PANSY CARBREY: I'm Pansy Carbrey, and I was Pansy Hobbs before I
married and I was born in Williams, Oklahoma on March 24, 1913.
CHUCK BARNES: Who were your parents and where were
PANSY CARBREY: My parents were Mr. and Mrs. J. B. Hobbs, they were born around Spiro, Oklahoma.
BARNES: Where did you grow up?
PANSY CARBREY: I grew up in Williams, Oklahoma.
CHUCK BARNES: How many children
were in your family?
PANSY CARBREY: There were six children, my parents raised six children. We were a very happy
family. We didn't have much money, but we had lots of love.
CHUCK BARNES: How did your family make their living?
CARBREY: My daddy was a farmer and a coal miner, that's how he made his living for the family.
CHUCK BARNES: What
type of housing did you have?
PANSY CARBREY: Our houses were not modern, we had no electricity, no inside plumbing,
we had outside toilets, but we stayed comfortable. We had a big fireplace and my Daddy cut wood and we stayed warm with
that, but they were certainly different from the houses that we have today.
(Skip ahead to coal mining topic--)
BARNES: You said your father worked in the coal mines and on the farm, what kind of salary did he make and how many hours
did he have to work?
PANSY CARBREY: On the farm you worked from about dark-thirty until about dark-thirty. The
salary you made on the farm would be like you would plant a big patch of potatoes and sold them, that was the summer pay we
got. Everyone worked, gardening, canning, and anything
else that we could do to make money.
Before the union came to the coal mines, Daddy made about three
to five dollars a day. There was no limit as to how long they had to work, they just worked until the boss told them
to go home. But after the union came the workers got a large [raise]. We felt like we were rich. [After
the union came], they worked eight hours, if they worked over eight hours they got time and a half. [Concerning]
the conditions of the mine before the union, the operators would much rather lose a man as a mule. A mule that
could work down in the mines in the dark and pull coal, was hard to find.
Before the union came if a man got killed, his widow would do well
to draw a thousand dollars, and [the owners of the coal mine] didn't have to pay that if they didn't want to.
I was neighbor to a man who got electrocuted, his widow
had two little boys to raise and the coal mine paid her one thousand dollars. [The widow] was going
to see if she could get more, so the mines took bankruptcy and closed the mines down. But now, since the union came in,
the widows are taken care of. They draw their social security, and if the man happened to have contracted black lung then
they have a small widow's pension set up for the older miners.
My husband was one that helped form this union, and he knew
what it was not to have a union, and he was strictly union minded.
I am a widow of a fifty year coal miner, in fact I have his fifty
year pin sent to me from Washington D.C. showing that he was a coal miner for fifty years.
Also the widows are protected with hospitalization and with their
medicine and what social security doesn't pay, the UMWA picks up the whole balance for which I'm very thankful, and I'm proud
to say that I'm a coal miner's daughter and a coal miner's widow.
(The above is an excerpt from the interview of Pansy
Carbrey by Chuck Barnes.)