Posted by on May 8, 2018

File: 6649A


Title: Interview about the benefits of whiskey; maintaining at work; negotiating differences in foremen; Bacon's work history

Subject: Alan Lomax, Houston Bacon, and Lewis Jones

Recording Date: 8-8-1942

Alternative Title:

Genre: spoken

Instrument: vocal

City: Clarksdale

State: Mississippi

Setting: Delta Tourist Camp

Editor Notes:

Interviewed by Lewis Jones and Alan Lomax, with some comments by Elias Boykin. After discussing whiskey, bosses, Mexicans on a crew in Kansas, he explains his work history, first on a levee camp (at Wolf River Bottom, Tenn.) and later on the railroad. After getting laid off, he followed musician friends Joe and Buddy Davis into Memphis where he became “a little sheik on gamblin'” before he started following the harvest until 1929. “…a pint of whiskey, and go on home and drink it, and he stay by the fire, that’ll help him. When they fixed it so a man [who] went out in the exposure couldn’t get a whiskey that’s the worst thing they could do. That’s the life of a man, out, you see. When he come in and open the pores of his skin, see. He been out chill all day long, some time he wet, sometime he be in a place he can’t make a fire. Well, out in the exposure, and all that exposure and stuff goin’ in his skin—if he drink him a little whiskey—I don’t mean go and do like some folks, get on the streets and get sloppy drunk and things like that—which, why, you can’t take care of your job if you do that. But just drink a little whiskey, you know, along. That better for him, you see. He’ll live and last and be whole lots more super than a man who don’t never drink no whiskey. You catch a man who don’t never drink no whiskey and be out in the exposure, well, why, he’s always be hurting, or aching, or he can’t halfway pick up or somethin’ all the time. But if he drink him a little whiskey along, it help him. That gives him pep. Nerve.”

Identified by Lomax as the Delta Tourist Camp (suggested by Chris Smith to be the Delta Tourist Courts • 1600 N. State St. in Clarksdale)

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