BUCKLIN COAL MINE: The question was asked a few weeks ago if there was ever a fatality in the Bucklin mine. This prompted a bit of research on my part. While in high school Adam Arnold had written an excellent article in 1999 he titled ‘Digging Up History in a Coal Mine.’ This is the 3rd week to have selections from Adam’s article along with memories of relatives of men who worked in the Bucklin coal mine.
Adam wrote, “Lunch was taken in a miner’s pail, a two pieced metal container that was made so the bottom half held water and the top half the food. This the miner carried along and lunch was eaten on the job, wherever you happened to be at the time. One miner reported you never drank all the water, but saved enough to use in your carbine pit lamp.
“The Company Store was actually non-existent in Bucklin. Lawson’s General Store acted on behalf of the miners. This store knew the miners were good for credit and allowed them to “flicker”. Flickering meant they were given credit till pay day. With this set up the store profited 10 cents on the dollar. Of course living pay day to pay day “flickering” kept many families fed and supplied with needs.”
Don Noah shares some of what he remembers hearing from his dad about the mine. “My dad, Lester Noah, worked in the Bucklin mine in the 1930s. His job was driving a mule pulling the coal cars. The vein where the men worked was not always flat, there were steep hills. Also there was no brake on the car or way to stop the little mule if the car was going too fast down a hill. To solve that a sprag (a stout oak stick) was thrust in the wheel to set it. No harness as such on the mule, just a collar and tugs to the single tree. The driver guided the mule by voice command or tapping it on the back. The driver stood with one foot on the single tree and one on the coal in the car. They would pull five or six cars at a time to the main shaft. A dangerous business.
“Coal miners were paid by the amount of coal they loaded. It was important for the driver to deliver empty cars for them to fill as quickly as possible.
“Dad was working the day Carl “Poodalo” Burris was crushed when the ceiling of the vein where he was working caved in. He said six men tried their best to move the huge slab of rock but it was no use. Poodalo died right there.”
A dirty job! When the men came out at the end of the day they were so covered with coal dust only the whites of their eyes were visible. If they were so dust covered what must have been the condition of their lungs? No masks were worn and ventilation was poor in the mine shafts. Years later Lester applied for and was granted a black lung pension. It didn’t cover the health problems the miners developed in later years.
When the Bucklin mine closed the owners offered to pay the workers a very small portion of the pay owed them. One of the men shouted, “If you don’t pay us all don’t pay us nothing”. They got nothing. (Thanks Adam and Donnie for contributing to this coal mine article.)
P.S. Of interest though not related to the Bucklin Mine only: During the years Lester was working United Mine Workers President John L. Lewis negotiated a contract for the miners and their pay went from $2 per day to $4 per day. As well as the pay increase conditions in the mine improved. John L. Lewis was a very special man in the miner’s eyes.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY LARRY: It was Friday the 13th, 87 years ago when our friend Larry Hosford was born in the very spot where he lives today. According to Larry, “I was a depression baby born in the Coen Hotel on Jan.13, 1933. Roosevelt and I came in at about the same time. He into the presidency and me into Bucklin. Old Ben Morgan told me he came to Bucklin to live in the hotel the same day. He on the Burlington and me on the Santa Fe. I believed that until I was five years old and a student in the first grade.” Larry, you are an interesting fellow and we wish you just the best of a Happy Birthday.
DATES TO REMEMBER: Jan. 18, American Legion men prepare a great breakfast for all with serving at the Legion Hall from about 7 a m until the gravy is gone. This big breakfast is a good time to visit with your neighbors while the men do all the work. They even take care of the clean-up. It is a service appreciated by many. There is no set charge but a donation jar is at the door if you care to give thereby helping with expenses.
Jan. 19: American Legion Post # 57 meets in regular session at the Legion Hall.
Jan. 21: Bucklin Community Association (BCA) meets at the community building in the park at 7 p.m. The dues are due and payable at the meeting. Dues are $5 per year and you are required to be a member if you wish to vote. BCA is responsible for, among other events, Saint Patrick’s Day Irish Stew, an annual Easter Egg Hunt, fish fry and pie auction, Santa’s visit to young and old, a community Christmas supper, the annual homecoming, Christmas decorations in the park and along the main-street and several dinners through the year. Why not start the New Year with a plan to join and help this active group. Contact President Bob Davis if you would like more information.
ON THE MEND: Jerry Lynn had corrective surgery recently in Columbia. Jerry Lynn was the victim of a car/ truck accident several months ago and is still recovering. He is home again so if you want to send a card the address is 26021 Highway 129, Bucklin, Mo. 64631.
ODDS ‘N ENDS: There has been a lot of comment and interest shown concerning the articles on the old coal mine. It is an interesting part of our history here in this little spot of Linn County. Thanks to Adam, Sheila, Betty Jo, Donnie and Laurel. (I cannot get Laurel’s item open but am still working on it. The computer and I are often at odds.)
Hopefully minutes of the city council meeting will be ready for the Bits next week.
Did you promise not to make any New Year’s Resolutions this year? Good for you. So did I. It is always a bum feeling when mine have all been broken or even forgotten by March 1.
Do you have an item for the Bits? If so please call 660 695-3600, email firstname.lastname@example.org or feel free to come by our house anytime with your news. Each item is appreciated.
ROADSIDE SERMON: Love the people who treat you right. Pray for those who don’t.