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Retired Underground Coal Miner
I was born in Ukraine in 1900. I came to this country, not knowing a word of English. When I arrived in Canada, I went to Nordegg and got my miner's papers.
I came to the valley in 1934 and helped to organize the union. This got me listed as a troublemaker. The mines said, "Sorry, John, we can't have you, your name is on the lists as a troublemaker." I was blacklisted for 15 months, even through a cold spell in December where the temperature reached 40 degrees below. I half starved, but there were a few faithful comrades, you understand, who worked and gave me a dollar here and a dollar there. There were days when I ate only one or two slices of bread and black cup of coffee, but I survived. And I am not ashamed of it.
In the '40s, we organized our own little company. We all put in $3,000 each and took the land between Rosedale and Wayne - the Sunshine Mine The mine opened in 1948. We had 36 men, and I was the mine manager. Those were six years of hard work and long hours. But as long as we had orders, it was all right and we were very successful.
After the Sunshine, I got a job at the Murray Mine and stayed there from 1954 to 1959. Then I went to the Atlas and worked to 1979. After that, worked as a tourist guide for four years.
Also, I was a local secretary of United Mine Workers of America, and I spent 16 years as a school trustee and 18 years on the hospital board.