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Catalog Number 2005.047.0001
Object Name Tape, Cassette
Scope & Content Oral history of Bernie Capron's memories of the slate industry, as recorded by Stephen Williams on 10 April 2003.

Bernie Capron was an only child; his parents were not slate workers, mother was a nurse for 65 years with the Red Cross. Bernie lived with slate workers, began work at age 11 at the company farm (Briar Hill), where horses that hauled slate were stabled.

Bernie began in 1923 to do haying for the horses, clearing up in the slate yard; in 1924, he began to punch holes in slate; in 1926, became slatemaker, trimmer, traditionally Welsh job, asked for "Irish" slate" because it had a rough texture, looked better on the roof. Slate workers initially became unionized through the crafts union, company benefitted from this, workers' union formed later.

Bernie recalled that relations between ethnic groups, Welsh and Irish, were generally good; Slavs did manual work, then became operators. The Welsh had many sons, so perpetuated the ownership. It was very dangerous to work in the quarries;Penrhyn Hill, difficult rock, cave-in killed many. Bernie's foster parent had his hand blown off

Slate business fluctuated, built up large reserves. Bernie works for Newmont Slate now, is designing splitting machine and cutter which cuts/saws slanted so that (slate?) will fit close together. Black slate can only be split 1/4", and sea green 3/8".

Changes that Bernie has seen since he began working in the slate industry include use of horse power, then steam power, then electricity; inclines with carriages, then shovels, bulldozers. Saws are now used almost exclusively. Automatic trimmer - rock has a slight bend, if trimmed wrong, will lie wrong on roof.
Creator Williams, Stephen T.
Title Bernie Capron, Oral History