1913 Massacre

Words & Music : Woody Guthrie
Lyric as sung by Dick Gaughan

Take a trip with me in 1913
To Calumet, Michigan in the copper country
I'll take you to a place called Italian Hall
Where the miners are having their big Christmas ball

I'll take you in a door and up a high stair
Singing and dancing is heard everywhere
I'll let you shake hands with the people you see
And watch the kids dance around the big Christmas tree

You ask about work and you ask about pay
They'll tell you they make less than a dollar a day
Working the copper claims, risking their lives
So it's fun to spend Christmas with children and wives

There's talking and laughing and songs in the air
And the spirit of Christmas is there everywhere
Before you know it you're friends with us all
And you're dancing around and around in the hall

A little girl sits down by the Christmas tree lights
To play the piano so you gotta keep quiet
To hear all this fun you would not realise
That the copper boss thug men are milling outside

The copper boss thugs stuck their heads in the door
One of them yelled and screamed "There's a fire,"
A lady she hollered, "There's no such a thing
Keep on with your party, there's no such thing"

A few people rushed and it was only a few
"It's just the thugs and the scabs fooling you"
A man grabbed his daughter and carried her down
But the thugs held the door and he couldn't get out

Then others followed, 'bout a hundred or more
But most everybody remained on the floor
The gun thugs they laughed at their murderous joke
While the children were smothered on the stairs by the door

Such a terrible sight I never did see
We carried our children back up to their tree
The scabs outside still laughed at their spree
And the children that died there were seventy-three

The piano played a slow funeral tune
The town was lit up by a cold Christmas moon
The parents they cried and the miners they moaned
"Can you see what your greed for money has done?"

Top of Page