The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #9559 Message #951213
Posted By: Art Thieme
12-May-03 - 03:27 PM
Thread Name: What did John Henry mean?
Subject: RE: What did John Henry mean?
You were right the first time. He was B. A. Botkin --- and he was at one time the head of the Archive Of Folksong at the Library Of Congress in Washington D.C..
Us kids used to sing----
"B. A., B. A. Botkin,
Have you any folklore?"
The real skinny on this is that the guys with the hammers always worked with old widdow women holding the steel drill bit. And these woman were all mambers of the religious sect knpown as The Shakers. They always sang "Simple Gifts" as they held the drill and 'shook' with fear. They also prayed aloud that they'd not get killed. Being a celebate sect, and because they were in a precarious position doing this work, there are no Shakers left now, alas, "to tell the tale"---as Ishmael said in the bottom line of Moby Dick.
This was an inspringly strange chapter of American history.