The Holden Village Podcast

A Holden Village Retrospective: Life in the 30's, 40's, and 50's with Ed Miles

April 17, 2023 The Holden Village Podcast
The Holden Village Podcast
A Holden Village Retrospective: Life in the 30's, 40's, and 50's with Ed Miles
Show Notes Transcript

Ed Miles lived and worked at the Holden mining community from 1936, fought in World War II, and was an employee of Howe Sound at Holden until the mine closure in 1957.   Ed visited Holden Village in the summer of 2021 and was interviewed by Director Mark Bach and archivist Larry Howard during his visit.  Ed recounts living first on Honeymoon Heights, then in Chalet 8 with his parents, and then later in the Winston housing tract west of the mining town.  He met his wife in the Holden dining room and they raised their family at Holden like many other miner couples of the era.  

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Intro: [00:00:00] Welcome to the Holden Village Podcast. Holden is a community of education, programming, and worship located in the remote wilderness of the Cascade Mountains. These snapshots provide a glimpse into the learnings taking place in our community. Let's tune in to this week's highlight. 

Mark: So today is September 5th, 2021, and we're honored to have Ed Miles here. My name is Mark Back. I'm one of the co-directors at Holden Village. We also have Larry Howard, our Holden Village archivist in attendance.

We're just glad to find out as much about your long association at Holden Village as possible. Tell me briefly about your parents and how they came to be hired by Howe Sound in 1936.

Ed Miles: Yeah, they were doing construction here at the time, but I came from Wenatchee, just out of the sixth grade. My dad was [00:01:00] hired to be the mine-foreman here at that time. So when school was out in Wenatchee, south Wenatchee, our family come up here around that time.

Mark: What is your first memory of Holden? 

Ed Miles: I can tell you a little bit of what it looked like to you then. We had to stop off in Lake Chelan and get a boat from the Campbell Hotel, if I remember right.

That's where we first got aboard a boat to come up the lake. There was no house on dock at that time there. We dock at Lucerne, they didn't have yet any company docks right there installed.

But the first thing I noticed that the on the way to get up to Holden was go up a tramway alongside Lightning Ridge Mountain. So we had to ride that tram up and get a truck to go into Holden. That was 12 miles.

So when I entered the city here, I noticed we were doing constructions, removing Earth and all that, and setting foundations for the housing here. [00:02:00] But we didn't stop for that because my dad wanted to take us up further towards where the old mine camp is.

This is located by where the ballpark is now. And we went across that little bridge and we come to where they had a skiff that come down to the landing platform there, and we loaded up our belongings and all that, but we had to walk up the trail to the old mine camp.

There was no way that there would haul people on any tram skip like that. All it was used for is to haul mining material and stuff like that, and supplies for the cookhouse at the camp. 

Mark: So what was the housing like at Honeymoon Heights then when you first moved here? Did you live in a tent or was it a cabin?

Ed Miles: They had some buildings up there already. My first house was up there just temporarily at the old mine camp. It was a tent house built for us to live in. Wooden sides and the canvas top. And that's how we lived until we was ready to move down into the town site.

Mark: And you said there was [00:03:00] a temporary school?

Ed Miles: There was no ballpark at the time of 1936 or anything like that. There was just that single bridge that went across the Railroad Creek. And I noticed that they had a temporary warehouse for material and all that. We had part of the warehouse for a school room to start with. And our teacher was Robert Hamilton at the time, up to the eighth grade according to how many children there were. They probably had one first grader, there wasn't very many of us yet.

But as the families come in here, there was more children arrived and we moved eventually into the new school building at the time. Florence Field became my eighth grade teacher and she was my school teacher till 1940. 

I was able to graduate in 1940 here. They gave us a diploma. But there was no more high school after that. And after that we had to move out. And I went to school there in Wenatchee in the freshman year. And when my age came up, I was 18 I had to [00:04:00] sign up for the draft. In 1943, they drafted me in the service out of outta high school.

Mark: And then you came back to Holden? 

Ed Miles: I didn't come back to Holden until 1946, the same year I was discharged. During the wartime, my dad worked off and on for Howe Sound Mining Company because he was specialized in like powder work and all that, and he was pretty well educated on that.

So they hired him from this to work here to help develop some of this mining that they were doing in here. So it wasn't unusual to hear about the Boils Brothers company being in here working on doing blast holes and stuff like that. But I know during the war time they had servicemen come in here and play softball with the minors here.

It was In 1946 somebody gave me a phone call; they needed the switchboard operator here for the company. So I went to Chelan. And that's where I met my dad, my mother, and I guess [00:05:00] who.

Mark: Your wife. 

Ed Miles: Yeah. She worked in the mess hall here. In 1946, we had decided to buy a home. We decided just to buy that little house to live in and raise our three kids.

Mark: So what year were you married? 

Ed Miles: 1947.

Mark: So if you met her at Holden, was the wedding at Holden? 

Ed Miles: We went to Wenatchee. My best man was my brother Bill. And then of course we made our trip over to Seattle. That was supposed to be a kind of a honeymoon thing. But we was mostly looking for some kind of furniture to put into the little house.

Mark: So then you told me that you changed your job from the switchboard.

Ed Miles: I went to work for the what was called the Bull gang to work under Delphy. He did everything. Repair the bridges during the floods, we dug ditches and any carpenter work. We went into these buildings here and repaired stuff and it was a jack of all trades in that program. 

But anyhow I went into the [00:06:00] hospital here and I showed him my wrist. I says, I've been shoveling pretty heavy snow and my wrist has gotten real bad and puffy. And he says, let's see if we can get you a different place. 

I had to go down and see the manager at the time. I told him that the doctor said if I could get to a different location in the operation, and that's when transferred me to the crusher, the mill itself. And then with that for a while, and then I had a brother-in-law there: Steve Lucas.

He was underground blast holes with a diamond drill system. And he says, oh, they need a helper, so I was transferred underneath to be Steve Lucas's helper at the time. And then eventually I was put by myself to operate a boils machine.

I even operated with those CP's that were made in Sweden. They were real high speed. And then from there they had an opening in the flotation, in the zincs. And then I noticed that the [00:07:00] lab was looking for a sampler. There was an opening, the main assay room, and I went in there and I was there for a few years until they started to shut down.

And I wound up doing the last assays there. Last report. 

Mark: The last assay. Wow. The last assay. That'd be like a short story title. 

Ed Miles: That's really called an outline. How my life was. My wife, she'd always worked for the mess hall and that's the way we lived here. Until we left. We thought we'd go to New Mexico or California. And of course the fellow I went with was my brother-in-law. And so we went down there looking for jobs. And when we got to Reno, we flipped the coin. New Mexico in Oracle or the mine over there in California. We wound up in New Mexico and I've been there ever since.

Larry: Tell them to tell you about raising a family.

Ed Miles: It was great. These kids, it was just like normal kids here. We had [00:08:00] no problem with them. Of course the boys were being mischief a little bit, but that's natural. Edward was in third grade I think and Dennis was just coming into being a first grader. And then of course we had a daughter, but she was only three years old then. But raising the kids here was great. And they, I think they really enjoyed it. It was a good life.

Mark: How about the social life? How did the minors socialize with each other? What did you do for fun?

Ed Miles: A social life here? Oh our social life was always when they had New Year's parties or dances here, or seminars or bizarres, Christmases and all. It was a nice little community here. It was just like a nice little town. Everybody liked everybody. We got along just great here. I don't think there'll never be another world like this. But I had a great life here. I had three years when I was just a boy here. And then I had 11 more years working here. So I must have liked it.

Mark: Clearly. Clearly you did. Yeah. Yeah. 

Outro: Thanks for joining us. Be sure [00:09:00] to view the links in the description for more information or visit our website to find out more about the village. We hope you will make a pilgrimage to Holden. Blessings and peace to you.