Sepia Saturday – Miners who Fish

SepSat8Nov14Sepia Saturday provides bloggers with an opportunity to share their history through the medium of photographs. Historical photographs of any age or kind become the launchpad for explorations of family history, local history and social history in fact or fiction, poetry or prose, words or further images.

When posting the prompt photo for this week, Alan suggested that we might consider miners or anglers with fishy tales or three men. It’s hard to tell that these men are miners when not dressed for work and no mine in sight, but the source of the photo, the Provincial Archive of Alberta reveals their identity by the photograph’s title: “Miners’ fishing trip.”

My grandfather, Thomas Hoskins, was a miner – as was his father, his wife’s father, some uncles and cousins and assorted in-laws. He left school after completing the 8th grade to work in the coal mines in Mystic, Iowa.

And he loved to fish.

Here he is as an older man, many years removed from the mines. You can see his fishing rod beside him.
Tom at the lake copy

Like the men in the prompt photo, Grandpa is reclining on a hillside and doesn’t appear to be actively engaged in fishing. Perhaps it’s all about the the fresh air, the sound of the water, the time just to relax above ground in the light of day – fresh fish for supper an added bonus or perhaps a necessary source of food for the family.

My uncle told me that Grandpa once took him down in a mine so that he could experience the total darkness and stifling confines and the ever-present sense of danger. My grandfather did not like working in the mines and when he found an opportunity to leave the coal mines in Mystic, he moved his family to another town where he worked in a meat processing plant.

I can imagine that fishing was a pastime enjoyed by many miners.

Thomas Hoskins at lake copy

Lake Rathburn May 30,1971

Please wade on over to Sepia Saturday to enjoy some other fine fish tales.

22 thoughts on “Sepia Saturday – Miners who Fish

  1. Fishing, depending on how one goes about it, of course, can be very relaxing & provides a good excuse for sitting around doing ‘nothing’. 🙂 When something nibbles at your bait, however, it’s exciting & gets your blood pumping – perhaps raising your blood pressure a bit. But it’s a good kind of excitement – not stress induced.

    • I don’t think I’ve been fishing since I was a little girl, but I remember it just that way – a long time of doing nothing then a sudden burst of excitement.

  2. Great match to the prompt photo – a man sitting on a hill with his fishing rod. The feel of the photo really matches up to the prompt photo so well, I love it!

    • Yes. As I recall my uncle telling it, my grandfather would leave for the mine before sunrise and often return home after dark, not seeing sunshine for several days.

  3. I agree, an excellent photo match, and you’re right, there could not be much more contrast between being confined down a mine and enjoying the freedom of the open countryside, no doubt relieved to have got out safely!

  4. Such a beautiful photo and match for this week’s theme…well done you. I’ve just started reading Ken Follett’s Fall of Giants which opens with a boy going to work at the mines for the first time on his 13th birthday. Sobering stuff indeed.

    • I’ve never read that book – another to add to my ever-growing stack! Everything I do read about mining is pretty sobering – especially in the early days.

  5. Full marks and bonus points too for this post! Your second snapshot has a very beautiful nostalgia quality too.
    Our family once took a tour down a West Virginia coal mine now turned into an industrial history site. The total darkness was quite unsettling. If I had to work in that environment for very long I might eventually tolerate it but I would soon appreciate sunshine even more.

    • Well thanks, Mike! I’ve been away for a while, so if I got full marks PLUS a bonus I think I’ll have to jump in again next time.

  6. It seems a bit risky on that bank, I hope he didn’t get to excited when he had a bite. Standing up to quickly could result in a slide into the water – as I remember to my cost.

  7. How wonderful to find a miner who was a fisherman. I wouldn’t like working in a meat packing plant but I’m sure I would like it better than mining.

    • Neither are great jobs! Unfortunately he seriously injured his hand in the meat packing plant. Mom and I lived with my grandparents at the time and he had to go away to Chicago for months of rehab. I missed him terribly.

  8. So glad to see you back, Kathy!
    A miner AND a fisherman – showoff! Seriously, I can see how fishing could be attractive to miners. It’s the exact opposite of their daily routine.

    • Thanks, Wendy. I’m going to try to keep it up. I’ve given myself a challenge to blog at least a little something everyday until the end of November. Today was 5 days in and I nearly had to give up on coming up with something to post!

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