In 1961 I was 20 years old and I boarded an Illinois Central train to haul my 60 pound Webcor 2-track reel-to-reel tape machine all the way from the North side of Chicago to 57th street on the South side (an area called Hyde Park). There was a shop there called THE FRET SHOP run by Pete Leibundguth---a folk fan and instrument collector. There was an old man named Paul Durst living in Pete's back room at the shop. He was 93 years old. Had a long gray beard. I simply had to make some tape recordings of Paul because, the day before, he had told me he had been PRESENT AT THE LUDLOW MASSACRE!
Now, Paul was born in 1868---and, for me, an urban kid, talking to Paul was like taking a trip in a time machine.
Among other things, Paul could still play some fiddle & sing the old Wobbly songs of his union---the Industrial Workers Of The World--the I.W.W. When younger, Paul worked as an agricultural migratory worker---always with his fiddle on his back and hoboing from job to job. He told me he was sound asleep under the boardwalk in Chicago when the bomb went off at the Haymarket riot! He'd been to Europe with Buffalo Bill Cody as a part of Bill's Wild West Show! In Germany they introduced HOOF AND MOUTH DISEASE into Europe as Biill's cattle for the show were found to be infected! All of 'em had to be killed & Bill returned broke from the trip. (He was later re-financed by none other than P.T. Barnum--another great showman!) He and a friend had built a raft of Northern timber and taken it from Minnesota to Louisiana on the Mississippi River where they sold it for the lumber since that particular wood was rare in the South!
Paul Durst's recollections of the Ludlow Massacre were that the miners, who he was with in the tents out of solidarity with their union's strike, were surrounded by the machine guns and 'something like a metal wire was electified somehow and when you touched it it burnt your hands'! All I can figure that might've been was something metal got heated when the "National Guard" set fire to the tents and everything. That heat might've been mistaken for an electric shock. It's hard to say...
I've still got that tape.
Later, after surviving a stroke and getting out of the hospital, Paul moved in with a lady friend. But that was the 60's---wasn't it? Now, it seems, only the president has sex!