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Latah County Oral History Collection

Remembering Latah County and Idaho Life at the turn of the 20th century

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Date: July 28, 1974 Interviewer: Sam Schrager

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0:00 - Arriving from Greece in 1909; worked in Elk River mill, woods

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Segment Synopsis: Arriving from Greece in 1909, John lived two months in New York, then came to Spokane and worked on a railroad extra gang. The extra gang was hard work and paid 15 cents an hour. He began working in the Elk River mill in 1911 at whatever job he could get because he had no experience. From the close of the mill in 1930 to 1950 he worked in the woods.

9:00 - 1912 winter; Greek gang fired by foreman

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Segment Synopsis: The winter of 1912 there was nine feet of snow at the depot. His Greek extra gang had to work exactly as the foreman said; the foreman fired the whole gang and replaced them with Yugoslavians.

19:00 - Elk River mill closing; housing piled up at Potlatch

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Segment Synopsis: When the mill closed down, Potlatch dismantled many Elk River homes and piled the fixtures outdoors at Potlatch, where they rusted.

21:00 - Moved to Spokane in 1952 to retire, life in Spokane

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Segment Synopsis: John moved to Spokane after he retired in 1952 because Elk River had no medical facilities for his wife. Mr. Morris explained that the drugstore couldn't afford to handle prescription drugs. John built a home in Spokane Valley with many kinds of fruit, but it became too much to care for.

30:00 - Strike at Elk River mill; IWW cards; propaganda

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Segment Synopsis: Nearly all the men at the Elk River mill had IWW cards. When a strike meeting was called at the mill, Superintendent Bloom told the men that those who struck would be fired and that IWW was Russian propaganda. So the men went back to work, but no lumber came to the mill from the woods.

37:00 - IWW brought eight hour work days and better conditions; John never told anyone he carried a IWW card; card seller was fired, moved to Spokane

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Segment Synopsis: Eight hour day and good conditions caused by IWW. John told nobody that he had a card. The man selling cards, George Manus, was fired; he moved to Spokane and got wealthy from drinking and gambling business.

45:00 - America is the best country; Greeks scattered throughout U.S.; discussion of U.S. presidents

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Segment Synopsis: U.S. is the best country. Most Greeks scattered from the Northwest, to the East or back to Europe. The U.S. was the worst country to work in in early 1900's; thousands of immigrants a day made cheap labor. Coolidge opened the country some, but Hoover wasn't good.

54:00 - Lumberjacks drank too much, problems as a result

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Segment Synopsis: Lumberjacks drank too much, played poker in the camps and were mostly single. A man who deserted his family because of drink; the son drank too.


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