Mrs. Clara Sullivan's Letter background
BURY ME IN MY OVERALLS
FROM WAY UP HERE
IF YOU LOVE ME
JUST A LITTLE RAIN
LITTLE BOXES RE-VISITED
THE BANKERS AND THE DIPLOMATS
THE BOY SALUTES
THE MONEY CROP
Help: Little Boxes (Malvina Reynolds) ticky-tacky? (131)
No Closing Chord - Tribute to Pete (4)
Help: Everything Malvina! (76)
Lyr Req: The Little Land (Malvina Reynolds) (16)
World in Their Pocket (Malvina Reynolds) (4)
Lyr Add: Andorra (Malvina Reynolds) (4)
Origins: Morningtown Ride (Malvina Reynolds) (40)
Do you like 'Little Boxes'? (202)
Lyr Req: The Little Mouse (Malvina Reynolds) (3)
Lyr Add: 1st Amendment Banjo (Malvina Reynolds) (4)
Lyr Req: The Man in the Mask (Malvina Reynolds) (3)
BS: Little Boxes revisited (8)
Lyr Add: God Bless the Grass (Malvina Reynolds) (23)
Malvina Reynolds - World Gone Beautiful (4)
Lyr Req: Let Us Come In (Malvina Reynolds) -Seeger (3)
Malvina Reynolds C.D.'s? (12)
(origins) Origins: Turn Around (Reynolds/Greene/Belafonte) (31)
Lyr Req: Magic Penny (Malvina Reynolds) (12)
Malvina Reynolds (16)
Lyr Add: Alone (Malvina Reynolds) (1)
BS: Whats the point of Andorra (43)
Lyr/Chords Req: Morningtown Train (M Reynolds) (6) (closed)
Tune Req: Turn Around (Malvina Reynolds) (4) (closed)
Lyr Add: Little Tourists (Little Boxes parody) (12)
Lyr Add: Faucets Are Dripping (Malvina Reynolds) (5)
Lyr Add: Lambeth Children (Malvina Reynolds) (1)
Two new Folk Sites (Malvina Reynolds!) (7)
Lyr Req: No Hole in My Head (Malvina Reynolds) (7)
Help ...'The Magic Penny' (10)
Malvina Reynolds tribute (26)
Tune Req: If You Love Me (Malvina Reynolds) (5)
Lyr Req: Battle of Maxton Field (Malvina Reynolds) (9)
(origins) Origins: I Don't Mind Failing (Malvina Reynolds) (7)
Lyr Req: Morningtown Ride (Malvina Reynolds) (12)
Lyr Add: Peace Isn't Treason (Malvina Reynolds) (3)
Need a Song - Morningtown Ride (5)
Origins: We Don't Need the Men (Malvina Reynolds) (11)
Song sought for Lupercania(?) (8)
How about that Malvina Reynolds? (5)
Tune Req: It Isn't Nice (Malvina Reynolds) (4)
Lyr Req: male version of 'Turn Around' (M Reynolds (6) (closed)
Lyr Req: Pied Piper (Malvina Reynolds) (6)
Lyr Add: The New Restaurant (Malvina Reynolds) (3)
Lyr Req: Bury Me in My Overalls (Malvina Reynolds) (20)
Subject: Mrs. Clara Sullivan's Letter background|
Date: 06 Dec 18 - 01:38 PM
“Mrs. Clara Sullivan’s Letter” was adapted by Malvina Reynolds in 1965 from a letter (full text below) written in January 1963 to the Progressive Labor News (or possibly the Progressive Labor Journal). Her husband was one of many miners in eastern Kentucky who went on strike in the early 1960s, traveling from mine to mine and closing them down. Known as the Roving Picket Movement, it evolved by 1964 into the Appalachian Committee for Full Employment, an antipoverty organization whose goal was to organize unemployed miners and make the local War on Poverty programs more responsive to poor people.
Buck Maggard, a coal miner and labor organizer said: “The women were the strongest ones on the picket lines. The men weren't goin' to do anything. The women just showed the way. You know men's always good about sneakin' around after dark where nobody can't see 'em. The women, they do it openly. I don't think it was just the thing of using their sex for protection either; they were just damned determined. That's all you can say about 'em. When the women went off the picket lines, that's when the whole thing just fell apart. Clara Sullivan was just a coal miner's wife until she got hungry and mad, like all the other women did.”
Dear Editor: I recently read a magazine of yours about the labor unrest in Perry County and surrounding counties. I would like very much to get one of these magazines to send to my son in the service. I don't have any money to send you for it, but would you please send me one anyway? I am a coal miner's wife. I have been married 26 years to a coal miner and you can't find a harder worker than a coal miner. We have been treated so unfair by our leaders from the sheriff up to the president.
I know what it is to be hungry. My husband has been out of work for 14 months. He worked at a union mine at Leatherwood. Now the company has terminated the union contract (UMWA) and plans to go back to work with scab workers. It isn't just here that all this is happening. The company will say they have to close as they are going in the hole. Then they will re-open with scab laborers that will work for practically nothing as long as the boss smiles at them and gives them a pat on the back. These men just don't realize the amount of people they are hurting or just don't care. The operators have the money and the miner doesn't have anything but a bad name.
You couldn't find better people anywhere in the whole world. But we have our pride too. We are tired of doing without. The operators have beautiful homes, Cadillacs and aeroplanes to enjoy, and our houses (camp houses, by the way) look like barns. We don't want what the operators have. All we want is a decent wage and good insurance that will help our families. Is this too much to ask? The operators wouldn't go in a mine for $50 a day.
I've seen my husband come home from work with his clothes frozen to his body from working in the water. I have sat down at a table where we didn't have anything to eat but wild greens picked from the mountainside. There are three families around me, that each family of seven only had plain white gravy and bread for a week is true. Is this progress or what? I just can't understand it. I have two sons that go to school and they don't even have decent clothes to wear. No one knows our feelings and I'm quite sure the coal operators don't care as long as they get that almighty dollar. Of all the things that were sent here to the helping fund not one of these needy families received a thing nor did anyone here in camp. Where did it all go? Somebody got a real good vacation with it I suppose.
All the newspapers are against us because of political pressure, but our day is coming. The government talks of re-training. My husband went into the mines in Alabama at the age of 11 with only the second grade of schooling. How could he retrain now, and him 52? It is silly to even think this will help the older miner. All the state thinks about is building up the tourist trade. How will that help us? It would just put more money in the big shots' pockets - not ours. No one would want to spend money to come here for a vacation to see the desolate mine camps and ravaged hills. Happy A.B. Chandler lost his election by siding against the laboring class of people; by sending the State Militia and State Police in here to use as strikebreakers in 1959. Wilson Wyatt lost because of Governor Combs doing the same thing, only in a more subtle way. How can he hope to get elected to the Senate? How does he think Ed Breathitt will fare by endorsing him?
The truth will out someday. I'm sorry I have rambled on like this. It just seems so unjust, especially to the poor. Please, sir, could you send me a magazine?
Thank you sincerely,
Mrs. Clara Sullivan, Scuddy, Kentucky, Perry County
Subject: RE: Mrs. Clara Sullivan's Letter background|
From: Joe Offer
Date: 06 Dec 18 - 03:43 PM
Hi - that is a great find - where did you find it? I posted the Malvina Reynolds lyrics here (click):
Thread #40846 Message #849076
Posted By: Joe Offer
17-Dec-02 - 02:42 PM
Thread Name: Help: Everything Malvina!
Subject: Add: MRS. CLARA SULLIVAN'S LETTER(Reynolds/Seeger)
MRS. CLARA SULLIVAN'S LETTER
Pete Seeger performance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O-p-obudo3w
John McCutcheon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3RBz1T3wFdc
Subject: RE: Mrs. Clara Sullivan's Letter background|
Date: 14 Dec 18 - 11:22 AM
Thanks, Joe! Sorry, I should have included credit links. I sing in a wonderful women's choir called Echo in Toronto, and do some research into the background of our songs. We performed this in December along with three of Malvina Reynold's other songs: "Green Shadows," "No Closing Chord," and "God Bless the Grass."
I compiled the background info from "They Say in Harlan County: An Oral History They Say in Harlan County: An Oral History " (1912) by Alessandro Portelli, a history of the area where the strikes took place, and "Voices from the Mountains" ed. Guy and Candie Carawan (1975); a collection of songs, stories and photos from Appalachia.
I initially found the song lyrics in "Calling Home: Working-Class Women's Writings: An Anthology," "Calling Home: Working-Class Women's Writings: An Anthology, (1990), edited by Janet Zandy, a collection of poetry, testimonials, histories, and short stories from working-class American women in the twentieth century.