Vital and Rita Thebeau Wedding Day

Before we were married, Rita had a baby girl, her name was Loretta, and she was born on November 17, 1954. In those days, we had to adopt the baby after we were married. In 1956 I bought a house in North Minto. It was not a very nice house but it was our own. I paid 600 dollars for it. We moved into the house in April 1956. Rita was pregnant, on June 4, 1956 she had a baby boy, and we named him Pascal after my father. We looked after the babies and that took a fair amount of time. Loretta was 1 1/2 years old and Pascal was a baby. The time went fast for the rest of the year. The following year we found out that we had another baby coming. She was expecting the baby to be born in the month of July, so we had to do some preparation before the baby was born. We were quite excited about that, so on the 22 of July 1957 we had another baby boy, we named him Pierre after one of my uncles, Pierre Daigle. Then Paul came on October 22, 1959, Gerald July 25, 1962, Patrick August 25, 1967, and then our last boy was Philippe November 26, 1973.

Vital And The Family

Vital And The Family

I was working for Broderick Brother’s until they went out of business in June, of 1958, we all got laid off, and I had to look for another job. I was only off work for one week. I got another job with Loran Crawford. I worked eight years for him. At the beginning I was hired as a welder, and then I was doing mechanic work on heavy equipment and electrician. I did a lot of different work. I was one of their main men with Ken Libby. We become very close friends; he was like me, a jack of all trades. I had only grade four educations and never went to trade school but I could do almost anything. They accepted me to do trade work with no education. We had to do our own hydro line. I remember the day they bought a 5 yard drag line without a motor because they wanted to change it to electric. They bought a 300 horse electric motor and wanted me to install it in the machine. I had to look over the whole thing before I could figure out where to start because I never did anything like that before. I started with the base, like a person does when they built a new home you have to have a good foundation and I had to make a new base because there was nothing to build the motor on so I had to provide a steel plate heavy enough. I used a 2 inch plate to hold the motor solid enough so it would not move at all, because once it’s all lined up, it had to stay that way all the time it was running. Then I installed the motor on the plate. I had to use a micrometer and feeler gauge to line up the couplings. I had everything bolted down solid, then I had to bring the power into the machine, it was 2800 Volt. It was difficult because the machine would turn around and around so I had to install a selector ring. There were three of them. They were 1 1/2” square. I had to cut them in two pieces so I could bring them in between the bottom and the top part of the machine. It would have been too big of a job to separate the bottom and the top. It was easier to cut the selector ring. It saved a lot of work by cutting the ring brushes, the top part had to turn around back and forth. To bring the power into the machine they bought electric cable, it had to be flexible. It was 2 1/2” in diameter so we had to make a wooden clamp so it wouldn’t be too hard on the cable. There were brushes to bring the power to the upper part of the machine. We had to have a special switch to start the motor and that had to be wired up properly. The switch box had two levers to run the motor .The first one we would push it upward so it would pick up speed slowly and after the motor was turning fast enough we brought it down and pushed the other up so it would bring the speed to 1800 rpm. We were then ready to operate the machine. We had to install the boom which was 100 feet long and install the cable on the frame so we could lift the boom up. Before we could do anything we had to supply the hydro. It was 200 feet from the machine, so we could connect the cable to the transformer. It had three special fuses. We had to have a special pair of rubber gloves and a pair of leather ones you wore over the robber gloves so we wouldn’t get shocked because it had 2800 volts. I think I was very lucky to work around that kind of equipment with no training but I guess I was smart enough to figure it out. Then I had to connect each wire to the brushes, they were the special brushes so the power could go in the upper part of the machine to make it work ok.

Dragline

Dragline

Because it had to work 24 hours a day, we had to install three transformers because they needed light. We had to install a light, 500 watt light bulb and had to have some smaller 200 watt light bulbs inside the machine so they could see what they were doing. We had to take the power from the main switch because we had to have a 120 volt transformer working properly. We had to get that machine working and see how it worked with the new motor. It did work pretty well.
They had three shifts working 24 hours a day. They made lots of money. I worked for Mr. Crawford eight years. Ken Libby and I done their repair work, we kept everything working. They were taking 40 or 50 feet off the top ground to get to the coal. The thickness of the coal varied from 15” to 24”. The coal is anywhere from 7 feet below the ground up to almost 100 feet deep. Then they would take a smaller shovel to load the coal on the truck so they could haul the coal to the railroad ramp. Then they would dump the coal in box car. It was a coal mine town. The town’s people were making a good living. Some people were working underground. I had worked under ground for about six months, it was ok, but I didn’t like it very much. It was much better to work on top of the ground where the air was much better to breath. But I enjoyed the work. I’ve done a lot of different things. There was always a challenge ahead. We would only know what we would be doing that day, and that is what made it interesting. I enjoyed that very much.

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