Henry's Songbook

All original copyrights respected / For private use only

go to  de   Susannes Folksong-Notizen   English Notes  uk

Nineteen Thirteen Massacre

  • (Woody Guthrie)

    Come with me in nineteen thirteen
    To Calumet, Michigan, copper country
    I'll take you to a place called 'Italian Hall'
    Where the miners are having their big Christmas ball

    I'll take you in a room, it's up a high stair
    Singing and dancing is heard everywhere
    You can shake hands with the people you see
    And watch the kids dance round their big Christmas tree

    You ask about work and you ask about pay
    They tell you they make less than a dollar a day
    Working the copper claims, risking their lives
    So it's fun to spend Christmas with children and wives

    Talking and laughing is heard everywhere
    And the spirit of Christmas is there in the air
    Before you know it you're friends with us all
    And you're dancing around and around in the hall

    A little girl sits down by the Christmas tree lights
    To play the piano, so you've got to keep quiet
    To hear all this fun you would not realize
    That the copper boss thug-men are milling outside

    The copper boss thugs stick their heads in the door
    One of them yelled, and he screamed, There's a fire
    A lady she hollered, There's no such a thing
    Keep on with your dancing, there's no such a thing

    A few people rushed, but it was only a few
    It's just the scabs and the thugs fooling you
    A man grabbed his daughter and carried her down
    But the thugs held the door and they could not get out

    Then others followed, a hundred or more
    Though most of the people remained on the floor
    The gun-thugs they laughed at their murderous joke
    And the children were smothered on the stairs by the door

    Such a terrible sight I never did see
    We carried the children back up to their tree
    The scabs outside still laughed at their spree
    And the children that died there were seventy-three

    The piano played a slow funeral tune
    And the town was lit up by the cold Christmas moon
    The parents they cried and the miners they moaned
    Oh see what your greed for money has done

    Repeat 1

    (as sung by Iain MacKintosh)

Susannes Folksong-Notizen

  • [1961:] In 1913, northern Michigan was rocked by a series of strikes of copper mines. The bosses used every trick in the book to break the solidarity of the workers. In Calumet, on Christmas Eve, company thugs broke up a strikers' Christmas party by shouting "fire" and then barring the door. In the subsequent panic, 73 children were smothered to death. Woody Guthrie has immortalized this instance of the violence of class war [...]. (Reprint Sing Out 3, 150)

  • [1980:] [In late 1944, Woody] suggested to [Moe] Asch that he might even try a regular musical newspaper, with ballads describing the major events of the week or month. Asch was enthusiastic, and decided the series would be called "American Documentary". Woody tuned up for the project by writing several ballads about important events in American radical history, taken from Mother Bloor's autobiography. One ballad described [an] obscure incident: in 1913, during a copper strike in Calumet, Michigan, company thugs disrupted a Christmas party for the miners' children by shouting "Fire!" and then locked all the doors. According to Mother Bloor, seventy-three children were trampled and smothered in the crush. Woody's ballad, "1913 Massacre", was one of his most delicate, affecting, and personal works. (Klein, Woody Guthrie 281f)

Quelle: USA

go back de  N-Index uk

 Sammlung : Susanne Kalweit (Kiel)
Layout : Henry Kochlin  (Schwerin)

aktualisiert am 29.04.2002