To the editor:
Cole Behrens’ story in last Wednesday’s NEWS concerning the old mine buildings in Chauncey brought back some memories. In Spring 1972 I moved to Athens County from Berea, KY, and needed a job. Having had some previous experience as a roofer, thought I would see if I could get on with one of the local contractors. And I was successful in that.
Hashman Roofing Company was using the old bath house at the Chauncey mine as their shop and office. Babe Hashman and his wife (sorry I have forgotten her name) lived in Corning; their son Larry was the foreman. Mrs. Hashman was the secretary and bookkeeper. The company did both commercial and residential jobs. We mostly did jobs from Athens up Sunday Creek to Corning. It was a small crew, and Babe often worked with us. He had lots of good stories. I remember him telling us that his father would have been underground in Millfield 6 on that tragic day in November 1930. But, luckily for his family, he had stayed “home” to tap off a batch of moonshine. It being during both Prohibition and the Depression, probably a more profitable use of his time than digging coal.
York Paving Company was using one of the other buildings, which I believe had been the stables. My then landlord, Charles Chase, worked for them at that time. But let’s return to the bath house. Sometimes when waiting for all the crew to arrive, or on a rainy morning, I would explore the building. Some of the pulleys, chains, and baskets for raising miners’ clothes and belongings were still in place, others fallen to the floor. But what most caught my eye was writing on the wall. For some years of the late ‘40s into early ‘50s, there were handwritten entries similar to this: “First snow. Nov. 5, 1947.” I suppose the last entry was made the final year the mine operated. By the early ‘50s mines were closing up throughout the Hocking Valley field. Many of the maintenance workers at OU when I was an undergrad in the late ‘60s were former miners.
My roofing job came to an end sooner than I had planned. We put a new roof on Davis Hall, one of the Lakeview Apartment units. A large job, and the company that owned the complex was slow to pay the bill. Too slow for Babe’s small outfit. So, as last hired, Babe had to let me go. And I wasn’t a local guy anyway. But cold weather was coming, time for me to be moving on soon anyway. It was a great summer, enjoyed playing poker with the crew at Red Pierce’s bar after work on payday.
So, I never saw Babe again, nor got to visit the bath house. As a devotee of preserving local history, I strongly support the effort to preserve the old mine buildings. And hope the bath house is among them.
Bob Scott Placier