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Boating on a Bullhead

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Boating on a Bullhead

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Boating on a Bullhead

I was sleepin' in a line barn and eatin' beans and hay
While the boss was kickin' my starn ev'ry night and ev'ry day
So I hired out canawlin' as a horny hand of toil
Drivin' mules that kept a-bawlin' 'long the towpath's smelly soil.

Well, my feet raised corns and blisters
While the mules but raised a stink;
I took and threw them twisters
Plumb into the dirty drink.

I thought I'd give up driving
And the Cap he thought so, too
He said,"Hire out a diving
Or go bowing a canoe."

I was drying on the heel path
Watching boats haul up and down,
Shivering from the first good bath
I got since I left town.

When a boat tied up in the basin
At the wood dock for the night.
And I lost no time to hasten
'Round the bridge to ask for a bite.

They filled me up with beans and shote
And they lighted me a cob.
They asked if I could steer a boat
And they offered me a job.

The next morning I was boosted
To the stern cabin's roof.
With the tiller there I roosted
And watched the driver hoof.

Now the boat she was a Bullhead
Decked up to the cabin's top.
Many canawlers now are dead
Who had no place to drop.

When the bowsman he forgot to yell
"Low bridge, duck 'er down."
The Bullhead steersman went to Hell
With a bridgestring for a crown.

We were loaded down with Star Brand salt
The Captain was loaded, too.
I wouldn't say it was all his fault
But what was a man to do?

The bridge was only a heave away
When I saw it 'round the bend.
To the Cap a word I didn't say
While tumbling end over end.

So canawlers take my warning
Never steer a Bullhead boat.
Or they'll find you some fair morning
In the E-ri-e afloat.

Do all your navigating
From a line barn filled with hay.
And low bridge you won't be hating
And you'll live 'til Judgement Day.

From The Canaller's Songbook
Collected from Lyman King
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