Obrázky na stránke

term of "lounge-lizard" is no friend of mine. He has laid an undeserved curse upon a great and worthy company of those who very properly prefer healing relaxation to this vulgar virility of modern days.

I would rather stare into what Anatole France calls "the melancholy mesmerism of the embers" than to

stare at a "Colonel" slicing its disgusting way into a corn-field where only an avaricious caddy can find it surreptitiously under cover of dusk. But one will hunt long and doubtfully for that ancient shrine, the open fireplace, among New York apartments. The same are designed with architectural heads bowed to the evil custom of in

ordinate exercise and activity. One is supposed only to eat and sleep in his apartment. The soul is no longer to be invited. Why should it be when Broadway calls? And yet even a stroll along Broadway at its tawdriest is preferable to the thump of the sticky medicine ball or the inanity of pulley weights and dumb-bells.




F any of my friends discover that I have emitted a plea for perspirationproducing athletics, they will rightfully ask, "What has athletics done to deserve such a fate?" At that, I may be as great an authority on athletics as Mr. Fuessle is on the "Easy Chair." Perhaps in each instance both of us are preaching what we have practiced least. So that I may not be suspected of overpowering modesty, let me give a brief account of my athletic career. It began approximately, I should say,

about my twelfth year. In that mo

mentous period I first entered an athletic contest, a cross-country run open to all the boys of the school which I attended, and which led us for several miles through the wild country of the Highlands of the Hudson. In this contest I won second place. I might add that I came in one hour behind the winner, and that all the rest of the boys lost their way in the woods.

Shortly after this triumph I was runner-up for the school tennis championship. By drawing a "bye" and by the grace of three defaults I attained this enviable position. I think I did beat one boy, but he had a sprained wrist. The finals of the tournament were played in a drizzling rain; the score, if Iremember correctly, was seven busted rackets to five. The other details of the match I have forgotten. Perhaps some of those whose rackets we borrowed may remember them-the details and the rackets.

In some cubby-hole in my desk at home there are a number of prize ribbons for track, field, and gymnasium events which I acquired at another school, to which I later transferred my athletic enterprise and reputation. There are boxing, wrestling, shot-putting, broad-jumping, and high-jumping ibbons, and ribbons for an assorted variety of dashes in this moth-eaten group. The boxing ribbon I believe I acquired because there were only two contestants in the class which I entered and the bout was called off. We tossed a coin for the prize, and I was awarded second place. I have a hazy recollection of having won the wrestling ribbon because my opponent's jersey tore in my grasp, and he fell to the floor, landing flat on his back. I greatly suspect that similar stories would ac

count for most of the other trophies in my collection.

In college I pursued the goal for which Mr. Fuessle contends with avidity. There are only two athletic events in which I participated. One was a fencing match with a member of the college team, which ended by my breaking my opponent's foil and in a subcutaneous laceration of my anatomy in a location which made it easier to stand than to sit for a number of days. I really think there must have been something wrong in my stance, or else such a tragedy had not occurred. The other athletic event in which I took part I shared with hundreds of my fellow-collegians. It involved the difficult task of rising suddenly when called upon, extending the right arm above the head, moving it gently to and fro and at the same time singing, "Then stan dan dwave your ban-ner zon high. On on to vic-tor-ree.' I was always particularly glad to perform this athletic ceremony whenever a Harvard back crossed a Yale goal line with the ball held snugly under his arm. New Haven papers please copy.

[ocr errors]

All of which may seem more like a digression than an introduction, but it is not. It serves to explain how it happens that it was not until college had sunk several years below the horizon of my life that I ever thoroughly learned the surprising advantages which lie in athletics or in hard physical exercise. Save for one experience, I would have chosen to support Mr. Fuessle's side in this discussion, but that one experience taught me a lesson which I hope I shall never forget.

In 1916, you will remember, the Plattsburg camps were blossoming into full flower. It was my good fortune to spend two months of that summer beside Lake Champlain, exercising my disused civilian muscles under the eagle eyes of a group of two-fisted officers of the Regular Army. Those of my friends who were fortunate enough to pass the physical examinations for the officers' training camps of 1917 tell me that the early Plattsburg training camps were very mild affairs so far as physical work was concerned, but they were at least strenuous enough to point the moral of my present contention. Night after night of my first month in

camp I crawled into my cot too tired even to dream. We wound up the month with a forced march (at least it was very forced to me) of fifteen miles in five hours, carrying full equipment, over a hard State road, and under a broiling sun. I dropped in my tracks when the camping ground was reached, and I think that I suffered no loneliness in my fatigue.

The next day I climbed aboard a scale and discovered that during the month I had gained some eight pounds in weight and was the possessor of a body which was a thing of joy in itself. I am not speaking of it in terms of æsthetics, but as a vehicle in which I could move freely, unthinkingly, and with the same pleasurable emotion which you may observe in a young puppy pursuing a rubber shoe.

It was a body such as nature designed for man, but which he, in the pursuit of easy chairs and Ford cars, has chosen to sacrifice for an end which is only half of life. No, I shall not soon forget the quarrelsome and reluctant thing I took to Plattsburg in May, nor the creature of fire and energy which went away with me when I broke camp the latter part of June. It was exercise, hard exercise, exhausting exercise, which turned the trick and which gave me a body which I could forget or remember at will. Only in such a body can the mind enjoy the alertness and vigor required for a true appreciation of the gods of litera ture or the seductive riches of genius which Mr. Fuessle maintains should lure all men from golf course, track, and ball-field. Parenthetically, I may observe that I am sure that the vigor of mind which Mr. Fuessle possesses today came in great part from the fact that once upon a time he could set the pace for Lightbody in part of a twomile race.

Recreation is a thing of contrast. The man who carries away from the athletics of school and college a true understanding of the value of harsh physical effort and the habit of being athletic possesses a heritage which be should be slow to discard. Perhaps it is towards this heritage that those who are enslaved to restlessness are struggling to find a way. It is not less exercise that they need, but more sanity and balance.

[graphic][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][merged small]



URING the summer of 1908 a classmate and I spent our three months' vacation loading coal in a small Indiana shaft mine. The mine was equipped with none of the improvements in mining or ventilating machinery that are in general use at the present time; yet, in spite of this and the fact that we worked constantly in a very low vein of coal with scarcely any roof removed for headroom, we finished the summer with our muscles hardened and our digestive organs handling the coarsest of foods with great success. We lacked the coat of tan, it is true, that is so much prized by returning students in the fall, but we had earned twice the amount that could have been possible had we worked as farm hands.

Within the last two years a very considerable portion of my time has been spent among the bituminous coal fields of West Virginia and Kentucky. During that time it has been my opportunity to view coal-mining operations from various angles and always at close


[blocks in formation]

the hills or mountains caving in on them. The same arching power of stone is at work in the mines as in the mammoth caves well known to the traveling public. It is true that when the last of the supporting pillars have been robbed from a large area the forces of thrust and counter-thrust sometimes seek readjustment; but in the region with which I am familiar. that invariably occurs through pressure from the sides, causing the floor slowly to buckle upward, and not by any caving in of the roof. Where the roof is of slate, weathering may cause it to fall in large enough quantities to endanger life or block passageways, but, needless to say, good mine foremen do not permit this to happen. Portland cement, applied by force with a cement gun, seals the roof against the weathering processes, or frequent shoring with heavy timbers forms an absolute safeguard.

In all States where coal is mined in large quantities statutes provide for the safety of the miners in such mat- . ters as protection from falling slate; the supply of a circulation of fresh air to working spaces; use of explosives; in mines; safety device lamps in gaseous mines; and a limitation to the size of areas

mined without double means of exit.

State Workman's Compensation Acts also provide insurance for all men employed in or about the mines. Most States are compelling the erection of bath-houses near the entrance to the mines, with lockers for the miners' street clothes. These bath-houses have hot and cold showers in readiness at all times and provide a means for drying the working clothes for the next day's shift.

The temperature and humidity within the mines remain more nearly constant throughout the year than in any other field of labor.

Electric cutting machines are used to do the more tedious part of the mining; that is, the cutting over or under a stratum of coal of a channel just sufficiently wide to permit the action of the explosive to shear off the ledge. The miner then has only to loosen the coal with his pick and load it in the low cars, that are hauled to the main entry by a mule, where they are picked up by an electric locomotive.

Skilled engineers lay out the work for the mine foremen, attend to drainage of seepage water, and keep an accurate record of all the areas that are being worked. The plant superintendent may call his mine foremen into a consultation in his office, and by reference to varicolored pins on a large

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][subsumed]

nicknames slurring their descent. They soon bridge the gap between their par ents and the newness and inhospitality of the country. This Americanization process is going on, even where the schools are poor, in those mining localities where there is not a constant change of laborers. All of the mining companies realize the desirability of having the foreign workers arrive at some feeling of loyalty to American but few of them are devoting any great amount of attention to a persistent educational campaign.

[ocr errors]

among the different companies; so much so that percentages would be of little interest. Often in this section native white miners are in the predominance, with local and Alabama Negroes a close second. Italians and Greeks are found throughout the district.

In some of the camps there are very few miners who have been in the one location for more than several years; in others, a large percentage have been with a mine since it was first opened, most of them being native to the surrounding territory. It is only in such communities as the latter that religion obtains any foothold. Where there are a variety of foreigners each religious group wants its own church, and as even the architectural form of the building must be designed to suit their needs, the plant superintendent is not apt to encourage greatly that side of the community life when he has to deal with labor that he knows to be transient in its habits.

The inability to speak the English language is one of the greatest handicaps the foreigner has to being received with friendliness by the American workingmen. Children of foreigners who are educated in our American schools, speaking English from the first, grow up with their schoolmates and are accepted without taunts or

To reach a large portion of the mining camps in this section one must travel for hours from the junction point on the main-line railway in a dilapi dated coach of the coal-oil lamp vintage up a winding valley, entering for a few miles into innumerable tributaries, only to back out and start on another false lead, until one is convinced the engineer has lost his way among the hills.

It is often a matter of from four to six hours' travel from his work for a miner to reach a town of ten thousand population. In this respect the miners are not so fortunately situated as the workers in manufacturing centers. Coal operators are realizing this, and are making rapid progress in correcting conditions that a few years ago made labor turnover a serious problem.

Coal mining is coming more and more under the control of large companies with centralized management and generous capitalization. As a result, overhead expense in the way of improving living conditions in the mining communities is not so alarming as it formerly was to the small operator.

Streets are well graded and drained; substantial cottages of three, four, and five rooms are being constructed, and

are kept well painted and in good repair. Parks equipped with play. ground apparatus are a part of every live mining center. Often well-kept ball diamonds, with grand stand and bleachers, are in evidence. Club-houses, amusement halls, moving-picture thea ters, churches, and well-built store and office buildings lend all the appearance of a typically American thriving village. Where the area of coal holdings means a long life to the operation, permanent masonry structures are being erected, even including the miners' homes. Steam heat is in the more important buildings, and complete plumbing equip ment is the general practice. General landscape work is being indulged in by the companies and the individual miners are given a start on beautifying their own premises.

Here the fact of human variability is met, and offers a serious problem for the plant superintendent with ideas of making his plant a model town. One miner desires an attractive yard and a garden plot for vegetables. Another one cannot be induced by any amount of precedent to take an interest in either. One demands a bathroom accommodation for his family. Another group may so abuse plumbing equipment that the plant superintendent is discouraged against further installations. It has been found, however, that perseverance, accompanied by the right sort of wel fare work and the arousing of general interest in a clean, well-kept city, may accomplish remarkable results.

Sewage disposal has as yet not re ceived the proper amount of attention. Hogs, goats, and cattle have unrestricted range; and flies seldom meet the resistance of a screen except around the office stores.

One must stop here and realize, however, the tremendous amount of work that is required to bring a mining community, and the need for one, into ex istence. Most often the mere fact of getting the railway constructed up the winding valley over a steep grade, tun neling or cutting the roadbed out of rock most of the way, entails consider. able engineering skill and enterprise. Then comes the clearing of the site for the houses and town center. Seldom is level ground available; invariably there is a mountain stream which comes down through the heart of the camp, and during the spring freshets it may leave its banks and carry away or undermine a number of cottages. The cost of deepening and straightening its channel and protecting its banks with riprap or stone abutments runs into thousands of dollars. Then there are the water supply and electric lights and power. All of these are mere incidentals to the main expense of opening up the mine shaft or drift, the installation of mining machinery, head houses, repair shops, tipples, etc., and the operation of the main entry sometimes for a year or


more before the mine is in readiness for the removal of coal in sufficient quantities to show a profit on the production



It is small wonder, therefore, that in many cases the problem of sanitation has not been among the initial items to receive attention.


T is in appearance only that the

American villages. In government it is well worth the attention of all students of civics and sociology. In those plants I most removed from the larger towns and the main lines of the railways the plant superintendent, or the general manager of the mining operation, if the latter has his office at the mine, becomes an unlimited sovereign. The welfare of every individual living within the mining community is controlled by the equity of his judgments. The miners, failing to secure justice here, have no other recourse but to leave the camp and seek another job. Should a miner become sick or be compelled to work on part time for any one of various reasons, this one man decides the amount of credit the miner's family must exist upon. The operating companies either own or lease the land on which all the miners' cottages are built. Though living in a small town, the miners have no voice in the government of that town. Their status is that of any farm tenant in the county. Their police protection consists of a county sheriff and deputies, one-half or all of the salaries of whom are paid by the mining companies. By remaining in one locality a sufficient length of time to earn the right of ballot the miners are numerous enough, in relation to the remainder of the voting population, to correct this condition. It can easily be understood that among those few inhabitants of the mining counties who are not in some way connected with the mining operations there can scarcely be found one who questions the fairness of having the mining companies pay the salaries of the sheriffs.

The right of laboring men to organize themselves for the purpose of bettering their working conditions has been recognized and legally sanctioned. Numerous coal operators, however, reserve the right to prohibit paid organizers from entering the company's prop. erty, and they have it within their power, the government of the community being vested as above mentioned, to permit only those employees whom they choose to occupy the companyowned cottages. A large number of detectives are likewise employed within the non-union mines in an attempt to frustrate any movement for unionization, and in the union mines to learn of strike agitation.

And so we have, in this very section of which I write, the murder re

Photograph by Lewis W. Hine


cently of ten members of a detective agency and the mayor of a town, and following that guerrilla warfare between miners upon one side of a valley and non-union miners at the mine drift entrance.

Coal operators seem to have accepted that slogan of the I. W. W.-" There can be no common meeting-ground between capital and labor." The mutually suspicious attitude could be well voiced in the words: voiced in the words: "You are attempting to force something down my throat, but I will make you swallow your own medicine."

Any one who has worked among the miners can readily understand this bellicose trend of thought upon their part. They love to quarrel among themselves. They are, as a class, primitive in their instincts, and very little beyond the primitive man in their mental development. ("Whose the blame but capital's?" say the labor leaders.) That the same childishly petulant attitude should be held by the coal operators, however, is, to my mind, unworthy of the mental caliber of the men engaged in the business.

The miners are not satisfied with working conditions. What about the high wages? Are they justified in being dissatisfied, after all the improvements in mining and living conditions enumerated in this article?

The answer is, yes, providing they are not assured of steady employment. It can easily be seen that the present rate of pay per ton of coal mined may net the miner a substantial pay envelope when the mine management is functioning properly, coal cars are arriving in sufficient quantity, and coal orders are awaiting their turn, but that a onehalf or one-quarter production schedule

very quickly brings down the income to a decidedly inadequate amount.

During the days of good pay and steady production the miners were not encouraged toward thrift. This is true of union mines as well non-union, and the blame for the lack of education along these lines lies as much with the union leaders as with the coal operators.

Company stores are prone to push the sale of silk shirts, fifteen-dollar shoes, and suits from sixty dollars up, to the exclusion of the heavier clothing of a more reasonable price. Store managers may state, with some justification, that they are only responding to a demand which, if they did not supply, miners would satisfy in the cities. As a large portion of the trading done by the miners and families is by means of company "scrip," it is doubtful that a policy on the part of the store managers of encouraging sensible purchases could fail to produce desirable results. This applies quite as pertinently to foodstuff as to clothing. We cannot well debate with the miner, however, the reasonableness of his installing a playerpiano in his home, even though it seem a needless luxury. The instrument, according to his taste, lends a bit of color to a home life that is apt to be otherwise exceedingly drab.

To return to our fundamentals, it is true that, with any amount of unproductive days on the part of the miner and with his present state of education regarding thrift, his wage may keep him indebted to the mining company instead of permitting him to deposit savings.


[blocks in formation]

(C) Keystone View Co.


is an increase in the number of cars available for coal transportation. Railways hope to meet this condition in time, both by increasing their equip ment and by increasing the despatch with which cars are unloaded and freed for reshipment. There is a point in the increase of equipment, however, beyond they in going

must naturally be distributed over the life of the operation, and, so regarded, would amount to a very negligible sum. The immediate cost of rehandling is being done by jobbers at from ten to twenty cents a ton, at this date. It has been well established by technical investigations that even the mine-run coal

be with If more

tion of union miners that the Govern ment operate an experimental coal mine, both in the anthracite and bituminous coal fields, in order that it arrive at facts in the cost of coal production.

That such a proceeding could have any value as to comparative costs the Government would need to lease undeveloped coal lands, now well removed from railways; start at the beginning, and go through the travail of getting the branch line of the railway con structed to the coal field; organize the construction crews that prepare the way for the mining operation, and build up gradually the personnel of au operating company and system of mine management. When this had been ac complished, after some four or five years, what would we have? The cost of coal as produced under one certain system; one quality of coal; one thickness of seam; one type of roof; one set of mine and drinking water conditions to be met; one rate of leasing, with or without limited royalties; and ad infinitum to the list of things which could be peculiar to the one experi mental mine. In addition there would be the variable human equation existing throughout the operation from the head executive down to the coal loaders.

Such theories as this, advanced by the union leaders, convince the thinking public that they are not going into matters very deeply.


without overburdening the public, which expensive methods are deemed inexpe. W in the States of West Virginia

they serve, with the overhead charge reacting through increased tariffs. Nor can we expect, if reports be true, any great relief from this remedy within the next several years, even though progress of reconstruction exceeds our most sanguine hopes.

The second remedy, and the one which coal operators must come to accept sooner or later, is the construction of coal pockets and the employment of rehandling machinery at the mines or railway junction points. Coal operators and editorial writers in coal magazines are much given to scouting the idea as impractical. Lest the public investigate too closely they cite the one main reason against soft-coal storage as the danger of spontaneous combustion.

Soft coal is being stored throughout the country at the present time by jobbers, manufacturing concerns, and public utilities. Where any attention is paid to preventive measures spontaneous combustion is largely a thing of the past.

Bituminous coal is liable to spontaneous combustion, particularly so during the first several weeks after it has been mined, but there is no problen con nected with its storage that cannot be surmounted. The cost of pockets or storage bins and rehandling machinery

dient, the simple one of embedding pipe within the coal at various intervals, and keeping occasional readings of the temperature through the pipe, will preclude any actual loss from spontaneous combustion. If the temperature approaches the danger-point, a small portion of the coal only need be rehandled in order to cool it and permit the gases to escape.

In face of the fact that coal storage at the mines would remove the one remaining ground of grievance held by the miners that is recognizable as of any great import by the general public, it seems a short-sighted policy that continues to ignore its feasibility, yet persists in a costly plan of espionage upon the miner in the hope of preventing labor unrest..

It can readily be seen that such storage pockets at or near the mines would do away with much of the reason for high prices being paid for spot coal, and that in time of National emergency the Government would most probably be inclined to commandeer such supplies at a price that would allow only a reasonable profit above the cost of mining. These facts may have something to do with the opinion of coal company executives concerning the impracticability of the idea.

It has been suggested by a conven

and Kentucky playing in this game between the operators and miners?

Let me cite an instance of an address made before a body of representative business men in a community centering in the mining regions of three States. The speaker was the head of a State institution for feeble-minded in West Virginia. In the course of his talk, explaining the functions of his department, he made statements in substance as follows:

At a recent session of the State Legislature I had a bill introduced for the prevention of marriages between certain classes of feeble-minded. The bill failed in passing. Since then, having given the matter further consideration, I have decided that I shall not again propose a law of such a nature. Among the morons, or milder cases of mentally deranged, there are many of perfect physical development. We will need to draw from this class for labor of certain sorts in the future. In fact, we need them now.

And the assembled group of men accepted the pronouncement without a ques tion. The officers of the coal and gas companies, with their engineering, purchas ing, administrative, and selling depart ments, make the backbone of business in the land of the Virginian and Nor

« PredošláPokračovať »