Herb Pike, Retired Coal Miner, Glace Bay

I was born in 1910 in Glace Bay. I started in the Florence Mine with my father, driving the main deeps with a punching machine. That was the first machine driven by air. Three dollars a day was what you got because you were called a 'helper.' When I first started working with my father, I wasn't quite 16.

I worked 43 years in the coal mines. My father worked there for 52 years.

I was on contract all my life. I never carried a lunch pail because I never had time to eat. I don't want to brag but I was approached in 1969: they said, Would you come back? We'll give you a good job looking after the arches in No. 26 Colliery. I said, No way.

When the Florence Mine closed, I was transferred to the Princess Colliery. Then I went overseas and, after the war, I went to the gold mine in Kirkland Lake. I didn't stay long there.

Then I started in No. 20 Colliery. I did all the stone work along the rake roads. I was an arch boomer. I took a lot of pride in my work in the mine.

Why did I stay in coal mining? I'll have to tell the honest truth: I stayed in coal mining because I liked it. I liked it. Most of the people who'd answer that question would tell you, I stayed because I had no alternative. But when I took jobs in other areas, there was something that always bothered me - and that was the lack of companionship. We used to have singsongs and all that stuff, five or six fellows together, and it was a lot of fun. You worked hard but there was some fun and the days went by. In fact, you looked forward to it.

I was president of the Glace Bay Pensioners' Club for four terms.