For some a little girl standing outside her home clutching a jump rope evokes tender memories of a lost childhood. However, on this day, five year old, Phyllis A. Bates’ loss was far more profound.
For on Saturday evening, April 12, 1930, her father John L. Bates was one of 17 miners killed by an explosion of gas and dust, which rocked the Pacific Coast Coal Co.’s Douty mine in Carbonado.
His body was recovered 1,500 feet underground by his brother, Harry Bates, ironically the winner of an international rescue trophy four years earlier. In addition to daughter Phyllis, John also left behind his grieving wife, Amy and second child, Donna. At the time, two school teachers, Ruth A. Allen and Esther Steere boarded with the family.
Bates was 31 years old at the time of his death. In addition to the Bates family, 14 widows and 28 dependent children were left without husbands and fathers.
This photo was taken in front of the picket fence surrounding the Bates family’s Carbonado home and appeared on the front page of the Tacoma Daily Ledger on April 14, 1930. This image #G75.1-171 by Richards Studio comes courtesy of the Tacoma Public Library.