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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
toadfrog Lyr Add: Conservative ballads (19) Lyr Add: C.I.O. (Billie Menshouse) 13 Jul 03

Dick Greenhaus mentioned somewhere that he had looked for an anti-union mountain song, specifically this one, and it was not to be found. I thought it might be available in California, and it is:


(Allegedly "Billie Menshouse")
I had a job; was well content, and pleased in every way.
I worked with a smile and a song on my lips, and was happy from day to day.

My heart was filled with peace and joy my family was happy too;
And days were spent in sweet content, and troubles they were few.

The Ashland Tannery was where I worked, the men, like me, I know
Were satisfied with their own jobs, then come the C.I.O.!

They spread ill-feeling among the men, the bosses and laborers alike.
Then came the day the men were forced to organize and strike.

The pickets were placed in front and back and men kept out by force!
In stead of settling in a peaceful way, they took the roughest course!

The men got mad and started fights, and then were haled in court!
They were fighting against the very thing that brought them their support!

They began to quarrel among themselves. Even the best of friends;
It got so bad that it looked as though the troubles would never end!

Bricks were hurled and names were yelled, and they used their clubs and sticks.
The men grew weary but it wouldn't stop until the cause was licked.

The scrap yard, like the Tannery were having their troubles too;
All those strikes and the C.I.O. to Ashland were something new.

But finally through efforts of Mr. Shaut, who stood by us like a man,
We resumed our daily duties under our friend, Mr. Houlahan [sic].

Those days are finally gone and past, I was pleased to see them go,
And I hope I never hear again those words– the C.I.O.

Jean Thomas, Ballad Makin' in the Mountains of Kentucky (1939) at pp. 240-241. Thomas says the song is from one Millie Menshouse, "whose forbears were sturdy German peasants who, in their early days, toiled in the charcoal furnaces which dotted the foothills of Kentucky." Thomas provides no tune. It seems not to scan very well, but then, not all the songs in the Little Red Song Book scan, either.

The same book contains an even more conservative ballad, this one about the sin of banjo-picking:



(Ostensibly by one Rufus Mitchell)

Come all you men and maidens, and harken unto me;
I will tell you my condition and what it used to be.

I used to be a sinner, that wandered from the Lord;
I neither heard His counsel nor read His Holy Word!

My name is Rufus Mitchell, the truth to you I'll tell;
I used to drink and gambol and picked my banjo well!

I kept my evil habits and served as Satan's slave;
Although my conscience told me, I had a soul to save!

In spite of all my conscience, I'd tell what was not true;
I would sing a lively ditty and pick my banjo, too!

In wars between the parties, the gray coats and the blue,
I volunteered for freedom; I picked my banjo too!

In scouting I was skillful; in battle I was brave.
Thought nothing about life or death but to liberate the slave.

I came into this country to see what I could do;
I kept my evil habits and picked my banjo, too!!!!

Then fever came upon me and brought me niear the grave,
And many Christians told me I had a soul to save.

I went to hear the gospel to see if His Word were true;
I laughed and mocked the preacher, and picked my banjo, too!

And when he called for sinners, the tears streamed in my eyes;
I bowed before the alter, I laid my banjo by!

I prayed and pled for mercy; Christ filled my flowing cup;
I went home rejoicing and burned my banjo up.
Come all you wicked sinners, to meet me on that shore,
Where we will walk and worship, where banjos are no more.

Thomas, supra, at pp. 180-181. There are no banjos in heaven! I hope the above moral is not wasted on you mudcatts! Repent before it is too late!

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