Swent: I'd like to ask you a little about your wife's adjustment to Chile. Did she learn Spanish?
Haldeman: Yes, she learned Spanish. Not completely, but she learned it and got along real well.
Swent: She enjoyed it here?
Haldeman: She was a very adaptable young lady here. She fit in well. Finally, when I got to be a general manager, I was very proud to have her as the general manager's wife.
Swent: It must have been quite an adjustment for her.
Haldeman: No, she enjoyed it. She is very adaptable. A very nice girl, and we got along fine. During my first contract from '44 to '47, we had two boys, and then one was born in '49. Swent: Were they all born here? Haldeman: In Sewell, in the mine hospital. During our first year of marriage, in 1945, we had the mine fire.
The Mine Fire. June 1945 Swent : It was in June of '45, wasn't it? Haldeman: Yes, and you have interviewed Mr. Reed on that and got all the particulars. Well, it just so happened that Mr. Burney Egemo was one of the three American bosses who died in the fire. Because of his outstanding ways, he was a leader, and management had its eyes on him as going up to superintendent. Swent: He was captain of the football team in Lead High School when I was in high school; I was behind him, and his sister was in my class. We all idolized Burney. He was a leader. Haldeman: Yes, he was; a very nice fellow. He married a Chilean girl, Sadie Eichelbosch, a very charming person. Burney had trouble with his teeth; I think they called it pyorrhea at that time. The dentist decided he had to have them out; it was about the third time he was having some out. He didn't want to miss shift, and he got in and was on the level where the majority of the people were killed. Had he not gone in, I would have had to replace him. I was on the level up above, and we walked out of the mine with a cloud of smoke behind us about twenty meters, and the rats running alongside in the drainage ditch, scurrying out.
The Sewell gymnasium
That was a tragedy,and 364 people died in the fire, fate again came into my life: I didn't have any apparent competition for going up in the mine organization.
Index to Haldeman Interview