Going back over the material I have about the actual 1925 strike I’m trying to find a balance between info dumping, time line and struggling to sticking to using only what serves my story. I know many writers have the same struggle.
I’m aiming to keep the causes simple enough and not hit every event or every privation but some of them are hard to ignore. I am not attempting to make the time line historically accurate though. I’m collapsing that, and also folding in things that happened in the previous strike. The strike is the background for my events and not what the story is actually about.
I’m aiming for authentic as opposed to literal. I’m not writing a historic account of the events but letting the history of those events play host to my story. The challenge is to show these times in the life of a couple of people without losing them as people. They can’t become placards but participants.
The way the protesting miners were treated is much like what happen here a few years in Toronto at the G8 – police with blank slate permission to maintain security who used their power, apparently, indiscriminately. During the 1925, political radicals (communists) were supposedly agitating the miners to civil disobedience – sound familiar? Some things never change.
Word count as of today 16,200 words – I’m going to the Red Rocket and have a justly deserved Nutella nanimo bar – while I write another 2100 words about the starving miners.
November 1-30 – participating – NaNoWriMo
November 10 – Sunday – attending – Cabaret Noir
November 17 – Sunday – attending – Plasticine Poetry
Dec 15 – Sunday – attending – The Bazaar of the Bizarre: Frost Bite 2013
June 6-8, 2014 – attending – Bloody Words
Coal Dusters Sample
Lillian noticed a large number men in uniform along the street. They were smoking and laughing. Some appeared to have been drinking.
“Who are they going to protect.” Mr McF said. “The choir?”
The extra security had been brought in over the past week at the demand of the coal company. The management had pressured the local police to beef up security around the mines after several company stores had been ransacked. It was as if they had been hoping the miners would take that sort of action so they could escalate things in their own way.
They passed through the main part of of the town. Off to one side street were men on horseback. There was also some artillery on a wheeled cart.
“What do they expect the miner’s to do?” Lillian companyasked Clara.
“They are sure there are agitators working to undermine the company’s influence.”
“Men whose only intent to disrupt lawful business under the guise of making things better for the workers. Communists.” Clara waved to her brother. “Steven any word from the Coal Co?”
He crossed the street to join them. “Good morning. The assembly is in full agreement with Wolvin’s [general manager of the Coal Co] statement that the men can end all this simply by returning to work. They are willing to open the mines so the men can start earning their keep.”
“Their keep!” Mr McF said. “They were beinMonseigneurg paid barely enough to keep house and family together under the old contract and now they have to settle for less?”
“Mr McF in order for the company to remain competitive in the market they have to have the coal for less, that means paying the men less. The alternative is to close down more of the mines. Is that what you think the miners want?”
“You know as well as I do that the miners want an end to this starvation. Coal Co is letting the miners’ children pay the price of their profits.”
“Coal Co can’t be held accountable for the ….” Steven glanced apologetically to Lillian and the other ladies, “… the propagation habits of the miners. If you can’t afford children don’t bring more into the world.”
“Steven!” Clara snapped. “What a thing to say.”
They were at the church steps. In the foyer the Monseigneur was greeting parishioners as they arrived. Her uncle Father Patric was at his side. She hadn’t seen him since he had ‘cast her forth into the wilderness’ as it was reported to her by Aileen. She didn’t offer her hand to him but merely nodded as his glance went quickly to Mrs McF beside her.
Seeing him again made her bruises throb. She had kept Clara from seeing how severe they actually were. She had made Dr. B swear not to mention the severity of them to anyone. The few long hot soaking baths with she had over the past week had eased the pain considerably. Aileen had insisted she try a poultice of comfrey and mustard which reduced the swelling and discnuturionolouration.
She followed Clara to the pew they were to use for the service. On the way she was stopped by HH (co store woman.)
“Ah Miss Lillian, it’s good to see you looking well.”
“You too HH. How’s the baby.’”
“Poorly miss. He has that flu so many of the children have had the past few months. Least we have been able fed him to keep his strength up. The doctor says there’s a good chance he’ll pull through.”
Lillian shook her head in dismay. As the strike progressed and food became scare the family had less and less to eat. Some gardens had helped stave of some of the hunger but many of the children were weak from lack of proper nutritnuturionion. This weakness made them more vulnerable to colds and recently a flu. There were funerals daily.
“I wish there was more I could do.” Lillian said.
“Knowing your prayers are with us is more than enough. At least we have a roof over our heads. There’s now many that doesn’t. When they closed the KK mine those families were forced out of the company houses. No mine no home. Where is a person to go?”
“There’ll be help I’m sure.” Lillian kissed HH on the cheek and joined Clara. She was more grateful that ever or having been given a haven when she needed one but how long could she count on that with things getting worse for everyone around her.
The service washed over her without her really paying attention to it. She heard bits and pieces of the various rituals and the sermon. Other parishes were sending money. The Monseigneur had spoken to the Premier to no vail. The Bishop had spoken to the some cabinet misters but was told this was a provincial not a federal matter and so they could do nothing. The conclusion seemed to be that God helps those who help themselves, which in this case the the Coal Co.
“What does helping themselves mean?” Lillian asked Mr McF as they made their way out after the mass.
“Pray and listen to the guidance one gets from the Lord.”
“What if the Lord tells some helping themselves is to strike for better working conditions and tells others that accepting any working condition is better than not working at all?”
“Miss McT you are sounding dangerously like those Communists.”
“I … I am?” Her face flushed. “Perhaps I’ve been listening too much what Steven has to say about all this.”
“Miss McT you are in many ways still an outsider here. This isn’t like in Boston.”
“I realize that but …”
“The folks here don’t think logically. They have no idea of a future only of the now.”
They were in the foyer once again. The crowd had become stopped at the doors.
Screams and shouts came from outside.
“Father,” one of the parishioners shouted. “They are charging us with the horses as we leave the church.”
The Monseigneur and her uncle pushed through the crowd.
The parishoners pushed back and she fell against the wall. An elderly women stumbled back into the church helping her husband. He was bleeding from a blow to the head.
“They just rode up as we were walking down the street. Swinging their batons and hitting anyone they could get to.” The woman gasped. “Anyone. We’re not miners!”
Over the shouting she could hear the horses. Then gun shots. There was brief silence after that.