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When Coal Was King
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Dick and Dalia Guzzi
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August 8, 1998

Interviewers:

  • Leslie Robertson and Mary Giuliano

(Italics - Leslie Robertson) (A - Dick Guzzi) A1 - Dalia Guzzi)

Q: Did you hear about the mines a lot from your grandfather or?

A: Oh yeah, yeah he was the one he was working underground in One of the many panels from Festa Italiana.the mines and he used to come home and he used to tell us how things were there and all that kind of stuff and I always used to say - and then he said to me once listen when you get bigger and getting to be a teenager and your going to be finished school don’t work in the mine he says - he said keep away from the mines. A lot of better places and more money to be earned than going there.

Q: Did your dad work in the mine Dalia?

A1: Definitely 40 years.

Q: Forty years? Also at Coal Creek?

A: Yeah. Yeah. Cause my dad worked in the mine for - he didn’t work that long - my dad worked probably maybe 20 some odd years and then being that he was in the store - my grandma had the business that’s what he went into - he went into the grocery business and then he built the house onto the store and all that kind of stuff as we were growing up and heck we just had a good life.

Q: When did he open the store Dick cause I remember here in 1953 but it was here way before that?

A1: Oh yeah.

A: One of the many panels from Festa Italiana.Oh yeah it was way before that.

Q: In the forties - thirties?

A: Yes way way back into the thirties yeah.

A1: Because uh when they were kids - Mike and them went away to work that’s his brother and they sent him money to start it up again during the Depression.

A: Yeah that’s right.

Q: So he started even before the Depression then if they were helping him out.?

A: Yeah. Yeah.

A1: Then they closed it and then they opened it again.

Q: None of your family did go - none of your brothers and sisters or your brothers went into the mine did they?

A1: No.

A: Uh Mike went.

A1: Oh Mike went yeah.

One of the many panels from Festa Italiana.A: My brother Mike was the only one in our family that went uh in the mine and my brother Johnny and the rest of us uh they said they were kind of scared getting into the mine you know they figured - they had a lot of explosions in the mine those days. A lot of guys were killed and that’s what kept them away. But well the guys that needed money and this and that they went in and a lot of them didn’t...

Q: They never had much choice did they?

A1: No. No in those days....

A: ... a lot of them didn’t make it - they were doing the work underground in the mine and a bloody big bump would come and some of them got buried alive and all that kind of stuff.

This oral history transcript is extracted from the Elk Valley Italian Oral History Project undertaken for the Fernie and District Historical Society in 1998-99. The Heritage Community Foundation and the Year of the Coal Miner Consortium would like to thank Leslie Robertson and the interview team and the Fernie and District Historical Society, which is a member of the consortium, for permission to reprint this material.
 

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