THE BIG STRIKE
By John J. Creedon
This strike almost caused our family to leave Bingham. My mother was asked how many extra boarders she could handle, but when my father found out they were strike breakers and gunmen, he notified Mr. Haymond that they could eat in the section house, but not as long as he lived there. Mr. Haymond agreed with him and these “skunks” were taken care of at the “Big Ship” in Upper Bingham.
Mother kept me out of school for part of that year because of the tension. The gunmen were everywhere on company property and you never knew when you would have a gun stuck in your back and challenged. We even had one in a packing box below our house. I remember that one of these men shot another and that seemed to be the only good they did while they were here. I don’t remember of too much violence, but they say there was a lot of shooting in Upper Bingham during the strike, but evidently no casualties.
But life must go on and school and new friends put all else in the background. Those first days at school I met friends that I was to go through school with and form friendships with their families that have endured to the present time. My first pal was Coleman Quinn. We started the first grade together and graduated together without a break in the twelve years. My first auto ride was with the Quinns, and I took many trips with them. I met the Stillmans, Grants, Bakers, Nerdins and so many of the Swede-Finns that first year.
The year 1912 came and with it tragedy to Bingham. It was the year of the Big Strike. I don’t remember the issues at stake or the winner of this strike, if there was any winner. There seems to be a difference of opinion of the outcome from some of the old timers I have consulted.
It brought to Bingham an element that left a blight on the community for years to come -Strike breakers or “scabs” were brought in to work the jobs, the men had left and the gunmen were there to protect them. The hate and resentment shown these unwelcome visitors impressed me as young as I was, and to this day I loathe such persons.
We went to the Central School, comparatively new in 1912. It stood in the center of the large vacant lot near the Civic Center and the new high was just south of it next to the Mitchell Apartments. The first six grades went to the Central School and the next six went in the High School building. The first school building was in the Canyon Hall, but it was not being used when I started to school.
My first teacher was a Miss Moore and I liked her very much. Other teachers I remember in those early days were the Robertson girls, Jessie and Mary, Miss Jeffries and Maude McNamara. The principal was Howard Alston and he later married Miss McNamara and moved to Park City.
I remember one day in the winter time, when the roads were knee deep in snow and mud, a teamster whipping his team with a pick handle because they were not pulling to suite him, was challenged by Miss Jeffries. She gave him a dressing down for his cruelty to the horses. There she was less than five feet tall standing up to this six-footer and giving him the works. He never beat his team again anywhere near the school grounds.
The trip to school each day was exciting with all the hustle and activity of a busy mining town with just one road. The ore wagons were constantly on the move and the move and the delivery wagons were busy distributing their wares throughout the town and to Upper Bingham and Highland Boy.
When the tram wasn’t running I had 365 stairs to cover to get down town from the B&G. At the bottom of the stairs was the ruins of the old Shawmut Mill. The boilers, settling tanks and the mill itself was an exciting playground for us to play our games in. It is a wonder that some of us didn’t get killed climbing around the machinery in the old mill. It was an ideal place to play “Back-out-leader.” Carr Fork was filled to capacity with homes and boarding houses, as close together as they could get and set back into the solid rock of the canyon on both sides.
At the corner of Main and Carr Fork stood the big store, Bingham Merc., and the Copper King. Next to the Copper King was Harry Noble’s Vienna Café, and I was fascinated by the tank of live fish in the window of the café. This was supposed to be the fanciest café in town. Next door was the Bingham Livery, where saddle horses and surreys were for hire any hour of the day or night.
John Sindar’s Old Crow Bar was next in line and it had the longest bar in town. Next down was the Globe Hotel and the Combination Bar and then the Post Office and Golden Rule Store, in the Masonic Building.
A two story building next to the Mascot Bar housed Dr. Inglesby and Dr. Flynn at a different time. Society Hall across the street was the home of all the fraternal orders that flourished in Bingham at that time. There was never a night that some lodge did not meet in this historic building. The Odd Fellow, Knights of Phythias; Italian Lodge, Maccabees, Eagles, Carpenters Union and many others met regularly in the Society Hall.