Edward Whited

Interviewed by: Angel Whited
Date: April 6, 2007

Angel Whited reports:

"Edward Whited is a former coal miner, who was born in Virginia on November 12, 1942. He has held many occupations in his lifetime, some of which were dependent upon where he chose to travel. Whited learned to support himself at a very early age, and gained useful knowledge from the unforgettable experiences of working as a coal miner in the Appalachias. Years of laboring in the same field makes one familiar with certain small details involved in the craft. With Edward's wisdom, he is able to share some of these details with me today."

Interviewer: How many years were you a coal miner?

Whited: Well, I started out when I was just a young boy, ended up mining for twenty-three years.

Interviewer: How old were you when you first went underground?

Whited: Uh, 16 years old.

Interviewer: Was mining different when you first started from now?

Whited: Yeah, 'bout a hundred percent different. It was different 'cause well, back then you had to use a shovel and a car and an ol' drag cable motor and now you got to use a belt line and uh, scoops and buggies to put it on the belt line with.

Interviewer: How many different mines have you worked in?

Whited: Well, I've worked in a bunch of mines 'round here, some of 'em have changed their names since I was with 'em but most of 'em are still the same. I've worked in slope mines, and that's about it for the type, but I've worked for Union mines.

Interviewer: Are there different kinds of coal to find in different parts of the earth?

Whited: Yeah, some of it is large and has to be picked down, but most of it's little coal.

Interviewer: What do you do with the coal after it is mined?

Whited: Well you, you put it in the tipple and the trucks haul it to the railroad cars, and they ship it out.

Interviewer: Where do the cars come from that you put the coal in?

Whited: Well, S & S machinery, I guess. Maybe just different places, we never studied it much.

Interviewer: How many training sessions did you have to go through in order to go underground?

Whited: They trained you, and you had to set through four or five days of it to get to go underground.

Interviewer: Did you have to do preliminary training before you could do underground training?

Whited: No, no back then you didn't have to get no training before you were trained to go underground, but I think now you have to be trained for the surface 'fore you can do that.

Interviewer: How has being a coal miner changed your life?

Whited: Well, I got black lung.

Interviewer: If you could change anything about your coal mining career, what would it be and why?

Whited: Well, uh, it'd be one thing I'd uh; I'd wear a mask eight hours a day. I'd do that to keep my health.

Interviewer: What kind of clothing and protective gear do you have to wear on the job?

Whited: Ah, I had to wear safety glasses, hard hat, uh, one of them things on your belt in case there was a fire, but I forget what they call it.

Interviewer: Are safety issues less profound as the years have progressed?

Whited: Yeah, mines today are a lot safer than they was back then.

Interviewer: Have any of your friends been seriously injured in the mines?

Whited: No but uh, my brother, he got a heap-in top: a kittle bobbin fell on him.

Interviewer: Have you ever been injured on the sight?

Whited: Myself, I fell from a 15 foot belt drive and messed my back up and my legs.

Interviewer: What kind of tools do you use to mine the coal?

Whited: Well, you had uh, the motor to push the car back to you, then you took a number four shovel and loaded it, then they'd come and get it and uh, haul it away and put you another car back in it, for you to load again.

Interviewer: Have you ever worked in a mine outside of the Appalachias?

Whited: No, I just worked in West Virginia and Virginia in the mines, now.

Interviewer: How is methane emitted from coal mines?

Whited: Methane is set loose from mines as the coal seams are broke and the coals took out from the mines. When you store or process or transport coals it can emit methane, too.

Interviewer: What are blast limits?

Whited: Oh, uh, they are like . . . the limits to the vibration you can have at a site to where it won't damage the buildings and houses nearby.

Interviewer: Who inspects blasting at coal mines?

Whited: Mostly specialists that come in and check your permits and inspect everything and monitor it. They've got that kind of equipment that measures all that and oh, they let you know if it's off even just a little bit.

Interviewer: Edward that concludes my interview. Thank you for your time, it has been a pleasure.

Whited: Thank you, Ma'am. Anytime.