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             Monday, November 4 2002  

Where are they now? Homer C. Hoffman

Homer C. Hoffman with his wife, Irene

Born November 28, 1917, in Wehrum, Homer is one of eight children born to Lawrence and Pansy (Hill) Hoffman. Homer's siblings include: Minnie Davis, Ebensburg; Olin, deceased; Lawrence, Morrellville, Indiana; Pansy Dear, Kansas City, Missouri; Donna Cruley and Mayvon Frye, both living in Nanty Glo.

Married to Belsano native, the former Irene Rummel, since January 21, 1937, Homer and Irene are the parents of five children, two of whom are deceased; Shirley Bowman, deceased 2002, and Elsie died in infancy. Regina "Ginger" O'Farrell and Judy Dilling both live in Nanty Glo, and Homer, Jr., in Ebensburg R.D.2. The Hoffmans have 12 grandchildren, 17 great-grandchildren, and several great-great grandchildren.

Homer attended Blacklick Township schools and studied auto mechanics through correspondence schools. Like many retired area men, Homer's work history is centered around the coal industry. His mining career began in 1937 at the Revloc Mine, then owned by the Monroe Coal Company, and ended with his retirement in 1970 because of poor health. During World War Two he and a group of fellow miners tried to enlist for military duty but "The head of the draft board wouldn't even talk to us because we were coalminers," Homer says. Coal was a vital and necessary commodity during the war years; it was needed to sustain the war effort and coalminers were exempted from the draft by a blanket deferment from the government.

Homer goes on,"During the war, you weren't permitted to quit your job in the mines; all coalminers were needed where they were...in the mines!" He shares another common bond with many local miners: he suffers from black lung, a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease caused by years of inhaling the fine black coal dust that permeated the environment inside the mines. The lung disease results in extreme shortness of breath and fatigue in its victims.

"I retired due to black lung and arthritis. The Arthritis was from burning the candle at both ends; I was a Jack of all trades," he says. "In my younger days, I used to hunt squirrels, and all through the years, I liked to tinker with cars; they were easy to fix back then but not now." He remembers when miners were underpaid: "I remember the days when I was down in the mine making $37.50 a day; my wife was working in a garment factory making twice that amount and then some." This is bitter testimony to the dangerous and unhealthy environment that caused lung disease and injury to many miners, including Homer, who says, "I was running a top cutting machine, when it swung around and pinned me against the 'rib' (wall of the mine). I suffered a back injury and a fractured pelvis, which left me with one leg shorter than the other."

The Hoffmans have Lived in Nanty Glo since 1944, and their memories go back before then. "There were so many movie houses...back in the late 20's, they built the Capitol Theater. I was present at the first movie ever shown there, Mae West played in it and the theater was packed; they couldn't get all the people in.

"Back in the Depression, 1929-30, there was no money; there was a gang from Belsano that used to sneak into the movies by having one guy buy a ticket. When the ticket taker would reach for the ticket, he would get slugged, then the whole gang would run into the theater and sneak into the balcony.

"I wouldn't want to predict what might happen to Nanty Glo...most of the people here are on Social Security and pensions of some kind, and until that changes, things will stay the same. Things have changed very little since I retired," he says.

To send greetings to the Hoffmans, send email to HRoses2@peoplepc.com.

If you have a suggestion for a subject for Where Are They Now, please write Judy Rose.

Only in America...
(last in series)

—Sent by Mike Harrison

Thought for today

Abba Sarmatas said, "I prefer a sinful man who knows he has sinned and repents, to a man who has not sinned and considers himself to be righteous."

—Sent by Christopher Haas

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