How to Interview for Mine Work (Underground)

When I started in the employment office, after I’d been in there for, I don’t know, maybe six months, they wanted me to start interviewing applicants. I said, “I can interview applicants for the smelter, for all the plant, but I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about when it comes to underground.” I said, “You want us to interview applicants to see if they’re able? We should go underground.” So we did. We went through every part of underground. We climbed ladders. We went on trams. We crossed grizzlies, which is pretty scary. After that, I could paint a picture to an applicant, what they were getting into. These kids, they’re high school graduates, they’re college suits, summer hires, whatever. They have no clue. They’re from Tucson. They’re from Green Valley. Most kids that age — they think they know everything. I thought I knew everything at that age. So you paint a picture for them, tell them what the job entails. Some of them, I could just tell, they weren’t going to make it. I’d tell them exactly how narrow those ladders were, how big the cages were, how they shook on the way down, how dark it was, how crossing the grizzly — which was like railroad ties about a foot apart, where all the ore drops through, tons and tons of rocks and boulders and dirt — you can go down one of those grizzlies, you can land in the car that’s collecting it, end up in the smelter before anyone knows you’re gone. You paint that picture. What it means to go down there and sweat buckets. You just tell them what it entails.

— interview with Evelyn Gorham, Oak Flat: A Fight for Sacred Land in the American West

Ghosts in the Mines

Superior’s retired miners talk about “tommyknockers,” phantoms they encountered in the mine. Sometimes it was just a sensation — something you felt on your body, or a presence nearby. A Magma miner named John Sixsmith told friends he saw white boots, walking around without a body.

— Chapter Six, Oak Flat: A Fight for Sacred Land in the American West

What an unusual book this is. It’s a book about the Southwest, and a book about mines, and it also has artwork — very simple illustrations (by the author) of her interview subjects. Self finds the art (and the text) very moving. Self just found out that the author received a MacArthur “genius” grant. (Also, her copy is overdue at the Library. Please, nobody out her, she’s having to cope with so many things right now; she snatches reading time in between keeping herself awake with coffee and Coke)

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

Magma’s No. 9 Shaft

Self is learning a lot about what it’s like to work in a mine.

Cheryl became a timekeeper at Magma’s No. 9 shaft. Each miner was assigned a number, which was engraved on a small brass plate. When a man began a shift, he would “brass in,” collecting his time card in exchange for handing over his brass ID. At the end of the shift, he would ascend to the surface, return his time card, and retrieve his brass.

“At the end of the day, they’re running through, you see their face, know their name, and give them their brass back. But if the brass was still there, Where’s that man?

— Chapter 6, Oak Flat: A Fight for Sacred Land in the American West

Things Self Didn’t Know About Copper

Clean technologies generally require more copper than traditional technologies. Wind and solar use about four times more copper than conventional energy to generate one megawatt of power. The average conventional car requires up to 55 pounds of copper, an electric car uses triple that. Usage of copper has climbed dramatically in recent years . . . In the coming decades, we will need to dramatically increase usage of solar and wind power to keep global temperatures down. Mitigating planetary warming will almost certainly cause a further surge in demand for copper.

Worldwide, there is a vibrant trade in stolen copper. When commodity prices rise, so does the number of copper thefts.

— Chapter 5, Oak Flat: A Fight for Sacred Land in the American West

Flower of the Day (FOTD), June 7: Roses

Thanks again to Cee Neuner for hosting this wonderful challenge. I love the picture of wild daisies she posted today.

This gorgeous bouquet is from my oldest best friends, Bob and Diane Varner. We lived in side-by-side apartments in Menlo Park, when we were in our twenties. She and Bob moved to El Granada many years ago, but we kept in contact.

Yesterday, I broke the news to them that Dearest Mum didn’t make it. She fought a long, hard battle in Manila with covid, lasted three months. She was admitted to Makati Medical at the height of the latest surge, in March.

I’d been having weekly FaceTimes with her since the start of the New Year. When she missed one week, then another, I called and they said she had a fever. Then, dread test results: positive for covid. She was sent home from the hospital in May, no longer with covid, but she never quite recovered. She lasted till June! She passed very peacefully in her sleep, two days ago. She was 85.

In the afternoon, I was rushing out the door when I stopped and was dazed. Amazed. Speechless. Aren’t these the most GORGEOUS roses you have ever seen?

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.


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