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Vida en la Cuenca Minera / Life and work in the coalfields

 
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Terechu
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Joined: 24 Jun 2003
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Location: GIJON - ASTURIAS

PostPosted: Sat Mar 11, 2006 6:44 am    Post subject: Vida en la Cuenca Minera / Life and work in the coalfields Reply with quote

The county of S.Martin del Rey Aurelio has a modest web site with some fantastic oral history recordings of some of its oldest citizens. Although the sound quality is quite bad, the accounts of the old folks are priceless. They talk about their childhood and youth, their severe working conditions, strikes, poverty, hunger, the Civil War, but also about fairs and dances and courting. These testimonies will be getting more valuable as time passes, because some of these people have already died, as is the case of Ginés.

http://www.smra.org/principal_vivir.htm go to Section "Documentación Oral"

My grandmother raised seven children, took care of her blind mother, a younger brother with TB, two orphan newphews and always had 2 boarders, too. My grandfather was a miner and she didn't have any cows or pigs for extra income. As a married woman she couldn't work outside the home (that was just for single or widowed women) because my grandfather would be accused of not providing for his family. The poor man would get up at 3 o'clock in the morning and walk 3 miles uphill in his "madreñes" over stoney or muddy paths to his pit "El Socavón" in Santa Barbara, and there work 10 hours making the wood frames and props at the very front line of death: either by silicosis from breathing in tons of coal dust, or from a gas explotion or a landslide. They all nearly worked themselves to death just to get the bare necessities. No wonder those who lived in coastal areas (like your own family) left by the hundreds. What an incredible generation!

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El Ayuntamiento de S.M. del Rey Aurelio tiene una página web modesta, pero con un fantástico archivo oral de algunos de sus vecinos más ancianos. Aunque la calidad de sonido es muy mala, los relatos de los viejos no tienen precio. Hablan de su infancia y juventud, de las penosas condiciones de trabajo, huelgas, pobreza, hambre, la Guerra, pero también de bailes, fiestas y cortejos. Estos testimonios se irán haciendo más valiosos con el paso del tiempo, algunos de los protagonistas ya han muerto, como es el caso de Ginés.

http://www.smra.org/principal_vivir.htm ir a la sección "Documentación Oral"

Mi propia abuela crió a 7 hijos, cuidó de su madre ciega y un hermano tuberculoso, crió durante un tiempo a dos sobrinos huérfanos y además siempre tenía 2 posaderos. Mi abuelo era minero y ella no tenía vacas a o gochos para ingresar algún dinero extra. Como mujer casada no podía trabajar fuera de casa (sólo podían las solteras y viudas), porque sino a mi abuelo le echarían en cara que no mantenía a su familia. El pobre hombre se levantaba a las 3 de la mañana e andaba en madreñes por caleyes empedraes y llenas de barro los 4 km hasta la mina "El Socavón" de Santa Bárbara, donde trabajaba 10 horas posteando en el tajo, en primera línea de la muerte: por silicosis al respirar kilos de polvo de carbón, por una explosión de grisú o por un derrabe.
Se mataban casi todos trabajando, sólo para poder cubrir las necesidades básicas de supervivencia. No es extraño que los que vivían en zonas costeras emigraran en masa. ¡Qué generación tan increíble!
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Bob
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Location: Connecticut and Massachusetts

PostPosted: Sat Mar 11, 2006 6:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A window in time. Well worth listening to. Thanks for the link.
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Art
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Joined: 17 Feb 2003
Posts: 4475
Location: Maryland

PostPosted: Sat Mar 11, 2006 1:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, Terechu, that's very interesting.

Was this a shaft mine? one that goes into the ground in a tunnel? Who owned the mine? a rich person? the government?

Was there a union for the miners? Did the miners or some other group in town sponsor any cultural activiitles, like a library, a men's chorus, or ?? (I'm thinking of the Welsh miners who did these things.)

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Gracias, Terechu, es muy interesante. ¿Hasta cuáles edades vivían tus abuelos?

¿Era una mina de socavón? ¿una que iba abajo la tierra con un túnel? ¿Quién era el dueño de la mina? ¿un rico? ¿el gobierno?

¿Había un sindicato de los mineros? ¿Tenía los mineros o otro grupo en la ciudad unas actividades culturales, como una biblioteca, un coro de hombres, o ?? (Pienso de los mineros galeses quienes hacían esas cosas.)
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Terechu
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Joined: 24 Jun 2003
Posts: 1557
Location: GIJON - ASTURIAS

PostPosted: Sat Mar 11, 2006 4:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Art, El Socavón was not a shaft mine back then. Years later this mine and the mine Prau Molín grew together to become the Pozo Santa Bárbara, when the upper coal seams were exhausted and it became a shaft mine. This pit became the "Pozo Cerezal" when the State nationalised the coal industry in the 60's.
Initially, back in the early 1900s they were mostly small, privately owned mines. As they started growing they were bought by large mining companies, i.e. Duro Felguera, Herrero, and when they were no longer profitable, Franco nationalised the whole industry under the name HUNOSA (Empresa Nacional Hulleras del Norte).
Here are some pictures of the major pits of S.M. del Rey Aurelio, the Pozo Cerezal among them.
http://www.smra.org/arqueologia_industrial2.htm

And yes, there was lots of singing in the taverns back then and there were choirs everywhere. In fact the "Coro Santiaguín" even won first prize at the Llangollen Int. Music Festival (North Wales) one year.
There were also the "Orfeón de Mieres" , "Coro San Andrés" and the "Coro Minero de Turón"
http://www.valledeturon.com/ficha.php?id=581&tipocliente=1
http://www.corosantiaguin.com/historia.htm

My grandpa and in fact all men and women used to sing the "asturianaes" or "tonada asturiana" made popular by the mythical singers like:
Xuacu el de Sama, Juanín de Mieres, Cuchichi, El Maragatu, El Presi, La Busdonga, etc.

I remember him practicing at home the more difficult songs ("Arrea Carreteru" nearly killed him, he could never remember the lyrics) Laughing

It was a very specific culture, even the way they raised their kids to fit in and not stand out for anything other than academic achievement.
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