Metro Katrusik, Retired Coal Miner, Bienfait

I wasn't quite 15 when I started - that was in 1932. I got a job in a gopher hole along the river, pulling coal with a horse at seventeen-and-a-half cents an hour. They treated people worse than horses. If a horse got killed and it was the driver's fault, the driver would be fired right now. But if a driver got killed, so what? There were always about a hundred men outside waiting to take his job. It didn't cost them a bloody nickel but a horse? You had to go out and buy a bloody horse.

On surface, I started out at the tipple, running a loader to load boxcars. In 1950, I went to work on a new dragline. Then, in 1960, I went over to the Utility Mine and I was there until 1982 - 22 years.

My dad had wanted me to get an education, but times got tough. He didn't have an education himself - he could sign his name but that was about it. I myself was pretty good in school but then the '30s came along and I figured, What the hell was the use? There were teachers working in the coal mines. My dad was mad as hell when I quit school, so I used the argument that even teachers were glad to get a job in the coal mines. He said, Look Metro, times aren't always going to be like this. When times change for the better, them teachers ain't always gonna be there but you're going to be stuck. And that's exactly what happened.

I got to like mining, especially once I got involved with draglines. I like machinery. I know when I ran draglines on the nightshift, a lot of guys would curse me. I was in my glory - I'd sit there all night and not even yawn. When I worked nightshift, I never came home to jump into bed - I used to build. I built all my own houses. I built three and one for the boy. I built the first one in 1950.

I have one son who's shift foreman with Manalta. I've been foreman for the last six years. One time I was assistant manager, until I got sick. I was on the Bienfait town council for many years, then I was mayor of Bienfait for six year. I retired from the mayor's position four years ago.