Turkeys as gifts

Lake County miners display the turkeys they were given by the union one Christmas in the early 1950s when the mines were on strike.

The men who worked at the Arkansas Valley Smelter in Stringtown were strong union supporters, and even if only one or two workers had a grievance against the company, the entire union would vote to strike.

I recall my father going to work in the morning and coming home shortly thereafter saying, “We’re on strike.” The strike could last a few days or several weeks. The workers would take turns working the picket line, and their remuneration was $2 a day.

There were times when a strike was called close to the holiday season, which made for a bleak Christmas for many families, During one such strike in the early 1950s, the union sponsored a Christmas party for the members and their families during which time every member was given a turkey. Scrawny as some of the turkeys may have been, each man in the photo is showing off his turkey.

The union officials also displayed several nice items on a table, which were to be given as prizes for Bingo which preceded the “turkey presentation.” I recall one of the prizes being a beautiful table lamp with a white and lavender shade, which I was hoping I could win.

There were refreshments and Christmas stockings from Santa for the children. In spite of the only breadwinner of the family being out of work, everyone enjoyed themselves at this get-together. The party was held at the Eagles Hall at 527 Elm St. That night the families left the hall with their turkeys, thankful for what they considered a generous gift from the union.

Beverly Pologar


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