Frieda & Clare Roberts, Retired Coal Miner, Minto, NB

I know some of the old-time songs. I often go over to Louie Madore's and sing while Louie plays the fiddle. We went to the Hootenanny last night and it took me nearly all night to get my feet going. Today, I'm having a hard time getting my brain working and I might not be able to sing any songs for you.

I worked 20 years underground and nearly another 20 years on surface around the draglines. I was working underground for one guy and the son-of-a-bitch threatened to fire me. You see, if you had a roof fall, you had to clean it up and you didn't get paid. You were paid between 25 and 27 cents per box of coal mined but if you were unlucky and had a roof fall, you wouldn't make any money that day. So, if a guy had bad luck, you'd give him a couple of your boxes so he'd get paid. Anyway, the manager found out we were doing this and threatened to fire us. Christ, you had to work all winter to get a day's pay and then, half the time you worked, you didn't get paid for it Nobody cared whether you died or not.

The manager was an old hillbilly. He stopped me one day in town after I'd had a couple of drinks. He said, "You fell off the wagon, didn't you?" I said, "You look drunker than I am."

We had a lot of fun when we was working, but the manager figured everyone was a thief. Gasoline used to disappear very fast. Gracious God Almighty, that's what's wrong with this country. If you do get anything, the owner will come and take it back.

Since we quit work, we don't go to bed early and we don't get up early. We always watch the late news. We sleep in a bit in the morning because we have nothing else to do. - Clare Roberts