I worked 25 years at the coal face, mainly here in Inverness. I was about 14-something when I started mining. My father worked on surface at the mine. At one time, there were 800 men working in No. 1 Mine, with 100 on surface.
And there's coal there yet for thousands of years that they never took out. Both No. 1 and No. 5 coal was good but they claim there was a lot of sulphur. You couldn't bank that coal or she'd go on fire.
I played a lot of ball all my life and I did a lot of mining. Working in the mines and playing ball after work. I got a chance to play professional ball in 1920 when Glace Bay, Dominion and New Waterford were professional and they had some of the big-league fellows playing.
I was 18 and playing ball up here with a bunch from Glace Bay. This big fellow hit the ball and there was fence between the field we were playing and MacDonald's farm. There were three men on the bases and two out. This fellow hit the ball a mile. I looked at it and it kept on going, going.
When I got to the fence, I jumped it and caught the ball. They all said to me, Why are you staying here, we've never seen the likes of that. Next, two fellows came down and offered me $125 a week and a job. I told them I couldn't go. They came after me twice.
One time, me and my brother loaded 38 tons by quarter to one and we pushed them boxes 500 feet before we were done. When I got home, my wife said, The Sydney team is here, put on your uniform. I should have been in bed. I was so damn tired, I played third base. The ball came right through my legs.
The coach called me over and asked what was wrong. He had a quart of rum and he gave me a couple of big slugs. After that, I never missed another ball and I hit a couple of home runs to boot. The last one I hit, I jumped up and walked on my hands. I walked to home plate on my hands and they were all cheering. We used to do all those queer things.
I spent about 39 years in coal mining. I lost my arm in the mine. Everything came down and I got caught - I was the only one. I lost my arm and I got $57 a month for two years. I also had four ribs completely smashed. They couldn't figure out how I was able to live. After that accident, I couldn't even carry a bucket of coal to throw on the fire. But of course a coal mine is a lot safer today than it was then.