We came to Scranton for a family reunion for Steve's family, of which I am part. They adopted me. Visiting with the family has been great. In addition to spending time together we went to a coal mine tour–really fascinating in a gruesome way. This is the second coal mine tour I've taken. Both times I have constantly wondered about the conditions in Ireland and Eastern Europe that made people come here and take jobs in those mines. How horrible could those conditions have been, when it is preferable to work in an occupation where you would most certainly become ill for the rest of your life if you were not rescued by an early death. Children, as young as seven were sent to work in life-risking situations. Mules used to move the coal filled train cars were more valuable than the children. We forget the terrible working conditions that prevailed during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and how much labor unions have done to improve things for workers, although, as mine explosions in Chile and West Virginia have shown during the last year, the unions have not done enough.
Think about walking around down here with only the light from a lantern attached to a hat you were wearing. Then drill into the coal, set black powder or dynamite and run away before the charge explodes.