DURING the period of socialism, one of the best-known songs taught to children at elementary schools was “Vstávaj, Jano, hore, na baňu klopajú” (Wake Up, Johnny, They Are Already Knocking on the Door of the Mine). Most of us did not have the foggiest notion why someone would “knock on our door” but we hardly worried about that.
It is amusing that a song like this one describing the hard life of miners was so popular in the “normalisation” era, when idleness was, in fact, a generally accepted practice.
This postcard dating back to 1928 shows a klopačka, a building with a wooden board inside, a counterpart to a colliery buzzer, which produced a tapping sound to remind miners that they should begin working. The klopačka’s tapping sometimes also accompanied the miners on their last journey to the cemetery.
This Baroque klopačka from 1681 can still be admired in Banská Štiavnica, one of Slovakia’s most important mining towns from those times.