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William H. Berge Oral History Center

Coal Company Towns Project

Interview with Mr. J C Slaven & Mrs. Betty Slaven

February 2, 1981(1981 OH 098)

Conducted by William H. Berge

Transcribed by Ed Wilcox

WILLIAM BERGE: The following is an unrehearsed taped interview with Mr. and Mrs. J.C., her name is Betty Slaven S-L-A-V-E-N, of Revelo Kentucky on February 2, 1981. The interview is conducted by William Berge for the Oral History Center at Eastern Kentucky University. The Interview was conducted in Mr. and Mrs. Slaven's home as I said on February 2, 1981 at 3pm.

WILLIAM BERGE: Mr. Slaven I want to thank you for letting me come down here today, I know you Mr. and Mrs. Slaven are nice letting me come in here, uh.

BETTY SLAVEN: Well you're welcome.

WILLIAM BERGE: Let's start off by you telling me about, something about your own 1:00family like where you were born, what you name was, your maiden name, when you were born if you would you know sometimes lady's won't tell me their age.

J.C. Slaven: Oh I don't.

BETTY SLAVEN: I was born in 1901 in Oneida, Tennessee.


BETTY SLAVEN: And I was John Thomas' daughter.

WILLIAM BERGE: John Thomas, what was your mother's name?


WILLIAM BERGE: What was her family's name?

BETTY SLAVEN: She was a Chambers, Emily Chambers.

WILLIAM BERGE: Emily Chambers.


WILLIAM BERGE: And you were born in Oneida?

BETTY SLAVEN: That's right.

WILLIAM BERGE: What county that in?

BETTY SLAVEN: Scott County.

WILLIAM BERGE: That's Scout County?


WILLIAM BERGE: Now uh what was your first name? You're named Betty?


WILLIAM BERGE: Is it Elizabeth or Betty?

BETTY SLAVEN: Betty Louise

WILLIAM BERGE: Betty Louise Chambers, no.


WILLIAM BERGE: Thomas yeah. Uh now, now Mrs. Uh Slaven uh how long did you live in Scout County?

BETTY SLAVEN: Um let's see, I'll have to think. So we left there and come up to 2:00Sterns [unclear] we didn't go to [unclear] live some but I was, I was eight or nine. We come to, we come to Sterns when Frank was here which might have been in 24.

WILLIAM BERGE: Oh so you were already married then when you and Mr. Slaven came up here.

BETTY SLAVEN: Yes we were.

WILLIAM BERGE: Okay now uh I think I remember from when I talked to Mr. Slaven he was from Tennessee to?

BETTY SLAVEN: That's right.

WILLIAM BERGE: Was he from Scott County?

BETTY SLAVEN: That's right.

WILLIAM BERGE: So you two have known each other from when you were younger?


WILLIAM BERGE: Alright now you were young where did you go to school?

BETTY SLAVEN: I went to school at Gray Hill, Oneida, and Berea, Berea College

WILLIAM BERGE: Oh you went to Berea College, how much did you go to school? How many years did you go to school?

BETTY SLAVEN: Oh I don't know, I went I went to little bit in high school then 3:00then taught school. I had to go to Huntsville to take an examination and I passed and I made a certificate and I taught school till I got tired.

WILLIAM BERGE: When did you teach school?

BETTY SLAVEN: Um twenty-one twenty-two.

WILLIAM BERGE: So you had an awful lot of education for back then when you were a girl, didn't you?

BETTY SLAVEN: Yeah I had as much as most of them.

WILLIAM BERGE: More than most women, didn't you?

BETTY SLAVEN: Well Berea was was there we went I just went a year in Berea I got good I singled back.

WILLIAM BERGE: No I mean back in those days a knock, lot of women didn't even finish school, didn't even get to the point where they could've gotten to a place like Berea. Isn't that true?

BETTY SLAVEN: That's true my mother was uh was uh good she had a pretty good education for her time and you know that's been years ago anyway they thought about having her teach school, but she didn't she didn't she got married she didn't.

WILLIAM BERGE: But she liked education though?

BETTY SLAVEN: Yes she did. My dad, my dad was crazy about education.

WILLIAM BERGE: And, and they pushed you didn't they?

BETTY SLAVEN: We didn't have to push us, us kids we liked to go to school.

WILLIAM BERGE: How many brother and sisters did you have?

BETTY SLAVEN: I had two brothers and one sister. One, one brother got killed in 4:00the mines, Co-Op and the other brothers a preacher he lives at uh down in Arbor Springs now.

WILLIAM BERGE: What year did you and Mr. Slaven marry?


WILLIAM BERGE: 1922. How many children did you all have?

BETTY SLAVEN: We had eight, had nine.

WILLIAM BERGE: Had nine children, would you mind going through from the oldest to the youngest and tell me their names?

BETTY SLAVEN: Well of no the oldest ones [unclear] Slaven, he's deceased he died about five years ago.

WILLIAM BERGE: Five years ago.

BETTY SLAVEN: He was a teacher.

WILLIAM BERGE: Where'd he teach?

BETTY SLAVEN: He taught here in Pine Knot.

WILLIAM BERGE: Where'd he go college?

BETTY SLAVEN: He uh he had his masters degree.

WILLIAM BERGE: Where'd he go? Did, did he go to Berea?

BETTY SLAVEN: No, he went to first went to Cincinnati he was an artist. He went 5:00to Cincinnati and then he went on and married a girl from up in Ohio and he went up there. So he went to the university of, now I don't know the name of that university but it's out from Wedon, West Virginia.

WILLIAM BERGE: Oh yeah at Oxford Ohio, is it Ohio University?

BETTY SLAVEN: I don't believe it was Oxford, but anyway I forgot where it was but he graduated there.

WILLIAM BERGE: Not Muskegon?


WILLIAM BERGE: Not Muskegon College?

BETTY SLAVEN: No and then he got his master's degree at Miami.

WILLIAM BERGE: Miami of Ohio?

BETTY SLAVEN: College up here.



WILLIAM BERGE: Alright then who was the next one?


WILLIAM BERGE: And he was born in Kentucky?

BETTY SLAVEN: Yeah. No, no them two was born in.

WILLIAM BERGE: Those two were born in.

BETTY SLAVEN: In Tennessee.

WILLIAM BERGE: In Tennessee then all the others were born in Kentucky?


WILLIAM BERGE: What did Frank do?

BETTY SLAVEN: He's got a restaurant out in Las Vegas.



WILLIAM BERGE: Do you ever go out there to visit him?

BETTY SLAVEN: Oh yeah we stayed uh one winter out let's see two years ago we stayed the winter out there.

WILLIAM BERGE: The year that I was out to talk to Mr. Slaven then?

BETTY SLAVEN: Yeah, uh huh.

WILLIAM BERGE: You like it out there?

BETTY SLAVEN: Oh I love it.

WILLIAM BERGE: Is there more to do Las Vegas than there is in Revelo?


BETTY SLAVEN: Well, there's more to do with gambling but we didn't do that much. [WILLIAM BERGE Laughing] we just, we had an apartment we lived in that uh I enjoyed it.

WILLIAM BERGE: Alright then what's the next one after Frank?

BETTY SLAVEN: Um Vernon he's the third one.

WILLIAM BERGE: He's here I've meet him.

BETTY SLAVEN: He's crippled.

WILLIAM BERGE: Yeah I meet him when I came up here to visit Mr. Slaven that one time.

BETTY SLAVEN: He was three years old when he got crippled.

WILLIAM BERGE: How'd that happen? Do you mind telling me?

BETTY SLAVEN: He had Newroyd Fever that separated his hips.


BETTY SLAVEN: And then he went to Louisville and stayed, stayed thirteen months and they thought he was well you know.


BETTY SLAVEN: And his hips was out of place so they put his hips back in.


BETTY SLAVEN: And he had to learn to walk again when he didn't his hip tightened out.



WILLIAM BERGE: I had a son who had that but he had it more recently and they know how to handle those things now you know.

BETTY SLAVEN: Yeah, and so.

WILLIAM BERGE: And he had his pin by surgery.

BETTY SLAVEN: Yeah, and so then when he was twelve years old we was going to 7:00take him back the Doctor said to bring him back and he would do his work load you know?


BETTY SLAVEN: And he got run over with a truck.


BETTY SLAVEN: Yeah and he.

WILLIAM BERGE: Where was that? Down in Cooperative?

BETTY SLAVEN: Yeah it was Co-Op yeah. What he done he got in a Coca Cola truck and slipped off and the truck ran over him took every bit of skin off of him he had.

WILLIAM BERGE: So he was in real bad shape after that then.

BETTY SLAVEN: He stayed about a year in Lexington Hospital. But he is able to work and keep his family up.

WILLIAM BERGE: What kind of work did he do?

BETTY SLAVEN: He was wanting to be a trucker down at the mines.

WILLIAM BERGE: Okay down at the mine, and who was after Vernon?

BETTY SLAVEN: Cletus, he's in Los Angeles.


BETTY SLAVEN: He uh stayed twenty-six, twenty-six years in the service and he come back he worked in the parts department for the Keves Apply uh airplane canning that's what he was and he works there now but he makes all good money. And then Gene.

WILLIAM BERGE: Gene, where's she?

BETTY SLAVEN: She's in North Carolina.

WILLIAM BERGE: In North Carolina?


BETTY SLAVEN: Raleigh, North Carolina and she's a she works for television and she got a good job.

WILLIAM BERGE: Uh huh, and then whose after Gene?

BETTY SLAVEN: Don, he's the one that's the foreman over at the mine. He's the only miner we got.

WILLIAM BERGE: Here in Middlesboro?

BETTY SLAVEN: Out from Middlesboro, I don't.

WILLIAM BERGE: You mean towards Harrogate, Tennessee?

BETTY SLAVEN: Yeah he lives in Harrogate, but he drives to the mines.


BETTY SLAVEN: He's one of the bosses over there; he's got two boys in college.

WILLIAM BERGE: Where do they go to college?

BETTY SLAVEN: They go to Atlantic University.

WILLIAM BERGE: Near the Lincoln Memorial and [unclear].


WILLIAM BERGE: And then who's after Donald?



BETTY SLAVEN: Yeah, you know her?

WILLIAM BERGE: Oh yah I know she's, she's of course she's been a teacher now she works with that Big Brothers Big Sisters. Then who's after Jan?



BETTY SLAVEN: That's the baby one.

WILLIAM BERGE: And that all of them then. What's George do?

BETTY SLAVEN: George drives one of these long distance trucks.

WILLIAM BERGE: And where does he live?

BETTY SLAVEN: He lives, he lives over in here but he's in Nashville most of the time.


WILLIAM BERGE: Oh but he lives here in the county.

BETTY SLAVEN: Well he don't really live here, boys trailer he's been letting his family stay up there he's going to take them down there in the spring.

WILLIAM BERGE: Now I guess this is legally his home I guess for right now anyway.


WILLIAM BERGE: Alright now tell me this when you were a girl, when you and Mr. Slaven married uh did he work down there after you married or did you come right up here?

BETTY SLAVEN: No he worked at uh down on W, I forgot the name of that place.


BETTY SLAVEN: [Yelling at Mr. Slaven] what's the name of the place where you worked down on W cast off?

WILLIAM BERGE: He's told me on his tape, but I forget.

BETTY SLAVEN: He can't hardly hear.

WILLIAM BERGE: And he so how long, and then you came, when you came up here you were married about three years or something like that?

BETTY SLAVEN: No we were married about four years we had two children.

WILLIAM BERGE: Uh huh you two both of them, and uh did he come to work in the mines.

BETTY SLAVEN: Yeah he come to work with my brother, that got killed here, got 10:00him a job in the mines at Co-Op, and he got here he went uh.

WILLIAM BERGE: Oh you started, when you came to this county you went to Co-Op?

BETTY SLAVEN: Yep, uh he went uh work in the with the machines he was uh that guy that worked with the machines whatever that was called.

WILLIAM BERGE: And so when you came when you came you came with your two children and your husband and did you move to Co-Op?


WILLIAM BERGE: Did you live in a company house?


WILLIAM BERGE: Okay now that would have been like 25 or 26 somewhere around there.

BETTY SLAVEN: Um no he went back.

WILLIAM BERGE: 25? Do you remember how much money he came up here to make?

BETTY SLAVEN: I know he got five dollars a day or yeah five dollars a day.

WILLIAM BERGE: And did he work six hours or five?

BETTY SLAVEN: Yeah he worked when they had no union or nothing.

WILLIAM BERGE: Yeah, alright so you made about thirty dollars a week. Do you remember how much rent you paid?

BETTY SLAVEN: It wasn't much I believe about ten dollars.


BETTY SLAVEN: Maybe not that much, yeah.


WILLIAM BERGE: Ten dollars a month.

BETTY SLAVEN: And our coal was a dollar and a half a month and our light was I guess a dollar. I don't remember for sure about the lights.

WILLIAM BERGE: So everything in your house and everything cost less than fifteen dollars.

BETTY SLAVEN: Well we had a[unclear] I don't remember what we had in there.

WILLIAM BERGE: No, No I mean your house though, and the heat, and the lights would cost less than fifteen dollars a month for the rent and.

BETTY SLAVEN: Yeah we paid a dollar and a half a month for coal and we had a coal stove. We had to carry out water we didn't have water in the house.

WILLIAM BERGE: Where'd the water come from when you were down there than? That pump?

BETTY SLAVEN: Yeah that pumps right down there. You've been down there?

WILLIAM BERGE: Yeah I've been down there before.

BETTY SLAVEN: That pump I don't believe it come the pump. No I think the first time that's when we lived there first for a while, we had to go down the U, which ever that spring come out of the spout.


BETTY SLAVEN: I think we had to go there carry water, the kids did. And then 12:00they drilled that well, well the oiled it than drilled in then struck water. And so then you had plenty of water for everybody in the camp.

WILLIAM BERGE: And everybody in the camp got there water there then?

BETTY SLAVEN: Yeah I guess they did the most of them. Anyways there's a big spring down at the lower end of the camp that our people got water.

WILLIAM BERGE: Uh huh. Do you remember back in those days uh your children went to school there in Cooperative I guess?


WILLIAM BERGE: Did you like the school? I mean you would have been a teacher so you'd know something about that.

BETTY SLAVEN: Yes it was a pretty good school. They had a two year high school there, but that's as far as it went then they had to come out. Lots, lots of kids didn't get to come out. Now that was true, they wanted education they wanted to come but there parents couldn't afford for them.

WILLIAM BERGE: Did yours come out?

BETTY SLAVEN: Yeah well, we didn't, we didn't have, we sent ours to Berea. And 13:00uh Fred Lee and he got through uh he uh he went took two years of high school up there and then he decided that he was going into the army so he went with the army. He stayed in the army for a couple years and went back to school. But uh maybe just a year I don't know, but, no the wars going on. I guess he stayed till he got sick, he had ulcers and had to be sent home.

WILLIAM BERGE: How many of your children finished high school?

BETTY SLAVEN: All of them.

WILLIAM BERGE: All of them. Now like do you have any idea what percentage of the families that lived down in Co-Op send their children to finish school?

BETTY SLAVEN: Well they.

WILLIAM BERGE: Was it half of them?

BETTY SLAVEN: They, they was some of them, most of them went to school because they had a law that if they didn't go to school why'd they uh put the, law the parents.

WILLIAM BERGE: Yeah even, but they had to go to high school to?

BETTY SLAVEN: Now I don't believe they did.

WILLIAM BERGE: Now I'm talking about how many do you think finished high school, do you think half of the people at Co-Op finished high school or not?

BETTY SLAVEN: Well I say half of them went to school what they finished or what they got through or not? I don't know. I don't think there was many go through I'll tell you the truth.

WILLIAM BERGE: I've heard people from around the county here that they use to have money taken out of their, their pay for schools. Do you know what that was?

BETTY SLAVEN: Castol come in here!


WILLIAM BERGE: Mr. Slaven could you come here a minute? He'd remember some of this stuff?

BETTY SLAVEN: He might remember, I don't remember about that.

WILLIAM BERGE: If you don't mind sitting in here you remember some of this stuff that I'm asking Mrs. Slaven.

BETTY SLAVEN: Oh did you, did they.

WILLIAM BERGE: Sit over there.

BETTY SLAVEN: Did they take some out of your pay for.


BETTY SLAVEN: School? Do you remember?

WILLIAM BERGE: Uh Granny Smith was telling me the other night that so, so many cents would be taken out for to keep the schools open longer. Do you remember what that was?

J.C. SLAVEN: No I don't, I don't.

WILLIAM BERGE: And somebody else told me about that to. Somebody who had been done in Fidlety said that seems to them that they maybe take a quarter out of each pay, if something so they could keep the schools open for a longer period of time.

J.C. SLAVEN: Now that might be true, I couldn't answer that truthfully. But now.


BETTY SLAVEN: Seems like there was something to that but I can't remember what it was.

J.C. SLAVEN: Seems like since you mentioned it, it was but if it was it was very little it might have been twenty-five cents.

WILLIAM BERGE: That's what I heard, that's what somebody told me.

J.C. SLAVEN: I'd say that's, probably, probably right but I wouldn't confirm it. Cause I won't.

BETTY SLAVEN: [unclear] I think the state did.

J.C. SLAVEN: But now I feel that we paid twenty-five cents a month on burial, I believe that's all we paid. I don't know a dollar and a half for coal, a dollar and a half for lights. Wasn't just things like that and it's possible that we done that, I know now out here when they uh fixed this ball I got here at Sterns. Use to be one of those ball diamonds. Out there were the ball diamond is now there was a big pound there


J.C. SLAVEN: And they was wondering where they was going to put the ball 16:00diamond. Mr. Butler suggested to some of them to just drain the water out of the pound, fill the pound up make them ball diamond right there, and that's what they done and the miners had to pay for that and they had to be twenty-five cents or more for a long time on that, I don't know how long. And then it belonged than, and Mr. Butler said the now this ball diamond belongs to the miners anytime they want to use it they're allowed, any time. Now these carnivals comes in there they can't charge nothing at the gates to let you in, that's free there.

WILLIAM BERGE: Because it the miners owned it?

J.C. SLAVEN: That's right because them miners had to pay for it and there so they ad uh played ball there and quoit more.

BETTY SLAVE : I guess they make monthly least monthly [unclear]

J.C. SLAVEN: Well it would be, you known but now. But I'm pretty sure they did.

BETTY SLAVEN: Hold on for a second.

J.C. SLAVEN: But I'm pretty sure they did but I couldn't answer that truthfully because I don't remember, but I'm I'm old.

BETTY SLAVEN: Why sense you mentioned it I believe they took out something seems like something I can't remember.

WILLIAM BERGE: Do you remember the least amount of money you ever made working in the mines?

BETTY SLAVEN: [laughing] Five dollars.

J.C. SLAVEN: No, now no that's not right. I'll tell you what I can remember back 17:00in the Depression that there was one month down there that the mine ought to run one day seventeen days on their own. And we get maybe, we get the day the mine work than usually get the next day, but we get call off days, we would get that. And then maybe some extra time off. I'm not keeping up the mines something like that you know my heads getting rough [unclear].

WILLIAM BERGE: When you were uh superintendent down there what's the most money you ever make, you remember miners making?

J.C. SLAVEN: Well.

WILLIAM BERGE: When things were best.

J.C. SLAVEN: I just don't remember the best contract we ever had now down there on the United Mine Worker was seven hours a day and seven dollars a day that's what we made.

BETTY SLAVEN: Some money wasn't it? Then the dollar was a dollar then.

WILLIAM BERGE: A dollar an hour? When would that have been?


J.C. SLAVEN: I couldn't answer that to save my life from, but I'll say that long about, I believe that along maybe about.

BETTY SLAVEN: 48 or 49.

J.C. SLAVEN: No I believe about 40 long about 40 I believe, but that was the best contract we have had that's true, but now miners.

WILLIAM BERGE: Now minus for what stuff was worth for everything?

J.C. SLAVEN: Yeah.

WILLIAM BERGE: Now Mrs. Slaven said she remembers that rent would be about ten dollars a month. Was that about right?

BETTY SLAVEN: We first went to Co-Op.

J.C. SLAVEN: Yeah, oh it's cheap.

WILLIAM BERGE: I think your [aunt?] told me they paid two dollars per room when he had four rooms it was eight dollars. When he can first remember, but that would have been around Yamacraw or Paint Cliff when he lived up in there.

J.C. SLAVEN: Yeah well it was all about the same out where you lived.

BETTY SLAVEN: I didn't know they charged it by the room.

J.C. SLAVEN: But they uh.

BETTY SLAVEN: We didn't have no water in the house.

WILLIAM BERGE: Did you ever have water in the house down there?

J.C. SLAVEN: Yeah.

BETTY SLAVEN: Mr. Butler put water in the house first when we lived at Co-Op.

[Betty and J.C talking at the same time]

J.C. SLAVEN: He did finally, I got him to.

BETTY SLAVEN: I said I need some water in the house, he said "Alright send them 19:00down right in a few days".

J.C. SLAVEN: No we had water in there, but now you wanted a bathroom that's what you wanted he said he'd come in there and put in a bathroom.

WILLIAM BERGE: Do you remember uh when uh you were living down there was it easy to get, when something happened to the house like the shingles would come off or something did you fix them or did you send and have them fixed?

J.C. SLAVEN: No you just tell them and a carpenter will come fix it. They were good about that. They was.

BETTY SLAVEN: They kept everything fixed up.

[Betty and J.C speaking at the same time]

J.C. SLAVEN: Yeah they were good about that yeah they come [unclear].

BETTY SLAVEN: And we had a doctor right there. If you got sick you could get the doctor.

WILLIAM BERGE: Who were some of the doctors you had in Cooperative?

BETTY SLAVEN: Doctor Simpson, Doctor-- can you think of anymore?

J.C. SLAVEN: Yeah, Doctor Simpson, Doctor Alan--

BETTY SLAVEN: Doctor Boyd.

J.C. SLAVEN: Doctor Cooper, no there was no Cooper.


WILLIAM BERGE: Doctor Floyd? Was he down there?

J.C. SLAVEN: Doctor Floyd, Doctor Floyd --


J.C. SLAVEN: Well he doctored there some though. Some if you needed a doctor there be gone then you see another doctor there you know, on vacation or something. Doctor Cooper he use to doctor there.

WILLIAM BERGE: About what percentage of the men who worked down there who lived 20:00in the camp and how many of them came in on the train?

J.C. SLAVEN: Well I'd say about half and half maybe.


J.C. SLAVEN: Cause now use to be you had to ride the train you couldn't get in an out down there wasn't no way to go you know unless you walked out, but then finally when the Three Cs when they build a camp at uh Bail Farm and the Three Cs then built that road that goes around that ridge if you ever been around that way. But around that ridge to Bail Farm.

WILLIAM BERGE: Yeah I've been there.

J.C. SLAVEN: And uh they built that put that raise fort in across Big South Fork down there.

WILLIAM BERGE: I was down there last summer talking to [Ore?].

J.C. SLAVEN: [Orange?]


J.C. SLAVEN: Oh I know him, yeah. But now they built that road and then after they built that road then people a lot of people, miners drove back and forth.

WILLIAM BERGE: Oh they did?

J.C. SLAVEN: They drive to work, yeah.

WILLIAM BERGE: Do you remember the first automobile you bought?


J.C. SLAVEN: Yeah.


WILLIAM BERGE: When was that Mrs.?

BETTY SLAVEN: Its 34 wasn't?

J.C. SLAVEN: No, now wait a minutes.

BETTY SLAVEN: It was a 34.

WILLIAM BERGE: No, no it wasn't. It was, the model was a 27 Star, you ever hear of the Star?

BETTY SLAVEN: I forgot about that.

J.C. SLAVEN: You ever heard of the Star?

WILLIAM BERGE: I've heard of the Star.

J.C. SLAVEN: Now that's what it was 27 model.

BETTY SLAVEN: About the time we lost one of the kids [chuckles].

J.C. SLAVEN: Yes we had it when the ball hit it.

BETTY SLAVEN: He just fell out into the road.

J.C. SLAVEN: Now, it was a good old car. Now we couldn't take it down there, but we leave it out you know on the hill top then we come out on the train and walk up the mountain, get off there at Yamcraw walk up the mountain get in the car and go anywhere they want to go. We'd come back we'd bring it out there and leave it.

WILLIAM BERGE: Where would you go when you go for a ride?

J.C. SLAVEN: Oh we would go to Oneida that's where our people lived.

WILLIAM BERGE: Oh go visiting?

J.C. SLAVEN: Yeah we would go visiting. Go down to Oneida stay all night for two 22:00or three days depending on how the work force was then we go back home But uh I don't know it was a good life, and now listen back in the depression it was rough. Lord, Lord you don't know, I couldn't tell you.

WILLIAM BERGE: It was rough everywhere wasn't it?

J.C. SLAVEN: Yeah, Lord yeah.

WILLIAM BERGE: What kind of a house, well how would you compare the house you lived in when you came to uh Cooperative from to the house when you left uh?

J.C. SLAVEN: Well uh I don't know. I believe, I believe

BETTY SLAVEN: They had [unclear].

J.C. SLAVEN: I believe the quality was better.

WILLIAM BERGE: In Cooperative?

J.C. SLAVEN: Yeah, they, they was plastered houses.

BETTY SLAVEN: No that next house we moved into down at 18 had that big house.

J.C. SLAVEN: Well I'm talking about when we first; he's talking about when we first came down.

WILLIAM BERGE: When you first came to Cooperative, I'll talk about 18 later.

J.C. SLAVEN: They was plastered houses, had electric lights, and I don't know of course you had the furniture, stove didn't have no heat on it just had you an old heat stove.

WILLIAM BERGE: How many miners would you say would live in the boarding house 23:00down there?

J.C. SLAVEN: You mean the state's boarding house?

WILLIAM BERGE: Uh huh, how many people would stay in that boarding house at one time?

J.C. SLAVEN: Why it was always about full and beyond on that they allowed people kept boarders to now.

WILLIAM BERGE: Oh, they did?

J.C. SLAVEN: Oh yeah, they keep people up who live there that they live in pretty good sized house they had big houses built there. I knew people who live in them keep six or eight boarders there in their house.

WILLIAM BERGE: Well what would happen, would the miners then come in on Monday and go out at the end of the week?

J.C. SLAVEN: That's right. Maybe they would work up through Saturday night they was working a night shift they would work up Saturday night then they would walk the Yamcraw Hill up on Sunday morning get their cars and go home.


J.C. SLAVEN: And then come back in on Monday if they were working in the mines. Yeah.


J.C. SLAVEN: That's what they done.

BETTY SLAVEN: They was a lot of them that road the back of cars every day.

J.C. SLAVEN: Oh yeah they rode the train. They walked down there. It used to by the train didn't come up to Co-Op it just stopped at White Oak Junction, they'd get off and walk up.

WILLIAM BERGE: Which do you think would be best? I guess you thought living down 24:00there was best cause you did.

J.C. SLAVEN: Oh yeah.

BETTY SLAVEN: Yeah I wanted to live out he wanted to live in.

J.C. SLAVEN: Well its handy, you was right at your work you know you get more time for stuff like that by living there.

WILLIAM BERGE: And you would see your family more I guess, wouldn't you?

J.C. SLAVEN: Oh yeah.


J.C. SLAVEN: But but now these fellers now that rode that train, that train left Sterns at 5:30 every morning and it go down to all those camps. And they would stop and let the men off and maybe take on a few more on down to work. And then it would leave, it leave there at 4:30 it would leave there heading back for Sterns, and you had to catch that train buddy if you rode it.

WILLIAM BERGE: I know Mrs. Slaven has said she wanted to live out and you wanted to live in. Let me ask her something now. Why did you want to live out Mrs. Slaven?

BETTY SLAVEN: Oh I don't know. I just thought cause everybody else was, not everybody but every once and a while it's somebody that moved out.

WILLIAM BERGE: But you must have thought there was some good reason to live out. I'm sure there were good points for both, wasn't there? I mean what were the advantages of living out?

J.C. SLAVEN: I'll tell you one thing was schools.


BETTY SLAVEN: The children could go to school without boarding them out.

WILLIAM BERGE: You mean if you had lived out?

BETTY SLAVEN: If you, yeah. But if you lived down there we had to board them out. We had to board our kids out to go to Berea.

J.C. SLAVEN: Last two years of high school they had to, they had two years of high school down there.

WILLIAM BERGE: Well did the girls board out to?


WILLIAM BERGE: Jean and Janis both?

BETTY SLAVEN: Janis didn't, Janis went to school. She rode the bus.

WILLIAM BERGE: She rode the bus. They, they had good roads then so she could ride the bus?

J.C. SLAVEN: Good roads.

BETTY SLAVEN: When Jean went to school she had, I had to board her, we had to board her.

J.C. SLAVEN: We send her to Berea one year and then she board out.

WILLIAM BERGE: What would she do then? Go home on the weekend?

BETTY SLAVEN: Sometimes, well most of the time.


J.C. SLAVEN: [mumbling] they did when she was in Berea her and Burm. She went two years in Berea, Burm went two years and she went one year and she went out to Whitley.

WILLIAM BERGE: How many people live, were there a lot of people who lived down in there in that holler?

BETTY SLAVEN: It was all full of houses.

WILLIAM BERGE: Who didn't uh live in the company houses? Were there privet houses down in there?

J.C. SLAVEN: Oh yeah.


J.C. SLAVEN: Back then before the company sold the land to the government, the 26:00company selling land they sell them four or five acres or eight or ten or whatever they wanted to buy. They'd buy it out on top of the mountain.

WILLIAM BERGE: On those ridges?

J.C. SLAVEN: On them rides and they'd build them a house, yeah. They saved them about [unclear].

WILLIAM BERGE: Of course those wouldn't have been as good as the company house?

J.C. SLAVEN: No, no, but they'd go up there and build them a house. Keep them paying rent. They raise them a garden and things like that.

WILLIAM BERGE: Mrs. Slaven, did you all keep a garden?

BETTY SLAVEN: We all ways had a garden, didn't we?

J.C. SLAVEN: Yeah we had a garden, about all the time.

WILLIAM BERGE: Who worked it?


J.C. SLAVEN: I did.

WILLIAM BERGE: Did you have time?


WILLIAM BERGE: Did you have time?

BETTY SLAVEN: I didn't, I didn't do much that.

J.C. SLAVEN: I never heard you.

WILLIAM BERGE: Did you have time?

J.C. SLAVEN: Oh yeah, I do that in the evening after I come in from work.

BETTY SLAVEN: Boys had to.

J.C. SLAVEN: Just slack run you go up there and work all day maybe cleaning your 27:00garden. I cleaned it up, a couple of us cleaned up, up there. Just go and cut the timber down we, sold all the logs and things up in the timbers for the mines and the [unclear] and we cleaned it up, us fellers. Two of us would go in together they would clean us up as garden you know, big enough for four.

WILLIAM BERGE: Mm hmm. How would you get a plow?

J.C. SLAVEN: We hired someone to come in and plow for us [laughing], mule it. Plowing, come in and plow. Then they supplied the plow we just put it in the hole.


J.C. SLAVEN: Now we raised a lot of stuff, we did.

WILLIAM BERGE: Did you did you keep chickens?

BETTY SLAVEN: Sometimes.

J.C. SLAVEN: Yeah we had chickens, yes sir.

WILLIAM BERGE: Did you ever keep hogs?

J.C. SLAVEN: Yeah, I fatten one or two every winter.

WILLIAM BERGE: Where'd you keep them, right near the house?

J.C. SLAVEN: Yeah pretty close.

BETTY SLAVEN: We had a pen.

WILLIAM BERGE: Uh huh. Did about everybody have one?

J.C. SLAVEN: Oh yeah about everybody would fatten a hog or two for the winter, you know. Of course now back then at the start we didn't have no refrigerator. The first refrigerator we ever owned was an old [Limren?] all other times we just have an old ice box. You know trains brought down big blocks of ice.

WILLIAM BERGE: I was going to ask you how you got your ice. It came on the train every day?

J.C. SLAVEN: Yeah, train would bring it down. You go down and get a hundred pound or whatever you thought you need, put it in your ice box.

WILLIAM BERGE: Uh huh. Did you all keep a cow?


J.C. SLAVEN: Yeah.

WILLIAM BERGE: I guess you bought most of your stuff at the store?

J.C. SLAVEN: Oh yeah.

WILLIAM BERGE: The Company Store?

J.C. SLAVEN: That's all we had till they picked. You could go out, not like we're talking about they put the road in you could ride out in your car, go out and get stuff.

WILLIAM BERGE: When you uh Mrs. Slaven shopped down there did uh you buy, did the store have a lot of fresh meat?

BETTY SLAVEN: Not much had a little, but not much.

WILLIAM BERGE: That was a problem I guess, wasn't it?


J.C. SLAVEN: Well they kept, you just kept pork chops.

BETTY SLAVEN: Every once and a while you'd bring in something special.

WILLIAM BERGE: Everybody find out about it and they'd be down there to [laughing].

J.C. SLAVEN: [laughing] Yeah.

WILLIAM BERGE: When you traded at the company store did you, did you trade in script, cash, or did you just run a tab?

BETTY SLAVEN: Script, we only had script.

J.C. SLAVEN: You could draw script every day.

BETTY SLAVEN: Almost had to [unclear] give em script [coughs].


J.C. SLAVEN: It was a pretty good system you know.

WILLIAM BERGE: Were you able to bank when, did you, were you able to save money living down there?


BETTY SLAVEN: We save some get up about three or four hundred dollars until someone get sick then we would have to spend it all.

WILLIAM BERGE: Yeah, what for hospital you mean?


J.C. SLAVEN: Yeah for hospital, yeah for hospital to now. We did go to the hospital


WILLIAM BERGE: How much did they take from your pay for the doctor?

J.C. SLAVEN: I believe it was seventy-five cents a month for same dollar and a half for family.

BETTY SLAVEN: Pretty cheap doctor, wasn't it?

WILLIAM BERGE: Yeah, did that include medicine to?

J.C. SLAVEN: Yeah it did.

WILLIAM BERGE: I'll tell you.

J.C. SLAVEN: Labor, labor cases was ten dollars. That's right.


J.C. SLAVEN: I mean they had some good doctors, now they did.

WILLIAM BERGE: Well I'll tell you that was pretty good medical care in the sense 30:00that you had a doctor for relatively a few people, didn't you?

J.C. SLAVEN: Yeah.

BETTY SLAVEN: There wasn't much, there was a whole lot of people down there.

WILLIAM BERGE: But did each camp have a doctor? I mean like was there one in Yamcarw at the same time there was one in.

BETTY SLAVEN: Was there?

J.C. SLAVEN: Oh yeah they had they had a doctor in about every camp and then they would spread out and help one another you know, work back there in the park. If one had to be sick or had to be off or something like that the other would fill in. But now they hadn't a doctor for every place, now just like White Oak Junction wasn't a few house down there now a Co-Op doctor took care of that.

WILLIAM BERGE: Let me turn this over for a minute.

[Side Two]

WILLIAM BERGE: Tell me this uh which were the biggest company towns down there? Course the biggest town was Sterns.

J.C. SLAVEN: Sterns, that's right.

WILLIAM BERGE: And then what were the big ones, like Yamacraw was that big?

J.C. SLAVEN: Well Yamacraw wasn't too big they were, I'd say Co-Op was the biggest.

BETTY SLAVEN: Co-Op had the biggest--

J.C. SLAVEN: Mining camp.

BETTY SLAVEN: had the biggest camp

J.C. SLAVEN: When I took over that mine as superintendent there was a hundred 31:00and nine willing houses in Co-Op camp.

WILLIAM BERGE: How long since you've been down there?

J.C. SLAVEN: Well let's see, I, I.

BETTY SLAVEN: We were just in the area.

J.C. SLAVEN: If I would guess about, let's see about forty.

WILLIAM BERGE: No I mean when was the last time you were in, at Cooperative yourself?

J.C. SLAVEN: The last time I've been down there?


J.C. SLAVEN: Oh Lordy it aint not been long. Let's see there only about one, two, three, or four house all the way down there.

WILLIAM BERGE: There were only three last time I was up there.

J.C. SLAVEN: Well now that's all there is there I think there still there, there one little one up near the church house on the left. But they sold them all out there all gone, of course the now government finally took over that you know.

WILLIAM BERGE: Were there any other stores down in there besides the company store?

J.C. SLAVEN: Yeah.

BETTY SLAVEN: Yeah, Guy Kidman and Neil Kid both had a store.

J.C. SLAVEN: Down at White Oak Junction and Neil had one up the road above.

BETTY SLAVEN: Where the post office is now.


WILLIAM BERGE: Yeah I know where that is.

J.C. SLAVEN: And uh that's all the stores I remember.

WILLIAM BERGE: You shopped more at the company store than you did the.

J.C. SLAVEN: Oh yeah and you know [unclear].

WILLIAM BERGE: Was there any difference in the prices?

J.C. SLAVEN: Not much, they all sold the same things.

BETTY SLAVEN: Yeah they.

WILLIAM BERGE: In other words the company store didn't have higher prices than the Kid's store? Did it?

BETTY SLAVEN: Well I guess they did higher out.

J.C. SLAVEN: Well they sometimes now they did I don't know, but uh Kids sold about like the company did. An uh I don' know but uh they kind of played along like grocery stores do out here now you can go out a get a little bar firm that fellers and the next place you get another little something from that one you see.

WILLIAM BERGE: Mrs. Slaven when you uh got clothing for your children did you make it all or did you buy it?

BETTY SLAVEN: I got it from the store most of the time.


WILLIAM BERGE: Where the company store? Up here at the big store?


WILLIAM BERGE: The main store here at Sterns.

BETTY SLAVEN: Yeah. Sometimes we'd go to Whitley and buy some, most of the time we didn't.

WILLIAM BERGE: Did they have a better selection at the other store?

BETTY SLAVEN: Yeah they did, yeah they did. They had anything you wanted.

WILLIAM BERGE: Would they send stuff to you on the train if you didn't want to come in?

BETTY SLAVEN: Well I didn't have them send things to me cause I don't like to get stuff before I see it.

J.C. SLAVEN: Uh huh I understand.

BETTY SLAVEN: But I don't know rather if they did or not. Now they'd bring some down once in a while.

WILLIAM BERGE: When your children were little and you lived down there, did you bring them out of the holler much? Did you bring them up here much?

BETTY SLAVEN: We bring them out lots of times.

J.C. SLAVEN: Yeah we bring them sometimes when we got the chance. On the Fourth of July we'd bring them out and then just like I say when we was coming out going go visiting down to see her people or mine something we [unclear].

WILLIAM BERGE: Do you uh remember uh did you see did you have movies?

BETTY SLAVEN: Yeah our boy showed movies.

WILLIAM BERGE: Where'd he show them?

BETTY SLAVEN: He'd show them at Co-Op, up at Worleys and I don't know.


WILLIAM BERGE: Where did he show them?

J.C. SLAVEN: In uh

BETTY SLAVEN: In the school house.

J.C. SLAVEN: In the school house.

WILLIAM BERGE: How did he travel around to show them?

BETTY SLAVEN: Well he'd be on the train, but he had one of these movie machines, you know carry it.

WILLIAM BERGE: Did he take it on the train?

J.C. SLAVEN: Oh yeah.

WILLIAM BERGE: Was he in business for himself or was he doing it for the company?

J.C. SLAVEN: He was doing it for himself and then wanted.

WILLIAM BERGE: How did he get into it, how did he get started? Do you know?

BETTY SLAVEN: How did he get started?

J.C. SLAVEN: I don't remember it's been some years.

BETTY SLAVEN: He's always said that it was a teacher.

J.C. SLAVEN: But now when the 3Cs after they moved into the Bell Farm that a great big place over there and they had movies over there to.


J.C. SLAVEN: 3C's camp you could go there and see a movie [mumbling].

WILLIAM BERGE: Did you all go?

J.C. SLAVEN: Sometimes we would, we went a few times.

BETTY SLAVEN: I hardly went, because he show them at the house for me to see if they were all right.

WILLIAM BERGE: Oh so you got to see them then. What would he do rent them and show them?

BETTY SLAVEN: Yeah he did rent them, and show them like on night at home one 35:00night at Co-Op one night at Woorley and then it wouldn't cost him so much that way you know.

WILLIAM BERGE: Down in Co-Op, when you lived there. I don't, I know you all lived in Blue Heron to but I don't want to talk to you about that yet. When you all lived in Co-Op uh what did your family you children primarily maybe you to, do for say fun or social things.

BETTY SLAVEN: Well they had ball games and play things down for them.

WILLIAM BERGE: Was there more for the boys than for the girls, would you say?

BETTY SLAVEN: I'd say they were.


BETTY SLAVEN: Our kids were always out there.

WILLIAM BERGE: Would you say it was harder for girls to live in the company town?

BETTY SLAVEN: I don't think they had, I think they had a good time. Well these kids now.

J.C. SLAVEN: Our kids talk.

BETTY SLAVEN: They talk about those good times they had.

J.C. SLAVEN: Best life they ever lived they said, they've all--

BETTY SLAVEN: I want to tell you something.

J.C. SLAVEN: grown and been places, but they enjoyed it.

BETTY SLAVEN: They can say what you want to about Co-Op but there's hardly a boy come out of there what's made something out of themselves or girl even.

WILLIAM BERGE: Is that right?

BETTY SLAVEN: That's right. We've got a couple I won't call names that's not, a 36:00picked something up that not no more.

WILLIAM BERGE: Did uh, was Fidelity still open when you moved to Co-Op or was that closed already?

J.C. SLAVEN: Yeah it was a big mine.

WILLIAM BERGE: Was the bigger than Co-Op?

J.C. SLAVEN: No, no, no it uh there wasn't many houses over there. But now they use to have a high school over there, that's where there high school first started over there, if you go their high school. They had a high school there at Fidelity. And uh they had a good seem of coal over there, but it worked out no before we did and then they robed and pulled out of there.

WILLIAM BERGE: The uh most teachers who taught in the schools down there, did they live down in there or did they come back and forth on the train?

BETTY SLAVEN: They rode back and forth.


J.C. SLAVEN: They'd right the train.

WILLIAM BERGE: They never boarded or anything like that?

J.C. SLAVEN: No, not that I know of.

BETTY SLAVEN: Maybe some of them did but then again I don't know it.

J.C. SLAVEN: They was always hard out and then they'd come back home. I don't know

WILLIAM BERGE: Did Mr. Butler ever come down there much?


BETTY SLAVEN: Yeah he come.

J.C. SLAVEN: Well now Mr. Butler he didn't come too much, but he come.

BETTY SLAVEN: He come every once and a while. I don't believe he went into.

J.C. SLAVEN: Oh know he didn't.

WILLIAM BERGE: Well when he come down and you were superintendent where would he come? To your house or would he go?

J.C. SLAVEN: Well when he come down there he, may be labor trouble or something like that.

BETTY SLAVEN: He'd come to the boarding house.

J.C. SLAVEN: They'd be on the strikes, he'd come down to make them talk or something like that, and that's about only times I remember Mr. Butler coming down. But now he use to sit a way back yonder, he use to make the mine go down and make them and see about them. Then they got bigger and he had to hire a general superintendent and he didn't come.

BETTY SLAVEN: John Wright is the general superintendent.

WILLIAM BERGE: Did Mr. Wright come down there very often?

J.C. SLAVEN: Oh yeah he come once a week maybe twice.

WILLIAM BERGE: What would he do? Come down and talk to you?

J.C. SLAVEN: He come and he go in, he'd go in the mines [unclear].

BETTY SLAVEN: He's talk to you.

J.C. SLAVEN: Oh Lord yes he'd call me every night find out how everything went 38:00along, usually.

WILLIAM BERGE: When did you get telephones down there?

J.C. SLAVEN: Oh about as far as I know.

WILLIAM BERGE: Did they have them there when you came? You think?

J.C. SLAVEN: Well my office now, the store that was the only telephone there was.

WILLIAM BERGE: When you were superintendent did you have a phone in your home?

J.C. SLAVEN: Oh yeah we had one in the house then.

BETTY SLAVEN: We had when in the house before that.

J.C. SLAVEN: And then we had one in the house before that when I was Forman why we had a telephone. But they wasn't many telephones, when we first went down there was one in the office and store and of course the superintendent had one for sure and then they had one in the tipple, but that's all there was.

WILLIAM BERGE: The uh those ball teams that they had, who did they play?

J.C. SLAVEN: They played one another see Yamacraw would play Co-op, Co-op would play Fidelity and things like that, they had good teams.

WILLIAM BERGE: Were they heated games? Were they arguing?

J.C. SLAVEN: Yeah oh yes sir, then they come to Sterns and play Sterns, and Sterns had a good team.

WILLIAM BERGE: Did they ever cheat and get some guys who didn't live in those 39:00towns to play for them?

J.C. SLAVEN: No, not that I know of they just they all from around, Sterns, Sterns had a good team and all them players they just come right out of the holler from down there they practiced every day nearly every one of them yes sir, I mean you know in the summer time. Yeah they had good ball teams they played one another. Yamacraw, Fidelity, and Co-Op, and Woorley and all of them had ball teams yes sir had good ball team.

WILLIAM BERGE: Did the women visit around much?

BETTY SLAVEN: Why yes they just like one big family.

WILLIAM BERGE: You knew everybody and knew everybody's business?

BETTY SLAVEN: That's right, they's some down in the lower end that didn't come up to our part of town, now I don't know nothing about that I don't know why they didn't.

WILLIAM BERGE: Uh huh. There was a difference though wasn't there in the town, in one part of town and another part of the town?

J.C. SLAVEN: Well I'll tell you.

WILLIAM BERGE: Was one a better part to be in? I heard that.

J.C. SLAVEN: When we'd uh well I know I'd done it, but when you is renting house 40:00you, you try to put the outlaws or the tough feller's kinds of off to a place to themselves. Then the more refined people you move them in kinds of a neighborhood of their set. That's just the way it went.

WILLIAM BERGE: What did you call those neighborhoods down at Co-Op, which was which?

BETTY SLAVEN: Around the store and through there was the best one and then you went to the church.

J.C. SLAVEN: We didn't have no names for them, but we'd just call them well the lower end of the camp and the upper end of the camp but the.

WILLIAM BERGE: Where was the store and stuff? Was that the upper end?

BETTY SLAVEN: Upper end.

WILLIAM BERGE: Is that where the church was?

BETTY SLAVEN: Yeah it's on up above that.

J.C. SLAVEN: The store right back down this side of the church.

BETTY SLAVEN: You've been to the church.

WILLIAM BERGE: Yeah I know where that is.

BETTY SLAVEN: Well its right now.

J.C. SLAVEN: The store was built right across the creek just a little creek.

BETTY SLAVEN: Court House is right on the other side.

WILLIAM BERGE: But that is what they called the upper end of the camp?

J.C. SLAVEN: Well no that kind of the center now.

WILLIAM BERGE: The center.

J.C. SLAVEN: Right in around there and the doctor's office right over in there kind of.

BETTY SLAVEN: That's where all of the people lived.

J.C. SLAVEN: Pretty good people you'd say lived in around the store lived up in there in the best part of the camp. Now the houses alone [unclear]

WILLIAM BERGE: Where the superintendent's house nice?

J.C. SLAVEN: Yeah.


BETTY SLAVEN: Well there was a big old house.

WILLIAM BERGE: Who built the church, did the company build the church?

J.C. SLAVEN: Well.

BETTY SLAVEN: We had to pay for it.

J.C. SLAVEN: That uh old church house school house we use to have church there but it was it belonged to the company, and then uh we decided after I went on as superintendent I told them "Let's build a church house". All of them said we can't do it we would never get enough money I said "We going to try' and so I talked to the company and they said "Why sure if you want to build it" I said "build it of course". Then we figured the mine lasting on for years and years you know.


J.C. SLAVEN: No recollection on what we were going to get to build it, but we 42:00did it. I'd go around and take a paper and go through the mines and say "Now listen were going" After we got started why I say "Now how much are you giving on the church out this year?" or something, they say "Well I don't know" I keep hoping for something going on" by the time I get them to sign five dollars a month.

WILLIAM BERGE: Bet they hate to see you coming I guess.

J.C. SLAVEN: [laughing] Yes they did, but now.

BETTY SLAVEN: They couldn't get rid of him, they had to.

J.C. SLAVEN: That's just the way it went. And I get them to sign say 5 dollars a month for twelve months.

WILLIAM BERGE: How much did that church cost?

J.C. SLAVEN: I, the best I remember about eight thousand dollars.

WILLIAM BERGE: Was that for all of the materials?

J.C. SLAVEN: The materials.

WILLIAM BERGE: Who did the work?

J.C. SLAVEN: Company Carpenters.

WILLIAM BERGE: Oh they did huh?

J.C. SLAVEN: Yeah they built it.

BETTY SLAVEN: They built a furnace in it and everything. Of course they don't have a furnace now.

J.C. SLAVEN: And we had to of course, they furnished the lumber and everything yes sir. We paid it all. Before I left there to go to Mine 18 we owed a little bit, I don't know how much it was, wasn't very much. I made that up before I left there big deal Went down to Mine 18, had one down there one to. Superintend who put me in me in his place said "one thing I want to ask you" there was three or four thousand dollars still owed on their chapel [unclear] I said "Oh lord".

WILLIAM BERGE: Same thing again huh?

J.C. SLAVEN: Never got that paid off before we wound out down there.


WILLIAM BERGE: Who uh who did the preaching in the church?

J.C. SLAVEN: Well these fellas come in now. Back when we was working down there some fella come in. It tickled me because he said the now the Lord sent them down for a revival, we get out and take him up a hundred dollars or something and he'd stay and preach. But after the mine shut down the Lord never sent none of them back down.

WILLIAM BERGE: He just send them down when every body's working, huh? [laughing]

J.C. SLAVEN: [laughing] I'm laughing about that but now that's the truth.

WILLIAM BERGE: The lord sent them down there when everybody was working but he didn't send them down there when.

J.C. SLAVEN: And they quite when it wasn't important to send them.

WILLIAM BERGE: So different people all the time, did any local people ever preach?

J.C. SLAVEN: Oh yeah. Yeah we a feller that worked there.

BETTY SLAVEN: He was a preacher.

J.C. SLAVEN: And I preached there, I mean not then at that time but latter on after I did go back there uh. No no no I left there wasn't it for a while.


J.C. SLAVEN: But I went back there and pastored that church about three or four 44:00years after we went to Mine 18 and then left there and moved here. But these feller that worked at the mine yeah they pastored the church now you knew that feller sometimes some feller lived out and come there. Her brother he'd pastor the church down there he'd come once a month once a month--

BETTY SLAVEN: He'd come twice.

J.C. SLAVEN: Anyway, they come, we usually pay them pretty good maybe twenty-five dollars a uh time.

WILLIAM BERGE: When you uh left Cooperative to go to Blue Heron was Cooperative already finished mining or were they still mining coal?

J.C. SLAVEN: It shut down in [[unclear] July.


J.C. SLAVEN: Yeah, but then now Gran and his brother leased what we called Old Hill Mine.

WILLIAM BERGE: Yeah he told me that he and his brother--

J.C. SLAVEN: Yeah.

WILLIAM BERGE: leased the mine.

J.C. SLAVEN: Leased that old mine we went through the number one seem and 45:00through the mountain and out, and then went on up into number two seem that's the mine that pulled the kilos out. And then they come back and robbed that old coal mine that we could take no more coal from.

WILLIAM BERGE: Did they make any money on that?

J.C. SLAVEN: Oh yeah they tell me I never did ask them just come right out. I was told it was pretty truthful that they left there with forty-five thousand dollars apiece. That they cleared out of that mine yeah.

WILLIAM BERGE: Alright what year did you go to Blue Heron?

J.C. SLAVEN: I went there the eighth day of April 1954.

WILLIAM BERGE: And did you move over there?

J.C. SLAVEN: Yeah.

WILLIAM BERGE: How many lived at home then?

BETTY SLAVEN: Janis and George.

WILLIAM BERGE: Just two of them?

J.C. SLAVEN: And Dawn, Dawn's in first but he come home.

WILLIAM BERGE: But there was only two of them living at home when you went to Blue Heron?

J.C. SLAVEN: That's right

WILLIAM BERGE: Now how many.


J.C. SLAVEN: Yes Francis yes.

BETTY SLAVEN: Our granddaughter stayed with us

WILLIAM BERGE: Alright, how many houses were in Blue Heron?

J.C. SLAVEN: I'll have to count them and see. Let's see 1, 46:002,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15 houses I guess

WILLIAM BERGE: So that was a small?

J.C. SLAVEN: That was a small town.

WILLIAM BERGE: Small town.

BETTY SLAVEN: Oh boy it was a bad one

J.C. SLAVEN: But now they moved all out the people that practically went and come you know.


J.C. SLAVEN: They had the road down there and they put a road down there. Now they was fifteen houses.

WILLIAM BERGE: I take that you didn't like it?

J.C. SLAVEN: Besides the store, they had a store.

BETTY SLAVEN: It didn't like me I had asthma the whole time I was down there.

WILLIAM BERGE: Oh. Cause its down the river and everything?


J.C. SLAVEN: Yeah she couldn't hardly breathe.

WILLIAM BERGE: Was it pretty down there like it is now?

BETTY SLAVEN: Yeah I guess it, well it's still around.

J.C. SLAVEN: Oh, Oh it's nice.

BETTY SLAVEN: It is uh bit we had a pretty home or house.

J.C. SLAVEN: Of course that big tipple it was in good shape then it's about ready to fall down now.

WILLIAM BERGE: Yeah. How, how long had that mine been working when you moved there?

J.C. SLAVEN: I couldn't answer that to save my life, right off the top.

WILLIAM BERGE: What ever happened there? Was there just not the coal they thought there was?

J.C. SLAVEN: They didn't know there was coal there, they thought there was. They 47:00faced it up now around the river blew up around across the river, up the river, down the river, then up the river on each side, and faced up some pretty number one coal they didn't do no [unclear] with and they just went up there short way just turned up the mountains and went that way and thens when they had to leave that and go up the river and go into the number two coal.


J.C. SLAVEN: Yeah they didn't do that right, I mean.

WILLIAM BERGE: Well that caused a lot of money to put that bridge in and everything, didn't it?

J.C. SLAVEN: Oh Lord yes, but they didn't do no quarter of it which they ought to have done you see they would have known if they had something. They just assume it was there and they built that big old bridge and all that stuff and spent a lot of money.

WILLIAM BERGE: Who made those decisions Mr. Slaven?

J.C. SLAVEN: I'd say Mr. Butler had to but uh I'd say Mine 18 if you know the truth about it I'd doubt you would ever put a dime on it.

WILLIAM BERGE: From what they've put in there the tipple and the bridge.

J.C. SLAVEN:[unclear] I doubt that.

WILLIAM BERGE: Where you the last superintendent there?

J.C. SLAVEN: Yeah.

WILLIAM BERGE: So you closed that mine there, huh?

J.C. SLAVEN: Yeah we rounded it up pulled it out.

WILLIAM BERGE: What's the most men you worked down there?


J.C. SLAVEN: At Mine18?




J.C. SLAVEN: No he wants to know about 18. Let's see 1, 2, 3, 4 we had four units and we worked two shifts and that's about thirteen men with the crew, and then we had a tipple that we run one shift a day and we had about lets see about 1, 2, 3--. [voice fades] eight men that worked on that, and then we had two men that worked the car shop, and uh lets see electric shop we have we had blacksmith three repairmen stayed out there. Counted it all up I wouldn't count it.

BETTY SLAVEN: Them's six I have. That's what you got?

WILLIAM BERGE: Yeah. How many did you have at, what's the most you ever worked at Co-Op?

J.C. SLAVEN: When the mine shut down there we averaged we working around two 49:00hundred men


J.C. SLAVEN: At a hundred coal a load a hundred shift men. That's sounds okay though


J.C. SLAVEN: Every time you hard coal you have a hard shift.


J.C. SLAVEN: Average the counting the whole mine now very body, we were averaging four and half tones per man when we shut down. That what it was, wasn't much was it? Now that's what it was

WILLIAM BERGE: What's the most coal you what's the most coal you ever averaged per man at any time?

J.C. SLAVEN: Oh I believe when we went to Mine 18 they averaging about let's see.

BETTY SLAVEN: [speaking in back ground two quickly to understand]

J.C. SLAVEN: [talking to Betty] No honey I turned it up. It's setting on between 50:00five and six. Your just your just not [unclear] me But I sear I'm [unclear]. [Speaking to Berge] Well the most that we ever run one of them units now uh and that wasn't at Mine 18, but when I went there they had never averaged a hundred tones per shift they told me with them units that's the joy units, and I got it up before we shut it down to hundred and fifty-for sums per shift. But at Mine 16 we got that up on some days on some days we got that up to 300.

WILLIAM BERGE: Where was 16?

J.C. SLAVEN: That's up there back down this side of the [unclear] at Mine 16.

BETTY SLAVEN: Does anyone want me to make some coffee?

J.C. SLAVEN: No I don't.


J.C. SLAVEN: But uh Mine 16 originally was to coal [unclear] we mined a whole lot of coal out of there.

WILLIAM BERGE: Was Janis going to school when you moved down to 18?


WILLIAM BERGE: Did they run a bus from there?

J.C. SLAVEN: Oh yeah, yeah they run a bus.

BETTY SLAVEN: Her and George and Francis was going to school.

WILLIAM BERGE: There wouldn't have been too many children riding that bus then?

[Speaking at the same time]

BETTY SLAVEN: No, not that.

J.C. SLAVEN: Not that many down there, no. But they brought the bus down all the 51:00time. You know unless the road got so bad that they couldn't get down there then of course they just wouldn't come, but when they could come they come but when they didn't come there wasn't no school you they tried to get down there some way. But that's a rough road you've been down there now.


J.C. SLAVEN: That is a [unclear] on that mountain where you make that stiff turn. Lord I've hung up there many times couldn't hardly turn.

WILLIAM BERGE: Alright when did you move into here?

J.C. SLAVEN: We moved here in--

BETTY SLAVEN: [unclear] you probably didn't know that.

WILLIAM BERGE: Where was that?

J.C. SLAVEN: But now we moved in here in 60, 61' I guess in August, July or August.

WILLIAM BERGE: How much longer did you work out of 18 then?

J.C. SLAVEN: I was let's see, when I moved here I worked down short time until 52:00they moved me to Mine 16 and we liked to live there finishing it up there, they another feller to finish it up and they sent me to Mine 16. Then I stayed up there till uh--


J.C. SLAVEN: Till I retired and then before I retired why they put me a general superintendent over all the mines well let's see they had Mine 23, Mine 22, and Mine 21, and Mine 25, and Mine 24, and uh Mine 16 they was all down back this way. No some of them were on above four I had three mines up there. But uh I worked up till the first of 1967 when I told them two or three months before I would retire then and then they sold first the 67 I retired and they come 53:00through and wanted me to come back [unclear]. I didn't want to go in even after Frank Thomas went away going back he said don't you leave [unclear] I want you to go back to work said I'll be on your office wanting to do things. But I did go back and but that slope down there at Justice Mine, 800 foot slope.

WILLIAM BERGE: Did you do that?

J.C. SLAVEN: Yeah.

WILLIAM BERGE: I didn't know that.

J.C. SLAVEN: I drove that down there, gave it to some guy from West Virginia gave him about two weeks and he quite.

WILLIAM BERGE: I guess [unclear] somebody's got to go down they, bad they couldn't do it bad [laughing] .

J.C. SLAVEN: No. They called me then asked me if I'd go down there and put down there. They said "Can you go down there and put down there" I said "yeah if you want to" he said "I sure do", I went down there I worked the day my boy worked the night and we drove that down. Course I was in charge of it drove down 800 foot down on a thirteen cent grate down to the coal [unclear] I said "now I'm done".


WILLIAM BERGE: Once you sold the coal you had enough than?

J.C. SLAVEN: I said that's as far as I'm going down there.

WILLIAM BERGE: Mrs. Slaven, of the places you lived I guess you liked Co-Op the best. Is that right?

BETTY SLAVEN: Yeah I liked Co-Op.

WILLIAM BERGE: Did most everybody who lived in Co-Op and other camps like Co-Op the best.

J.C. SLAVEN: [mumbling]

BETTY SLAVEN: All that I ever heard is that they like Co-Op the best, because it was more open you know and kids had more place to play, it had go houses.

WILLIAM BERGE: Was there any thieving or anything that goes on? Do you remember any?


J.C. SLAVEN: [unclear] no one would bother you. But I'll be damned you can't do it much now.

BETTY SLAVEN: Can't do it now where now no more. We sure keep ours locked up.

WILLIAM BERGE: Yeah places like Lexington or Richmond you can't go out of your house.

J.C. SLAVEN: Well it's bad down here, of course there's nobody that bothered us, 55:00but now we use to go off and keep our doors.

BETTY SLAVEN: I use to never lock my door.

WILLIAM BERGE: If you had to do it all over again.

BETTY SLAVEN: You mean live in Co-Op?

WILLIAM BERGE: If you had to do it all over again raise your children that way would you do it?

BETTY SLAVEN: Lord, I would have those kids go right back today.


BETTY SLAVEN: Oh man yeah I wish.

WILLIAM BERGE: Did you ever have them in Filmore?

BETTY SLAVEN: Little bit not to bad.

WILLIAM BERGE: But you had it more over at Blue Heron?

BETTY SLAVEN: I had it every day down there. I use to have it four times a week there, er four times a year when I lived at Co-Op. But I just had it bad down there. But at Blue Heron every night I take it at four clock next morning when the sun come up I'd be betterr.

WILLIAM BERGE: I guess it was just narrower down there.

BETTY SLAVEN: It was the dampness.

J.C. SLAVEN: Dampness that river yeah.


WILLIAM BERGE: Was there a place when you lived in Co-Op that you and your husband uh decided your let's say you're living down there and you didn't have children I know you did, but let's say you didn't. And uh you some night you didn't want to cook did you go down to the boarding house and eat?

BETTY SLAVEN: I don't think so, I never did thought to.

J.C. SLAVEN: I'm sure you could but nobody ever did.

WILLIAM BERGE: No body ever did?

J.C. SLAVEN: No just the fellers in the boarding house that's all I ever heard. Now they come say some body come from Sterns to check on the store some be there and meal time would come and they would eat here. Use to be an old feller who worked he was a dispatcher on the rail road he use to look [unclear] he usually come and eat dinner every day. But now they weren't many people maybe a post sales man would come. Every kind of people there's you know, some would come down selling for maybe steel.

WILLIAM BERGE: I was going to ask you did a lot of drummers and peddlers come in?

J.C. SLAVEN: Yeah something like that, that's right. And they bring they had 57:00long [unclear] bring it out of Wayne County come in there waving and everything else selling produce some good some bad.

WILLIAM BERGE: When you uh brought you said you'd bring your family into town every now and then who would be more apt to come to town the boys or the girls?

J.C. SLAVEN: All of them [unclear].

BETTY SLAVEN: I don't remember bringing them all at the same time.

J.C. SLAVEN: But they all wanted to come I'm sure.

BETTY SLAVEN: [very low voice] I can't remember. We didn't go out to much. They had something to do they had parks and things down there.

WILLIAM BERGE: Did they ever have dances?


BETTY SLAVEN: I don't think they ever had dances. Now they did down at Herbert Carters.

J.C. SLAVEN: Now they might have had.

BETTY SLAVEN: [unclear] use to go.

WILLIAM BERGE: I know Gran Smith said they didn't have dances down there and his daughter Rubi said she danced down there and he said "I didn't know you danced down there".

J.C. SLAVEN: They did [unclear] yeah.



BETTY SLAVEN: Well now I know Freddy Hustner, now I never did go to one but I down at Herbert Carters they had some invited a whole bunch of young people had dances every once and a while.

WILLIAM BERGE: What was that now?

BETTY SLAVEN: Herbert Carters they was down in the rural part of Co-Op.

WILLIAM BERGE: What was it, I mean a house?


WILLIAM BERGE: No oh a house.

BETTY SLAVEN: Inside a house.

J.C. SLAVEN: It was just a house.


J.C. SLAVEN: But now don't misunderstand they mean it was going on there, there were bootleggers coming in there and everything else, Lord yeah.

BETTY SLAVEN: And they killed somebody every once in a while.

J.C. SLAVEN: It wasn't the finest place in the world now they it aint like it is now.

WILLIAM BERGE: Did the people make any whiskey down in there?

J.C. SLAVEN: They made it around there bring it in bootlegging.

BETTY SLAVEN: They brang it in bootlegging if you wanted it to.

J.C. SLAVEN: They never made it in right around the camp.

WILLIAM BERGE: They didn't have it?

J.C. SLAVEN: They had the law to you know.

WILLIAM BERGE: I was going to ask you about that, did the company have police.

J.C. SLAVEN: Well they have sine feller did the sheriff right around you know.

WILLIAM BERGE: Did he work for the company?

J.C. SLAVEN: Yeah yes sir, yeah they kept pretty well tagged on that. The 59:00company here at Sterns had a man stay there to watch after the rest. They'd call him down there and the sheriff would get them down there now they pretty much kept law and order. Now if a feller violated their rules, they had rules to go by, and if you violated them and you got a layoff you got fired.

WILLIAM BERGE: Did they ever have any bad labor problems here before the big thing at the Justice Mine?

BETTY SLAVEN: Oh yeah at one time.

J.C. SLAVEN: 1935 they was out on strike.

WILLIAM BERGE: What was that about? Do you remember?

J.C. SLAVEN: Well they, they.


J.C. SLAVEN: They wanted United Mine Workers they hadn't had it, that's when they first come in I hadn't been back here in the 1890s, but I don't remember a lot about thay

BETTY SLAVEN: And a lot of people [unclear].

J.C. SLAVEN: 1935 they didn't have no union but uh the United Mine Workers come in they were out five long months then they had to go back without they, they didn't win their case, but latter on they did.

WILLIAM BERGE: When did the United Mine Workers come in?

J.C. SLAVEN: Let's see thirty-five, thirty-six, thirty-seven. Must have been 60:00about thirty or forty something.

WILLIAM BERGE: And how long did they stay in?

J.C. SLAVEN: I mean they finally got to work [unclear]I mean they got to work they no forty something like that they just quite .


J.C. SLAVEN: They wouldn't give them no differentia they were in other works you had three foot coal here another feller had five foot coal they expect you to pay the same. They just wouldn't change Bob said they can't work under it, and they just left. Then we were down there for three long years then they said pull the steel to go. Pulled it out and them old fellers couldn't believe it they thought to just run.

WILLIAM BERGE: They thought [unclear]

J.C. SLAVEN: No but they didn't, so we had peter line [unclear] cut it down and 61:00a float in in the bank. Someone asked me if they were going to steal I said "yes sir going around cutting peaces and throwing them in the cart" they said "well are we doing it?" Them boys never did work a day your life. [laughing]

WILLIAM BERGE: And about when was that?

J.C. SLAVEN: Well now that was long in 19 the mine shut down in I believe the first of [tape stops]

End of Recording