The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #152341   Message #3562898
Posted By: Q (Frank Staplin)
30-Sep-13 - 01:27 PM
Thread Name: Origins: Drill, Ye Tarriers, Drill (1888)
Subject: Lyr Add: DRILL MAN BLUES (George C. Sizemore)
Rock drilling in song mostly is based on "John Henry" and Black workmen in the southeast U. S.

The Tarriers were mostly Irish, and worked in the expanding railway system.

Others worked in mines, road building and tunneling for subways, water pipelines, and other rock drilling jobs. In all of them, workmen were liable to develop silicosis.

George C. "Curley" Sizemore

I used to be a drill man,
Down at Old Parlee;
Drilling through slate and sand rock,
'Till it got the best of me.
Rock dust has almost killed me,
It's turned me out in the rain;
For dust has settled on my lungs,
And causes me constant pain.
I can hear my hammer rollin',
As I lay down for my sleep;
For drilling is the job I love,
And this I will repeat.
It's killed two fellow workers,
Here at Old Parlee;
And now I've eaten so much dust, Lord,
That it's killin' me.
I'm thinkin' of poor drill men,
Away down in the mine,
Who from eating dust will end up
With a fate just like mine.

Sizemore lived in Langelly, West Virginia. He was one of the victims of silicosis in the mines.
Recorded by George Korson from the singing of George Sizemore, 1940. Library of Congress record LP60 ( think a new number has been added).

From Duncan Emrich, 1974, American Folk Poetry, an Anthology, Pp. 596-597; Little, Brown & Company.