The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #60595 Message #3907091
Posted By: Joe Offer
22-Feb-18 - 02:34 AM
Thread Name: Origins: The Wreck of No. 52
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Wreck of No. 52
Here's the Cliff Carlisle recording of The Wreck of Number 52:
This one might have a little better quality, but may not play in all nations:
The lyrics Masato posted above from Scalded to Death by the Steam are apparently a transcription of the Cliff Carlisle recording.
Here are the notes from the Scalded book, page 181:
There is not much new about the song. Carlisle continues to depend on the tried-and-true formula. The poem has one slightly more sophisticated characteristic than most: there is internal rhyme in the first and third line of each stanza, as if modeled on the ballad "Jesse James," whose tune it fits. The errors in rhythm, the extra syllables or syllables omitted, are puzzling; it would have been so simple to rewrite the lines slightly for accurate rhythm. The only conclusion is that this song, and others like it, were composed hastily and carelessly for an uncritical public.
Newspaper sources were the Atlanta Journal, 24-30 Aug. 1908; The Danville Bee, 4 May 1933; Richmond Times-Dispatch, 4 May 1933 and 6 May 1933.
Great thanks to Norm Cohen, who provided me with a tape of the recording by Carlisle of "The Wreck of No. 52," and to my friend Hugh Agee of Athens, Georgia, who sent me the clippings from the Atlanta Journal.
Thanks also to Norm Cohen for putting me in touch with Eugene Wiggins of Dahlonega, Georgia, and to Gene Wiggins, who sent me information about Ben Dewberry, and to Robert D. Jacobs and Sidney A. Dewberry of Atlanta for their help, and to Shelby F. Lowe of Douglasville, Georgia, for a picture.
Pick Temple recalls a childhood incident that shows the universality of boys' putting objects on the tracks. He and a couple of friends one day went up past Mt. Royal Station in Baltimore and "climbed a fence and sat on a grassy slope looking down at the trains in the maze of tracks north of the station. The grass sloped down to the top of a stone wall where we stood and looked down about six or eight feet to the tracks, with a stream of water trickling by in a ditch. There was the Third Rail, guarded by a sort of wooden trough, open at the top so the shoes of the electric locos could slide along them. We found a piece of wire, a sort of hoop from an old barrel, and tossed it down on the tracks to see what it would do. It landed on the Third Rail and, at the same time, partly in the trickle of water running beside the tracks. It sizzled and popped and sparked and scared us half to death. We thought we had shorted out the entire railroad and stopped every train for miles in each direction! Of course we hadn't, but we felt responsible. I climbed down the wall and kicked the wire off the rail, thus allowing the B & O to function again!"
Lyle's Law states that once learned, or heard of, a new word or fact will be encountered again within a very short time, On the day after I was writing this essay, Friday, July 9, 1982, the Roanoke Times reported an incident in Fair Lawn, New Jersey, in which five teenagers were charged with tripping a switch that sent a commuter train roaring into a factory, killing the engineer and critically injuring a passenger.
Responses to requests for information of this wreck came from David Luther, my dear mother-in-law Frances S. Lyle, Adelle Clement, Chris Sutphin, Mrs. Donald Breedlove, and the people mentioned in the article. My special thanks to Elizabeth Rice of Danville for the photograph of No. 52, and to Marvin Black of Greensboro, North Carolina, for his loan of the photograph of Ben Dewberry's wrecked engine. Proving that these old wreck songs still have viability, Willie 'n' Waylon's "Luckenbach, Texas," contains the line: "Between Hank Williams' pain songs, and Dewberry's train songs. . ."