Came tales upon tales of life in a mine.
Life in a mining town. During a strike. Of a house made from repurposed old outhouse boards. Strikes. Life and death. Unionizing. Explosions. Fires. Accidental ignitions. Why women were bad luck…
I don’t know about you but an actual bonifide coalminer is not something I’ve come across recently… or ever.
It was an invaluable lesson and a priceless opportunity.
We walked through a coal mine shaft above the ocean floor, tucked inside the banks of a black and red cliff. We stood, many hunched over in a five foot vien of coal. Learning how life worked, working underground. Abbie worked roughly 38 years in a mine and 24 as a guide. My numbers might be off as I’m going only from memory. We learned a great deal today but more than that we felt it. The dampness, the dark shafts, how even a little time hunched over hurt some people. It gives you not only the history but a memory that will stay with you. Wearing a hard in a confined space listening to a mans tales of his life. Of moments when he helped rescue people and times when he and another man had to leave while hearing the screams and cries of a man still trapped.
We heard the lighter side of trickery and practical jokes involving rats and chewed clothing. Of tagging coal carts of those who switched tags. Of horses getting vacation but many dying without ever seeing light.
Museums are wonderful. But there is something to this experience that stays with you much longer than walking around remnants of life gone -by and artifacts simply displaying such events. The tangibly of it is really there, in Abbie, how he speaks and who he is.