While the Men Were At War
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Ann Lendacky takes a break at the Scranton mine, 1944 - Courtesy Roz Whalen

Ann Lendacky's daughter was born just before her husband shipped out for service in the Pacific. She says she worked in the mine not so much to contribute to the war effort as to make money. "We were young, we came from families that didn't have a lot, and we wanted something for when our husbands came home," she says.

Lendacky wasn't above using connections to get an easier job at the mine. The foreman was an older man who'd been brought over from Serbia by her father, many years earlier. He told the women to pick up a bunch of big, heavy jacks. Lendacky, at just over 100 pounds, didn't think she could manage it.

"So I says, "Okay, Mr. Zuban.' That was his nickname; it meant 'big teeth.' He says, 'How do you know that name? So I told him my father brought him over from Yugoslavia. He says, 'Why don't you go over and take care of the shovels!' That was about the only experience I had with a man."

When the war was over, the soldiers came back to their jobs in the mines, and the women were sent home. Many of them went back to work in cafes, bakeries and dime stores, earning far less money than they'd earned in the mines.

But most didn't complain. Millie Mandich remembers the mining companies had made it clear from the beginning their jobs were only temporary.

"We were told we'd work during the war, and as soon as the war was over we'd all be laid off, holding no seniority; the men would be back on their jobs," she says.

Looking at the photo of the day shift workers at the Danube mine, Travica remembers the picture was taken the last day the women worked there, in October of 1945.

"One of the men from the office came down and said, 'We're sorry we have to leave you go, but we could never have operated without you,'" she remembers with a smile of satisfaction.

“It was nice to be home again," she says. “But it was an experience a person will never forget. And I was just glad I could do it."

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