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Joe Orstz
Retired Coal Miner

You know, I am feeling my 80s now but if it was really necessary, I could load coal yet. I was born in 1906 in Hungary. I come to Canada in 1928 and arrived in Lethbridge to work on a farm.

A friend of mine from the old country taught me to be a miner. He taught me so well that I could get my miner's paper before I ever went into a mine. Then my friend took me underground in a small Lethbridge mine to actually show me how to mine. I come there for one week and never do nothing, just sit in the corner. Boy, was my heart pounding and I am always looking at the roof. The first time I went in the mine, by Jesus, I was white like the snow because I was scared that the roof was going to come down. He said "Don't be scared, just be quiet." He showed me how to load and to bore and load the holes. After that I come to Wayne, Cambria, Rose Deer and the Shaughnessy Mine and that's where I finished after 27 years in the mines.

I sure enjoyed being a coal miner. All my miner life, I liked it very much and thanks to the God, I only had one small accident. I always remember my teacher who said "Safety first. Always mind the roof. Don't worry about the coal. Whenever you lose your life, nobody is going to replace it for you."

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