The Star Coal Mine
Remember how I said that it cost 25 cents to go out on the town???(from "A Boy's Life"? Here is the down side. In 1937 or 38 I worked for our neighbor who had the next cabin downstream from us in the BigHornMountains (I was around 13 years old). The job was stacking dead fall timber into teepees to make his land look neat. I worked about 2-1/2 days to finish the job and I was paid 75 cents for maybe 15 hours! At that rate I would have to have worked 5 hours to earn enough money to pay for a Saturday afternoon outing.
One Dollar, One Day
The first time I worked at the Star Mine---in 1937---I worked 10 hard hours. My pay was one silver dollar!! Things were tough all over---I really was so very proud to have earned that silver dollar. I worked all Saturdays while I was in High School and also many Sundays---each day, one silver dollar. One dollar for a 10 hour day works out to be 10 cents an hour! By the summer of 1942, my pay was $2.50 a day---still not very much!!!
Working at the mine was not a new experience for me. Many hours of many days, during the previous 6 years, had been spent at the mine---running "boy" errands, and lending a hand wherever it was needed. A lot of time then was spent working on a current project---making a hunting knife by forging and shaping a worn out steel file. My Uncle Mike was always there and always willing to help, advise, and do some of the work.
These activities, over those years were learning by doing and by assimilation---it just oozed in. So this first day of work was hard work, but familiar work.
The job I had was doing everything necessary to load coal into a customer's truck or trailer---as fast as it could be done---to provide them with the best service---and hope the service would bring them back the next time they needed coal. There were other similar mines in the area competing for business.
This mine was called a "wagon mine" or later, a "truck mine" (when wagons disappeared). The other type of mines there at that time were called "rail mines" because they shipped all of the mined coal by railroads. Open pit mines were yet to appear, as the large earth moving machines had not yet been invented.
Mines could be either shaft mines or slope mines. Shaft mines entered the coal seams, underground, by a vertical shaft. Slope mines entered the ground at a fairly steep angle of entry---slope. The Star Mine was an underground, slope mine.