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Page 6 - The "Pluck Me" Life and Death of the Company Store

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1973/3/1 (1190 reads)

9:30. The train had just come in on Saturday night. A great big window • bang, and that was that. And for a small village like that there were I'd say about 500. Some would take the whole family with them. And there were some blackened their face. Some put masks on. The company knew, they had been warned. And previous to the raid the manager and the assistant manager they took the shoes, say a pair of brown shoes • they'd take a size 7 brown shoe and put it in with perhaps a black 8; so people went and grabbed the shoes and ran with the box. Next morning everybody's going a- round Have you got a brown 7, trying to get the right shoes. I remember one man • a great fellow for MacDonald's twist. He got behind the firemen's parlour and we could hear him ripping the top off, and then we could hear him swearing. They'd switched it to a box of clothes pins, Billy Pittman: There was a lot of humour. There used to be a big hoist to hoist up furniture. And a fellow came in their half-drunk and put a bureau on his back and walked out through the door. He fell 30 feet. If he'd??ve been sober he'd've broke his neck but he didn't get hurt. Gordon MacGregor: There was one big fellow coming out with a roll of linoleiim on his back, and he said: "Make way for a hungry man." Danny "Dancer" MacDonald: The company never tried to re-establish company stores after that. Never made a try. Now here's a peculiar thing. Do you know it took wo? men a long time to get acquainted to go to stores with money. They were lost. When we went back to work we were paid cash, and we shopped where we wanted. Cash, but so much on that back bill that you still owed. They made sure their records weren't burnt. ' Company stores seem to have been a part of the coal industry on Cape Breton from the very beginning • at least from the time the mines were leased to Tremaine and Stout in 1792, men described as "the only respectable merchants in the place." The place was Sydney Mines, known then simply as The Mines. Jonathan Tremaine maintained a a store in Halifax and supplied the mining operation, overseen by his partner Rich? ard Stout. Mr. James Miller, a geologist and collier, was sent out by the British Government to (among other things) inspect the mines, and he reported: "The workmen are retained under the condition of being boarded by this Agent: and each is allowed C(??JTINUED ON PAGE 24 MERCURY LINCOLN STEEL CITY SALES LTD. ffiam'n Auttqufa & Art SYDNEY 539-6333 Building Supplies "The Home Care Centre" Welton Street Dial: 564-5518 A FINE PLACE FOR FAMILY SUPPER BY THE FIRE Telegraph House & Motel Baddeck OVER 110 YEARS OF SERVICE If you have not yet discovered the Co-op Bookshop, you have a treat in storel You will find the widest selection of books, friendly service and always a bargain section. Our stock is better than ever. Our monthly newsletter is free for the asking, as are full details on be? coming a member of the Co-op. You'll be glad you askedI In our craft section, we feature work of the Mad Potters of Sydney Mines, And if you can't get to Sydney, we'll mail your books post free. Anne Briscoe CO-OP BOOKSHOP 358 George St, (Corner Prince & George) Sydney 564-6463 CAPE BRETON'S MAGAZINE/6 D. GOLDMAN & SONS LTD. "iH) KoMf ()} hm:si,afood" • Gallant Street Glace Bay • Terminal Bldg,, Sydney Airport
Cape Breton's Magazine
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