Collected by Merlin Mitchell
Transcribed by Kyle Perrin
July 10, 1950
Arkansas in '82
(The State of Ark.)
Mitch..This is July 10, 1950. Mr. Doney Hammondtree has come in from
Farmington to Fayetteville and he's going to sing some songs.
Doney..Arkansas in '82.
Mitch..How came you call it that? Was it written in that year?
Doney. .Yeah, in the year of '82. It's in the song.
Mitch..Oh, I see, that's part of the song.
My name is Sanford Barnes, I came from Buffalo Town,
I've travelled this wide world over, boys, I've roamed the world around,
I've had my ups and downs through life and better days I've saw,
But I never knew what misery was 'til I came to Arkansas.
I landed in Saint Louis, six dollars and no more,
I read the daily paper, boys, until both eyes were sore,
Looking for advertisements and at last I saw,
A thousand hands was wanted in the State of Arkansas.
'Twas in the year of '82, in the merry month. of June,
I landed in Van Buren one weltring afternoon,
Up came a walking skeleton and handed me his paw,
Invited me to his hotel, the best in Arkansas.
I followed up this great big blow unto his dwelling place,
And misery was pictured in his melancholy face,
His bread it was corn hoe cake, his beef I couldn't chaw,
He taxed me 50 a day in the State of Arkansas.
I started out next morning to catch the early train,
He says, You'd better work for me; I've got sore land to drain;
I'll give you 50 a day, you're wash and board and all;
I think you'll be a different man when you leave Arkansas.
He fed me on corn dodgers as hard as any rock,
My teeth began to loosen, my knees began to knock,
I got so thin on sassafras tea I could hide behind a straw,
I was a different man, you bet, when I left Arkansas.
I worked six weeks for this galoot, Jess Harold was his name,
He stood six feet seven in his boots, as slender as a crane,
His hair it hung in rat tails around his long and lantern jaw,
He's a photograph of all the gents that live in Arkansas.
The very day I left there, I dread its memories still,
I shook the heels both off-a my boots with a bloody, blasted chill,
I staggered into a saloon and called for whisky raw,
And got as drunk as blazes and left old Arkansas.
Oh, now I am a railroad man at a dollar and a half a day,
And here I allow to work until I can get away,
Then I'll go to the Cherokee Nation and marry me a squaw,
Farewell to hog and homminy in the State of Arkansas.
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