Now Ain't The Time For Your Tears
January 9, 2009 9:48 AM Subscribe
posted by Rangeboy (25 comments total)
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, who inspired the Bob Dylan
song "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll," died
January 3. He was 69 years old.
Zantzinger was a tobacco farmer from a wealthy Maryland family. On February 8, 1963, he attended the white-tie Spinsters' Ball
at the Emerson Hotel
in Baltimore, where he got drunk and assaulted three hotel workers: a bellboy, a waitress, and a barmaid named Hattie Carroll
Hattie Carroll was 51 years old and the mother of eleven children (not ten, as the Dylan song claims). Zantzinger struck her with 25-cent toy cane when she didn't bring him his drink quickly enough. Carroll, who suffered from high blood pressure, fell ill shortly after the attack and died eight hours later. Zantzinger was arrested and charged with murder, although this was later reduced to manslaughter and assault. In August, he was found guilty of both charges and sentenced to six months in jail and a fine of $650. Dylan recorded his song
by the end of the year, changing Zantzinger's name to Zanzinger but staying true to most of the details of the case. It quickly became a staple of the folk music scene
, and led to a number
of cover versions
Zantzinger returned to tobacco farming after his release from jail, but never escaped the infamy the song had brought him. In 1991, he was found guilty of collecting rent from rental properties he had lost in a dispute with the IRS. The properties themselves were run-down shacks with no running water or even outhouses. Almost all of the tenants were black. He even took some of them to court when they couldn't pay. After the Maryland Independent broke the story, it gained national attention
. This time Zantzinger pleaded guilty to 50 misdemeanor counts of unfair and deceptive trade practices. He was sentenced to 19 months in prison and a $50,000 fine.
Zantzinger always resented the attention the song had brought him, telling Dylan biographer Howard Sounes, "He's a no-account son of a bitch, he's just like a scum of a scumbag of the earth, I should have sued him and put him in jail."