EPISODE 462 OF HUMANS AND DINOSAURS AND SURVIVAL

EPISODE 462   OF HUMANS AND DINOSAURS AND SURVIVAL

alan skeoch
Oct. 2021
Note:  I originally wrote this article in 2018 for no particular reason.
Interest in our short time on planet earth might have been the reason.
Today the issue of Climate Change seems to be accelerating.  So 
the story below may have current interest.   It is a much shortened version of the original.  No doubt I have made mistakes in this
article so consider it an early primer rather than a definitive authority.
An article to make you wonder.



We dominate the planet earth in this year 2021. Sure.  Iinsects   outnumber  us  but we…human beings,..dominate this obscure planet in our  obscure solar system
in a universe  so  large that we cannot ever understand  its  size.   We are home  here on earth.   We move around a lot using.  for the most part,  mysterious  pools of  oil that we find here
and there beneath the earth’s surface.  Oil created by the pressure of ancient sediments on the equally ancient bodies of creatures  that once lived  on our earth millions and millions  of years
ago.   Creatures  deep in the depths  of time that once dominated the earth as we do today.  How long were these creatures around?  A  lot longer that we have been.  Millions  of years
longer than  us.  Hard to believe…very hard to believe.

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Reconstructed faces of homo erectus, our ancient ancestor who seems to have emerged some 2 to 4.5 million years ago. (various sources)  Homo Sapiens, (ourselves in other words)  emerged from homo erectus  some 400,000 to 600,000 years ago. (various sources)
Both of  these people (term?) could walk  erect which  freed  their hands for the making of tools.  Tool making took a long time to reach  today’s incredible  sophistication.  One break point was the emergence of civilized 
society in ancient Irag some 2,000 to 3, 000 years ago.  What tool?   Lots to choose from but for the sake of argument I have chosen the pencil.  Pencil?   OK, wrong term but you will get the idea.  Ancient Sumerians  developed
a  form of writing using a sharpened  stick making a  variety of indentations on wet clay.   So the Sumerian form of a pencil, to my mind, was the break  point between a nomadic intelligent human beings and  settled civilized
human beings with more time on their hands to invent increasingly more sophisticated tools  culminating in the iPhone of today.
How  long have we been around”?  Not very long at all. Creatures from which we have  evolved were moving about on land and sea some six million years  ago.  But they were not
remotely like us really.  They just became us.   Modern humans evolved 200,000 years  ago  I  am told.   They may have looked  like us a bit.  But shocking to modern  eyes.    Creatures like us  are very  recent
wanderers through the thin atmosphere that hugs  planet earth.  Only 6,000 years ago did we emerge and  began our way to dominance.  

None of this would have happened  had  trees  and  plants not emerged first.  Green plants  breathe in CO2…extract the carbon…and  exhale oxygen.  Our atmosphere  contains the 20% oxygen that we need  to breathe.   If we climb too high on our mountain ranges,  we cannot breathe.   We die.  We  dare not delve deep into our oceans for we are unwelcome there.

Civilization as we know it today…industrial  civilization…emerged  just 200 years ago with the industrial revolution.  My oh my have we done well.  We are tool users and tool makers
par excellence.   We are also extremely vain.  Few of  us  ever think about our tenancy on this round ball hurtling through space.  Most of us think we will always  be
here…all 7 billion  of us.  Our population has doubled  in less than  100 years.  A hundred years is just a fleck of time…nothing.  

“Change,” it has been said, “is the only sure thing in life.”  Change, however, can  be very slow  when measured against the lifespan of human  beings.  Almost imperceptible really.
Changes are happening though.  I noticed  the first Opossum in Ontario just 30 years ago.   Now those sharp nosed, rat tailed, creatures are common in Ontario.  Not as  cold up here
as it used to be.  And the gingko trees, most ancient red on earth, are moving north as well.  Disconcerting things are happening.  Frogs  are disappearing.  Frogs that once
numbered in the billions sometimes  so thick on country roads that they were squished by our rubber tired  gasoline consuming transport machines.  Changes are happening.  The great 
sheets of  ice that once capped  the north and  south poles  of  planet earth are melting.  Our planet is getting hotter.  This heat is changing earth as we know it.  

Where is this going?   First, I would  like to prick  our ego inflated vanity.  And second,  having achieved my first goal, I would  like  to consider those ancient creatures
who preceded  us  millions and millions of years ago.  In particular the dinosaurs.  These huge creatures were not alone on the earth but their fossilized remains have struck  wonder
into human psyches from the first moment they were found.  For the last two centuries, while  our inventions have made life  easier for all of us, we have at the same time marvelled
at the bones, the teeth in particular, found in ancient sedimentary rocks.  This includes coal deposits.  Coal has been created by  the compressed bodies of ancient forests whose 
deaths were abruptly covered by mud and water where  they could not rot and return to the atmosphere as  rotting vegetation normally does.   In among these sedimentary layers of
rock were  the fossilized bones of creatures  once dominating the earth as  we dominate today.  

Two events have  triggered this interest on my part.  First is  my bathroom reading  material of late.  A BBC  book on the ages  of dinosaurs.  A book  that makes  my  mind soar deep  into a dark past that 
I cannot fully understand.   The second event occurred at a warehouse remainder sale on Cawthra  Road.  A salvage operation where goods gathered from bankruptcies are marketed  cheaply.
Among the goods on November 22, 2018, was a  collection of dinosaur claws…evil looking things designed  to rip flesh.   The  ancient residents of our earth was  ‘red in tooth and claw’ as
Darwinians would say.  “Survival of the Fittest’ was real and happened over millions of years. Slowly. ” 

Extinctions  happened in the deep past.  At least five major extinction events  have been  identified by earth scientists.  All five are somewhat mysterious.    the extinction event that
wiped out the dinosaurs is thought to be the arrival of a  large meteor that slammed into the Gulf  of Mexico and  covered  the earth with so  much dust that the sun could  not
break through to trigger photosynthesis denying  living creatures plants to  eat and plants to maintain a livable level of oxygen.  That happened 65 million years  ago most scientists
believe.  Other, even more devastating extinction events have occurred deeper in the past.   Just staring at the moon on a nice summer  evening or on a crisp  winter night should remind
us that we  have  been bombarded by space objects in the past.  The surface  of the moon is devoid of life…no water (or very little water frozen in its icy form)…nothing  obscures the beating it has taken…each meteor has left a mark.


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Amazing that these  vicious looking  fingers  from two ancient dinosaurs  have survived.   One is a replica  of the hooked  thumb of Boronyxm a creature  that lived  in the Early Cretaceous Period some
125 million years ago.  And the other is  the first toe of a  dinosaur familiar to us all, good  old  Tyranosaurus  Rex who gorged himself (herself) on the flesh of other dinosaurs up until his  abrupt extinction 65 million years ago. 
He (or she) was the last of the dinosaurs.  Tyranosaurus  Rex dinosaurs emerged late in the age of dinosaurs but still lived  for millions of years.  Let’s arbitrarily say TR (acronym) species existed  for two  million years…evolving 67 million years ago and terminated by that massive meteor 65 million years  ago.  Two million years TR’s scavenged flesh wherever it was found.
So what?   So  we human beings  emerged 200,000 years ago but really appeared “Human” 6,000 years. Even then we were primitive creatures.  The sophisticated  humans  who could write and 
form civilized society are 2,000 years old linked to Sumerian  civilization in modern day Iraq.   So let’s compare our longevity to that of TR.    2 million divided  bye 200,000 means we have been around only .001 years compared.
if the number 6,000 is divided  into 2 million the result is .00003.   Mere infants.   And if we chose ancient Sumer as the year we became fully evolved the number becomes .00001.   Hopefully we will live for more than  2 million years as did TR.  But the prospects  are not good.   We may be just a  flash in the pan; as they say.
POSTSCRPT:   IN case you meet a TR, remember he or she can
out run you.   Were creatures like us around in the age of dinosaurs?
Yes….our mammal ancestors were there, probably as mice like creatures which were too small for TR to want to eat.   By good luck these tiny
mammals seem to have survived the fifth extinction.  How?  I have no idea… 

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  • This dinosaur had 60 razor sharp teeth
  • The teeth on the Tyrannosaurus could be up to 9 inches long
  • This dinosaur used its tail to maintain balance
  • The Tyrannosaurus weighed as much as an Asian Elephant
  • This dinosaur’s top speed was about 18 MPH—faster than humans!


EPISODE 461 SIKORSKY HELICOPTERS ON BERING SEA GAS DROP

EPISODE 461   SIKORSKY HELICOPTERS ON BERING SEA GAS DROP

alan skeoch
oct. 2021
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On the Alaska job in 1959 everything needed had to be ferried by
S 52 helicopters to the site in the interior of SW Alaska…the barren lands.
Gasoline was hung in a cargo net beneath the helicopter with an
emergency lever  beside the pilot. In the event of a sudden downdraft
he would hit the lever and drop the load.   I was told (ture or false) that
a diamond drill hung in this fashion had to be suddenly dropped in a
sudden down draft.   No one ever tried to retrieve it as it fell like a great
speer into the spongy land below.
We were ferried to our job sites every morning by S 52's from our base camp when the ex-US air force pilots would yell into the loud speaker.
“Let's get fucking airborne”.
As mentioned in an earlier Episode, our 5 man  Canadian crew were
all armed with 30-06 rifles in case of Kodiak bear attacks.   We could
not carry the rifles and the survey gear so stacked the rifles at the
drop site each day.  No Kodiak bear attacked us.  Why?  I was told
bears find the smell of humans awful.  Probably true in our case.
This job on the Alaskan barren lands was my training field for the
job in Ireland in 1960…thanks to field man Bill Morrison.
Our base camp held 30 men … 5 Canadians and 25 American diamond
drillers.  Too many had revolvers in my opinion…and used them
too often.  One of the drillers (nice guy normally) said” “Watch this!”
And he made a quick draw from his holster and fired at a beaver in
the creek below camp. He killed the poor thing.  He did not mean to
do this.  This incident is one reason I dislike guns.  People do stupid
things with guns.
alan skeoch
P.S. When the job was over the camp was bull dozed over the
little cliff and covered with rubbish and soil.   Too expensive to
retrieve.   The site may become one of the largest copper mining
sites in the US…but is currently just a barren land with creeks 
annually filled with salmon trying to spawn and then die much to
the enjoyment of kodiak bears…all of whom are well fed.
Canadian crew….Mike Chinnery (boss), Dr. John Stam (boss),
Don Van Every, Ian Rutherford, Bill Morrison and Alan Skeoch (field men…realy university of Toronto students)
Location….Dillingham, Alaska on Bering Sea which was once
the land bridge from Siberia to North America 10, 000 years ago.

EPISODE 459 ANCIENT TAXI SLEIGH (like Kreighoff pay

EPISODE 459   ANCIENT TAXI SLEIGH (like Kreighoff painted long ago in the 19th century)

alan skeoch
oct. 2021
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We bought this ancient taxi sleight about 40 years ago at the Tompson farm and museum sale (I think).  Then had it restored by Mennonite
craftsmen in their wood repair shop north of Kitchener.  
Why?  Good question.  We had no horses and no definition plans.
The sleigh reminded us of many of  the paintings done by Cornelius
Kreighoff .. best reason I can offer.  (see below)
Marjorie contacted the Toronto King Edward Hotel.  When the manager got wind of our project he proposed a deal.  He would provide a sumptuous New Years'
dinner for our extended  family for two New Years' occasions  if we could get the sleigh set up
for their Christmas decor.   A Totally enjoyable occasion.  The sleigh
fitted perfectly into the main floor of the hotel and residents had their
pictures taken riding the taxi sleigh. 
Since that time … about 40 years ago … the magnificent sleigh has rested on a wheeled cart in our quasi-blacksmith shop in Mississauga.
It still gives me a spiritual lift every  time I squeeze past to get a tool.
alan skeoch
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Some would say we are dreamers (borrowed from John Lennon's song
“Imagine”) .  But we are not the only ones.   Dreamers…have a place
in the human journey, don't they?
alan skeoch
Oct. 2021
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EPISODE 456 REBIRTH OF “EVERY BREATH YOU TAKE…EVERY MOVE YOU MAKE …I’LL E WATCHING YOU!” AT PARKDLAE C.I. 1980

alan skeoch

Oct. 2021

“What is the best High school in which you taught, Alan?”
“Easy question.  The best school is the school in which I are teaching when some wise guy asked that question.  It’s up to you to every teacher to make it so.
“Well, which high school?” “I taught at Parkalde for 31 years and at Forest Hill for 1 year.  They were both the best” “Proof?”
“By pure chance I came across a series of pictures I took around 1984 at Parkdale Collegiate.  Outlandish pictures.  Perhaps even offensive to some people.  We…staff and students, equally…decided to launch a rock and roll…hard rock…assembly at the centre of which was the Twisted  Sister and the Police. 
Rock bands. 

PLANNING A HIGH SCHOOL ROCK AND ROLL ASSEMBLY

ANNUAL MEETING OF SOME TEACHERS AND SOME STUDENTS.

“Let’s let our hair down and make the assembly hall pulse with rock and roll.”
“Good idea, but let’s make sure we simulate the kind of rock and roll popular right now.”
“Like Whom?”
“Like Twisted Sister….like Sting…like The Police”
“Give the teachers a chance…how about Elvis and Roy Orbison.” “Fine…let’s get things rolling.

I’LL BE WATCHING YOU.
(The year was 1983 or 1984. The setting was Parkdale Collegiate Institute. The players were staff and students. The reason?   Does everything have to have a reason? )

“The rock band Police just came out with a great  song written by Sting, sir…’EVERY BREATH YOU TAKE…I’LL BE WATCHING YOU’…that’s a good title song for our assembly.”
“How come?” “Student view of teachers, sir, like cops….watching  every move we make.”
“Great Idea….this will be our title…”
I’ll be watching you”
“Sounds a bit boring, sir, ”
“How so?”
“You know…teachers as police officers.”
“Ahh…but we won’t be teachers…we will be members of your  rock bands.”
“Which ones?”
“Twisted Sister comes to mind…and Sting ….and the Police.  Anything that fits the music.”
“Music?”
“Of course…pop music…this is going to be fun…meant  to be fun.”
“Dancers?”
“You bet.”


Every breath you take
And every move you make
Every bond you break
Every step you take
I’ll be watching you

Every single day
And every word you say
Every game you play
Every night you stay
I’ll be watching you


[Chorus]
Oh, can’t you see you belong to me?
How my poor heart aches
With every step you take?


[Verse 2]
Every move you make
And every vow you break
Every smile you fake
Every claim you stake

This is the lead singer for Twisted Sister. A lot of people thought he wore a wig. He didn’t.

EPISODE 458 AMISH FARMING IN OHIO STILL EXISTS

EPISODE 458  AMISH FARMING IN OHIO STILL EXISTS
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EPISODE 458   AMISH FARMING IN OHIO STILL EXISTS

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alan skeoch
Oct. 2021
In the film Witness, Harrison Ford punches the crap out of
a punk who was harassing an Amish pacifist who responded
to the punk as his ice cream cone dribbled down is face.
“That's my cousin from Ohio”.  Really it was Harrison Ford disguised
as an Ohio Amish farmer.
There was a time about 30  years ago that Marjorie, Kevin, Andrew
and I paid regular week-end visits to Kidron, Zanesville and oher
Amish communiities.
I could not resist  the chance to take pictures.  No one shoved
an ice cream cone down my throat.   Harrison Ford had gone
back to Hollywood.
And life continued as it had for generations…unchanged.  Well,nearly
unchanged.
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THE AMISH ARE NOT THE ONLY PEOPLE THAT LOVE HORSES
AS YOU CAN SEE in picture above.
alan skeoch

EPISODE 457 HELP WHEN THINGS WENT WRONG

Sometimes when things go wrong a person comes along to make

things that seemed so difficult appear simple.  Such happened
to me when all seemed lost.  My Rogers email  just stopped  receiving
messages.   I could send but not receive.  I never knew who wanted
to see me.  Blank wall.  No matter what I tried I got nowhere until
the Leonards offered help.  Rob and Michael Leonard…father and
son.  Both computer literate.  But both could not understand
my failures to receive emails.
EPISODE 457    HELP WHEN THINGS WENT WRONG
alan skeoch
Oct. 19, 2021
“Alan, I think we should convert to gmail.”
“But that means a new learning curve.”
“Right.  But I will help you through the hoops.”
I am 83 years old.  Michael is 16 years old. Quite an age
gap.  A gap that is not bridged very often.   Michael took
my seat at my computer. Turned to me and said.
“Show me how write your stories…the technical stuff. What 
buttons do you push.?   How do you move pictures from your
photo library to your scripts.?
  I will help you move everything
to gmail.”
And so began a 14 day Q and A.  Normally, because of my age, I would
be the lead and Mechael the follower.  Not in this case.
“Well. Alan, maybe I should write notes on stickies that you can
fasten to your computer in case you miss a step or  two.”
Normally,  16 year old boys call me 'sir' or 'Mr. Skeoch' or do
not talk to me at all.. Michael called me 'Alan' as he helped me
through the hoops.   I am amused and appreciative.
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Notice all those pink stickies.  They are instuctions in simple English.
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“Now, Alan, what went wrong today?”
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In the end the dark clouds began to disperse and a new day dawned.
alan skeoch
Oct. 19, 2021
P.S.  TO top it off, both the Leonards serenaded me on
my 83rd birthday.

EPISODE 452 FOUR RESCUED NEGATIVES…SOMETHING YOU WILL NEVER SEE AGAIN

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There is a story here.  Savour the picture…the details…a man slogging his way to the auction wagon, a wagon of Mennonites almost hidden, a few half ton trucks, odds and ends of farm machines, and strips of ice
beneath the snow.   I am so glad I rescued these four negatives.  Classics.
EPISODE 452    FOUR RESCUED NEGATIVES…SOMETHING YOU WILL NEVER SEE AGAIN
alan skeoch
Oct. 17, 2021
Just an old strip of 35mmm negatives found among my slides.
“I may as well get them converted to digital among the slides…just
cost a few dollars.  A test strip.  I have a whole binder of these negatives taken around 1960's or 1970's just when the race to
sell old Ontario farms was about to reach fever pitch.”
“Looks rather bleak.”
“Suits the black and white format….tells a story…a sad story.”
“Each time a farm sells there are piles of things up for auction or for
the scrap yard.”
“Alan, are you the only person rescuing doomed artifacts?”
“No, but I may be the most enthusiastic,,,I like to papture the
mood of the auction as well as the treasures.”
“Treasures?”
“Art is in the eye of the beholder”
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This is a belt driven cutting box…takes corn stalks and slics them
into bite sized chunks that can be piled silos as ensilage for winter
feeding.  Ensilage has a smell all its own…a smell that only farmers
and cattle feel akin to.   I rather liked the smell.
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And here is a 1950's Farmall row crop tractor.  Triangle shaped wheel
base…always seemed dangerous to me…roll over possible.  And roll
overs did happen…deadly.  Of course you are more interested in the scrap pile or maybe the long fenced lane to the back fields.
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And here a Mennonite family arriving with a matched team of black horses.   Maybe retired race horses.   Why  do I think that?  Because
their hooves are delicate…moreso than a big team of draft horses with
hair fetlocks.   Puts me in mind of Uncle FRank Freeman's team that
he harvessed up to meet the Gray Coach bus from Toronto just
to get mom, Eric and I to the farm on winter week ends.
alan skeoch
Question:  Should I invest a few more dollars and rescue a lot more
of these black and whitep pictures?   Otherwise they will never be seen again.   Yes..I will take them to Digital Treasures…they do such a
nice job.
Note:  For the first time in weeks I feel comfortable telling my stories thanks to the help of a 16 year old boy…Michael L. and his dad Rob.

EPISODE 450 TAKE A DAY TRIP….EASY TO DO

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alan skeoch
oct. 16, 2021
I am climbing a steep learning curVe on gmail so stick with me.
Marjorie and I took our annual  October drive to Prince Edward
County from Mississauga with our familiar stops along the way 
starting with Port Hope for coffee and ending at Haberman's market
barn near Picton….also stopped at North Beach Provincial Park for a smoked salmon 
lunch on the empty beach as waves broke over 500 million year old
sedimentary rock layers.
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B533DFC6-286C-47AB-B651-03DAA3AC0794_1_105_c.jpeg

5F8779A4-B6C1-4FBD-ACDD-A69C9A20BBCE_1_105_c.jpeg

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Nice day…no rushing…started at 8 a.m. got home at 7 p.m.
Marjorie did all the driving…I did the looking.  You can do the same.
October … do not miss  the chance to be aimless…and welcome the
unknown.   

EPISODE 449 IRISH PICTURES: GOING UNDERGROUND

PICT0193.JPG

PICT0074.JPG
EPISODE 449  IRISH PICTURES 1960…GOING UNDERGROUND

alan skeoch
oct. 2021
PICT0003.JPG
“Alan, would you like to see inside the old mine?”.  said Barne Dwan
one afternoon as we had lunch on the cliff edge with the
ruins of the Knockmahon Mine at our back.
“Impossible, the mine was abandoned long
ago in the 1870's.”
“Easy to get inside … right beneath our feet is a hole.”
“A hole?”
“We can crawl inside…I've done it many times.”
“A mine shaft…vertical?”
“Nope, a hole …horizontal…think these holes were dug for ventilation.”
PICT0193.JPG
814CA2F2-F986-40AF-B7AC-8390DF38C2A9_1_105_c.jpeg
“Did you say “these holes”….more than one?”
'There are a number of old entrances along these cliffs…some
were even used as IRA hideouts in the Time of the Troubles..”
“When can “we do it, Barney?'
“how about this evening?
The clifff face was about 200 to 300 feet high … a broken face kind of
cliff.   It could be climbed.   About halfway up the cliff was a kind of ledge at the back was our first “hole”
“I brought flashlights, matches, candle, hard hats….all we need.”
“Why the candle?”
“Just to check the air a few times…if the candle won'tlight or
the candle goes out…we've got to get the hell out fast…no
oxygen.”    (reminder of the Canary in the Coal Mine)
PICT0020.JPG
“Dark…black as the worst nightmare, Barney.  The hole
looks so tiny.”
“It will get worse, Alan.”
“If the ceiling collapses who will ever find us?”
“Our disappearance will become a mystery … just another
 of  the mysteries in Ireland.”
“Sow down…looks like the passage ends here.”
“Bit of a rocka fall…we can squeeze by on our stomachs Alan.”
“Light the candle first…there…air seems fine..bit of a draft.”
“Really tight to squeeze  through but seems to open up
on the other side…flash light over the rock fall.”
“We made it…we can now walk in  a crouch.”
“The old miners were shorter people.”
“What's that?”
“:ladder pitched across a shaft..we have to use it to get across..”
“Must be 100yersold, maybe rotten…we could fall down the shaft.”
“We would not flll far…look down.”
:Water…clear clear water…mine must have filled with 
water.”
“So we would not die…maye drown though…how could
we scale the walls of the shaft.”
“could be done.  Let's cross”
“I think this is your ladder, Barney.”
“Could be…could be.”
PICT0123.JPG
I do not remember how far we got.  I think we reached the
man mne shaft but that could be my imagination.  What I
do remember are the colours. Lots of green oxidised copper or
and then great patches of bright pink that could have been
cobalt bloom.  Just a guess.
I remember that our trusty candle had no trouble
stay
ing lit so the air was good.   
“OK, Barney, let's get out of here.  That rackfall 
back there makes me a little queasy.  Maye squeezing out will
be harder than squewzing in.
Outside night was getting ready to fall but the sun
still bravely shone.   Easy to breathe.
PICT0141.JPG
Nice night.  Great adventure.  Was that really Barney's ladder or
was it one of the ladders used by the mners of 1870's who climbed
up and down in the dark…down a hundred feet…maybe more and 
hacked and exploded copper ore as they tunnelled under
the ocean.  Brav?   No, wrong word.  Desperate is better.  
In 1960 those old adits were adventures.  Today, in 2021,
I am not sure I would be as brave.  Just suppose we fell off
that ladder and died bobbing around in the shaft water.
Or suppose my belt hooked on a loose piece of rock that
triggered a small avalanche trapping us…smothering us.
Perish the thoughts.
That ladder?  Was it  Barney's?   Or was it left there by
a miner long long ago?  Rotten…dry rot.  Take a close look.
alan skeoch
Irish stories
Bunmahon, county Waterford
Barney Dwan led the way.

EPISODE 449 IRISH STORIES GOING UNDERGROUND IN 1960

EPISODE 449  IRISH PICTURES 1960…GOING UNDERGROUND

alan skeoch
oct. 2021
DA5520AC-381E-45F9-89FB-91D0A30F85B3_1_105_c.jpeg
PICT0003.JPG
“Alan, would you like to see inside the old mine?”.  said Barne Dwan
one afternoon as we had lunch on the cliff edge with the
ruins of the Knockmahon Mine at our back.
“Impossible, the mine was abandoned long
ago in the 1870's.”
“Easy to get inside … right beneath our feet is a hole.”
“A hole?”
“We can crawl inside…I've done it many times.”
“A mine shaft…vertical?”
“Nope, a hole …horizontal…think these holes were dug for ventilation.”
PICT0193.JPG
814CA2F2-F986-40AF-B7AC-8390DF38C2A9_1_105_c.jpeg
“Did you say “these holes”….more than one?”
'There are a number of old entrances along these cliffs…some
were even used as IRA hideouts in the Time of the Troubles..”
“When can “we do it, Barney?'
“how about this evening?
The clifff face was about 200 to 300 feet high … a broken face kind of
cliff.   It could be climbed.   About halfway up the cliff was a kind of ledge at the back was our first “hole”
“I brought flashlights, matches, candle, hard hats….all we need.”
“Why the candle?”
“Just to check the air a few times…if the candle won't light or
the candle goes out…we've got to get the hell out fast…no
oxygen.”    (reminder of the Canary in the Coal Mine)
PICT0020.JPG
“Dark…black as the worst nightmare, Barney.  The hole
looks so tiny.”
“It will get worse, Alan.”
“If the ceiling collapses who will ever find us?”
“Our disappearance will become a mystery … just another
 of  the mysteries in Ireland.”
“Sow down…looks like the passage ends here.”
“Bit of a rocka fall…we can squeeze by on our stomachs Alan.”
“Light the candle first…there…air seems fine..bit of a draft.”
“Really tight to squeeze  through but seems to open up
on the other side…flash light over the rock fall.”
“We made it…we can now walk in  a crouch.”
“The old miners were shorter people.”
“What's that?”
“:ladder pitched across a shaft..we have to use it to get across..”
“Must be 100yersold, maybe rotten…we could fall down the shaft.”
“We would not fa'll far…look down.”
:Water…clear clear water…mine must have filled with 
water.”
“So we would not die…maye drown though…how could
we scale the walls of the shaft.”
“could be done.  Let's cross”
“I think this is your ladder, Barney.”
“Could be…could be.”
PICT0123.JPG
I do not remember how far we got.  I think we reached the
maIn mne shaft but that could be my imagination.  What I
do remember are the colours. Lots of green oxidised copper or
and then great patches of bright pink that could have been
cobalt bloom.  Just a guess.
I remember that our trusty candle had no trouble
stay
ing lit so the air was good.   
“OK, Barney, let's get out of here.  That rackfall 
back there makes me a little queasy.  Maye squeezing out will
be harder than squewzing in.
Outside night was getting ready to fall but the sun
still bravely shone.   Easy to breathe.
PICT0141.JPG
Nice night.  Great adventure.  Was that really Barney's ladder or
was it one of the ladders used by the mners of 1870's who climbed
up and down in the dark…down a hundred feet…maybe more and 
hacked and exploded copper ore as they tunnelled under
the ocean.  Brav?   No, wrong word.  Desperate is better.  
In 1960 those old adits were adventures.  Today, in 2021,
I am not sure I would be as brave.  Just suppose we fell off
that ladder and died bobbing around in the shaft water.
Or suppose my belt hooked on a loose piece of rock that
triggered a small avalanche trapping us…smothering us.
Perish the thoughts.
That ladder?  Was it  Barney's?   Or was it left there by
a miner long long ago?  Rotten…dry rot.  Take a close look.
alan skeoch
Irish stories
Bunmahon, county Waterford
Barney Dwan led the way.