If I had to do it over again, I would. Miners are a great bunch of people to work with. When you got into the cage in the morning and looked around, you knew every damn one. You knew where they worked and where they lived.
When I went to the 1B Mine, there were 70 horses underground. The one stable I had on the north side had 36 horses - that was a big stable. In the beginning, I didn't want to take that bloody job of head stableman. I was making more money at my previous job. Anyway, being stableman meant I got a seven-day-a-week job because the horses had to be fed and watered every day.
But I think I was born in a horse stall. I looked after horses all my life. I could tell you a lot of queer stories about horses. There was one white horse named Jumbo. He used to go around and open the men's lunch cans. When he found a lunch can, he'd put a big foot on it to flatten the can, then he'd have a snack. The horse I had in my yard was an old pit pony. He was 27 years old when I finally got rid of him. At the end, he would lay down and lay there so long that he'd have trouble getting up.
Horseshoe Dan was in charge of one of the three underground stables at the 1B Mine. He used to talk to the horses and to himself. He was a queer old shit. He told me that when he first went to work in the Sterling Yard, the coal company had 700 horses.
The end of horses working underground was in 1965. The photograph, "The Last Trip," was taken in No. 26 Colliery. Somebody asked me to put a harness on Emma and hook her to a box of coal because they wanted to take a picture of her.I worked 36 years in the pit. You see, I was an old boy when I started in the pit because previously, I'd been a dairy farmer and worked with horses on the farm.