Massa said when he started mining, the experienced miners would take the young ones under their wing and teach them how to mine and how to stay safe.
"Our fathers taught us or we wouldn't make it, Massa said.
Although mining was dangerous job, the New Gladstone Mine was relatively safe. Massa said they never had to use the stretcher that was kept above ground.
He did have a couple near misses, though. Once a rock fell and would have landed across both legs but he was in a low spot, and the rock didn't even touch him, Massa said.
When he started mining, Massa said, there weren't many jobs around here then, and there weren't any factories.
"You had to work in coal mines or go to the city," Massa said.
He added his three daughters all went to Chicago and worked for the Burlington Railroad for a while.
In 1917, more than 10,000 men were mining in the county. There were also 93 mines open.
Massa said that at one time a person could just about go from Mystic to Centerville underground.
Although mining was not an easy job, Massa said the miners liked it.
"After you started working there, you were always ready to go back in the fall," Massa said. They usually mined during the fall and winter.
He said the temperature in the mines was the same year round. Massa said a person would need a coat if they were just sitting down there, but if they were working the temperature as comfortable.
But, coal mining in Iowa is nearly non-existent now. The thing that really hurt the coal mining industry was the use of the diesel motor, which took away a lot of the need for coal, Massa said.
The New Gladstone Mine closed because part of Highway2 was being moved and it was going to be very close to the mine opening, he said.