The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #49270   Message #762544
Posted By: masato sakurai
09-Aug-02 - 08:43 AM
Thread Name: Lyr Req/Add: Dinah / Save Dinah for the Night
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: I.D. this song please-Save Dinah..night?
(1) On Aunt Jenny Wilson:

"[Billy Edd] Wheeler also helped introduce fully traditional performers to broader audiences. Among West Virginians, none have been aided more than Aunt Jenny Wilson of Lgan County, an old-time banjoist, singer, and storyteller. Aunt Jenny's music goes back to at least to the days of Frank Hutchison and Dick Justice. Since the mid-1960s her music has livened numerous folk festivals through the Appalachian states. Her grandson Roger Bryant has also followed in her footsteps, albeit in a more modern vein. Some of Bryant's material of a satirical nature has been particularly effective, a song entitled "Daytime Television" being a case in point."
--Ivan Tribe, Mountaineer Jamboree: Country Music in West Virginia (University Press of Kentucky, 1984, p. 157)

(2) Here's a photo of the plaque dedicated to her (1900-1992).
The inscription reads:
She was a beloved Logan County banjo player and a story teller. Internationally known for her preservation of Applachian culture. She was born in the "Doc Ellis" hollow of what is now Chief Logan State Park.

(3) From her own words (quoted in West Virgina History Volume 49):

In coal camps, houses were assigned to families according to the type of job the miner held.14 Within the camp, the family was not an isolated unit, but part of the social structure of the mining industry. "Aunt Jenny" Wilson described her life in Logan County camps:

"The bigger the job you had, the better the house you got. They had what they called the bosses' camp, and then they had a camp for just the coal miners off away from the bosses' camp. And then on above there was a camp for black people, which was called the colored camp."

As part of its control over the mining community, housing assignments followed the hierarchy of employment. The best houses were reserved for company officials and their families. Many had indoor plumbing and running waster as early as 1895.16 Urban historians of Pittsburgh and the Lower East Side of New York City have noted that working-class neighborhoods often lacked the sewers, paved streets and running water found in sections of the city where middle-class and professional people lived. In similar fashion, the houses built for miners and their families in coal camps did not share the modern conveniences provided for the mine superintendent, the company doctor, store manager, mining engineer and chief electrician.
The housing hierarchy described by "Aunt Jenny" Wilson was typical in the southern coalfields:

"My husband made his mine foreman certificate when he was 22, but he didn't always boss. He was an electrician too, but what he enjoyed most was runnin' a machine because, back then [1918], you made more money doing that than you did anything else. When you was hired as a machine runner, you would live right along just the same as the coal loaders, track men, and motormen. But when you was hired as a key man-as boss-you would stand a show to get a choice house.
The best houses in the camp they called "Silk Stocking Row." That's where the middle class people lived. You'd live right there as long as your husband worked at that company. But you better not let your house get all messed up and dirty around it."

As the wife of a skilled worker, Mrs. Wilson developed a strategy to improve upon her initial housing assignment in the camps:

"You know, if I moved in one of them bad houses, I wouldn't be there very long until I got a good house. If you wasn't a troublesome person . . . why then if a better house came empty, you could go and see about gettin' it.
Some places it was the manager, sometimes you went to the bookkeeper, and if you was liked, you didn't cause much trouble in the camp and your husband was a good worker, nine times out of ten, you would get the house. And that way, I always kept on the good side of the company until I could get the house I was pitchin' for."

This strategy might work for white women whose husbands held skilled jobs, but for black women and for white women like Ethel Brewster, whose husbands were hired at more menial jobs, the options were less flexible.

~Masato