Click photo to enlarge
Hoistman And Welder
I was raised in Czechoslovakia. When I came here in 1948, I started in a small coal mine up Willow Creek, not far from here. My first paycheque bounced. That was quite a surprise to me.
In 1948, I got a job with the Red Deer Coal Mine in Nacmine. I ended up at the Midland Mine with Sid McMullen. When the Midland and the Crown amalgamated, I ended up with the Crown Mine. Then the Atlas and Crown joined together. That's why I'm here at the Atlas.
I didn't go underground because being a mechanic is in my blood. Being a welder, mechanic and shopman ran in my family. My only brother was also into the mechanical end.
I worked for the coal company all my life, but always on top. You didn't get the excitement and happening that you got underground. In the old days, you had to buy your own tools. Your payroll number was your tool number. When a miner had to have a new pick handle, he had to pay for it. He also had to pay to sharpen his pick.
Around here, the only thing that grows on the coal is the tumbleweed. There are lots of old-time miners who worked in the Atlas and the Murray. They're all on pensions and scattered all over Alberta.