Friday, October 21, 2005

North Country

I grew up in Northern Minnesota. Home of the Iron Ore mines. My dad is a miner. He is actually a metallurgical engineer which means he's a boss-man miner who tells the other miners what to do. He grew up in Butte, Montana and followed the Iron Ore mines around North America before landing in Embarrass, MN in 1970ish. (Yes, that Embarrass, Minnesota that is on the news about once a year for how damn cold it gets there.)

Well, the late 70's - today was been difficult at best for that region. It goes through ongoing phases of boom and bust. Everyone worked at the mines when I was a kid. If you didn't work at the mines you wanted to work at the mines. Except women. It didn't occur to me then, but I don't know of any women who worked at the mines. There were most likely some, but not many and certainly anyone I knew. When we lived there the mines were going through difficult times and our family went through numerous times where dad got laid off and called back and laid off and called back. Until 1986, then he go permanently laid off. We went through a pretty lean period where we were just scrapping by and then we cut and ran to Montana. Montana was good for us and great for my dad. He spent the next 18 years working in gold mines first in Montana, later in Australia, Chile, Uzbekistan, and Canada. (Overseas jobs pay really well and they timed out really nice as all the kids were out of the house by then and my parents really got to see the world.)

Back to the Iron Range, there is a new movie out chronically live during the 70's - 80's for women in the mines. It is based on a true story of one of the first class action sexual harrassment lawsuits. I'm a little excited to see it and of course a little scared because it portrays some really bad behavior that occured in the mines. Of course, not all the miners were involved and I definitely know that my dad would never have been involved in stuff like that (he does have three daughters and I know my grandma would have kicked is ass if he disrespected any woman). That being said I do know guys who would have behaved poorly. It was a time of terrible fear for everyone. Nobody knew when your last paycheck would come. The mines were the only good jobs and losing that job meant either moving or taking a poor paying job doing menial work. Their jobs at the mines were the mens lives and they were doing anything necessary to save them. My husband and I are going to play hooky this afternoon and see the movie. I hope the movie portrays life as it was back when I was a kid and keeps true to the story as it happened. Oh yeah, and I sure hope that they don't give all the characters that fake "Fargo" accent.


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