On this eve of tragedy

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The Bump of 1958 was a footnote in my life. Born several generations after the event, mining in Springhill, to me, was as real as the tooth fairy. Sure, there were many who would tell me it was true but I never saw much to convince me. But the signs were all around if I just looked. Men with coal scarred into their cheeks gathered at the post office every morning; signs that the aging buildings of downtown Springhill were a shadow of their former glory; the Tour-A-Mine and empty houses.
There are not as many vacant homes in Springhill as there was when I was a youth. They became victims of fire or were torn down but I can remember every street seemed to have at least one empty home boarded up and waiting for the day a crane and dump truck would come to finally take it away, erasing the memory of how big Springhill was.
It wasn't until the approach of the 50th anniversary to that dreadful day that I really started to feel a sense of empathy for what happened in Springhill. A news clipping from the day recorded Springhill's population at 7,000. Its primary employer, the mines. More than 900 people were employed below the earth's crust and when the earth shook beneath Springhill for the last time, doubt was cast if the community would be capable of moving on or if it would become a ghost town.
Looking at the photographs of families and children who waited endlessly to know the fate of their beloved husbands and fathers I can see my own family in their eyes. I can see myself in their eyes and get choked up thinking about what it would be like for my family or even myself to go through such a disaster.
I pray it's a grief I will never have to see but believe this sudden realization of emotion has helped me see my neighbours and community in a more heroic light not cast in my youth and, hopefully, that my generation and the generations after us will also see.
Springhill is a proud community and a strong community, not just because of this singular event but all it has endured. Things are much slower here than when Springhill was in its prime but it took a heck of a lot to slow it down and none of it was enough to stop Springhill from moving forward.
There will always be a Springhill and I am proud.

Christopher H. Gooding

Geographic location: Springhill

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Recent comments

  • rick
    March 09, 2010 - 09:26

    NICE ARTICLE CHRIS.CALGARY SUN HAD AN ARTICLE ON ANNIVERSARY .IT BROUGHT BACK MEMORIES .I WAS ONLY 8 YEARS OLD BUT I REMEMBER IT CLEARLY .LOTS OF FRINDS AND CLASSMATES LOST THEIR DADS.SPRINGHILL WILL ALWAYS BE DOWN HOME TO ME

  • karen
    March 09, 2010 - 09:26

    I wonder what ever happened to the anniversary of the 1956 explosion, why is this bump more important? Should have remembrance for every explosion!

  • Tim
    March 09, 2010 - 09:26

    Karen, in 2006 an Anniversary Church Service was held for the 1956 victims. It was up to the families of the victims, the same as it was for the families of the victims of 1958. It's not that one was more important than the other - it comes down to who was willing to go the extra mile to make sure things were planned and I guess the 58 Committee put forth more of an effort. I would suggest to those who are critical of the past week's events to reconsider your criticism. Don't fault these people because they chose to put together a first class remembrance for their fathers. The families of the 56 Explosion had the same opportunity. Why do some people sit back and wait for others to do the work for them? If I sound a little miffed - I am. The 58 committee worked very hard and many, many long hours to make their event a special remembrance. If you feel there should be a remembrance for every explosion - then do something about it. Don't criticize those who have. Get off your butt and do your part to ensure it happens.