OCTOBER 8, 1956
MARQUETTE, Mich —We flew here from West Virginia, but first I want to tell you of our visit Tuesday, at the invitation of some coal mine officials, to a mine head near Beckley, W. Va., where the mine was working full time.
We saw the men coming off the 3:30 p.m. shift and the others preparing to go in at 4 p.m. There is no doubt that conditions for the miners are greatly improved. This is due to their organization, which has given them higher wages and better working conditions.
I asked about the safety devices in mines and was told that there were still a great many accidents, sometimes due to human failure and sometimes to lack of mechanical safeguards. The production of coal is high at present, but fewer men are at work because of the increased use of labor-saving machines. This brings a need for new industries throughout the state, for there has been high unemployment.
I was pleased to see some of the Mine Workers officials wearing Stevenson buttons, and it appeared, from what I read in the morning paper Wednesday, that what I had been told of John L. Lewis' support of President Eisenhower was not true. While Lewis was not for the nomination of Stevenson, he is still opposed to the Republican party and to President Eisenhower and he has no use for the Taft-Hartley Law, which is understandable.
I am sorry his support of Stevenson is colored by his previous support of Governor Harriman, but at least I am glad he is still interested in the Democratic party.
After the visit to the mine we visited one of the main United Mine Workers' hospitals—they have smaller ones around each main hospital. It seemed to me a very fine hospital, but miners are not easy people to care for and their families are sometimes even more difficult.
I stopped to speak to a woman sitting in the lobby with a small boy in her arms. His head was bandaged and I asked what had happened. She said, "We fell out of the car and the baby did, too, but the baby isn't hurt."
The little boy looked flushed and restless, and I asked how badly his head was cut, and she said, "Right down to the skull, and I brought him in because the cut began to look badly." The lady next to me promptly said to her, "You will wait, won't you, until you see a doctor?"
I realized then that old habits still prevail, that many people who do not get attention at once because of the crowd leave the hospital feeling that they could not spend the time waiting and not realizing the danger of the infection which might set in from such an injury.
The baby had not even been brought for examination, for as far as this young mother could see "the baby wasn't even hurt."
I was happy to see the strides that had been made in the living conditions of miners in that area, but was not happy over the attitude of some of the business people I talked with. They seemed to be lacking in imagination and enterprise.
They said the pottery and glass business is having a hard time because of competition from foreign imports. Twenty-five years ago the pottery and glass business was in trouble because of the depression, and they tell me no improvements in machinery or methods have been made since then.
I wonder if the Department of Commerce could not set up counseling and research centers, and even a Marshall Plan-type loan system, for small industries.