December 21, 2005 9:38 AM Subscribe
Take a trip with me to 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.
This time of year, Woody Guthrie's haunting ballad "1913 Massacre" brings to mind one of the most tragic incidents in American labor history. At the midpoint of the bitter and violent miners' strike of 1913-14, miners and their families gathered for a Christmas party given by their union. An unidentified "stupid person" gave the shout of "fire", causing a panicked rush to escape. Unable to get out the door, more than 70 people, mostly children, were smothered to death. A forthcoming documentary (main link) explores the legacy of the event, using Guthrie's song as its starting point.
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