Coal miner stickers started out as little advertisements that the manufacturers of mining equipment handed out. Even before the late 1960s, when mining safety laws started requiring reflective materials underground, miners used those stickers to stay visible to each other in the dark mines. As time passed, the stickers evolved. They became more personal and started to tell miners’ stories. And the mine companies themselves started printing stickers for their workers. Stickers went from simple ads to signifying an identity. And as their role changed, stickers also came to serve as a kind of currency among miners.
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Mrs ninety? Nine percent, invisible, I'm roman Mars Ronnie Johnson still remember the first time he went underground. He and a handful of other call minors piled into a little trailer and descended into the mine we'll go. Now the therein bombed run in our little rock star I remember a lion in ILO trailer in the roof was likely close to me that the baby my Howard have what our motive de route, when they got down to the bottom monies boss and it s ranch and told him to open a nearby waterline, but some I had forgotten to cut the water water discharge, Ryan me, you just bright all in my eyes and all our mouths open when they like others. Why bell up against the real? about wall or co, and I thought to myself one habit.
As a new minor in a dangerous industry Ronnie had to go through an intensive orientation process before this first trip underground does produce I ashore off Ronnie actually my partners father. He send northern Alabama and on a recent visit as the family could dinner Ronnie, and I went out to his workshop, where he likes to sit and smoke with only the thanks and cicadas for company or somewhere else you want here somewhere. I don't care, we can just go back there. He told me about how he sat through forty hours of training and safety clauses before going down into the mines. At the end he was Jude Ahern, hard hat tat identified him as a rookie. Howard out with yellow, loud. Like you stood out from here to the road, you know what it was terrible. There were terrible was a terrible as you'd get you'd get like
from the other man, oh yeah yeah, I ever buy new you're a rookie. You know in the Austrian our practical joke, nothing serious. In addition to this terrible, yellow, hard hat the safety man and his mind, also gave him a sticker yeah. It was there right here, it's a red, rhombus about two by two inches with a reflective white centre, a bay say who says our way. Be careful, but I be say, was a count me name how about money by products cooperation. I got a few of these stickers back then he put one in a box and one on his brand new, yellow hat this week. The beginning of Ronnie Sticker, collecting thirty four years is a minor. He now has several photo albums bill with thousands of stickers, so our inside jokes, some commemorate big events at work, lots of other call minors across the country have collections just like Romney's minors,
you see: stickers, first safety and for communication and as a kind of currency down in the mines Georgia What college did you know? He had got baseball cars in a coma You know. That's all you had really would to collect. You know our common sticker, so one of the darkest of all working environments. Round. My the beginning of underground mighty one of the big dangers in the workplace has been the darkness pull minors of today would shudder at the thought of using some of the early methods of coal mine, illumination well into the era of industrial society. Minors were still using open flame, their only source of light. The darkness makes accidents more likely and even though technology has improved to make minds brighter and safer it still. Issue. The culture of mining to a certain degree has been shaped.
The level of risk involved. Work. Cultures have very strong cultures, especially ones that face danger like mining fire fighting police work the mill Terry Deep Sea Fishing etc. This Is a lane cullen she's, an occupational ethnography her and she spent a lot of time with minors like actually down in the minds with them. The mining The very strong cultural I think the reason is because people who work underground are well aware of the fact that every day you go in you dont know if you're coming out the first time called, We went down into a mine, she was told TAT. She ought to have something reflective on her hard hat theirs. A lot of heavy machinery moving around from buses, to the shears, roof Wolters and other tools used to extract coal. People get hit the get run,
over they get crushed by mobile equipment and so reflective material increases the visibility of the people under ground. We put strips of reflective tape on the back. For hard hats. But then it became pretty obvious that other people had other things on their hard hands, and these were stickers, the sticker Instead, the manufacturers of mining equipment handed out even before the late nineteenth Sixtys, when mining see the late nineteenth sixtys when mining safety laws started, requiring reflective materials underground minors use those stickers to stay visible to each other, but as time passes stickers evolved, they became more personal started to tell minors stories in the mind companies themselves, darted printing stickers for their workers they went from. Simple adds to signalling and identity these are sort of their symbols. Most of the mining industry and that your part of it that you're a minor
After a year in the a mine, Ronnie swapped out his yellow heart had for a black one, which He was no longer a rookie with that came. More stickers stickers he came in Toulouse. One went on his heart had which he actually brought out to show me. Where's your six inches and reflective tape. Come on. Man was decorated, you say about one particular, don't you know the others too. He saved for his growing collection, a minor, showed Ronnie how to keep the stickers organised. So, each week you sit down and put the new stickers in an album this on the ground, Look I've done it They said you and Debbie, I say: unions, Decker armchairs got something to do with black long managers and the safety man at his mind gave him stickers with the my name on them and his and gave him stickers with union messages on them, one of his favorite sticker.
Has the state of Alabama outlined in red and inside it says, Alabama Coal Mining, Canada, proud dying there. You know our Bamako minor as he gained more experience. He got stickers commemorating his accomplishments. He worked that accompany early on. I counted the amount of coal mines by the number of cars filled during a shift, something like a cars was okay, but Ronnie has a sticker. That says his team mind a hundred fifty cars in one shift in these decorative your heart fifty car club with a little flyby Bible Bernie honor. He also Has one commemorating two hundred and twenty five cars and a shift which is a big deal? big round your next year outside Oh my god, it didn't have such a good run or whatever your bout had gone round. Given you, they stickers and every other parliament, decided by in the nineteen Sixtys and Seventys. A number of major mine safety laws were passed in the? U S and allow
common, started working at a new agency that was responsible for studying in enforcing safety in the mines. For a year. She researched mining culture. Thousands, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health of federal agency hired her to develop, a safety training programme for coal minors by that time, She knew who she was dealing with. Social She might be facing some scepticism from the miners she was trying to reach. I dont look like a minor, I'm woman end most of them are not so getting. Them to work with me, especially when I was a representative of the federal government and they are literally we too in north with government, but a way I seen that the minors were really into these stickers and she figured she could use them to gain their trust and to convey messages about safe. The, but you knew just putting work safe on a stick, her wooden cut it she needed some to grab the miners attention me. We were,
working out in NAM Eastern Kentucky It was a mining community with deep cultural ties to call she started to notice something she be walking along with the safety guy and, as we approach another minor, he would squeal like a pig. I finally asked him. I said What's going on here, doing that- and he said oh they're just saying they know, I'm a coal hug and I said what Cole Hog Anita CALL, hug is hungry for coal greedy for coal can't ever get enough, meaning that you're a good minor solely and took the idea and designed to stick with a big muscular pig with a hard hat on and it says cos Oh hogs work safe, so what we're doing, is putting those two ideas together that you can be a call hog, but you can also work safely. The miners loved it. Oh gosh. I think we printed three thousand two to begin with, and I have one little packet left that I'm gonna, keeping as a keepsake
move Collins on. Their designs were duds. Turkey made one with a dead canary canaries were once used to check for bed. Add Erin a mine, but It was a long time ago and the younger minors didn't get it others. Diggers catering to be anti humour in the mines, didn't pass, muster, with her bosses and the federal government, for example, They designed one sticker to remind minors to check for gas in the mines so wet the this one was at the bar end of donkey and had the donkey Looking back at you and it said, don't be an ass check for gas Can I have this little cloud coming out as can be really dangerous. Underground and donkeys were once used. Carry call out of the mines now boy there, the folks she didn't like that, but the miners loved it
unless a lane visit your mind, it be hard to get one of these stickers alot of the speakers, specialized or localised depending on what organization or company design them. That's part of what may collecting them fine, I have over twenty six thousand different structures. Are my collection and I've I've kind of come to believe that you either are a collector you're not and if you're not collector, you just don't get it, and if you are a collector, you just really can help yourself since Lenny Hanner com. From southern. All nor when he knows where in coal mines. For forty years he's a major sticker collect there at the height of his like thing in the nineteen eighties he'd exchange stickers with other collectors across the country and go to sticker swaps. Almost every weekend Those who meet ups, where minors exchange pieces Lenny, says unique. Figures were like currency in the mines, away, to buy or sell, favours and help, for instance, say your account.
Ernie rolled up the minds of the big load of supplies. You asked some the minors to help you unload the first. They wanted to know is, do you have any stickers out stickers, the miners wooden exactly rush to help so They all learn today they had stickers in that truck when they arrived in. That sir tend to get a motive. The whole lot faster. That way Lenny still works from mining company, but above ground these days he lives in an old mining town and a house that was once owned by mining company and he's got a full room devoted to mining memorabilia. I my married to- you know the most under standing woman in the world, he keeps his stickers twenty seven albums organised by type of sticker, the ones printed by my in companies that one's equipment manufacturers gave out the ones focused on fifty and union issues. Some of them are, specially sentimental. I have a particular that I got from
friend of mine, and he recently passed away, and I have just a couple stickers and my collection and really make me think of him. When I see them the sticker albums function It's like photo albums, reminding minors of their milestones and stories. They are just little pieces of of our history, You have our past little mementoes. I guess maybe, like postcard if you travel that you might pick up a postcard did their remit. And you of something from the past? We can just see our past. My history there on the pages of the album. Of course, just like with photos. Some of the darker memories don't end up in the album and twenty eleven for more than thirty years in the mines. My partners, Dad Ronnie, had an accident we're living thousand miles away and paste around in my living room as news trickled, then We eventually learn that his hand got pulled into a machine and it took a finger down Alabama, he was rushed to a hospital. He was told to call his wife Deborah
At first, he didn't want to call what a bend in the mind, stayed in the mind, but the nurse insisted and I happen to be near by I remember There were looking at me. Became in a room RON Johnson. How do you so dirty now, let me I've been getting a wife for years. And I guess you never saw me why don't my rubber boots and my bike was all black and my hand was all wrapped up he'd, never merely shared much about his life and the mind with his family. Are you afraid ever saw me back there? I didn't tell him what I want. The sticker, album stacked up in his cosy house only tell your stories to those who know how to read them? Ronnie before he lost his finger. He'd gone thirty one years without spending a night in the hospital he never really an ambulance ever had an accident in the mind that mean him loose, work. Hours. Carter rob
forty one years in one at that Ronnie, never gotta sticker for that, so. What do you do with amendments? No longer productive lots of things? It turns out because they had tells us about his favorite examples of adaptive reuse. After this, we often don't think of winter is a time of growth or creation. But if you think about it, it's the perfect time to greet your own website, because your cooped up you thinkin about being productive and now square space can help you do it. Whiskers based can take your cool ideas. You ve creative content. Your services, goods and you can turn them into a beautiful website in just a few clicks. Does it because there is to use templates, are created by
world class designers? And then you have the ability to customize the look and feel in the different settings for your own needs. For example, my side, roman Mars, dot com I made with square space. The landing page features a close up meeting into a microphone asthma, my very handsome beard, but if I should ever shave it, I dont have to wait for my web guy to change the photo. I can do it myself and maybe the next vote. I will feature my soulful eyes and where the pages are also picked out, some my favorite episodes of ninety nine percent of visible to share in the audio is convening. We embedded even on mobile. Try yourself could scarce based on Comstock Invisible for a free trial and when you re the launch, easy overcoat, invisible to save ten percent off your first purchase of a website or domain.
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A lot of mines are much bigger than that and much more stable than that and really have promising futures doing much. When things than they were designed for who was a good example, so one example would be Is this really cool minor Romania? That was actually first mind for salt nearly a thousand years ago, and it's been used on an office assortment ever since its really deep and it's really complex and recently Decided where you attend this into an attraction, so they made it a museum. They made a kind of a theme park. You go down there and, like voter and this water and in the pictures, are just sort of mesmerizing. They really lit this place. Upset. You can go down a really get a sense of the geology, but also just have this kind of fun experience underground, Who are there any in the? U S, gas in Kansas, there's a data sent a little less exciting, but it a little more functional and ass. Her databases that essentially uses the natural you know even temperatures and the protection of this minds rise, limestone limestone, Myspace thousands servers.
And you can imagine, if you're just trying to keep these servers running. You know during any kind of whether the perfect places just to talk a monitor, those links of tonnes to me and there's also a research facility that is doing Friends on dark matter, far underground in South Dakota Old Goldmine, it's about a mile deep, and it turns out that there's a lot of particles, a sort of just float through space. Didn't bombard our atmosphere pretty regular basis and getting below the surface thing, get away from a lot of that noise and a lot more of a kind of clean experiment. You to do a lemmings, tennysons, so cool now, and you know if they decide to destroy the universe. At least there a mile underground, yeah I'm in get right the hope is that the only just destroy their lab and around or something So what's your favorite, so my favorite is valid
the Louisville Mega Cavern, which is this huge, huge underground space in Louisville Kentucky if you buy the argument that now a building the largest building in Kentucky about four million square feet and horses silence or go here, and we have some good I'm stone for decades. The carved this thing out in the nineteen sixties actually talk about using it as a fallout. Shelter is it? The cuban missile crisis went the wrong way and what they were play a pack of tens of thousands of people in there and then event sort of fell into disuse and some are investors can long into hey. We could do something with this and they did recently they bought this thing and they said in opening businesses and there they ve started using it for storage because it sort of temperature, stables, good place for storage and then later the kind of weird and they started adding all these kind of theme park, elements to it. She can go take tree
tours of the underground even go take supplying tours. There's a ropes course at the heart of it all the biggest functions. Is this huge huge, three hundred thousand plus square foot like part and is a bit exploit pergola with hill on jobs and all that stuff and they build those out of all the sort of fill that was. Be carved out and sort of laying around from reminders rights all the attributes, just gonna pick up the dirt here, shovel it over there and they can entirely new courses? Some months ago, We have some pictures of these on our lives earlier. We got about two pictures and video. This on the website will think someone's that so cool ninety nine percent invisible was produces week by arenas, you're off with Delaney, halt that production and mixed by refuse of music. By shown, real or senior editor is Katy. Mingle, crook coasted is the digital director. Rest staff is every treatment, Emmett, Fitzgerald, Terran, Massa and me roman Mars, whereby
the video Toby. In any one point, seven k, ale, debut San Francisco and produced on radio row in beautiful downtown Oakland, California, You can find in presenting his boy into a discussion about the show on facebooking tweed me at Roman Mars and the show and ninety nine p I or run instead, tumblr and ready to, but our beautiful home on the internet with more design stories, and we could ever tell you inside this punk asked is our website. Ninety nine p, I downward. Radio do.
Transcript generated on 2020-02-14.