When Coal Was King
Industry, People and Challenges
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Pasquale and Maria Perri
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September 16th, 1998

Interviewers:

  • Leslie Robertson and Mary Giuliano

Note: “P” indicates “Patsy” and “M” indicates “Maria”

Mary Giuliano is interpreter for this interview. Italics is voice of Leslie Robertson.

Q: So here we are it’s Wednesday, September 16th and we’re sitting in the kitchen of Maria and Patsy Perri with their daughter Lena. And so Patsy first of all we want to know where you came from in Italy.

P: Provincia Cosenza, San Giovanni In Fiore, Provincia, Cosenza.

Q: Oh and what about you Maria?

M: Same thing.

Q: One of the many panels from Festa Italiana.Same Province?

P: Yeah.

Q: What year did you come Patsy?

P: 1956.

Q: 1956 and you Maria Quando si venuta? Pure tu a 56 si venuta insieme?

P: Yeah. E Lena pure.

Q: Were you married in Italy oh and you had Lena as well. Oh so you were married in Italy?

P: Yeah.

Q: Okay I thought you were married here for some reason. I’ve known them for a long time. What was it like in Italy before you came here?

P: Well at that time it was pretty bad you know lots of unemployed and everyone tried to get away from Italy those days. Find work some place else.

Q: So you came here mostly because of the work?

One of the many panels from Festa Italiana.P: Yes.

Q: You didn’t go and work in the mines did you or?

P: About twenty years.

Q: Oh you did twenty years?

P: Yes.

Q: Underground?

P: Yes.

Q: How was that?

P: I like it too.

Q: You liked it?

P: Oh yes. If I had to do it all over again I would do the same thing.

Q: Were you at Coal Creek?

P: Yes Number Nine mine was Number Nine yeah. For my age - if you the age and the way things were (inaudible) years old because I had been working with the horses.

One of the many panels from Festa Italiana.Q: You were there working for horses then?

P: Yes.

Q: And that was only 1956 she said. They were still quite primitive in that mine.

P: Yeah all the coal was mining by hand. No machine those days.

This oral history transcript is extracted from the Elk Valley Italian Oral History Project undertaken for the Fernie and District Historical Society in 1998-99. The Heritage Community Foundation and the Year of the Coal Miner Consortium would like to thank Leslie Robertson and the interview team and the Fernie and District Historical Society, which is a member of the consortium, for permission to reprint this material.

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