Davidson-Wilder Blues Hedy West

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  • ℹ️ Published 12 years ago
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The Davidson-Wilder Blues
Hedy West
Old Times & Hard Times

Wilder and Davidson, Tennessee were tightly controlled company towns. The miners were paid in scrip which in turn they could only use at the company store. In 1932 wages were being cut again, union members were being fired. The United Mine Workers Union began a strike. The company turned off water and electricity to the town, and during the cold of winter took the doors off the people's homes.They also brought in strikebreakers from other areas of the state to work the mines. An expensive coal sorting machine went up in flames. A railroad bridge was destroyed by dynamite. Both union and non-union workers were shot at and some were wounded.

Barney Graham, the president of the local union, was shot and killed by two guards. Afterwards the remaining strikers were either evicted from their homes or simply gave up, leaving the area. The strike had been dragging on for nearly a year at this point. Prior to this the workers had their wages and hours cut repeatedly. The people were hungry and hurting before the strike, during the strike they were to the point of starving. James Still a student who along with other students delivered truck loads of food to the striking men and their families had this to say about his visit:

"I spent a weekend at Wilder, Tennessee, where a strike has been in progress for more than a year...We found the people drawn and pale from malnourishment, although their resolve was strong and unshaken. They were held together by common misery. The town was divided, the scabs living in the houses on one side, the strikers on the other. There was a "dead line" that one crossed at his peril. On the strikers' side, water and electricity were cut off. It was my first inkling that folk could starve to death in the United States of America in plain view of a largely indifferent population."

💬 Comments
Author

Hedy was an important figure in the "folk revival" of the fifties as she was the genuine article - she had learned these songs at her grandmother's knee coming as she did from a mining family. She also wrote songs, a very talented lady.

Author — ClevBlue

Author

Thanks for the upload! Dad sold all his old records, so I can't listen to her anymore like in the old days.

Author — jonasjar