William H. Berge Oral History Center
Coal Company Towns Project
Interview with Phillip Waters
August 9, 1983 (1983oh077)
Conducted by William Berge
Transcribed by Catherine Seabolt
The following is an unrehearsed taped interview with Phillip Jane Waters ofMuncie, Indiana. Interview was conducted by Dr. William Berge for the oral history center at Eastern Kentucky University. The interview was conducted in Whitley City, Kentucky on August 9, 1983 at eleven o'clock a.m.
[Those participating in the interview will be hereto designated with thefollowing initials: Phillip Waters, PW; William Berge, WB; Mr. Watters [elderly man] MW; unidentified lady also speaking in background.]
PW: Muncie, Indiana
WB: Alright, what year were you born Mr. Waters?
PW: June 30, 1925
WB: And where were you born?
PW: Barthell, no Shoopman I guess. Shoopman, Kentucky at that time.
WB: In other words, your mother and father were living down in near Barthell atthat time?
PW: Uh-huh, yes.
WB: Now tell me your, how many brothers and sisters do you have older than you are?
PW: Be thirteen.
WB: Are there thirteen older than you?
PW: No oh, oh. Two. Oh, I had it backwards, yeah, okay.
WB: There are just two older than you?
PW: Yes, oh yeah. Yeah, that's right.
WB: Alright, which of the two are older than you?
PW: Goman and Simon.
WB: Goman and Simon, are older than you are?
PW: Uh-huh, yes.
WB: Okay, now when you were born what year again?
PW: It was 1925.
WB: Okay, and uh Henley Waters is your father?
WB: Alright, now what year, where did you first go to school?
PW: At uh Bald Knob.
WB: You went to Bald Knob?
WB: So you moved out of, did you move to Bob Knob from Barthel? Why did you goto Bald Knob to school?
PW: Well, that was where the school was at.
WB: Were you living over there in the mountain when you were born? Or were youliving down in the camp?
PW: We was, I think, we was living in the mountains there in the in the.
WB: Where were you living then, up in the mountains?
PW: Yeah, when I was born.
WB: Where? [lot of noise in the background, sounds like a train.]
PW: But we were, you know, as the years went on why my dad would move to thecamp sometimes, and sometimes he'd move back out in the mountains.
WB: But you spent most of your time around Bald Knob?
PW: Yes, uh-huh.
WB: So you went to school there at Bald Knob?
WB: Who were some of your teachers?
PW: Uh, I had a Leon Hayse, and uh and a Lindy, Linda Foster; and uh I let's seeI had one we call Mr. Cordell, and then later in years, down at Mine 18 they got a school down there after that.
WB: Did you go to school at Mine 18?
PW: Yes, I went down there some.
WB: Do you remember what year you went?
PW: Well not, it would have been in a.
WB: Late thirties, I guess?
PW: Yes, I'd say it was, cause I was about sixteen or seventeen years old,summers long in there. And I and I never went to school very much, and I realized I needed a little more learning. And I ask a teacher could I come to school down there some. And I walked from out of the mountains down to school.
WB: Who was the teacher down there then, do you remember?
PW: Must been it was yeah it was a Ms. Foster, but I think her name, I tryingthink of her name. [unrecognizable words in the background]
PW: Yeah, Lou Foster.
WB: Down at Mine 18?
PW: Yes, down at Mine 18.
WB: Alright now, where was that school down there?
PW: It was just uh, well the way I'd put it, just above the tipple there alittle ways, yeah.
WB: Okay, was it past the church?
WB: You came to the church first, then to the tipple?
PW: Uh-huh, yeah, then to the school.
WB: Then the school?
PW: Uh-huh, and also I, I've helped in revivals some, there at church.
WB: At the church?
WB: Now, who was the regular pastor down there?
PW: Uh, they was different ones, but Carmel Stanley is one I call to memory.
WB: Carmel Stanley.
WB: Now where was he from?
WB: Is he still alive?
PW: As far as I know he is.
WB: Would he live down there now?
PW: I think he does, you know, best of my knowledge.
WB: Can you remember any other preachers down there?
PW: Well, I know of, I know of several was in and out, you know, preaching.
WB: Name some of them.
PW: One of them, Hobert Vaughn.
WB: Where's he from?
PW: He's around Revelo, best to my knowledge.
WB: Is he still alive?
PW: Yes, and uh Crit King was preaching.
WB: Crit King?
PW: Yeah, uh-huh, but he's not alive.
PW: Yeah he's dead.
WB: Uh, somebody, Bill Pryor mentioned to me, Reverend Owens or.
WB: Who was that, what was his name?
PW: Can you ask Louise?
WB: Oscar Owens, is that the name, Mr. Watters?
WB: Where does he live?
PW: He's in Ohio, ain't he?
MW: He does now, uh, up in there summers.
PW: Yeah, yeah, I think he's around Sidney, Ohio now I think.
WB: Did he live down at Mine 18?
PW: I think, it was on Smithtown somewhere, wouldn't it, around in there wherehe lived, or do you know?
MW: I, I know his daddy lived over there the other side of Bald Knob, along insome of that time. But they changed out from that later.
WB: How did you get interested in, you said, you helped in revivals, how'd youget interested in that?
PW: Well uh, I just felt my calling, you know from a.
WB: How old were you then?
PW: I was around I'd say uh twenty-eight.
WB: Uh-huh, oh, this is after you went to work in a mine?
PW: Yes. Oh yeah.
PW: Oh yes, uh-huh.
WB: Alright, now let's get back and we, we'll come to that. I'd like to talk toyou some more about that work in revivals down there, but before we do that, let's talk a little bit about, you were a boy, you were about sixteen, going to school there.
WB: What did you do before you were sixteen? Did you have any jobs at all, oranything like that, or work around the house?
PW: Just around on the little farm, you know, just wood and.
WB: Just wood cutting?
PW: Yeah, wood and carried water.
WB: Alright, when you went to work in the mines you were eighteen?
WB: Was that about the time most people went then? The mine or did they go any younger?
PW: No. That was the age on it, eighteen.
WB: Stearns Company didn't hire anybody any younger than that?
PW: Yeah, eighteen year old, that's what you had to be, and just I becomeeighteen and I just they hired me and I went to work.
WB: Did you go down there and ask about it or, how did that, how'd you get the job?
PW: Well, uh.
WB: Do you remember?
PW: I was personally experienced with a superintendent and general foreman andall of them, you know, they knowed me. And I was, and before that, and after I went, quit school there, why they was a feller that had an old mule and a sled, as we called it.
PW: And he had a job hauling the sand for the coal mine. They used sand, youknow, to get traction in on their motors, when you'd be spinning they put a little sand on that rail. And he had the job, contract hauling sand for the company.
WB: Who was that?
PW: It was Patsy Watters.
WB: Patsy Watters?
PW: Yes, and so, I drove his mule. I was a mule driver for him, and I hauledsand, and he paid me a dollar and a quarter a day, to haul, to drive that mule, and haul sand for the coal mine.
WB: Where did Taffy Watters live?
PW: He lived back out there around in Bald Knob Country.
WB: Where you all lived?
PW: Yes, uh-huh, yeah, he's a neighbor.
WB: So those people really knew you then?
PW: Yes, uh-huh, and I was around there with them before I become eighteen.
WB: Okay. So who hired you?
PW: It was L.A. Wright.
WB: L.A. Wright.
PW: The superintendent, yeah.
WB: And what year was that?
PW: It would have been when I was, when I become eighteen. It was ah.
WB: About forty-three?
PW: No, not it was before that.
WB: Forty-two, during the war?
PW: I'd say it was late thirties. Just when I come eighteen, I just went rightto work, yeah it.
WB: It would have to be in the forties, cause you were twenty-five when you wereborn, you said.
WB: So it was in the early part of the war probably?
PW: Yes, uh-huh, yeah.
WB: And what did you first do, when you went there to work?
PW: I went in as a coal loader. I mean, you know, just shoveling coal.
WB: Who did you work with?
PW: My oldest brother.
WB: What was his name?
WB: Okay. Now you tell me again. You told me once, before I turned this on, but,tell me just what you did in the mine? Like how old, when you went in there, why you would go with your brother, and what you and your brother would do together?
PW: Well, like I say, it would, you had to get somebody agree to take you inwith it,
you know, that was already experienced. And you'd go in there, and he'd learn all
the safetiness they was, you know, the mining rules and safety, how to set yourtimbers. At
that time, why they would, they would use timbers in there. Whatever length your place
was, why they'd, you'd give a foreman, he you know, your order for timber, andthey had
timbers stacked up outside, and they'd haul them in, and they'd pick your place,you had
cap boards, you know, to hold the top up. And you went to work with somebody to learn
you all the safety, where to set your timbers at to not get hurt and.
WB: Do you remember your first day in the mine?
WB: Were you afraid?
PW: No, not really. My dad had done that, you know, and all the people aroundme. I'd been raised in it.
WB: Knowing what to do really, and being careful at it.
PW: Just somewhere to have a job.
WB: Uh-huh, it never bothered you, to be under ground then?
PW: No, nuh-uh.
WB: What did you use for light?
PW: Uh, at that time we used well uh.
PW: Well uh.
WB: Or batteries?
PW: It was a battery; I think they had a battery at that time.
MW: I think they did.
PW: Yeah, they'd left them. They use to use carbide light at that time. But Imean before that, but at that time I think we had a [coughing] I remember we battery lights then.
WB: Your dad told me one time, that back when he started, people used oil light.
PW: Uh-huh, yeah. Yeah, I've seen them oil lights, yeah.
WB: And then they went to carbide, and then they went to batteries, you wore alittle battery pack.
PW: Yeah, wore a battery, uh-huh. With a hard hull hat, and cap.
WB: Uh-huh. So tell me, like how you would, how the coal was loosened, and howyou loaded it, and all that kind of business?
PW: Well they had a, the company had a machine that they, had uh, six footcutter bar on it, and they'd go in there and they'd cut underneath that coal, down next to the rock, the bottom of it. Six foot deep back under there. And uh then after that, why they had, when the company, you know, started shooting it on their own, why then they had a drill crew would come in there and drill across the top of that, three holes or however wide your place was. In a room, they was called it, was thirty foot wide.
WB: That's how wide you place a mine?
PW: Yeah, and then in the airway, and the entry was fifteen foot. So you drillthree holes cross the top of that, and blast it down, and then shovel it, you know.
WB: What is the term, 'shooting for the solid' mean?
PW: That means uh, "shooting for the solid," it's the coal ain't cut. And it's,you drill a hole in the center like, you know.
WB: Between the two, levels of rock?
PW: Yes, and uh and blast it down like that.
WB: Uh-huh, which is the best way?
PW: With a machine cut, to me.
WB: Cut the bottom and then blast it down?
PW: Yeah, yeah, best to me, yeah.
WB: Does it get the coal out better?
PW: Yes, yeah it blocks it, and loosens it all up good. Just shoots it down,course some of its fine, and some big lumps, course when they take it to the tipple, why that separate all that, had screens, you know, that would.
WB: Uh-huh. It would separate the coal?
PW: Yes. Uh-huh, block coal, egg coal, and stoker, whatever.
WB: Well, so, when you started with your brother, he of course, was showing youhow to do it and everything.
WB: What would you do, and what would he do? Did you have different jobs?
PW: No, we just worked together. Whatever, if he was setting timbers why I'dhelp, you know, and then we'd get loading the coal. Why the, they had a motorman, coupler, bring cars into us, you know, they'd bring that down there, and I'd be on, you know, one side a loading, and he'd be on the other, lot of times, we'd shovel together.
WB: How many men would be working in a room?
PW: It was just one, unless he was breaking in somebody. Most time they was one man.
WB: Work by himself-
WB: or with like somebody with you?
PW: Yes, unless he was, you know, or else sometime, somebody may go out to workand something would happen, the top would have been bad, or they was water, sometime, they was water would get in there and they wouldn't cut to place till it was pumped out or something. And sometimes, you know, they'd buddy up instead of letting somebody go back to the house. He'd say I got a fresh cut here, well, you can just work with me today. But as a rule, it was one man.
PW: He had his own place he worked in.
WB: When you uh first started to work there, how much money did you make? Do you remember?
PW: Uh [pause] Well, not really. But, seem to me like seem to me like I remembersometime making, when I first started, seem me like I remember making around maybe sixteen hundred in a years time or something like that. [noise in background, like a train]
WB: So you were making thirty, forty dollars a week, beginning?
PW: Yeah, something like that, yeah, it wasn't too awfully much at that time but.
WB: What's the most you ever made in a mine, when you worked in a mine?
PW: Well, that that one day I telling you that I, I loaded twenty-eight tons,seem me like that amounted to around, at that time seem me like it was around eighteen or nineteen dollars, I made that one day.
WB: That's how they paid you, by how much you loaded?
PW: Yeah. Uh-huh, by the ton, yeah, when you was a loading, you know. [pause]And of course they had some other dividends that come in there, like if you was, like if a big rock would get in there or something other, sometimes that coal would squeeze out, you know, would get low, cause uh, big, be a big roll that they call it back yonder, something would come in there, rock-
WB: Rock would come right down?
PW: yeah. And you'd have to go through that then, then at a certain time of amonth, they'd come in there and measure how much rock you loaded, and they pay you so much for that too, and sometimes.
WB: Oh, they would?
PW: And sometimes the machine man would get in a bad place or something other,they couldn't help it, they'd leave you a high bottom or something, and sometime they pay you. They call it "scraping the bottom," sometimes they'd pay you a little something for that too.
WB: You'd get a little, whether you loaded any coal or not?
PW: Yeah, uh-huh, and they had little, few things they come in like that andgive you little extra money, for the work that way.
WB: Who were some of the foremen you worked for?
PW: Well, when I was loading coal, by the ton its [coughed] I had Ellis Louis.
WB: Ellis Louis.
PW: Yeah, and uh.
WB: Is he still alive?
WB: Where does he live?
PW: Lives in Florida, or the last report I had he did.
PW: And uh, I worked with a fellow named Bob Davis.
WB: Where does he live?
PW: He lives in Muncie, Indiana.
WB: Is he still there?
WB: Are there many people up in Muncie?
PW: Yes, they several.
WB: That worked in Mine 18?
PW: Yes, several up there, yeah.
WB: [Background sound interference] Maybe you could give me the names of some ofthem, and I could go up there and talk with them, that would be a good way to talk with some of them people. You know where most of them live, up there?
PW: Yes, I know where, yeah, I know where several of them does.
MW: About all of them, I guess.
PW: Yeah, I know. If I just get to thinking, you know.
WB: Like, how many of those people do you think are up in Muncie?
PW: Well, I got two of my brothers that they live there.
PW: They worked there, and got a friend they call Clyde Dolin, he lives thisside of Muncie. Springport a little town. Then they was a Bob Davis, that I was telling you about. And uh.
WB: Did any of those people ever live in the camp at Mine 18?
PW: Yes, I said yes, I don't remember where Clyde Dolin ever did[Backgroundsound interference] or not, but uh, but some of them did, you know, most of them.
PW: Or several of them did. [unrecognizable text]
WB: And so, you, How long did you work then, at Mine 18?
PW: Well, I worked uh.
WB: Were you married then?
PW: No, no, I was still single. I didn't get married till I was twenty-sevenyears old. And uh I worked off and on, I'd, you know, I'd get tired of the mine and take off, maybe go down in Florida and uh work.
WB: Did a lot of people do that?
PW: Well, the younger people was bad for it, but some of the old timers they never.
WB: Just stayed around?
PW: Yeah, they stayed there.
WB: Of course, your father was in the log woods, I guess.
PW: Yeah, but I'd leave and go in somewhere, maybe Michigan or somewhere, andI'd think well, I'd rather have a different job than this, or maybe, you know, get uh.
WB: What was the last year you worked in a mine?
PW: If I'm not mistaken, it was fifty-one.
PW: Yes, and it, they was just, just about ready to close down. Did, they didjust right after that.
WB: Mine 18, closed down?
PW: Yes, they was just about ready to quit.
WB: Was Lemmie Wright still supervisor then?
PW: Yes, he was still there.
WB: Uh-huh, so you never did work back there, when they opened the mine back up?You know when uh.
PW: They quit for awhile.
WB: Yeah, they were closed for about a year, and then when they opened back up,Kack Slaven was there. You never work for it then?
PW: No, I didn't work there then. Lemmie Wright was the last one I worked for.
WB: You worked for?
WB: Why did so many of you go to Muncie?
PW: The reason why I left was the coal sales got bad, and they was working oneor two days a week.
PW: But uh.
WB: Why did they pick Muncie?
WB: A lot of people went to Muncie.
PW: Well we had people that was up there. They was coming back here telling usabout all the work, and the good money, and that was the rum-, you know, the rumors was out.
PW: They told, yeah they told, you know, how that uh.
WB: You would get rich in Muncie.
PW: Yeah, said you could get, they told how you'd get nine people in aVolkswagon. Said they'd be down here with a Volkswagon [laughing] say, tell them you're going to Muncie, they'd get nine people in it. [chuckles]
WB: [laughing] You've heard all those stories?
PW: Yeah, but anyhow it was you know General Motors hiring and said place calledBall Brothers, and you'd get a job, you know just about anything you wanted to do, and plenty of work at that time. Coal mines was bad. But uh after I worked in loading coal by the ton a little while, why I soon went into what they call "shift work."
WB: What's the difference?
PW: Uh, they pay you, the company paid you by the.
PW: Yeah, by the shift.
WB: Were you doing the same kind of work?
PW: No, I went into drill and shooting that coal. And uh drove drill, drill andblasted coal down for aw probably, I think was around on that job for about three years.
Then I went from that to a operating a shuttle car.
WB: What's that?
PW: That was, uh in the joy, they got part of it went to joy logging, theycalled it that time. Mechanical machines, you know that would, we had a big old loader that would load that coal, come back over conveyor, and it come in shuttle car was thing, and it was about twenty-one foot long, and it had a conveyor down the middle of it, and you set in the side of it and drove it, and big rubber tires on it and I drove that for somewhere around two or three years.
WB: Of all the work you did around the mines, Phillip, which did you like best?
PW: I guess operating that shuttle car. That was a riding job.
[Background sound interference]
WB: They're not a lot of riding jobs, were there? [chuckles]
PW: No, uh-uh. No, and that wouldn't, and you rode, you'd just set there anddrive that. They loaded it, and it had a joy loader they called it; it loaded the coal in that thing for you, and you just run up and drive it back out to a main line, where the track come in. And they had a chute out there that you dumped it off into that conveyor and dumped it car, and all you did was set there and mash the button and unload it. And all you did was run back in and get another load. That was the best job I had. And that was the last work I done, driving that shuttle car.
WB: The last work you did in a mine?
PW: Yes, uh-huh.
WB: Tell me this now, uh tell me about your experiences down there at thechurch, in Mine 18. When you first started to help with those uh revivals. How'd you get involved in that?
PW: Well, just through my, you know, my friends, brothers in Christ, you know,they'd say, you know, they'd put the word out, they was gonna be a revival. So and so, starting a revival down at Mine 18. And uh at that time I lived on the, just off the road a little bit. My dad, he lived on a road that went into the Mine 18. And so.
WB: Where abouts on that road did you live?
PW: They called it Mortar Creek.
PW: Over there where he lived.
MW: Mine 18 road.
PW: Yeah, Mine 18 road.
WB: And where'd you live?
PW: I lived up on the road they called it, well they called it Going IntoStrunk, didn't they? Yeah, I think that's right name for it.
WB: And how old were you then?
PW: Oh , let's see, I'd been [pause] let's see, to Muncie and back then, and wewas married and had, what two, one.
MW: You had about two children then.
PW: Yeah, about two kids, didn't I? What would you say about?
WB: What year would that have been? About.
PW: Yeah, that would been about?
WB: About the fifties?
PW: Yes. I'd been around thirty-two years old or thirty.
WB: That would be, that was after you, you weren't mining then?
PW: No, no, I wasn't mining then.
WB: Okay, and like who all would be involved with the revivals down there? Liketell me about any one of them. Like who would have worked at it besides you?
PW: Well, had a, had a brother that was in the ministry business at that time,and uh.
WB: Was that Simon?
PW: No, it was my brother, Dakota.
PW: And he was working in a lot of revivals at that time, and uh...
WB: Around here?
PW: Yeah, and course that was way lot of it come about, you know. We'd, me andhim would be together and go down and go down.
WB: Well, like how many people would you have at the revival?
PW: Oh I'd say probably around fifty or seventy-five.
WB: Be all the people that lived in the camp, I guess?
PW: Yeah, and people, you know, out the outskirts around about would come in,lot of time would hear bout it.
WB: Uh-huh. And uh, did you have it at that little church down there?
WB: How long would they last?
PW: Oh, I'd say approximately around three hours.
WB: Uh-huh. What night did you have them?
PW: This, like it's maybe announce it on, start on Sunday night, and maybe goall week, or two weeks, or three weeks.
WB: Oh, you'd meet every night?
PW: Yes, every night.
PW: Uh-huh, till it was, they felt like the Lord was through with them.
WB: [laughing] And you got tired, huh?
PW: Yeah. [laughing] Yeah, uh-huh.
WB: And those people, would the same people come every night?
PW: Uh, most time they would, yes.
WB: Uh-huh, What the, what did you all accomplish in those? Could you, do youmind telling me like how many people would be saved, and stuff like that. Do you have any idea?
PW: Yeah, sometimes they would end up maybe six or eight. Maybe, maybe ten ortwelve people, you know, depended on how they could get everybody to work together, and get the sinner people out to the church.
WB: Who were uh, who were the big, important people in that church down there?Who were the people that were, who would you contact when you were gonna have a revival, down there say at Mine 18 then?
PW: Well, like I say, L.A. Wright was uh, he had a big hand in it.
PW: And, course uh, usually whoever be the pastor, you know, he'd, you'd tellthem that you felt like you wanted to come in there for, to hold a few nights meeting. They'd take it up with the church, and say well, tell him come on.
PW: And the way it usually come about, you know.
WB: Where else did you ever have a revival, besides down at Mine 18?
PW: Oh, around Beech Grove. That's out in the Bald Knob country, where we use tobe. And uh just around several places. And I'm in one now uh, at Bell Farm.
WB: Bell Farm, yeah.
WB: Your dad told me you were going to have one up there this summer.
PW: Yes. Yeah, we been, we started it Sunday night.
WB: Uh-huh. And how long do you think that will last?
PW: I'd say maybe a week and a half or two weeks.
WB: Uh-huh. How many people come out there now?
PW: I'd say we've, so far we've averaged probably around fifty or sixty, and,you know, a night so far. But we looking for it to get better as the word gets around.
WB: Grow, in other words.
PW: Yes, uh-huh.
WB: The under each, this type thing, I've never talked, well, I've talked topeople before, but I've never really talked with anybody too much about uh, who preached a lot of revivals, but back in those days, did you notice any difference in them now, and back, say in the fifties?
WB: Is there any difference? What's the difference, what's happened in the lastthirty years?
PW: Well, seem like, seem like it a lot of people ain't dedicated as much now asthey use to be, you know, seem like back then they was a lot of people would come nearer, you know, laying everything aside and seeking the Lord first, and just like their corn was needing working or something another they would let everything go to attend the meetings. But now seem like, they just more so to just want to go to church if they, seem like if they ain't got something another else to do.
WB Something like under their conditions, and all like that?
PW: Yeah,yeah, seem like. [Tape stopped].
PW: [turned the tape] Smithtown out there.
WB: Uh-huh. [frogs hollering in the background]
PW: And he's deceased now.
WB: Were you baptized at a revival?
PW: At the one they'd held at Beech Grove.
WB: Uh-huh. Oh, and at Beech Grove everybody came down off the camp and went?
PW: Uh-huh, and came down to the river, yes. Two weeks after they closed thatrevival, when they baptized me. They, sometime they'd have a revival that people would want, just when they got saved, they'd say I want to go be baptized, you know, right away, then others would wait till a convenient time, you know, but some of them would get in a hurry about it and uh.
WB: But you were baptized a couple weeks after you were.
WB: And were there more people than you baptized then?
WB: How many people were baptized then? Do you remember?
PW: Yes, seem like they was around about six of us.
PW: If I remember right.
WB: But do you ever remember any revivals at Mine 18? Where people were baptizedright during revival like?
PW: No, I don't call to mind of, you know, during a revival. It was usually.
PW: Yeah, after it was all over with. Well, then they'd get all the, they calledthem the candidates. They'd get them together and see when they wanted to be baptized, and who they wanted to baptize them. Any, any ordained Baptist minister, you know, from anywhere could, he had the right. The way the Baptist church is set up.
WB: So people would just sort of pick their own?
PW: Yes, uh-huh. Yeah, they'd pick them like that.
WB: I'd still, I still don't know, like for instance, like you said, when youwere saved, and you went to preach in revivals.
WB: But there's a lot of people who were saved, you know, who don't go to preachin revivals. What made you think you could do that?
PW: Well, I felt, felt the calling from, you know,[phone ringing in background]got restless about it. Just in my mind, you know, that I need to, felt the Lord was wanting me to do a work for him.
WB: Do you think it had something to do with the fact that your brothers didthat too, and you learn, you got that too from their experience, or what?
PW: Well, it could of give a fellow, I'd say it stood a chance to give a fellermore urge, you know, to seeing them and everything but the calling to preach, it's got to come from God.
WB: Did your parents take you to church?
WB: When you were little?
PW: Yes, I remember lot of times they'd uh, I remember going to church, but Inever remember coming back home.
WB: Is that right?
PW: Yeah. They had to carry me or got me, I'd wake up at home, you know. They'd,I'd stretch out on the bench, and but they always got me back.
WB: So you always liked it though?
PW: Yes uh huh. Yeah, I liked church. But they took me, when they had to carry me.
WB: Where did they take you?
PW: Took me to uh Beech Grove.
WB: Did you ever take, Mr. Watters did you ever take your family down to Mine 18to church?
MW: I think we been down there a time or two, but I didn't tend there much,cause we had one on the hill, and I was all time meeting out there.
MW: Been there at the baptizing different times, it was pretty regular.
WB: A lot of churches baptized right there around Blue Heron. Huh?
WB: Wonder why they picked there? Was that easy to get to or?
PW: Yeah, and it was uh.
PW: Yeah, and, you know, a good clean river. I've drunk water out that riverbefore. Get thirsty and drink out of it.
WB: How many different churches brought people in there around Mine 18 tobaptize? You mentioned the one at Beech Grove.
PW: Yeah we, yeah I, I don't know. Do you? Seem like I call to remember if someof them maybe around Revelo, would have a baptizing down there too.
MW: Why, usually they'd come from different places, a time or two. Anywhere agood place to baptize to the river.
WB: In other words, it wouldn't just people from that church, at Mine 18, butother people went down to Mine 18 too.
MW: Yeah. They was more in them same areas there, different churches.
PW: But when uh when I was a kid, young kid, my dad would take me by the hand,you know, and lead me up and down them hills, over the mountains, and through the valleys, and so on. They was a colored preacher, they called Nigger Bill, that's what he went by.
WB: Where was his place?
PW: He held revivals all around through a community, through the coal camps and uh.
WB: Did white people go to his revivals?
PW: And my dad took me down there when I was just a kid, and he'd have themstrung, just a big line of them through the river. He maybe, he probably baptized twenty-five or thirty. Wouldn't he?
PW: I'd, I'd say.
WB: You never did know his full name?
PW: They called him, it was, he went by the name, Nigger Bill.
WB: Yeah, but you don't remember his full name, uh?
PW: Simpson. Wouldn't it?
PW: Bill Simpson.
MW: Yeah, I think so. Uh-huh.
WB: Where did he live?
PW: Aw, he lived.
PW: Yeah, around Stearns, and he held a lot of revivals, what they call WilsonRidge, and all back through there, and they'd come, they'd come off that ridge down to the river.
WB: When would this be, back during the depression?
PW: Yeah, long, just after it, when times was pretty rough. Yeah I just.
WB: You just barely remember that. Don't you?
PW: Yeah, uh-huh. My dad he'd always hear, he's gonna have a baptizing, he'dtake us kids.
WB: You like to go to those?
PW: Yeah, lot of times we'd uh he'd ride some of us, you know, have a mule, andI remember he had a wagon, he'd hook the mule up to, and take a bunch of kids to church.
PW: Horse and wagon.
WB: When you all, you know your father told me he wasn't much to hunt or fish oranything like that. Were any of you boys, did you hunt and fish?
PW: Not too much, but some of my brothers, does like to hunt and fish.
PW: But I never was too much at it.
WB: Uh-huh. Was the hunting and fishing good down there?
WB: Back in.
PW: Yeah, it was.
WB: When Mine 18 was open?
PW: Yeah. It was pretty good.
WB: What did they hunt for, do you remember, squirrels and?
PW: Yeah, squirrels, and at that time, why a lot of people eat ground hog and coons.
WB: You ever remember seeing any deer?
PW: Uh, not at that time.
WB: There were no deer in the woods then?
PW: No, you never, never seen none. Some of them had a few wild goats out in thewoods, maybe or something, you know.
WB: You never remember seeing any deer in the woods, when you were a kid?
PW: Not when I was a kid, uh-uh.
WB: I guess there are more deer now than they were then.
PW: Oh yeah, yeah, yes. They is plenty of deer now. They stocked them. Shippedthem in here some. Yeah, I've, up there where my father-in-law lives at Bell Farm, there's plenty of deer back in there. They kill several back in the mountains there, now.
WB: Uh, where are you preaching that revival? At Bell Farm?
PW: They call it Oak Grove.
WB: Oh yeah, yeah.
PW: Name of the church.
WB: Is that past where Ora Spradlin lives?
PW: It just, right this side of Ora's.
WB: Oh yeah, that's right.
PW: In the hill. Yeah, up in the hillside there.
WB: Oh yeah, yeah, I know where it is.
PW: Yeah, yeah.
WB: You been getting, you said, you had about fifty?
PW: Yeah, somewhere, fifty or sixty long in there.
WB: Where will those people come from, all over the county maybe?
PW: Some of them out of Wayne County, and some of them off the mountains aroundthrough there. They very few people lives in there at Bell Farm now.
WB: I know, I know.
PW: About, I'd say three or four families. About all they is in and around,ain't it?
WB: But you can go back, back in toward Co-op, and up by that hill there?
PW: Yeah. That's in Rattlesnake Ridge and Mountain View.
WB: [laughing] Big rattlesnakes, back up in there.
PW: Yeah, yeah. Mountain View, they come out, up there, and uh.
WB: Up on Rattlesnake Ridge, when you were a boy, did you ever see any rattlesnakes?
PW: Yes. Several of them.
WB: Did anybody in your family ever get bit by one?
PW: Never, never did. And I imagine, I imagine them copperheads about knowed uskids by name. [lady laughing] And I know, we was in the house one night, and they was one of them come crawled out from under what we called a dresser at that time, you know had an old oil lamp setting on it.
PW: And uh some of us was around in there, and a copperhead come out through andout from under that, and was going out through the chimney. Through a hole we had in a chimney, and my dad run around there and killed it. I remember that, and it wasn't nothing back then for some woman to go in the kitchen, everybody cooked with wood, you know, had.
WB: Reach in that wood.
PW: Yeah and pull that wood off, and copperhead laying in that wood pile.
WB: I know. My wife killed a snake in our, one of our closets this year. We livein the woods.
WB: I'm glad she killed it, cause I'd been scared to death myself. [laughing]
PW: But I'd say, them snakes probably knowed us kids by name. [laughing] Theynever bothered us.
WB: Speaking of snakes. Did you ever see anybody handle snakes?
WB: Did they ever do it when you were a kid running around?
PW: Yes. [paused] Facts about it, we had an uncle use to catch about every snakehe could find.
PW: And play with them.
WB: No, I mean in church service.
PW: Oh, not in church service.
WB: You never saw anything like that?
PW: No, huh-uh. No, we never had none in church services, no.
WB: I've seen people do it once or twice.
PW: I've seen it on TV.
PW: But we never handled no snakes, in the church service.
WB: I don't mean you, but I wondered if you had ever seen any when you were akid or anything?
PW: No, no, uh-uh.
WB: What, how did your uncle do that caught them?
PW: Oh he'd just be out, just catch them to play with.
WB: Grab them, you mean?
PW: Yeah, just grab them yeah.
WB: What was his name?
PW: William. William Ledbetter.
PW: And put them in a jar and uh.
WB: Scare you with them and stuff? [laughing]
PW: Yeah, and he'd, I've seen him catch them, and coil them up in his hand, andhold them out like that, and them laying there licking their tongue out.
WB: Uhhhhhh! I couldn't.
PW: He'd play, yeah, he'd play with them.
WB: I'm afraid of mice, little alone snakes. [laughing]
PW: Yeah...uh-huh. But he wasn't doing it for religious cause, he'd just...
WB: No, oh no, I didn't mean that. [coughed]
PW: He just done it playing around, just liked to play with them. I've playedwith them, after they was dead, you know, run a stick through them, and run them down the road. [laughing]
WB: Uh-huh. Scare people with them.
PW: Yeah. [laughing] Uh-huh.
WB: Those were strange times, back in those days.
PW: Uh-huh, yes they was, uh-huh.
WB: When you were working in Mine 18, where was the mine opening? Where did yougo into the ground?
PW: Well I was trying to think. They had several openings, and uh.
WB: Which ones did you work in?
PW: I've almost, forgot the name of it. The one that I just.
PW: To start in. They had them named Number One North, seem like it, Two North,didn't they? [children hollering in background] They had a name for every opening. It's been so long, it's about slipped my mind.
WB: Did you ever work in that one that's right up above the tipple, straight upabove over the tipple?
PW: [unclear]. Uh-huh.
WB: What was the name of that one?
PW: I don't call to remember now, what the name of that was.
WB: Do you remember the name of that one, Mr.Watters?
MW: No, I don't know, but that was the first one they opened.
PW: But they had, but I have let that slip my mind, what they did, but they hada name for every opening.
MW: Well, they had, Number Two,
MW: Number Three, Number Four-
PW: Just on up.
WB: That was probably Number One, huh?
MW: And they was some more on up the river.
PW: It probably, I'd say, it would have been. And they had, see that big tip,tip bridge goes across there, they had uh mine, I don't know whether you been around there, but you go for miles back.
WB: Yeah, I've been over there.
PW: Around up on both sides the river for the long, you'd have to take yourdinner with you nearly, you know, to walk it.
WB: When you were uh working up there, about how many people were working therein those mines then?
PW: It seem to me like, the best I remember, it seem to me like it was aroundthree hundred. That's just counting all the shifts. They use to run a day shift, and a second and third.
WB: When you worked in a mine, was your dad still working there in the tipple?
PW: Yes, yeah, he was on a tipple.
WB: Where did you live, when you first went to work in the mine?
PW: I lived with my dad. Back out uh out in the Bald Knob section.
WB: Did you ever work in the mine again, after you were married?
WB: Never did.
PW: No, I never worked after I was married.
WB: What would you, what kind of advice would you have to a son of yours, thatwanted to go to work in the mines?
PW: Well, I've. I've got a boy that, you know, I had talked to him about themine. And I told him that, you know, it's not too bad a place. I kinda liked them.
WB: You did huh?
PW: Yeah, and course, its some people looks after it as being dangerous but.
WB: Well, generally people like myself, who never worked in them do.
PW: Yeah, but, but to me, I never felt that, you know, that too, too bad inthem, cause that, so many people gets hurt at everything else, you know and.
WB: That's right.
PW: And I had mentioned once to my son, you know, one of them, about work is sobad up there in Indiana now, said, you may get a job in a mine.
WB: Go do just the opposite you did.
PW: Yeah. [laughing] I said you may get a job working in a mine. Yeah, but henever tried it.
WB: Uh. Was there ever any cave-ins or anything, down there at Mine 18, when youwere there?
WB: Did any of them get killed?
PW: Yeah, they had people, yeah to get killed while I.
WB: Did the top come down or.
WB: Why would that happen?
PW: Well, a lot of times, it was because it wasn't timbered proper. Thensometimes, it would just be, just be something, be uncontrolled, you know.
MW: Arthur Watson got.
PW: Yeah and uh.
MW: Cars got loose and killed him in there.
PW: Yeah, they had, sometimes they, that coal that coal would uh lay in there,sometimes it just be as level as a house floor.
PW: Then all at once, it would just turn right over a mountain...
PW: And go for way down over a big hill, in there. Then it, then it turn back upand go up another mountain, and then maybe level off again. They had mountains in there, big hills, they'd have runaway's, you know and.
PW: They been people get killed like that.
WB: How would that be?
PW: They'd slide, you know, get overloaded and have more than they could climb amountain with, and the motor slip up with them.
WB: Oh, a runaway with the trains.
PW: Yeah, runaway, yeah, and maybe like a switch be throwed just right, itwould, may go down in a, where a fellow was working in his room.
WB: And run right into somebody?
PW: Yeah, and then would all cross up and stack up in there. We lost a man like that.
PW: By the name of Arthur Watson, while I was working there.
WB: Uh-huh. Could you hear that thing coming, when they got away?
PW: Oh, you could hear them, yeah coming, Yeah, you'd be.
WB: I never thought about that.
PW: Yeah, yeah, they had mountains in there. They'd have runaway's on.
WB: [traffic in background] How tall, like how high would those hills be inthere, those mountains, inside the mine?
PW: Oh, you mean about how far they would be.
WB: Yeah, from the bottom of the hill, to the top of the hill, how far it would be?
PW: Well, I'd say some of them probably be uh maybe a half mile or maybe more.
WB: How high would those hills be inside the mines?
PW: Yeah...uh-huh. Yeah, just uh...
MW: Long slope.
PW: Yeah, long slope in there. They'd be pretty good mountains in there.
WB: So I guess if you're a miner, you're really hoping that uh you're in a minethat's pretty level then, huh?
PW: Uh-huh, yeah, it's best. Ain't as dangerous.
MW: And when you'd find a swag, then lot of times they'd follow that swag. Gotso when they surveyed, they tried to stay on that court, where the coal ain't big. And upon the hill it wouldn't be as big [unclear].
PW: Yeah, and it come into a squeeze, like say, you know, sometimes they'd becoal on the other side of that rock. They'd go back into it. Yeah, go back through there. That coal lays in there kindly funny, you know, it's...
WB: Then that was one of the most dangerous things then, huh? In those mountains.
PW: Yeah, it could be awful dangerous. Like it'll, like it'll be rainingoutside, and the motor come in out that rain, and they come in there and uh everything all wet, and the wheels all wet, on the ever, you know, motor and all, and you headed over there in them mountains, get them rails slick, they would really.
WB: Did they have any emergency way to stop them?
PW: Nothing that now when it would slide, they call them, they call it a"slipping up." What they call them, all four wheels would be locked and it just go to it usually stopped itself, wherever it was at, when they'd have a runaway like that.
MW: Hit the walls on them.
WB: And they'd be somebody in that car too, and that would be another bad thing.
PW: Yeah, sometimes they would be.
WB: Yeah, but the worse thing would be if you went into those rooms, and runinto a miner, I guess?
PW: Uh-huh, yes, yeah, it could be dangerous.
WB: Were you ever working, where a runaway came into the room?
PW: Uh, no, not.
WB: You never had a car?
PW: No, no, it never happened to me. I've seen them run away and everything, butnever, never happen, you know.
WB: Well, I sure want to thank-you, for letting me talk to you today. And Ithink I might if you don't mind, get your phone number, and when you get back to Indiana I'll call you, and maybe you can help me make some arrangements to come up and see some of those people that are living up in there, from around in here.
MW: Yeah, he could.
PW: That would be fine with me.
WB: Maybe you could call around, and maybe over a two or three day period, maybehelp me get in touch with them people. And then I could come up and stay there a couple days around Muncie, and talk to some of them.
PW: Yeah, I would like for you to talk with Bob Davis, especially.
WB: Yeah, I would too.
MW: He was a foreman.
PW: Yeah, he was a foreman.
WB: Did he live at Mine 18?
PW: Yeah, no. I believe he, seem like Bob did. [someone else talking inbackground] No, he lived [someone else talking in background]. I don't call to mind, where he lived at Mine 18. I believe he did, somewhere abouts down there.
WB: He lived down there one time, didn't he?
PW: I think he did. He was general foreman.
PW: And uh.
WB: Yeah, I'd sure like to talk to him.
PW: Yeah, he could tell you a lot.
MW: And little Charlie, that's his brother.
MW: He lives there, he's pretty old.
PW: Yeah he is.
MW: And he was our boss.
WB: Does he still live up there?
MW: He was the boss on the tipple, and we all worked under him a lot.
WB: He'd be a good one to talk to, Bob Davis then, wouldn't he?
PW: Yes. He'd be a good one.
MW: And well, Charlie, either one. Charlie was a chick weigh-man, weighed coalfor the men, and he'd tend to all that weight and everything.
PW: Well, he was a, when I knowed Charlie, he was a, take care of the bath house.
WB: Yeah, I heard he did.
PW: For people. Yeah, where people changed clothes. [lady in background said:"Two more miners, Goman and Simon."] Yeah.
WB: Where do they live?
PW: They live there in Muncie to.
WB: Well, then I could see them, up there too then.
[Lady in background saying, "yeah, they'd be glad to see you."]
PW: Yeah. [Same lady, name unknown said: "Goman was talking to me last night,and said, he'd be glad to see you."]
PW: Yeah, I'm uh, I'm uh.
WB: Well, I'll just come up there. I'll wait till you get back up there.
PW: Yeah, I'm retired from General Motors, you see. Yeah, I worked thirty-oneand a half years for them.
WB: When do you think you're going back?
PW: I'll probably, I'd say, couple weeks or so anyway, I may be here that long.
WB: Well, I plan. I have a boy getting married, the last week of August. I'llplan to come up there the second or third week of September, would that be a pretty good time, do you think?
PW: I'd say it would, far as I know.
WB: What's your phone number up there? And I'll call you.
PW: It's a 282
WB: Area code 282?
PW: And 3241, Area code is three what? 317.
WB: Your area code is 317 and your number 3?
PW: Yeah, 282.
PW: Uh, 3241.
WB: 3241, okay.
WB: I got it on this tape, then I won't forget it.
WB: And what I'll do then. I'll wait, and call you after Labor Day. And thenmaybe you can think of some more people that are up there, in addition to Davis and.
PW: Yeah, yeah.
MW: Yeah, them the old legends, there at Mine 18, buddy.
WB: They'd be good ones to talk to, wouldn't they?
PW: Yeah. [pause] Did you ever talk to Silas Ross? In Whitley?
WB: Yeah, way back about three years ago, I guess.
PW: Well, he was my foreman, when I run the shuttle car.
WB: Uh-huh. Is he still alive?
MW: He lives here in town, I reckon.
PW: Yeah, he lives out on Williamsburg Street, up here somewhere.
WB: And when you worked on the shuttle car, he was your boss?
WB: Uh-huh. He'd be a good one to talk to.
WB: Who would be some others that you know of? [pause]
PW: Uh, let's see, off hand I.
WB: Did both of your brothers work at Mine 18?
PW: Yes. But not uh not too much. My oldest brother, he worked at uh, lateryears he went to uh Worley. What did they call that, [Same lady, name unknown said: Yeah Mine Four] Mine Four wasn't it?
MW: Yeah, I believe it was.
PW: He worked the most of his time down there in Worley. I think they call itMine Four.
WB: Did you ever get involved in any of the union stuff?
WB: Did you ever strike or anything?
PW: I've, I's always in the, you know, in the union and uh, been in strikes.
WB: I mean, at Mine 18?
WB: Was there many strikes when you were down there?
PW: Yeah they was, you know.
WB: Enough, huh?
PW: Yeah, they was several, yeah.
WB: What was it usually about?
PW: Aw, some.
WB: pay or you know, safety or what?
PW: Well, it's more so, wanting more money. [pecking in background]
PW: You know, the call to remember just wanting.
WB: Particularly during the war?
PW: Yeah, yeah. Always wanting more money, mostly.
PW: To my knowledge.
WB: Did they still have the company store down there? When you were down there?
WB: Did you, did you shop there?
WB: Was that a pretty good store?
PW: Yeah, we thought it was. Yeah we, we traded a lot at that company store, youknow, we run a credit with them. Like you owe your soul to the company [laughing] store. Yeah, yeah.
WB: Who ran that store, when you were working?
PW: Bill Pryor.
WB: He was there when you went?
PW: Yeah. He was the operator of it.
WB: Did, you worked down there when Theodore Childers worked down there?
PW: Yeah, Theodore was there too, yeah.
WB: There was a Watters worked down there at that store, was he kin to you all?He's married to Wilma, she works in the library.
PW: Oh uh.
WB: What's his name? I can't remember.
PW: Was that one of Willie Watters, yeah boys?
WB: Are they kin to you?
PW: Yes, yeah, we're related.
WB: Yeah, he worked at that store, I know.
PW: Yeah, they, yeah, we run a run a credit, you know, and every two weeks we'dsettle up, you know.
WB: How much did you have left when you settled up? [laughing]
PW: Not very much. [laughing]
WB: They didn't let you get too far ahead, did they? [laughing]
PW: No. I know sometimes, pay my bills up, and I'd have to.
WB: Work free?
PW: I'd go to the bookkeeper, Hobert Stephens, and ask him could I draw a fewdollars, you know, sometime he'd kindly go overboard a little bit, I didn't have it there, but he'd let me have it anyway, you know.
WB: Were they pretty easy to work with, those people?
PW: Yes uh-huh yeah, they was.
WB: I've heard uh stories. I think I have a little bit of time left on this. Letme ask you this. I've heard stories about men, said that they'd go by the store and get their powder, or something like that. Did a miner have to pay for his own powder?
PW: Uh, at one time he did. They had uh.
WB: That before they started blasting?
PW: Yes, uh-huh, Yeah, they had what they call a powder house that set way offdown the track by itself, away from everybody.
WB: Uh-huh. Down toward that little bridge that comes across?
PW: Uh-huh, and you had to, they'd have a man that would open that up, you know,in their early hours.
WB: Did they charge you for that stuff?
PW: Yes, and you'd go there, and you had a powder baggie you carried it in. Getyour powder bag up there on a little porch and tell him how much you wanted. And he'd fill it up, and he'd charge it to you.
WB: Did they keep the caps and the powder together?
PW: Uh, I don't, don't think so.
WB: Probably didn't, because that would have been dangerous, wouldn't it?
PW: I don't seem, uh.
WB: Let me ask you something.
WB: When you were a boy, when you were a young man, you went down there to work.Let's say, if somebody come up to you and ask you about Mine 18, what did the camp look like? Describe it to me. How it looked to you, when you first saw it. Where the people lived, and the tipple, and the shops, and everything. What kind of a looking place was it?
PW: Well, it, to me, and me being a country boy, I thought it was a great, greatscenery, you know. All them houses built around up on them rocks, and between the rocks and setting high on the banks, and that big tipple you know was...
WB: Bet it was a beauty, wasn't it?
PW: It was beautiful place to me, and when I was a kid, while they was abuilding that, we'd be down there maybe on the river bank, where the walnuts grow big, and we'd hull them out, and sell them to some of the people for a dollar a bushel.
WB: That was working there?
PW: Yeah, that was working, a building that bridge across there, and all thattipple. They'd buy all we would, we hull them out and dry them, and they'd give us a dollar a bushel for them, while they was building that. But it was a.
WB: You think you could sell them for a dollar a bushel on, say Hollywood drive. [laughing]
PW: Yeah, [laughing] and it was a great scenery.
WB: It was, wasn't it?
WB: You seen some of the other coal camps around?
WB: How would you compare Mine, Blue Heron with, say some of the others?
PW: Oh it was...to me it was a much more greater place, you know.
WB: It was, huh?
PW: Yeah, more beautiful and everything. Yeah, them other coal mining camps looklike little play pretty, to side of that, you know.
[END OF INTERVIEW]