The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #41992 Message #608248
Posted By: Suffet
12-Dec-01 - 07:33 AM
Thread Name: Origin: Plane Wreck At Los Gatos (background)
Subject: RE: Help: Plane Wreck At Los Gatos
To briefly summarize, a chartered airplane crashed on a hillside near Los Gatos Canyon, not far from Coalinga, California, on January 28, 1948. All 32 people aboard died. The wire service dispatches gave the names of the pilot, copliot, cabin attendant, and immigration agent aboard, but not the names of the 28 Mexican farmworkers being deported. Some had entered the USA illegally, while others had overstayed temporary work permits that expired when their work contracts ended.
Woody Guthrie heard the story on the radio and/or read it in the newspaper, and then wrote the song. His original tune, which he most likely performed at a Peoples' Artists hoot in New York, was uninteresting. It has been described as a nearly monotonous chant.
About 10 years later a young folksinger named Martin Hoffman wrote a new tune, the one with which we are all familiar. First Cisco Houston and then Judy Collins recorded "Deportees" using Hoffman's tune, and the song quickly became an standard among American folkies.
It is doubtful that Woody Guthrie ever sang the Martin Hoffman tune -- he certainly was too far gone from Huntington's disease to sing it in public by then -- but it is well known that others sang it to him, particularly when he was out on weekend passes from Greystone Hospital in New Jersey.