it in the car. A: Ch, yes. It just goes to show you. They used to have a machine. You set it up in here and they'd plll his head wer in there, it'd CeliE aroo.nd like that you see, and p11l in and out. 1hen afterward they got better ani better all the tine. Well, then hell, they care ~re they cut their own coal and everything else like they do now. They had tWJ IIEn on than. Ole v.ould have to handle the cable and watch to.bat they called the boan, wa.tch the coal getting in the car. The loader v.uuld be just sitting there. Q: Okay. fu.t back say, v.hen you started, they ~re doing it still pick and shwel. They ~re doing the picking? A: \-ben I started coal mining in 1925, yes. Put vhen I started wer at N.lmber Ten, that vas all machine cut. That vas machine cut. Q: And you started wer at Number Ten, to.bat 1926, 1927? A: In 1925. Q: And that 'WaS machine cut CNer there. A: Ani that v;as machine cut. When I started in the coal mine, that v;as pick \I"Ork and this one CNer here was pick \I"Ork. In other w:»rds, you mined your OWJ. coal, you got under it about four or five foot, see. And then you sprag it up and then you shoot it. But when I started Nunber Ten that Y.Bs all machine, cut with a machine. Q: I see. I see. And the machines they had 'Aere rore or less a loader? A: No. not in than days • Q: WJ.at kind of machine did they have? A: All they done is they cut than. Q: It 'WaS a cutter? A: Yes. And then the people w:ruld drill. You'd have people that drilled and then you had people that shot. Q: I see. You'd have a shooter, a guy'd cane in. Did you use black pow:ler or dynamite? A: They did for a'llhile rut then afterwards dynamite cane. in. Q: I see. So you had a guy that v.uuld bore the holes, you had a guy that w:ruld shoot it. A: That's right. Q: Okay. The miner himself, v;as he on a daily wage or was he on tonnage? They pay him by tomage or by daily? A: No, when I started in there, when it v;as by hand, it vas on tonnage. Get the idea? Q: Yes. A: Vben you didn't have no machines. But vben the machines care in they 'Aere on a daily basis, they got day rate pay. Q: I see. Vben did that happen? Ov'er here in 1927 you say they ... A: Yes, 'liii.len I started into coal mi.ning over there in 1927. 'When I started into coal mining I was ~etting four and a half for riding trips and the other guy was getting f~ve and a half for running the IIDtor. ! But they ~e handloading then and that w:~.s on tomage. 1hey got paid....~9: the Bll'O.ltlt of coal that they loaded on tonnage. 'When they p.1t in u.ure mechanical machines that all went away. : ( I Q: Forget the tonnage. A: Yru got day wages. Q: Day -wages, yes. Did the miner ever do the shooting himself before that tine or v.as it always, as far as you know, scn:ebody did the shooting for the canpany? A: t«:>. When I started in 1925 at Coalton~ had a place they ~uld cut it ani then v.e w::mld have to drill it. I trean, ~'d drill the holes and 'Ne done rur own shot. Same my at Number Ten. Q: Vben did you get your miner's papers? A: Ch, heck. It v.as a long time because I was alv.ays, mat they called, a canpany man. I use::l to always ride trips, run the rotor, stuff like that. I didn't have to have the papers. But eventual!y this guy said , ''Vhy don't you go get them?" I don't know mat year I got them in. Q: And after you got your papers v.ere you still a canpany man? A: No, no, I v.as still riding trips. See I got this hand run over in 1925. Q: W:!.en you 'Nere a trip man? A: Yes . Sane guy said , ''Why don' t you get your papers?" I said , "I don't know." I knew gocxi an:i ~n that I'd never--! ~too shy and backw:irds to try to be a boss, I '11 tell you. It was ~nderful Y.JOrk. It was hazardous w:>rk of course. Q: W:ly v.as it hazardous? What happened? A: Well, you're trip riding, yoo know. I had my feet run over and my hands run aver. Not only that, your top, place ~re you got in bad top, you know. I had tw:> narrow escapes I '11 tell you. Q: \tlat happened? A: 'Ihe good lord v.as with rre. Wall , this one here msn't so bad. But I was coming dOWl at Coalton and I had three cars. It was uphill. There's t\\U entries like this, see, and then they had a crossover. So I was coming fran this end but they cut off this here. Well, when I got do'lilll in here the car broke loose, a loal broke loose there see. And I ~t dow:1 a little farther and there was v.hat they called a crosscut. You've got a cross in be~en here and I jumped in there. I jumped in the wrong place because that's where everything caved in, you know. I v.as in there. Q: You mean you ~re trapped in there? A: Yes. I don It know mat w:.mt through my mind. My lamp v.Elt out and finally I guess I got enough nei.Ve. M:iybe you've got a little rrore I: [! strength or sanething and I crawled out of that hole and never, never got lrurt. I just lrurt my shoulder . Q: But scared you? A: Oh, God. Q: Did you swear to yourself that you wanted to get out of the mine then? A: No. You see the only reason I didn't is because I figured I wasn't intelligent or smart enough to get out. That 'W!lS bad. So then we was \>l)rking at Coalton and a fellow ranind.ed n:e of that. Vben you t\ent into the coal mine this is What you called a pardon. Well, the road nntor fran the bottan, he'd bring you in about, oh, t:t\enty, t:t\enty-five emptys and \<ie had to load those. So he got these anptys out and thrCM:rl than in there and t\e 'd pull than in. That was before they ever put What they called a drag on the last car. So anyway I was pJ.Shing--over there they had the battery motors and they had a top on it. And t\e had carbide lamps. Not carbide lamps, rut electric lamps. I had a bad habit of putting my hat on there. Pretty soon the guy, a fellow by the name of MacNamara, he was a IIEChanic. He said, ''Tan. Jump, jump." I said, ''What do you n:ean jump?" He said, "Jump." I jumped. And some of the trip broke loose and just turned that nntor around. Well, the first ti.ne after I got out of the crosscut I thought about my ruddy, see. Because you know you hang on there, you hang on that car and I thought, "Oh, oh." Well, he cane looking for ne and I was w:>rried about him. Q: You uean he v.urked with you on the trip? A: Yes, he was on the tailenl of the anptys I was pushing. Q: Arrl that broke loose. A: No, the load broke loose. If it YDUldn' t have been for MacNamara . . . Somebody must have told h~ to cover something because, I'll tell you, I'd have never known it. The good Lord took me twice. Q: That's the tw:> tines, yes. Were there a lot of accidents in those mines? A: Yes. '!here was in the earlier days. Q: How cane? A: Well, that mtor sb.lff was no fault of mine. My buddy was like in a line there and he had six or eight anptys. Well, he cane to a place and he was just changing his poles. I was on the crossbar and I jumped off the car and you knoW 'What you ought to do? You had to open this latch, kick that car in, close it. So I guess When I got down there I must have tripped or sanething. Vben I did I guess maybe I unconsciously tried to get the latch, see, and it nm CNer tre. I cane back to my buddy and he said, ''Vllat 's the matter, Tan?" I said, "I got my hand nm over." He said, "Got your hand run e»er?" He said, "I 'm not even coupled on the car." He had to change the p.11l and mile he was doing it the mtor coasted and hit than emptys. Q: And just knocked it? A: I would say eV"en today, even today it's just negligence. I don't care ~t they say. There's accidents that could be prevented, vtba.t I nean by that you can't hardly blame the canpany--but there was a lot of violations there. Q: You nean the canpany violated a lot of rules? A: Vhy sure. In than days, you know, ~had no organization in 1925. The bosses done as they pleased. And listen, if you didn't do it they didn't care. There was always sarebo:ly looking for \\Urk, see. So a fellow like ne that liked to do a day's \\Urk and maybe toore or less afraid of his job, so he'd OV"erdo it. Q: I see. In other ~rds you'd push yourself? A: Well sure, yw plShed yourself. I'd say even a lot of these accirlents to:lay, as nuch as all the safety they've got, it's just a uental block or sarething like that. Q: Back then in the ~nties, my were they so negligent? You say it's a nental block? A: Well, because of the fact in than days you couldn't get near by mat the hell they're doing today. You either done it or else. Q: You had to follow it? A: W:ly, you had to follow it. I had a friend of mine that I was riding trips for at N.lmber Ten. I visited him the other day and he's 90 years old l:ut he thought about it. \Ell, he forgot that I was riding trips for him. Believe it or not he told ne. He said, ''Tan, a fellow by the rl.BIIE of Ha.rioon was the boss then.11 He said h,e made him so nervous. He said, "I quit.11 He said When they p.1lled in fran the loads he went to see the mine ~er. He rode him so bad. You know, he was riding him. Hell, he couldn t get fast enough. So I said, ''You're not telling rre, George.'' I said, ''You know I rode trips for you." And he said, ''Yes, and this is the truth." Boy, he would go like a bat out of hell, you know, to get to the ponl. And nab.lrally he would thrCM the emptys in or he'd say to the A: Vby sure. 'lhe biggest part of than "Were that way. guy that ~ld p.1ll than in, "lhlrry up, Tan. to go." I said, ''Hell, you just got here." Hurry up, Tan. we've gpt That's how afraid that felleM was • Q: He III.lSt have been. Q: Vby ware they afraid? A: Of their job. Q: Oh, they had to get back? A: In other w:>rds , if the boss didn't think you 1£re doing your w:>rk it was nothing for him to fire you. Heck, the jobs v.ere mre or less scarce, too, in than days. Absolutely? I had a good l::uddy with this too big load v.e 've got rurmin.g; you just had to do it or else. Q: You're out? You're firerl? A: llire or less. Like I said they forced us too. I '11 tell you vhat, don't know vilether this goerl on or not. But there ~a fellow by the name of Harmon and George was telling~ about it, because I seen him last Sunday. He was so scarerl and he lived 90 years. I told Farley, "Boy, I thought he v.as going to die of a heart attack long before 90 years old." Q: He mJSt have been scarerl to death. A: He was scared to death. He stopped his trip and v.ent in to see the mine manager. He stopped the rest of the mine. So finally the mine manager got after him. I'11 never will forget this. They used to line up the mtormen, oh, ten or tv.elve mtormen besides the trip rider, you know. In than days they had these electric m>tors and cables on than. But they had to splice the cable sane. So he'd get up there in the rooming, you knOW", and get a ball of tape. "All right. Gene on. let's go get them. let's go get than." But on top, brother, he was a gentleman. Q: fut doWJ., he must have been really bad dOWl. underground? A: Not only him, all bossess, all the bosses. They T£re slave drivers. Q: Was that Illinois-Indiana? A: Yes . 'Iha.t was Number Ten. Q: Didn't anybody ever check on than like the mine inspectors or sanething? A: You see, at that tinE v.e only had an organization in nama. But -we bad a fellow here, vhat they called a mine mm cannitteeman, see. Hell, he didn't have to w:>rk. So, finally the people got tired of him and elected a fellow. 'Ihat's how I got in the tOOV"anent, in the labor ll"D\Tartent. A fellow by the nane of Jim Andrews, and he was elected as a one man mine ccmnittee see. He got tough with than, tlrings changed when he got on there. He was one of than Irishnan with a temper. Q: <h, yes. \hat was his nane? A: Jim Andrews. He ccma fran England. He used to VDrk in vhat they call three foot mines. But he was knowledgable; he knew ~t he was talldng about. 'Ihey didn't fool him any. '' ' ' ~ : Tan Rosco 17 Q: And he was on the mine cannittee. A: Yes, he was the one man camri..ttee. Q: And it was the l.MW? A: Yes. See the Progressives didn't cane in until after. Q: So did you got extra pay for doing this for the union? A: <h yes. He got a day's pay. He didn't do no w:>rk at all. Q: When was that When he cane there? Vben did Andrews care there? A: Well, let's see. I quit there in 1937 because Coalton opened up in 1937 and I think I v.ns elected the first t:ima as a secretary. I think I was the secretary for the United Mine W::>rkers in about 1928 or 1929 vhen I got the first job in there. Q: And this guy Andrews . . . A: I 1ll ne11er will forget he was on there. In than days, you see, ev-en on the lhited Mine W::>rkers, you had to be elected by majority vote. So Jim said, "Cane on. \by don't you?" And I said, "I don't." ''Yes, you can." You knCM how it is in Jl'eetings unless you load the meetings. There VB.sn 1 t maybe over fifteen or maybe oenty people and there was four of us rurming for recording secretary. And finally that's how I got my start. And that just goes to show you. Q: Wly did he pick you do you think? A: You know that's Ybat got me. I doo 1 t kn<M W:lat it is. I was a shy guy all the tine. You kn<M scxret:ines you project yourself. They can see better in you than you can see in yourself. But I got a start there. And I v.ent frcm then on and I was in the Progressives with than. Heck, I would have liked to have little small jobs. And you talk about getting away fran that. Then it goes to show you heM people will pick ne. I ne\Ter v.ent for a job myself. I alv.nys was asked. &.lt here's the gocx:l.y part of it. I Wisn 't a politician or nothing but I always said to myself When I was young, ''Well, I'd like to be the mayor of this town." So I run once for alderman and I 'W'lB going to run for alderman and I tore my sheet up, my petition. A fellow by the name of Harry Dingham and he was a Republican, of course; it was non partisan, see. But he took a liken to ne. So I never will forget this. I IIEt him uptown one time. He said, 'Tan, I understand that you're not going to run for alderman." I said, ''No." And a fellow by the name of Cllarlie Rance, he was the street camrl.ssioner, you knCM". But I guess the people thought he W'iS doing a lousy job, so they wanted to pick a candidate to beat him. So, anyway, Harry Dingham and I -we~ gooo l:uddies. So he stopped ne up there right across fran one of thetn taverns and y,e talked and ~ talked. Harry said , "I 'm going to pass tyour petition." I said, "I don't think I can do it." ! ' I, ' ' I ' ' Tan Rosco So this fellow, this cannissioner, here's Wla.t he said: ''Well, Tan, why don't you run? Harry wants you to nm.. You know gocxi and ~n that you can't take tre off that job." Well, heck, I knew that. Cbe alderman ain't going to take him off. But he didn't know that I had it in the back of my head if I got this job I was going to run for mayor see. (laughter) So I served tw:> years as an alderman. Then I cooe out for mayor . And this same fellow, this Harry Dingham, got me to run. So I nm and there was four candidates and I YDn by 44 votes over the other candidates . 'Ihe beauty part of it 'WaS I neV"er campaigned . I neV"er promised nobody nothing. But see at that t:in:E ~used to have a lot [of votes. ] Just in one ward, ~ used to have over 400 votes in this one v.ard. So anyway the people knew, they trusted ne that I 'WaS going to get rid of <llarlie. People asked ne--a couple of people asked tre, ''You going to run?" I said, 'listen. I'm not making no premises. If you think that I'm going to get rid of Charlie you use your own judgment. If you think I can't handle the job, I'm not going to tell you v.hat I'm going to do," I said. I didn't know at that time m.at I was going to do. I knew v.hat I v.as going to do. But anyway, the first neeting V2 had it was three and three. So, I said, ''Well, I '11 tell you \~hat. I don't want to break the tie. I'11 give you people another chance." Okay. So that one neeting v.Elt by and they didn't cane. I had three and Charlie had three. So then I was getting w::>rried and Harry Dingham v.as the clerk. He said, ''W:la.t's the matter, Tom?" I said, ''Well, I'm getting w::>rried." He said, ''They'll be here next ~ek." I said, ''W:la.t do you think? They'll be here the next ~ek?" He said, "If they don't cane, the city w::>n't have no m::m.ey to run on." See, that 'WaS the t:ine that they had to make the appropriations. So a fellow cane tone. He said, ''Tan, I think you p..1lled a boo-boo." said, ''Wlat do you nean?" Charlie Rance was a gocxi frierrl and kept trying to get my frierrl' s vote. So I said, "Okay." So I ~nt to see this friend of mine. Nicknatre \<ISS Hotch. I said, ''Hatch, how are you r.oing to vote?" He said, "I '11 tell you v.hat I '11 do, Tan." I said, 'You know that people want Char lie off there," \'lOrds to that affect. "I"ll tell you vbat I '11 do. If you'll break the tie, I'll vote for you." I said, ''I '11 break the tie." (laughter) I '11 tell you I really enjoyed that. Then they tried to say I didn't have the right. Q: -when was this? A: That 'WaS 1941 when I got elected for mayor and I was in there for tva1.ty years with no opposition. Q: No kidding. thtil 1960 about. A: And I had opposition the secorx:l term. And Harry Dingham said, ''Well, ain't you going to run again, Tan?" I said, ''No . " He said, "Boy, I 'd like to go with you for four DX>re years." He said, ''You've done a good job." I said, ''No." He said, ''What's your reason?" 'Ihere was a guy vho used to run e\lery Sunday a bu dollar limit poker game and I used to go in there too. 'Ihere was a fellow vho lost saxe mmey, see. And then I heard the grunbling about it, so I ~nt to ask him, "Cllarlie, how about laying off a couple or tw::> or three weeks. There's grumbling around here. Will you lay off a couple or ~or three weeks?" \oell, I had a gocxi friend of mine that used to be a gocxi friend of the guy that ran the poker gan:e. He said, ''Hey, Tan, you're going to watch out." I said , "Why?" Drcne was his nane. He said , "lie' s going after you. He's going to beat you next election." So I told Harry vktat happened. He said, ''Don't let that w:>rry you." I said, ''No." He said, "I'll pass your petitioo. again." See, he was just a camnn man. I said, ''You sell insurance in this tQT..n. I knCM v.hat you can do." ''Well, don't let that w:>rry you." I didn't have no opposition fran then on. Q: '!hat's greatI That's greatI A: I'll tell you. You know vbat? li.ke today if I had kept notes, Carl, I could have wrote a good book. You know vbat a small tow:1 mayor has to go thrrugh. You cculd write a book with W:lat I was going to tell you, about the experiences I had in the ~ties. Q: vell, maybe you can get the opportunity to do it. A: Boy, I'll tell you. Q: We '11 go back and start with the Progressive miners. You said you ~re going to be the secretary of the union, right? A: Of the local unions . Q: 'Ihat 's the United Mine W:>rkers. A: No, that was the Progressives. I started in 1931 in the Progressives see. Then I represented Coalton Mine fran about 1933 off and on. I was the secretary, I think, three times and then I was the president. See you might like to note this. In than days, under the Progressives, you coold cnly serve t'WO terms and you had to sit one off. You could go for another job rut you couldnIt succero yourself after tw:> terms. You had to be cut a year. So that's the w:ty I done. I 'd serve tw:> terms and lay out. No trouble. Finally I '11 tell you vbat happened. I usro to go to all the ca:wentions. I'd go to W:lat they called the Constitutional Conventicn and then wage convention. I used to go to all the conventions. So sane of than guys at Coalton there, they got tirro of me going there. 'They done with the delegate just like they do with the office. You go t'WO years and then you couldn't go. (laughter) Q: You couldn't go to the convention. They wantro to go. A: They wanted to go see. I '11 tell you v.hat. I had friends fran Benld. 'Ihat used to be a big group for years. Q: Benld? A: Benld. So then I was W:lat they called the auditor for twJ years there. Q: At. Benld? Tan Rosco A: N:J, their office was in Springfield then. Q: For Progressives? A: Yes. Fran then I went to a legislative caxmittee for bu years. Q: I see. To ~rk on the legislab.lre. Okay, ~the Progressives carm in in 1931, first of all ... A: About 1932 is \\ben they first started then. Q: Vby did the Progressives here break with the United Mine \-brkers? A: Maybe I can sllo:N you a clipping up here. Q: Ckay. A: lbt you see in 1931 ani 1932 there's a contract that care up, United Mine Workers. Get the idea? Q: Yes. A: lbt the times was bad so they advocated to take a reduction of pay like they're doing today. 'lhey had an election on the contract and somebody stole the ballots. Q: Ch, that thing with Fox Hughes or sarething, wasn't it? A: 'lhey stole the ballots. It was about four or five months after that, that's \~hen the Progressives started. I guess Mary Ann told you he wr:ote a thesis on the Progressive Miners. Q: Your son did. A: Yes. Q: \-here did he write that thesis? A: It should be on record. Q: At the University of Illinois? A: Yes, at U of I. Q: I was there. I didn't see it; I looked because she told ne. Could you get ahold of his thesis or could you ask him and I can get ahold of it? A: Well, I '11 tell you \~hat. I '11 call him up and if I think about it I'm going to ask him. I know he had a book because it was about that thick. Q: And he wrote it? Tan Rosco A: Yes, he wrote the thesis. Q: 'Ihat's What Mary Arm told IIE. A: '1he United Mine Workers used to send us to these here seminars, you know. I took advantage of it. Hell, I 'WaS getting my pay. So, an~y. I \Vent to this seminar and they had professors fran the school there and I registere:l under one guy. I can't think of his naJJE but he W3.S an Italian. He said, ''Rosco. Rosco. 'Ihat rume is familiar. 11 I said, ''Well, I don't know 1Nhether it's you or not, lut my boy was here and he gra:iuate:l fran here and he was writing a thesis on the Progressive miners. 11 He said, ''Yes, I remanber him. 11 (laughter) So that's the way it goes. He got it on one of these cards and then ~'11 be sure about this. It tells you when it lf.BS actually organized. Q: It says, "Because the Progressive Miners of hneri.ca ha:i been organized largely as a protest against the IIEthods and affairs of those Who had been in ~r for many years. M:!mbers of the convention voted to make the following revolutionary change in the right to hold office. No officer shall succeed himself.11 Had the United Mine Vbrkers abused that? 'Ihi.s mole idea of officers? A: It lf.BS '\~Urse than ~t you call politics now. You couldn't get than out; they got thanselves in office and that lf.BS it. Q: You IIEan for the District 12? A: Or anything. Q: E.Ven sub:iistrict? A: Yes. Q: How" did they pick themselves? I IIEan how did these guys ever get in office? A: You know in them days it lf.BS just like in politics. You done than [i.e. the ndners] a lot of favors, see, and buy them drinks and stuff like that. Q: So that lf.BS an important thing then? A: Oh, yes. Q: I see, here, they couldn't serve more than tv.x> consecutive tenns in any of the other camrl.ttees. I '11 bel Also instructe:l to negotiate a lf.Bge settlanent. Adjourned to Edwardsville to IIEet with the operators Who were willing to employ Progressives. Was there a problem with ~ contract not only in wage pay lut also in sharing of \'l:>rk? A: No, it wa.sn 't so m.JCh sharing your \'l:>rk but the conditions of the thing too. It was mostly the wages. : Q: It was the wages. You rooan you objected to the reduction of wages? A: Ch yes. And then after they stole the ballots to boot . . . Q: Did that infuriate the miners? I I : A: \-by, I guess it did. But you see they had such a hold. Q: I'd like to look through than. A: You see the vhole thing is the lhited Mine Workers was about as rotten as they make than because the big canpanies controlled them, see. U.ke Peabody. Hell, I ~nt on the picket line. 'They controlled everything and that's the reason they w:ruldn' t give in, that's the reason. That's how they got their jobs all the tilre, you know. It was terrible. Q: W:l.o got their jobs? ·i ' A: The different operators. See the Progressives could only get mre or less the independent mines. They never did organize [the big ones. ] i ' Q: Peabody. A: Peabody. They could do as they pleased under the United Mine W:>rkers. 'They didn't care about conditions or nothing. Hell, there's nothing there; that was the trouble. 'Ihen in the later years , after the Progressives, in the later years I read an article. John L. got a little softer but vhat the gocxl did it do. i Q: Yes. Yes. As far as Progressives go ~re mst of the inmigrant '· ' miners Progressives or were they lhited Mine Workers? A: Well, I '11 tell you vhat; here's the way that was listed. See, they just picked up Coalton over here and a couple of mines do'Wl in the sooth. They "Were mre or less independent mines. Very seldan did that they picked up canpanies that had three or four or five mines. So they picked up, you know, somebody or some of the miners that didn't care--in other \\Urds it was a local thing, issue. You take like maybe Rice Miller. He didn't want to go to lhited Mine W:>rkers because he figured, ~11, I don't Ymlt no trouble with lhited Mine W:>rkers either see. At one tine we had about 18,000 or maybe about 20, 000 but now they've got nothing. They're lucky if they've got a thousand. Q: \-hat happened to all the Progressive mines? A: Vhen they slrut down? Q: Yes. A: They all slru.t down. Q: That was it. Okay. For the second generation, the Italian, Slwak and Polish; were rrost of these people Progressives or were they lhited Mine Workers? 1 : A: ve ~re all lhited Mine W:lrkers at one time and ~ p.11led away. Up in here it w:1s always Irish, English and Slavish and stuff like that. Q: So they all pulled away to the Progressives. A: 'lhey all tnlled away to the Progressives. Q: Did any of the people stay l.MW people? A: Oh yes. There ~re quite a few of than in Witt here that stayed with the UMW. Q: 'lhey stayed with the UMW. A: Yes. 'lhere trust have been about six or eight families right fran Witt that used to be U1W. Q: Vbat was the difference be~en UMW families and Progressive families, you know, when the split was going on? Wlat was the difference betveen the tiD groups? A: It vas just like you see anyplace only not quite as bad . Th.e hatred msn't there as IDJCh. ~ used to have tw:> families dow:1. here, right along the hardroad, you know, ~ere you make that last tum? Q: Yes. A: And here's vhat burned than up. Th.ere was a family there I think that had tw:> or three people and he didn't care. He was getting the ' I Progressives; you know, in them days you had to have relief dances, stuff like that. He didn't cooe out there. He shova:l himself as if to say, brother t-hat can you do? Q: Vby was he that way? A: Well because, you know how people are. 'lhey wanted to show off. Just like you see on television. D.ltside of that there wasn't no incident. And here's another thing. Just goes to show you. You see the state of Illinois. \oho the hell was Governor then? ~11, Homer was the Governor. fut, hell, the troops protected big business. We had people vho v.ent dov.n in the southern part of the state, they got shot at. Q: Mllkeytown? A: Ilown in there yes. ve had a fellow fran Nokanis , a fellow by the nane of Johnny WilliBliB; he got shot in the jaw. Q: Did you go on dov.n there? A: I didn't go down there because my wife was sick or something and I didn't go dov.n there. .But I ~t to Taylorville, yes. Stayed there a couple of nights. Q: Wla.t happened there? A: \ell we \IRS on the picket line, 'tobat can you do. Boy, the scaredest I ever got. ve v.ent to Springfield. 'Ihere was about three mines in Springfield. You know they told us; 'Well, this is 'tobat v.E're going to do in the nnrning. '' Finally, about six o'clock a guy came in and said, "No, we've called off that picket line." And even if you picketed in them days, hell, they'd shoot you. They had the policanen and everything else on their side. Q: And they'd shoot you. A: They shot at than down at M.llkeytovn and places. Q: And they did that in Springfield, too? A: There 'lil1a.S not too rruch shooting there rut there was a lot of fights over there. Q: I heard that Taylo1Ville picketing was really rough. A: Yes, it was rough there too. Q: was it correct that there was lxxnbings? A: Well, there might have been sare small banbings in that. I '11 tell you 'tobat; they had sane supporters just like in the old days. You called them carpetbaggers. ve was over there at Taylo1Ville and you couldn't get close to the mines at all. There was no 'lil1a.Y in the \\l)rld you could get in the mine. Q: \oho 'lil1a.S operating those mines \\hen you v.Ere picketing them? A: Same one; Peabody Coal Canpany. Q: \obo were the miners that were going in there to w:>rk? Were they scabs? A: Scma of than. Sane of than was United Mine W:Jrkers. But they'd go. And what the hell could v.E do. We picketed, you know, sensibly. But you cculdn't [stop it. 1 Q: Yes. So did that strike fail then? A: Ch yes. The strike failed and fmal.ly ~ crashed it. I don't know vhether Mary linn cwld remember or not rut they opened that Fannersville mine. I had a gocxi friero of mine; he was a dep..1ty sheriff and he didn't want to be sheriff. fu had to do his duty, you know. So we had a cwple of guys, three, I guess, like everything else. 'Ihey had too IIllCh to drink and they started throwing rocks and everything else. They got put in jail for a few days. I don't know how care. So then they hated Marshall. I didn't hate him; that was part of his job. \-hat else cruld he do? He was a coal miner before he ever got the job and then he IOOIIed up in politics. Well, you couldn't blame him. I liked him myself. Q: Ib yru rema:nber Frank Fries? A: Yes. He was the guy that was the head of this mine aver here, mine manager . He 'WaS rough. Q: Wis he? What'd he do? A: Hell, he just ~dn't give you nothing; he w:mldn't give you nothing. U.ke I said, if you didn't like your w:>rk he just fired yru. &:>sses unler him the same w:~.y. t-ell I'll tell you what. I don't know what happened be~Fries, 'but it got so tough with the bosses; there w:~.s three bosses that ~nt on strike. Brother, they just took them in them days; now you've got to go through this. As long as you ha:i your mine papers \<by you coo1d get a job in them days as a boss. So, hell, they replaced those guys. 1hey took three right out of the ranks. You know how a guy is~he's a little greedy. You figure, ~11 I'm looking out for myself. U.ttle rrnre m:ney rather than pick and shOV'el. So they got the three guys. Those guys are still looking for jobs. Q: Those bosses. A: Yes. Q: W:ly did they get rid of those bosses? A: 1hey was asking for sooething that they thought they "V.ere in need of. Q: W:lat "V.ere they asking for? A: I forget what they \<!'ere asking. Q: fure rooney? A: I guess it was more m:>ney because that's all it could be. Q: So they got rid of than. A: Th.ey got rid of them. Q: I '11 be damed. End of Side Che, Tape Che A: Cb, the rats. You ought to see those rats. 1hey 'illlere that big! No kidding. I'm telling you. Q: t-ell' how did they . . . A: Come down the props , timber, see. W:len they're young, babies maybe and they COOE do'W:l like that. : ! Q: Were they valuable for you? A: No. Q: Did you see if they died? A: No, they wasn't valuable. I hated than things. Vben the miner's vacation care along--the third or fourth year--! ~rked there. The miner's vacation--ten days--they poisonerl e.~ery damn one of than. Not a i ~ one ever care back no roore. Never had no roore rats. Q: This one other fellow was telling this other guy that mice v.ere gocx:l because you could tell if there was any gas in the mine or sarething. But you guys didn' t even have that probla:n. A: No. My district said they did rut I can't see it. I can't see rats. SUre, if they got odor they're going to do like the rest of than do. He's going to try to breathe, ain't he? Q: Yes. Yes. Vhy 'iNB.S it different under the Progressives? A: I guess you could :p.lt it this way. 'lbere was a relief. You 'iNB.Sn't v.urking under a fear. Why under United Mine Workers you just ~re fearful all the tinE about losing your job. Jobs v.ere hard to get in than days because that was pretty near the start of the recession. Q: And under the Progressives you didn't have the sane fear? I• A: No, you didn't have; not c:Ner here. And none of these mines. Q: thy? A: Well, I guess they got by with a little roore or sanething. Rice was a good tmn. I 'll'ean by that he was a good ow:1er and he had gocx:l bosses. They expect you to do a day's ~rk; don't misunderstand 'll'e that. But their conditions ~re a little better; you wasn't fearful. If you didn't get the production they 'iNB.Sn 't always riding you to death. And lDrd knows that a lot of tinEs people take advantage of it. It's just like everything else, see. But he 'iNB.S a good canpany boy. Well , he liked the people so well, he used to give us picnics every year. Q: Rice Miller did? A: Yes . And down in the southem part of the state the same way. So the reason I know these things because v.e used to have a lot of Yihat they called them seminars. We used to have monthly meetings and exchange ideas. See, like we go to Nokanis. They had a certain district and we'd go every month and canpare the conditions in your mine and the other mines. Yru take Staunton, Staunton had ~big mines doWJ. there. Olive did, Mt. Olive. Q: And you canpared the conditions with them down there? ! i ' A: '1hen \<le 'd go to the meetings and then if they had a condition that ~ didn't have, 'tll'ell, you know, \<le 'd discuss it at the meeting. '1hen maybe the camrl.ttee v.x:>uld take it up. 'lhat' s the way it w:~.s. Q: was that under the l.hited Mine Workers or Progressives? A: 'Ihat vas all under the Progressives. Q: Did you make sam progress under the Progressives for conditions? A: Ch, yes. A lot better. Q: Uke wnat? A: \-ell, you take your v.x:>rking condition. I didn't hav'e to v.x:>rry about if I YBS a little late caning in with a trip or sarething like that. You didn't hav'e to explain it to a guy or everything else you see. A lot of tines you'd get off the track or sarething you know. I didn't like it too ~11 at Staunton. Vbat I mean by that, at Coalton the biggest part of the people p.lt in a good day's v.x:>rk. You hal people that didn't do it see. At that time they used to have a limit on it to try to get more people to l\Urk [job share.] 'lhey usa:l to have wnat they called a four limit car; couldn't load any more than that. tell, vhen the machines ccrre in they used to say about, oh let's say 80 to 90. But the mole trruble of it is, you know, was vhen you nm these machines , load these machines. A guy said, ''I'm going to load this. If the other guy is going to get a hundra:l I'm going to get a hun::lred and tw:> • " That's the only problan. So finally they tria:l to p.lt a limit on him. But they didn't get by with it. So I ~nt down to Collinsville. I was v.x:>rking there and they had a four car limit. I had tv.o good buddies doY.n there. Well, I had mre than that. And I said, ''How do you guys get by with it?" 'lhey ~re loading maybe 75 or 90 cars Where they could easily got aver a 100. Well this and that. And I said, ''Well, how long do you think this guy is going to stay open like that? He's an independent owner. He's going to have to get rrore." ''No." I said, ''Well, vbat's the reason?" "Well, because, you know good and 'tll'ell, Tan, if they take the legal term of say 90 cars everybody will be doing it." Well I said, "'lhat's it." You know Cohen shut doWl but he didn't shut doWl on accrnmt of production because the railroad shut this mine off. Q: 'lhe railroads did? A: <11. yes. See they had t:v.x:> good railroads aver here. Q: How did the railroad shut the mines dmon? A: 'Ihey all went to diesel. Q: Okay. A: And they lost better than 60 percent of the mine production. Then everybody before w:~.s burning the coal. And not only that, then if you ranember, even in the homes they ~re p.1tting in the gas. I l<now a ! '!I ! ' Tan Rasco 28 person should do it but I don't think they should be allowed. They said, ''Well, listen these people under gas they ought to go back to coal. 'Ihey're getting their living fran mining coal.11 'Ihey v.ere v.orking the coal, mi.ch is a gocxl point. But you lmow everybcxly Yhen they get a little IIDney W:ly they . . . Q: 'Ihey're going to change. A: So I -went down there. 'Ihey said, ''No. 11 I said, ''Well, you ain't going to last long here. " 110h, he'11 never slut dow:1. 11 They wante::l rre to IOOI!e down there. I said no. I left there and about a year afterwards they slut doWl. Q: \hen was that? A: Coal Canpany at Collinsville; it was an independent mine and they had h:im buffaloed . Q: Vben was that, 1940s? A: No, that was in--I got a job there, after this in 1952. Q: Okay. \hat happened to all the unanployed nen in the Depression pericxl W:len the mines slut down? Where did they go? A: In than days you could go out and a lot of than ~t to Detroit, a lot of than VJent to St. louis. I was talking to a young fellow that used to WJrk with ne. There v.as a lot of than ~t to St. Louis. Sene ~t to Detroit and a lot of than ~nt to Cicero. '!hey ~nt to Cicero, you l<now, because that's \\here there vas a lot of the Slavish people \\Elt and our nationality. And these fellows was around 45. Than days you could get a job 45, 50 years old. Q: W:la.t' s in Cicero to WJrk at? A: There -was a lot of factories there. Yes, there's a lot of factories there. Q: So that's 'What happened to all the unemployed miners then? A: You \\UU.ldn' t believe this. At one time, and records will show this, one time there vas CNer 5,000 people in this t<Ml. Q: In Witt? A: Be~en 1906 and 1915. And then the bottan fell out. Q: How many mines here? Three? A: There use::l to be two here. But then Nokomis vas v.urking and Coalton vas v.urking, be~en 1909 and 1915. Q: Was the predaninate amount of people here Italian, Slavish people? A: All mixtures. Q: All mixtures. A: And they ~re doubling up. I can ranember, there ~s a cousin of my wife, ~care fran Pennsylvania, couldn't get no ~rk in the mines. And he got himself a job in the coal mines. ve doubled up and I think there ~six of us in the family. All they had was just a sleeping roan and then they cooked. There was a lot of doubling up. Q: E.Verybody ~s doubling up on the houses? A: fut that only lasted about six years. Q: Vllat happened after that? A: E.Verybody moved rut. They all ~nt to the cities. See, that's vben the cities ware opening up then. A lot of factories with the steel w:>rk, steel rralls, and things like that. Q: \ere you employed the 'W:t.ole year rotmd or ~re you laid off at certain tines during the year? A: I can ranember when wa used to go out in strike in the SlliliJErtime--under United Mine W:>rkers wa 'd go out on a strike for maybe ~or three rronths. Bu.t under the Progressives, l"Nell even the United Mine W:>rkers got to that point 'lilhere they'd w;,rk, get the idea, and ~tever the contract ~ settled, they'd make it retroactive. Very seldan you ~nt out on strike after that which was a good thing. Q: Didn't the mines slrut down in the SUIIIIertime? A: 'Ihey used to do it, yes, up until about 1930, 1931. Q: Vbat did you do to make rroney? A: Just lay around. Nothing. Q: Did you have gardens? You do anything? A: Yes. That's all. You take than days ara.md here everybody raised their rn..n. Biggest part of the people raised their rn..n cows, milked, and hogs. 'Ihey rutchered in the winter. Q: Did you help each other out? A: Ch yes. Q: How did that \'lUrk? You rrean all the families ~nt together or not? A: I can remember during the height of Depression men lNe used to w:>ltk only about one or a..n days a ~ek, that -we could go out here. I neveli will forget. We'd go out here in the wintertime, have to cut ~od and everything else. They'd get together ani bring their om lunch, ~t· have you ani bring black coffee. Tan Rosco Q: that did you do? You kind of took care of the hogs and stuff; yru l:utchered than? A: Ch yes. My dad, my mother used to get after him. Everybody else has got hogs and he'd have hogs ani a cow. My dad tried to raise t\'10 hogJ) one year. And that year they had them, the cholera YBS around and he lost than both. Q: Vhere did they go? Where did the hogs go? How did he lose them? A: You take at that tine like my generation, see, the biggest part of than when they got sixteen years old they didn't go to the coal mines. They all ~nt to Cicero, to Ori.cago, Pennsylvania or stuff like that. I'm the only one that stayed arourrl here. Q: W:ly did they go there? A: Because there was no w:>rk around here. Q: And they got jobs in Cicero. A: 'lhey got jobs. You take them days there Y.Rsn' t IIJJCh m:>ney. My brother said they used to make ma.ybe $15, $20 a ~ek way back in 1916, 1917, and 1918 working in them factories in Cicero. Q: That's pretty gocx:i nx>ney. A: Yes , it was in than days , yes. Q: How DllCh did you make back in 1916 and 1917 in coal mining here? A: Coal mine four and a half riding trips. Q: Four and a half a ~ek. A: N:J, that was four and a half a day. Q: A day. A: Yes. Q: Did you work all week long? A: Ch, no. lb, you only worked \Jlen they got the orders. Very seldan did ¥.e ever work five days in the coal mine. But than four mines at Peabody; they didn't know \oitat it YBS to lay off. And Staunton--! mean Benld--where they had the four mines, the sare way. Q: \ttat did they use the coal for at the Peabody mines? How cane they ~re employed all the time? A: Railroads. The railroads. Q: Ch, I see. A: See at that time it ~s railroads--90 percent, I guess. Gas started caning in around the early fifties, I believe; I nean early forties. Because I was still burning coal vben the mine slru.t dow:t in 1952. Q: Yes. let's say that I just cane here fran Pennsylvania. I'm a Sl011ic looking for a job. How w:ruld I get a job in the mines? A: At that tine pretty near anylxxly got a job if they ~rehired and especial!y if you knew the bosses or the mine manager at that time. See, they didn1 t have \\hat they called personnel IIEn in them days, you knOW" that. You ~nt to the mine manager or the boss. If he needed a man and he thinks you was a good guy and sCIIEone recam:ended you as a good guy that1 s the way you got your job. You a1Y.Bys got a job thrrugh a friend of yours. Q: Al:ways through the friend. A: Always through a friend of yours. lhless you knew the guy himself; rut it was rrostly through a friend. W:len I got my job in 1925 I got my job through a friend right here fran Witt that ~s in with the m:>tor boss and stuff like that. So I said okay. Q: M:>stly through families and friends. A: Yes. You didn't have to fill out no application. Q: Was it hard to get your papers? You know you had to be mat--sixteen to \\Urk in the mines--and then you had to be there tw:> years? A: Yes. Yes, ~years, nOW" I think it's one year. In them days it wasn1 t hard to get your papers. NOW" I only wmt for my miner 1s papers but I nE!\Ter did try. See my boy aver here, Ronnie; he ~nt up through the lines. He got his miner's papers and he got his mine manager's papers and he got his state inspector. He was state inspector for nu years. Then he w:1s mine manager over at the new mine but he didn1 t go back. Q: let me ask you about the ~n, the W:xnen' s Auxiliary for the Progressive miners. \Ere they active? A: They ~re really cctive. Q: Vbat did they do? A: \Ell, v.e 1d have these dances you knOW' and stuff like that. And they really v.vrked hard--the 'Waieil did. \-e give these dances and they'd bring stuff to eat, you know, like that to raise m:>ney. Q: Did they help you in picket lines? A: N:>. No, in then days it was just like anything else, you knOW". The tren ¥.ere the boss then; the ~stayed hCIIE. i' ': Q: Did they help with the foai and stuff like that? A: Oh, yes. They -v.ere active, they had the auxiliary, they -v.ere active. Where you hal to feed sanebody on the picket line or sanething they ~re goai that way. Q: They'd bring the foai you rrean to the picket line? A: Yes , they -v.ere good . Q: Ib you renanber the shooting of Edris Mabie in Springfield? A: No. No. Q: I was reading about that. It was a Progressive 'li\BS killed. A: There was quite a few of them t\hat you call it there. ~11, I '11 tell you vhat. We had a president named Jolmny Marchant. He 'li\BS fran \Est Frankfort. And I think he served; I don't know how many roonths or how many years. fu killed a f!}J.Y, I think he was a miner . Q: was he a lhited Mine ViJrker? A: lliited Mine Worker. See, he vas pretty big in the Progressives. But Bill Keckler 'li\BS one of the first that organized and then Marchant cane in. Q: Ib you remember Jerry Allerd? A: Oh, yes. Q: can you tell TIE S<IEthing about him? A: I '11 tell you t\hat. fu was an intelligent man but you '11 see on that thing ... Q: en those cards. A: See, he was the first Progressive paper man. He made the paper, published the paper. It'll tell you there that I guess the president, the vice-president, they didn't like sane of his ideas. You know they always did say he was gocx:l friend of mine. Q: Fran where? A: They cane fran West Frankfort. And he w:1s an intelligent man. '!here was him, Johnny Marchiando and tv.u other f!}J.ys--tto.n guys fran Gillespie. And they ll.2re really intelligent. Of course their ideas ~re good. Maybe it was just a little too radical even for the Progressives. So Jerry Allerd didn't stick long. But Jolmny Marchiando did. Q: He did. Joe Ozanic, do you rerrenber Joe Ozanic? A: Yes. He Y.Rs a good guy. He Y.RS like arerybody else; he played politics. Joe was intelligent. Jerry Allerd Y.RS a railroad man. So was Ma.rchiando and another guy fran Gillespie. I can't think of his name. But they ~re well-read. W:len they got up to talk you could hear a pin drop. Of course I neV"er could prooe it and I don't think anybody cared--they said that they ~re Camunists. Tiley ~ren't ever Camunists. I believe Ma.rchiarrlo Y.RS one of these fellows vbat they call IWW' s or vbat the hell. Q: 'lhe International Workers of the World. 'lhe Wobblies. A: I think he Y.RS on that. But boy he was intelligent. It 'WB.Sn 't Marchiando; John Battuello. 'lhat's it. Q: Oh, Battuello. Yes. A: Ch, there was a guy that was smart. He give ma hell one time. See, at the local union, you know how it is ; you had to have certain many locals to get on the national ticket. So, heck, he run that union down there and they didn't have to go out of their way, see. So I nm once and I was a shy guy. I figured ~11, you know, you can get things on your om. You can like hell. 1he next tirre I tried I get on there. And I got to talking to him and everything else and he said, ''Tan, my in the hell didn't you tell us?" Well I told h:im about it. So after that he took ma rrore or less under his wing. 'lhey were intelligent in than days. So I always got on a camrl.ttee, sOOE kind of camrl.ttee anyway. I wasn't on the credential camri.ttee. It was on sane policy camrl..ttee, I think. There's the place, the minority report and the majority report. So I got on this camrl.ttee and I didn't like vbat Y.RS done. So I told him--Battuello. I said, ''Well, you know what it's all about." He said, ''\ohy don't you bring in a minority report?" I said, ''Well I did." I brought in a minority report rut I 'illtisn' t a good enough speaker. But, anyway, I had the guts enough to bring in a minority report. Boy, than twJ, Jerry Allerd and Battuello, I used to love to listen to than talk. Q: They were good speakers then? Jack Battuello said he had read the Appeal to Reason. Did you ever hear of that newspaper? A: J:b. Q: It was a miner's group in Kansas. And he said he used to read it religiously. His dad got the Appeal to Reason. A: He was SOOEthing, just a little too radical. I don't think they ~re so radical rut they left the impression that they v.ere Camunists. I knCM they used to say well, hell, Jerry Allard Y.Rs a nice guy. 'lhey were no rrore Camunist. Q: They were purged? They were kicked off? A: Yes. Well, Jerry and Batruello stayed for a long tine until he died. And Jerry Allard finally left. Q: Vlla.t happened to the Progressives as the time \o.ent on? Did they lose strength? A: lost. Everytime a mine shut d0W1 that's ~t you lost. Q: How IIB11Y mines . • . A: I think they was only in existence about sixteen years. And then it just got, yru know, wasteful just like the rest of than. Q: You said like the rest of than. A: I made rmn.ey there l:ut I didn't like it. See, maybe I done wrong. It's just like politics now. If I had my ow:1 way about the thing I IDU.ld never have accepted or done sare of the things. But I was one--and they ~re always afraid of me. Q: W:lo lABS they? A: I don't want that to go on the rec:ord. Q: \-ben did you get married? A: In 1927. NOvember 19, 1927. Q: Arxl ywr wife's naiden naae r.es \\hat? A: Scople. Q: Scople. Vbat kim of etlmic background ms that? What kind of a ~? A: That was all Italian. Q: Italian. I see. A: All Italian. Q: was that usual for SlCNic and Italian people to marry in this area? A: It is. It's pretty near canron anynnre. Q: was it ccmoon back then in 1927? A: Ch yes. Q: It was. So you got married then. Did you set up your housekeeping CNer here in that house? A: Direr in here. Q: How did your wife like your WJrk in the coal mines? A: \ell, she cane fran coal mine family. Vbat I rrean, their folks didn't have anything either. \e got rra.rried in a rough tine because I was only 'illlOrk.ing ~or three days a Y<eek. As I say, the good lord was good with us. ~ lived 55 years together. Q: Vbat did she think of your w:>rk in the Progressives? A: She didn't mind it. Q: Did she w:>rk in the auxiliary? A: Yes' she 'f..I.'Orked in the auxiliary. She had a rough time. Here Is mat I nean by that. She \oDrked rut she never did w:>rk them bad days. She \VOrked at the glass factory. vell, they were always wanting help. Q: Was the glass factory in Hillsboro? A: Yes, in Hillsboro. ~ raised the three ooys. fut she never did go to w::>rk until she put them in their first year of school. And them days during the war they had a factory way up here about 80 miles. \<hat the hell, ~re they made bJllets and stuff like that. Q: Was it Illiopolis? A: Illiop:llis. There was five of them there. And they said, "Boy, that was it." She done her part of the \oDrk. Q: You nean she went to Illiopolis? A: Yes, there was five of than drove all the way dowt there. Q: That's a heck of a long distance. A: \-by absolutely, and they done it every day. She w::>re a car out. She used to m:rre or less use oor car doing all the driving. Q: Wlo kept the DDney back in the 1920s? \-Jhen you made DDney did you hand it e»er to your wife to pay the bills and take care of things? A: No, no. Q: A lot of people did. ThatIs vny I asked. A: No, not till later. You talk about unney, I'm not ashamad, there was no m::>ney to handle. You're w:>rk.ing twJ days a week. And, you 1<now What, if it w::W.dn't have been for the credit in them days I think we'd all starve to death. Q: Vl10 gave you credit? A: t-ell, all the storekeepers. Q: Th.ey kept you like in a book? ' ~ I ' '' Tan Rosco 36 A: Absolutely, on the book. In them days Yhen they was independent, you know, they had a rutcher shop. So this ~in 1925. No, this was in 1936. 'Ihings to.Ere better. We was only w>rldng one or t:w days a ~ek and that was on division of w:>rk, see. So I went to the lutcher shop. And this fellow, he said, ''Tom, your bill is getting pretty high." I said, ''Yes, I realize that. And I don't know how I'm going to pay you." 'Ihree liDilths after that Coalton opened up and then after that I was honest enough to pay my bill. Q: \-hat was the name of that store? A: That used to be a lutcher shop by the nao:e of Fesler Brothers. You take these stores around here; they all carried us. My wife's in the hospital with a fellow by the nao:e of Mack and he was a store keeper. He carried all of them in Springfield. Q: Mack? A: Yes, Jolm Mack. And anyway so I met him in there. After that he said, ''Tan, a guy encouraged ne to get M:.Donalds." An::l at that tine he had all the four franchizes in Springfield. I don't know W:lether any of his boys are running it. He told DE then, ''Tan, I wish I could tell you. VJhat do I know about stock?" If you wait \~hen they split the stock and buy it it's a good place. So here just about a m::>nth ago ~ got a new priest there. I think he cane fran Springfield. Shield or sanething like that. An::l in his hanily--I call it a serrcon---he uentioned John Mack. He said, "A good friend," and he t~EUt right in with the gospel ~hewas preaching it. So he's going out, you know, and I said, "Is that John Mack? Is that the one that had the M::Donalds?" He said, ''Yes . " I said, "I knew him 'Well. " And I told him Where I net. Q: Yes, he belped E!l1erybody rut that way. A: Yes, he helped everybody out. Sarelxxiy helped him out; he'd encOllJ:'aged tle:t to get into M::Donalds. &> you see vbere the breaks of life are, Carl? Q: Sure. It canes back to you. A: Yes. Q: Do you know if they had fanner's cooperative stores--! mean, miner's cooperatives? A: Ch, yes. You see the Slooics at that time had them. That was way back in 1913 to 1914. They ha:l a cooperative store and they went busted. 'Ihey needed managanent. Too m1eh credit I guess. Q: 'Ihey gave out too IWCh credit? A: W:ly, yes, and they ~nt out. 'Ihen a fellow by the name of Butchko; he bought them out. 'Ihey had a big fire doWJ. here, this end of tov.n here. let's see, one, tw), three, four buildings and a big railroad t~r all b.Jrned doWJ. the sane day. ''I 37 Q: W:len was that? A: 'Ihat was way back in 1919. I know my I ranember. In 1919 was the only time I ever playe:i hookey in my life and then I had to stay in school for a v.eek. In 1919 the bunch of stores all burned down. Q: Ani that was including that store? A: Yes. Q: Butchko? A: Yes. Q: So Yhat happened A: Then he IOOVed up toWl. Q: Ch, futchko IOOVed up town. A: Yes. Q: And it wasn't a cooperative store after he bought it out. A: Oh, no. It was a single store. But the Slovic people .. Q: Did all you people go into together and help with that store? A: Oh yes. Q: How did it ~rk? A: They had stockrren, you know--people that donated their m::ney. You call than stock. And I bet they had to p.J.ll their shares but there's JX>or managanent. Q: Did they loan money out to people? A: I don't knOW' \\hether they did or not. They had it for a good ~ile. Well, you know a lot of times it w:ruld depend on the manager I guess. fut I knOW' they didn't p.lll out because John Butchko bought than out. When he burned down then he left tO\\ll. Q: Agnes Wieck, does that ring a bell with you? A: Vbo? Q: Agnes Wieck. She was in the W:xnen' s Auxiliary. A: Oh. Q: I don't know if I 'm saying that right. ' ' A: Yes, I think she care fran arrund--I don't if she cane fran Gillespie or ~re she care fran. Q: Sanebody said Belleville. A: Belleville, maybe, yes. Q: fut she 'WaS up in Gillespie a lot. And she had the Wanen' s Auxiliary and I just saw her nane. I just didn't mow nuch about her yet. Okay. What was the quality of the coal like here? Was it good coal; did it have sulphur in it or not? A: This coal here they claim had the best heat contents of any mine around this part of the country. Q: Vhat makes it that my? A: I don't know but it was dirty coal. I guess it was a strong coal. 'Ihe reason I say that they had the heat value because it 'W8.S a hard coal. And I guess that's What got this Yhatever it's in than. But it was dirty. You know, I vas doW1 on the boat ~they told us about slru.tting the mine down. See, I was president then and ~ ~nt down on the grievance, see. He had a big boat arxi took us for a ride, you knCM. ''Well, v.ha.t seans to be your troubles?" He said, "I've got sane~ to tell you too." ve told ours. He said, ''Well, I'm sorry boys. I m slrutting the mine down.'' Q: Vho told you that? A: Rice Miller. Q: Rice Miller. A: Yes. I knew ...tlat vas happening. Hell, lost 60 percent of the coal fran railroad because they ~t to diesel. They vas putting in gas at that time. You know I always heard the ruroors. His dad had a coal mine over in Hillsboro and he lost over 500, I don't knCM, quite a bit of m::mey even in those days. He told us then and there, he said he vas running for senate, senate of Illinois. Arrl they said, ''Well is it because of the election?" ''No," he said, "the election ain't got a thing to do with it." He said, "I'm not going to be like my dad. I'm not going to lose mney operating this thing. And you fellows knCM that." Q: Did he win? A: He didn't win that last tim=. Q: He Yas ~11 thought of by a couple of people. It sounded like people liked him. A: I guess he went like everybody else. He ~nt to drinking. And I was a shy guy. I vas Vl:>rking in Springfield at that tim= and I va1t in the hotel mere he was at. And I don't knOIN vhat made me do all of these things. fut I didn't lNallt him to see IIE because I said , "Oh, I don't l: Tan Rosco wmt him to see ne because he might think that I '11 go talk about him." &>y, he called rre over and we had a nice chat and everything else. ~y he was just as ccmoon; he was a gooi guy. Q: Did you used to read the Progressive miner's magazine W1en it CallE out? A: Yes, I used to read it; they had sane good articles. 1hen I '11 tell you v.hat. After Jerry Allard got out there Wrlch is good. I've lost track of him; he was fran Spr:ingfield. He was a Jew and boy he \laS a goo:i editor. Dann, I can't think of his nama. He had rre ~rried one time; you know when we had the change of times. I was on the school board there so I got the guy to invite him dow:1 there because he was a gooi speaker. &>y, here we was waiting and w:titing. The president ~ ready to give the end, to close out. He cCIIe in and he was in town better than an hour rut he forgot. Nobody told him about the mixture of tiiie. Q: Yes, because there was a changeover in time. A: I wish I knew \<ii'hat his nBDE was. He helped rre out quite a bit in the organization too. He's the guy that got rre to nm--see, well not then because then I nm for circuit clerk in 1951, 1952. He said, "Tan, I think this will do you good." I said, ''What's that?" So he got me to sign up in the Carnegie School. 'lliat's a great help. But it still didn't do n:e mJCh gocxl. I still had it in my mind that I wasn't able to do nothing. E.\rery job that I had I was pushed to. I was on the school board. Q: You had somebody to sponsor you or Wl.o wmted to see you get in? A: 'That's right. Cb the school board and I served over here at the Hillsboro Hospital about fourteen years. \<bich I enjoyed because I met a lot of people. I've enjoyed that \o\Ork. :tbt now, ~11 I'm on the general assistance thing. In them days, you knew W:tat I IIEan, you were young; didn't nothing bother rre. I wasn't nervous. I knew I had to do the job and I done it right. Q: I 've heard things about Benld. A: I '11 tell you mat; I was just a young pup. I wasn't married then and there was frur of us that went fran here. Hell, we didn't get to Benld until about 11 or 12 o'clock. \oe went to a couple of places and they \\0\JJ.dn' t serve us. I don't know, there Vl!S Scm:!thing wrong. So I di.dn' t know, I was a big boy at nineteen years old. ~ went down to a place and knocked on the door. &>y, ~ got out of there in a lurry, I '11 tell you. I never did go back to Benld. I don't know wther that was a peek. But then I heard later on. I said, "SOOEbody nrust have been looking because we never did go." we went to the taverns and then v.e went to a couple of places where the girls was at. we didn't get to none of than. Finally the old boy said, ''Let's get the hell out of here." Q: Vllat was wrong? 40 A: They was expecting somebody to give them trmble. And this YJB.s about 11 or 12 o'clock at night~ v.e v.ere trying to get in. Well, I'll tell you, those used to be rough days. Q: I heard. A: They had a lot of prostitution dCM:I there. Q: Di.dn't sa:re of the gangs fran Clricago ca:re there and hold up for a Yhile? A: I imagine that's W:lo that \laS. I don't know how many taverns they had. Ib you know that one tine in the city of Witt, vhen I 'WB.S telling you arout betv.een 1909 and 1915, this was the only town that v.asn't dry and they had 011er eighteen saloons in this to-m. ~ : Q: It vas a dry tow:1? A: Everything else v.as dry. Q: fut here they had • • • A: fut here. (laughter) No kidding, eighteen taverns. Q: Cee, that's a lot of taverns. A: You ain't a kidding. W:ly we use to deliver to Nokomis t ! Q: Was Nokanis dry? A: 'Ihey v.ere dry on Sundays. I don't know W:lether they opened up but they were all dry. Hillsboro, everything. Q: W:ly was this city wet and every place • . . A: I don't know. Ym know, with the poor class of people. Q: Did you ever hear of the Ku Klu Klan caning in here? A: No. Q: <:kay. I heard about that because of the liquor option. A: No, never did. Q: So this place was very pop.1lar. A: Ch, yes. You know it took me a lot of ~ts, after secon:l tenn and it was a standing thing. We used to have, let s see, four taverns when I becane mayor, they had five taverns down in there. I inherited this, you know, the taverns were closed on Sunday, l:ut had back doors. So finally I got tired of it. The reason I got tired of it was a good friend of mine--they're all good friends--rut he was of my nationality, he had a tavern. I told him, ''Now after it gets dark get out of here in the I : i ' : ' Tan Rosco 41 Sl..liiiier, get out." Well about half of them ~uld. Put he stayed open and he'd serve beer with a flashlight. So I got after him. I got kind of mad, I had the guts. So I -went to the board and I said, ''Now, listen I've got a proposition that's up to you to decide." I said, "I'm getting tired of these back doors being opened. I can't control them." I said this and that. "And I \\Bllt orders draWl up that -we' 11 open on SUnday." See in them ~ys you didn't have to have a referendun. You could do it by a voice on the board. Nobody demanded a referendum so I didn't. So it ~t aver. Q: And it was in ....tl.at, 1944? A: That ~about 1944, 1945. Q: You got than opened on SUnday, legally? A: Yes. Q: So the guys, in other ~rds, before that t:im;, WJuld go around to the back door and get in there and they served than beer. A: And I didn't care. Put this guy, men you serve with all the lights out and serving than with a flashlight. I said, "I 'm getting tired of this." But it just goes to show you, like I said, they respected my judgn:Ellt. I ~s only told by one fellow and it was a real goc.xi frierrl of mine. He 'WB.Sn' t a church goer or nothing like that but he believed, see. And he said, ''Tan, you violated sare section of the Bible." Well I said, "I just all~ them to open up. There's no reason that they have to open up if they don't 11m1t to.'' Boy, he was mad at TIE for about ~or three roonths. Q: Because you all~ these taverns to open? A: He said that wa.s a violation, mich it probably 'WaS. I don't know. He said there's sare section in the Bible, you know. Q: was he Protestant? A: Yes , he was a Protestant. Q: Yes, he ID.lSt have been. Mlst have been before Jerry Fal~ll. A: Gcxl, I '11 tell you. That kind of makes TIE sick. I don't know vhat you think about lrim. Q: Vben wa.s that' 1941? A: That was in the later part of my first term. That YX>uld have been about 1944. Q: 1944. And you guys just shut off the lights. A: Yes, sir. ve just had one policeman, you know, vtho made about sixty dollars. So after a goc.xi mile he said' ''Tan, you know what?" He said' ', 1 ',: '' :i ; ' Tan Rosco 42 ''You be the stool." I said, '\-hat do you nean?" He said, "If ~ was going to slrut you off w:JU.ld you be interested?" 1hat just goes to show you, no grunbling. fut you couldn't slrut then off nD'W' because all the robbery ani everything else. And I'll tell you I had a w:>nderful board. I was the first one that men they cane in, the sales tax you know, the state gives the cities the right to put on. I think it W1S a half cent or one cent, I forget W::lat it was. I advocated that. I got five out of the six votes. Well the baker up here. I guess you knO'W' him, don't you? You ever been in? He was on the board, he voted against it. I can see his IX>Sition. See, he was in business. You've got the perfect right to vote. And I got that through. You knc:M" W::lat got me? Then at Nokomis there was a guy that cane in there; he started up his newspaper, you know. And every edition, "Shop at Nokomis; No tax, Shop at Nokomis." But brother, it wasn't long after that, I guess the tlDiley thing "'liB a pinching them and they put a safe stash on that too. (laughter) Oh, I'll tell you \\hat, I really enjoyed all this. Q: then you ~re voting and rurming for office ~re you more of a Democrat then? A: Yes. fut everything here; the tov.nship is IX>litics. See, like I nm this ti..rre for supervisor; that's politics. But the city you're call, they call it nD'W' independent. See, you naninated by petition. Q: Yllat I'm trying to get at is, I ~ered about the etlmic vote. was the ethnic vote mostly Democratic? A: Ch, yes. At one time there was about 70 or 80 Daoocrats and ~ had a good precinct cannitteem:m; he was of our nationality. Q: Vllat was his name? A: Mike Lesco. Boy he was a hard-show Democratic . And he'd spend tlDiley. I know good ani 'Well he didn't have it to sperrl but that's besides the IX>int. fut Witt was just like Nokomis. You know yourself Nokcmis "'liB about at least 65, 70 percent Danxratic and Witt was about the sane way. It wasn't quite as hard. fut it was about 65 percent De:nocrat. I used to know all those guys and they'd talk tone. Tony Sa~to--he YES an Italian and he was a stau.rx!h Republican. He used to run a tavern. I di.dnIt take it Seriously Wt, the questions he asked \<\ere perSOnal. lJe had the perfect right. He said, 'Tan." I said, ''Yes." ''How cane you voted Demcrat? Cb account of Mike l.esco?" I said, ''No, I did not." I used to do a little reading. 'The only reason I vote:l Democrat that I had been told and read a little that the Daoocrat party is for the w:>rking man's party." \bich at that time it's always stood for that. And that was it. 1hat's the only reason. Q: then Roosevelt cane in did he have a great impression UIX>n the w:>rking people? A: Ch yes. He's the guy that took us out of the nud practically. Ypu knOW", in them days, there was nothing else a man could have dom.. Buf ! I ' : ' ; ' you see in them days, Carl , everybody was busted . Jesus, sanething had to be done. I imagine it ain't going to be too long. t-hybe 20, 25 years you're going to have tw:>, the rich and the poor. But see in than days ~ ~re all poor. Hell, nobody could scratch your backs so he had to c~ with these things. But later on, it's like I said, they got a little too dann liberal. They got things that they ~t OIJerboard. But where there's m::mey there's bound to be scandal. You going to say something? Q: No, just thinking about all the programs that Roosevelt brought in. I wondered if they had the programs here like CCC, WPA? A: Oh, yes. Vhy you take CCC; he talked about pork barrel. When these kids ~nt to the CCC, you ought to see sane of the buildings . I imagine you've been in sane of the l:uildings that they've made. Boy, I 'm telling ycu. How in the hell did they ever do it? So anyway they ~nt to the CCC' s. I don't know W1at they got. But they only got about a dollar or tw:> to keep a ~ek and the rest of than was sent heme for their folks. Yes. Georgie, my son, he's in M:Lttoon. He said, ''Well, we've got people on Public Aid that's been on it for years and maybe it's about the third generation." They could have got jobs. But anyway I say, "You don't believe in subsidies , do you?" He said , ''No, Dad • " I said , ''Okay. You subsidize the fanrers, ycu subsidize the l:utterman, you subsidize everything else." I said, "If you're going to give to sane of these people that's on Public Aid a subsidizing haw about the rest of these people?" I'll agree with you. I don't believe in that. But you ain't going to get away fran it. And I '11 tell ycu Yhat, as far as I'm personally concerned, I don't care. Q: In other w:>rds you take the tooney that you get and then share it with everybody that doesn't have it. Is that the idea? A: No. See, they used to give us the cost of living too. Now it's every one year. Instead of giving ne that cost of living, give ne the same amount of, Wla.t you call, I'm getting but don't give ne no mre cost of living. But give it to the people that's only maybe making three lumdred or tw:> hundred and fifty or three lumdred dollars, see, and give them the cost of living. Q: lbat's altOOst like the idea you talked about before in the sharing of TNOrk. A: \Ell sure. Q: Yes. A: They've got canputers. Here's another thing and you know yourself because ycu know tOOre about it. You take on the percentage wise. Okay, suppose I'm getting four hundred dollars. Percentage wise it's going to increase, isn't it? This guy's only getting three hundred dollars; he's not going to get near as much cost of living as I am. Q: Yes. So ycu could take the extra cost of living and he could have it. A: Give it to sanel:xxly that actually needs it. I'm by myself and W! 've got a lot of widows. They could use it. I guess it ¥XJI..lld take a lot of book ~rk. I don't know. I'll take it. But they're on the right track right now. I:b away with the cost. The only thing that I don't like about it is they're going to penalize everybcxly; that's the truth. They used to go by the percentage rut got away fran the percentage because' like I pointed out, if I was making five dollars and they give me a percentage and then the gpy before roo vas only getting three dollars he'd never catch up wi.th rre . Che time \\hen I started '\'.lUrking in the mines the trip rider v.as a dollar behind the uotorman. And he v.as the gpy that ran his hind end off. So finally they got it in within seventy-five cents. Q: That's good. But it took a little extra w:>rk. End of Side Two, Tape One
|Title||Rosko, Tom - Interview and Memoir|
Coal Mines and Mining
Montgomery County (Ill.)
Progressive Miners of America (PMA)
Progressive Miners of America (PMA)--Women's Auxiliary
|Description||Rosko, coal miner, discusses coal mining in Montgomery County during the 1920's and 30's, mechanization, accidents, the Progressive Miners, the Progressive Miners Women's Auxiliary, and unemployment. Also talks about politics and work as Mayor of Witt, Illinois.|
|Creator||Rosko, Tom (1903-1993)|
|Contributing Institution||Oral History Collection, Archives/Special Collections, University of Illinois at Springfield|
|Contributors||Oblinger, Carl [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|
|Collection Name||Oral History Collection of the University of Illinois at Springfield|
|Title||Tom Rosko Memoir|
|Source||Tom Rosko 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
Tom Rosko Memoir
R731. Rosko, Tom (1903-1993) Interview and memoir 2 tape, 150 mins., 47 pp.
ILLINOIS COAL: THE LEGACY OF AN INDUSTRIAL SOCIETY
Rosko, coal miner, discusses coal mining in Montgomery County during the 1920's and 30's, mechanization, accidents, the Progressive Miners, the Progressive Miners Women's Auxiliary, and unemployment. Also talks about politics and work as Mayor of Witt, Illinois.
Interview by Carl Oblinger, 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 manuscript is the product of a tape recordEd interview conducted by Carl Oblinger for a special project, "Illinois Coal: Th.e Legacy of an Industrial Society." The project was sponsored by the Illinois State Historical Society and furxia.i :in part by the Illinois Hl..mlanities C'.ol..locil and the National EtliOWJED.t for the Humanities. Additional support cme fran the Oral History Office of Sangamon State lliiversity. Linda Jett transcribEd the tapes and Carl Oblinger edited the transcript.
Tan Rosco 'HaS a coal miner in M:>ntoganery Cotm.ty during the 1920s and 1930s, a county in which coal mining was a particularly unstable job vhen contrastEd to ~rk in Orristian County mines. In this nenoir Mr. Ros:!o discusses his mining career ar.d his experiences with the Progressive Miners Union. He also discusses his political career and the problE!II3 he faced as mayor in Witt.
Rea::iers of the oral history rrenoir should bear in mind that it is a transcript of the spoken ~rd, ar.d that the intervie"~Ner, narrator and editor sought to preserve the informal, corwersational style that is inherent in such historical sources. Sanga.oon State University and the Illinois State Historical Library are not responsible for the factual accuracy of the m:nnir, nor for views expressEd therein; these are for the reader to judge.
The manuscript may be read, quoted and cited freely. It may not be reproduced in whole or in part by any ID::Um.s, electronic or treehanical, without pennission in writing fran the Oral History Office, Sanga:non State University, Springfield, Illinois, 62708.
Table of O:mtents
Family History 1 'Ihe Depression . 8 'Ihe Division of Work . . . . .10 ~chanization of the Mines . .11 Mining k.cidents . .13 Jim Andrews. • • • . .16 Mr. Rosco 's Political Career . . .17 Th.e Progressives . . .19 Una:nployed Miners. . . .28 'lhe 'Wol:1'en1 s Auxiliary. . .31 Jerry Allard and Tam Battue1lo .33 Mrs. Rosco ..... .34 Miner 1 s Cooperatives . . . . . . . .36 Benld, Illinois••...••....• . .39 'Ihe Tavem Disp.1te .41 President Roosevelt. . .43
Tan Rosco, April 3, 1985, Witt, Illinois. Car1 Oblinger, Intervie~r.
Q: You worked at the Coalton [Coal Canpany]?
A: Coalton. It want by the nmre of Nokcmi.s Coal Canpany. Let ne put it that way.
Q: It was opened by Nokcmis Coal.
A: Yes. A fellow by the narre of Roy Smith.
Q: Yes, I 1ve heard his name.
A: He OWled that.
Q: Okay. Vbat I 1 m doing is I 1 m just asking all the older coal miners about Where they cane fran, their experience in the mines, about the Progressives , town life, families, things like that. I interviev.ed Jolm Bellaver on M:mday.
A: Yes, he1 s about ~years older than I am.
Q: Yes, yes. He's in good shape.
A: I haven't seen him since my Martha passed aw:~.y. That1 s been tw:> years in July. I don1 t make it around nuch anyroore.
Q: vell , you1re in gcx:xi shape.
A: I 'm in gocxi shape rut I donIt know. I 1m not a visitor. I 'm not like Trrf wife. If I had had her personality I w:ruldn' t have cared. I don't care now anyway because I 1m too old to care about everybody. Can1 t hive it I guess. I \
|Collection Name||Oral History Collection of the University of Illinois at Springfield|