July 15, 1878
When the flour-packers heard that staying home from work at the Washburn Mill had saved their lives a few months ago, they realized how lucky they were.
“I was mad that I didn’t get any overtime pay,” said one of the workers. “Our boss was too tired to work because he was dancing.”
He was very lucky because the mill exploded that night. It was 7:10 p.m. on May 2 when the largest building in Minneapolis exploded. Eighteen workers died, and the packers were grateful not to add to the death toll.
Those who survived have faced many hardships after losing their jobs. Robert Payle, for one, had been packing flour at the Washburn Mill for only two weeks when it exploded.
“I had been searching desperately for a job for two months,” Payle said with a sigh. “I’ve barely been able to pay my bills. Since the mill went and exploded, I lost my job again. I’m probably going to have to sell my house soon.”
Another flour-packer, Joe Jonathan-Smith was more indifferent.
“That was one of the most boring jobs I’ve ever had,” he said. “I can find a better one.”
The reactions varied among the rest of the men. Some burst into tears. Others just shrugged. Although many are sad about losing their jobs, all of the flour-packers agree on one thing. They’re all grateful that their boss went dancing.