I am down here on the ground floor not watching Hillary Clinton debate Donald Trump because I can’t stand it: I’d have to listen to Donald Trump. The Engineer is upstairs watching it because he’s an engineer and nothing bothers him.
I just keep thinking about John Henry: the flip side of the Sixteen Tons 45 rpm that I played over and over as a four year old precocious twit. The working man that built this country and the working woman that never got the credit. The Polish and Ukrainian laborers that worked on properties for Donald Trump without righteous immigration papers and got paid intermittently — at times, so one hears, in vodka.
John Henry was a real person — a black man sent to prison on fluffed post-Reconstruction charges, press-ganged to build the rail lines westward, dead as so many died building the “new nation” without a fuck of a lot of acknowledgement or gratitude from the people who would profit from their labor. You can read about it in this book.
The ballad mentions his wife: “When John Henry was sick and had to lie in bed, Polly drove steel like a man.”
Yeah. Pretty ornamental ladies float on the arms of rich men, then and now. Other women suck it up and deal because there’s no other choice. Some of them drive steel.
Drive steel like a man, Hillary.