Jimmy Johnson, Retired Coal Mine, Stellarton

My mother said, I don't know what we're going to do. At the time, I couldn't get a job nowhere. So there was no other place to go but the coal mines. She said, I don't know what we're going to do, we ain't got nothing to eat.

I went down to the Alan Shaft Mine and got a job. On Monday afternoon - that was the 27th of January, 1930 - I went to work. I went from company work to working on the shaft bottom to running chains. I went from there to digging coal and I moved from there on to shot firing.

Don't you say a word - hard work! I worked in one place - we had 23 inches of coal, 23 inches high. You had to lay down to take a drink of water. You had to lay down to eat. Ah, boys, she was something. That's not much coal.

Ah, boys, don't you say a word, don't you say a word. There were a lot of men who died down there and a lot of horses killed. They had explosions every few years. I was in the explosion in 1950 - I was nearly killed. After the explosion, they gave me a watchman's job at the Alan Shaft. I was 22 years underground there. In 1961, I started working in the washplant which was far worse than working underground - too dusty.

I've been in the mines 52 years and I retire this fall. We had some bad conditions in the pit but in coal mining, you expect that. I enjoyed it because, I'll tell you, when we worked underground, we worked under good men.