Why I Wrote Solidarity Forever
By Ralph Chaplin – American West, 1968; Introduction by Bruce Le Roy
Host: Doug “GoatHollow” on They Were Preppers
In the pantheon of American labor history there is a very special place for Ralph Chaplin, the man and his work. As the poet laureate of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), he is probably remembered best for giving organized labor its fighting them song, Solidarity Forever. But to those of us who were privileged to work with him at the Washington State Historical Society during the last few years of his life, Ralph Chaplin will always be honored for more, much more.
His love affair with the Pacific Northwest was revealed time and again in his writings as well as in his conversation. This rugged region of mountains and Puget Sound, of epic pioneering and great conflicts provided a satisfying backdrop for the unfolding drama of labor history. The “Free Speech” fights at Spokane, Everett, Tacoma, and other cities on the Northwest Coast were milestones to Ralph Chaplin. He reported that crises that exploded into gunfire and tragedy at Everett and Centralia. In the 1960 essay that follows this introduction, Chaplin writes: “Even at this late hour I am more grimly convinced than ever that neither the song itself nor the organization that sparked it could have emerged from any environment other than the Pacific Northwest in the afterglow of the rugged period of American pioneering”. Read more “Solidarity Forever”
The Austramerican (Australian) West on “They Were Preppers“
By John Greemway
Reading By: Doug aka GoatHollow
To go into the Australian West is to go into the past. Yet wherever you go, however remote in distance or in time, America and its own West intrudes. A year ago I went to the edge of the Old Stone Age with a party of Australian scientists to study the water metabolism of the aboriginal natives in the hope of determining how these most primitive of people had adapted their bodies to survive in conditions of great heat and aridity. One particularly hard day, when the temperature stood at 120 degrees in the water bag, I sat in the red dust of Australia’s dead heartland trying desperately to convince myself that I was in the same world as my university halfway around the earth. Except for the main body of natives camped near the half dozen tin-an-transite shacks of the government station twenty-five miles away, our party of seven whites and two dozen natives was the largest group of human beings in two-hundred thousand square miles of desert so barren that – as the Australians say – you could flog a flea across the plain and see him every time he jumped.
The adult natives were asleep in the sand, unmindful of the bush flies and the dust settling in their eyes and ears, but a handful of children played in our waterhole and hunted for lizards to trade for hard candy from the lolly jar.” I had recorded some of the strange mythic songs from their parents earlier in the day, and since the tape recorder was still set up, I asked the children to sing some of their songs for me. They gathered around the microphone, naked, knowing no word of English except “lolly” never having heard a radio or a record player, or seen a movie or television; yet after a moment of conspiratorial giggling, they sang out, loud and confidently: Daby, Daby Crocka, kingada wile frontee. Read more “The Austramerican (Australian) West”