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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Juanita Kreps, January 17, 1986. Interview C-0011. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Vivid memories of violent mining strikes

In a glimpse of mining life in the South, Kreps says that her memories of coal miners' strikes in Harlan County, Kentucky, which she experienced as a child, remain vivid; the violence and fear made a lasting impression on her. Most of her family was affiliated with organized labor.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Juanita Kreps, January 17, 1986. Interview C-0011. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

LYNN HAESSLY:
I was going to ask you what memories you had had of the Harlan County strikes when you were about ten.
JUANITA KREPS:
They are surprisingly vivid, I suppose because they were so dramatic. There was a lot of bloodshed, as you know. I remember the scene as being one of fear. Coal mining itself is physically, to me, still a frightening business. I attribute my current claustrophobia to the thought of being in a dark place such as a mine. So I remember it fairly well. It was a tough period for that area. Of course, it was a depressed period all over the country. There was a lot of true poverty in the area in which I grew up.
LYNN HAESSLY:
Did you feel as if your family was on one side or the other during the strikes?
JUANITA KREPS:
Oh, yes. We felt aligned with the labor struggle with the exception of Uncle John Henry. I think he was too, it's just that he was in a political situation that was somewhat different. My father, although he ultimately was in charge of a mine and had to bargain with the workers, was basically very sympathetic to the problems that very low paid, hard working miners were facing.