The Rock Island Line
As I 'rived in St. Louis in April the tenth,
Onc week in the city in pleasures I spent;
A notice in the papers I happened to find,
Advertisement for men on the Rock Island Line.
There were Swedes and Bohemians, Polanders and Jews,
All marching down Broadway to meet Billy Hughes;
We cach chipped in two dollars and our passage did sign
To be for headed straight to the Rock Island Line.
We reached Mascatena next morning at eight,
Got off to the station, he says, "You are late,
For there was a train left here pre-size-ly at nine
With ten thousand bums for the Rock Island Line.
"But to please your desires I'll do all I can,
I can tell by your looks you're a square workingman,
So go down to Newcastle, you'll notice the sign:
Brocky Collins' Hotel on the Rock Island Line."
So I began to work on the first day of May,
It was one dollar-fifty I heard was the pay;
I worked there three weeks and I summed up my time:
I was scarce out of debt on the Rock Island Line.
So I went to old Collins, the place of my board,
I histed my turkey to tramp on the road;
I met my old boss, and he says, "You're on tramp?"
And he gave me an order to old Snyder's camp.
I stayed with old Snyder one week, you couid bet,
Had I staycd there two weeks, they would've starved me to death
For it was codfish and cabbage, the cook chewed it fine,
And she dished it for hash on the Rock Island Line.
There's old Brocky Collins, we all knowed him well,
For damning and scolding there's none can excel,
He's a big English bum from Newcastle-on Tyne,
And he runs the mudcart on the Rock Island Line.
Now the young railroad girls, therc are plenty 'round here
You can tell by their actions they are kind and sincere.
For each Sunday evening they all do combine
For to raise a shindig on the Rock Island Line.
Then thcy dance till they sweat, and they wet all their clothes
Till the old shantyboys tear the nails from their toes,
But for fun and for dancin', there's none can outshine
All those charming young belles on thc Rock Island Line.
note: Clearly not Leadbelly's song. Tune is slight variant on Farewell
From Folk Songs of the Catskills, Cazden Haufrecht & Studer
Collected from Dick Edwards