16 items found
Collection ID is exactly "1" AND Subject is exactly "Railway workers"
Sorted by Title
Allen Jones interview at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival Folklife Area

Allen Jones interview at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival Folklife Area

Date
1993-05-29
Description
One audio cassette. Jones, a member of the Gandy Dancers, answers questions from audience members about railway work, equipment, and making iron. The interview represents the second portion of tape C93-9.
Collection
Allen Jones interview at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival Folklife Area

Allen Jones interview at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival Folklife Area

Date
1993-05-30
Description
One audio cassette. NKwanda Jah is the interviewer. Jones, a member of the Gandy Dancers from Birmingham, Ala., discusses his work on the railroads.
Collection
Billy Howell interview at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival Folklife Area

Billy Howell interview at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival Folklife Area

Date
1993-05-30
Description
One audio cassette. NKwanda Jah is the interviewer. Howell gives a brief family background. He explains the turpentine business, homesteading, and other industries in North Florida. He gives some background on attending school in Port St. Joe, Fla. and working for the St. Joe Paper Company for forty-two years. He discusses his collection of railroad paraphernalia and how he acquired an interest in railway work because of his father, a news butch on the Apalachicola Northern Railroad. He explains that he never referred to railroad section workers as "gandy dancers," but instead as "section gangs." He shares his perception of race relations among railway workers, explaining that section foremen were usually white and the workers were African American. The tape cuts outs momentarily at 14:50. Howell discusses labor when he first entered the work force, including his work in the Coast Guard. He discusses his work photographing railroads.
Collection
Charlie Vinson interview at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival Folklife Area

Charlie Vinson interview at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival Folklife Area

Date
1993-05-30
Description
One cassette tape. NKwanda Jah interviews Vinson, a member of the Gandy Dancers from Birmingham, Ala., who discusses his work on the railroads. Other members of the Gandy Dancers were present and can be heard in the background. Vinson gives some geneaological history before discussing his work for United States Steel beginning in 1947. He explains that most firemen on the railroads are left-handed due to the need to fire left handed. He describes working on bridge gangs across Alabama and Georgia, including a story about encountering a snake while working on one of the bridges. He discusses his life since retirement and working with the Gandy Dancers. Vinson recounts working with white workers on the bridge gangs. He explains the importance of the human element in railway work, and the role of the railroad companies in employing African Americans. He describes greasing his face with Vaseline to keep his skin from peeling.
Collection
Cornelius Wright, Jr. interview at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival Folklife Area

Cornelius Wright, Jr. interview at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival Folklife Area

Date
1993-05-30
Description
Two audio cassettes. NKwanda Jah is the interviewer. On C93-26, Wright, a member of the Gandy Dancers from Birmingham, Ala., gives some family and educational background. He discusses his early work on the railroads and being drafted into the military during the Korean War, as well as his choice to continue railway work in spite of his education because it was one of the highest paid jobs an African American could get at that time. Wright explains the responsibility of those with an educational background in the African American community. He describes learning railway work observing his father, a supervisor on the railroads during the 1930s. He explains how his education served as a "buffer zone" between himself and some of his white supervisors. He describes his life after retirement in 1982. He tells a story about his experience with the Civil Rights Movement and Martin Luther King, Jr., including his inability to remain non-violent during protest. Wright details his role in advocating for higher wagers for African American railway workers during the 1960s.
On C93-27, Wright continues to discuss his role in railway worker management during the 1970s. He recounts the scarcity of black supervisors during his early days on the railroads. He closes the interview by imparting advice for young people.
Collection
Elder Brown interview at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival Folklife Area

Elder Brown interview at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival Folklife Area

Date
1993-05-30
Description
One audio cassette. NKwanda Jah is the interviewer. Brown, a member of the Gandy Dancers from Birmingham, Ala., discusses his work on the railroads. He gives his family background. The tape starts and stops many times.
Collection
Folklife People:  The Gandy Dancers

Folklife People: The Gandy Dancers

Date
Description
The Gandy Dancers were a group of retired railway workers who gave railway laying demonstrations to educate the public about the culture surrounding the industry. Based out of Birmingham, Alabama, and led by Cornelius Wright Jr., the Gandy Dancers consisted of John Henry Mealing, Allen Jones, Charlie Vinson and Elder Brown Jr. Each member possessed an extensive repertoire of track-lining songs, learned over decades of laying and maintaining tracks in the years before the work was mechanized in the 1950s. The term "gandy dancer" is allegedly a combination of the name of Chicago-based Gandy Manufacturing Company, a maker of track-lining tools, and the description of the railway workers' dancelike movements. The workers were synchronized by a caller who sang songs and chants, which boosted morale and helped the workers keep in rhythm with one another. The subject matter of these work songs could range from bawdy to Biblical, depending on whether the crews were in the cut or near polite society. Wright and Mealing received National Heritage Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1996 for their work with the Gandy Dancers advocating the importance of railroad folklore and traditions in American culture.
Collection
The Gandy Dancers demonstration at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival  Folklife Area (First demonstration)

The Gandy Dancers demonstration at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival Folklife Area (First demonstration)

Date
1993-05-30
Description
Two audio cassettes. Mealing and Wright recieved NEA National Heritage Fellowships in 1996. The Gandy Dancers (Mealing, Jones, Brown, and Wright) sing while demonstrating track lining and spike driving.
On C93-12b, Wright introduces the Gandy Dancers and gives some background on their railway work before the coming of the machine age. He explain the origin of the term "gandy dancer" from the manufacturer of the tubes and rhythmic moves the workers made when lining track. Mealing leads "Good Morning Everybody." Wright describes "railroad coffee" and tells a story illustrating its effects. He gives some more background about his childhood and early years working on the railroad. He emphasizes the importance of the role of women in supporting railway workers. He describes the resolve that railway workers had to have to stick with the job. Wright demonstrates some of the tools used in the labor and explains their purpose. He tells a story about being a "jack boy" and the need for a heart diet. He explains the way the United States has fallen behind in railroad technology. He also explains the physics of how trains stay on the tracks. Wright describes the role of the "caller" in coordinating the labor and motivating the workers through song.
On C93-13, Wright leads track-lining songs based on nursery rhymes and describes the different types of calls, including religious and sexual calls. Mealing leads "I Got a Gal in the White Folks' Yard" and Wright explains the importance of the "dead-eye" in keeping the track straight. Some of the Gandy Dancers take turns leading track lining songs. Wright talks about music in "the cut" as opposed to the more toned down songs sung in the presence of women and children. The Gandy Dancers demonstrate spike driving. Mealing closes the demonstration with "We'll Understand It Better By and By."
Collection
The Gandy Dancers demonstration at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival Folklife Area (First demonstration)

The Gandy Dancers demonstration at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival Folklife Area (First demonstration)

Date
1993-05-29
Description
One audio cassette. The full recording is a composite of side A and side B. Mealing and Wright recieved NEA National Heritage Fellowships in 1996. The Gandy Dancers (Vinson, Mealing, Jones, Brown, and Wright) sing while demonstrating track lining and spike driving.
On side A, Wright explains the origins of the term "gandy dancer" and the important role of the "caller" as the coordinator of the railway workers. At 3:45, he describes the different tools and skills needed for railway work, including tamping shovels and picks, spike mauls, track jacks, rail and tie tongs, lining bars, track wrenches, claw bars (spike pullers), and level boards. He explains the need for mathematical knowledge, strength and agility in railway work. At 10:30, he discusses his familial background, as well as the role of his mother in inspiring him to work on the railroad and get an education. At 14:20, he introduces the rest of the Gandy Dancers. He describes the morality of railway workers and their bawdiness in "the cut," as well as the role of the "caller" in keeping the men in line when women or children were around. At 17:06, Mealing introduces "Good Morning Everybody." At 21:20, Wright describes the meals that railway workers ate. At 22:20, he explains the different songs railway gangs sang and their importance to railway work. He also describes the role of the "caller" in organizing the labor. At 27:00, Wright introduces Mealing and his calls about preachers. At 28:20, Wright introduces Brown and his call. At 29:40, Wright answers a question about the pitch of the bars and their role in track lining songs.
On side B, Wright describes the role of the "dead-eye" and the necessary knowledge of metals and chemistry. He explains the expansion and contraction of the track and the elevation of curves. At 4:56, the Gandy Dancers demonstrate the use of tamping shovels. At 6:10, he describes the importance of a human feel in tamping the ballast and tells a story about his father remedying a soft spot in the track. At 13:50, the Gandy Dancers demonstrate track lining songs and the types of songs sung in "the cut." At 16:00, he defines the "cut" as places outside of the residential zones where dirtier language can be used. At 18:05, they demonstrate some of the racier songs, which Mealing leads. At 20:10, he tells a story from 1949 about a caller named Russell having to calm his railroad gang down with a song in the presence of a woman. At 23:20, Mealing introduces "We'll Understand It Better By and By." At 25:30, members of the audience approach and ask the Gandy Dancers questions. At 27:00, Wright describes convict labor in the mines and their adjustment to the light after being underground so long. At 28:30, Wright has a discussion with an audience member about steam engines near White Springs and the advent of new train technologies in Europe and Japan.
Collection
The Gandy Dancers demonstration at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival Folklife Area (First demonstration)

The Gandy Dancers demonstration at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival Folklife Area (First demonstration)

Date
1993-05-28
Description
Two audio cassette recordings. NKwanda Jah serves as emcee. Mealing and Wright recieved NEA National Heritage Fellowships in 1996. The Gandy Dancers (Mealing, Jones, Brown, Vinson and Wright) sing while demonstrating track lining and spike driving.
On cassette C93-1, Wright tells stories from his childhood. Much of his narration is away from the microphone and difficult to hear. He discusses working on the railroad before the advent of modern machinery. The group introduces themselves during the song "Good Evening Everybody." Wright discusses the origin of the term "gandy" and demonstrates elements of railroad work before the machine era, including the use of music in railway work, and the importance of physical strength and coordination in driving a spike. Wright details his role as the "lead spiker" in laying a mile of track per day.
On cassette C93-2, Wright explains what keeps trains on tracks, leveling the tracks, and the role of the "dead-eye." The Gandy Dancers demonstrate tamping the track. Wright discusses the need for geometric and algebraic knowledge in railway work, as well as the use of track gauges. Brown recites a railroad poem.
Collection
Identifier Title Type Subject Thumbnail
a_s1576_30_c93-009bAllen Jones interview at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival Folklife AreasoundFolk festivals
Florida Folk Festival
African Americans
Oral narratives
Railroads
Railway workers
/fpc/memory/omeka_images/thumbnails/audio.jpg
a_s1576_30_c93-019Allen Jones interview at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival Folklife AreasoundRailroads Employees
Dancers
Folk festivals
Florida Folk Festival
Railroads
Interviews
Railway workers
Oral narratives
African Americans
/fpc/memory/omeka_images/thumbnails/audio.jpg
a_s1576_30_c93-018Billy Howell interview at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival Folklife AreasoundRailroads Employees
Folk festivals
Florida Folk Festival
Railroads
Occupational folklore
Railway workers
Oral narratives
Interviews
/fpc/memory/omeka_images/thumbnails/audio.jpg
a_s1576_30_c93-021Charlie Vinson interview at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival Folklife AreasoundRailroads Employees
Dancers
Folk festivals
Florida Folk Festival
Railroads
Oral narratives
Railway workers
Interviews
African Americans
/fpc/memory/omeka_images/thumbnails/audio.jpg
a_s1576_30_c93-026Cornelius Wright, Jr. interview at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival Folklife AreasoundRailroads Employees
Dancers
Folk festivals
Florida Folk Festival
Railway workers
Oral histories
Oral narratives
Race relations
African Americans
/fpc/memory/omeka_images/thumbnails/audio.jpg
a_s1576_30_c93-020Elder Brown interview at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival Folklife AreasoundRailroads Employees
Dancers
Folk festivals
Florida Folk Festival
Railroads
Interviews
Railway workers
Oral narratives
African Americans
/fpc/memory/omeka_images/thumbnails/audio.jpg
flp_gandy_dancersFolklife People: The Gandy DancersInteractive ResourceAfrican Americans
Railroads
Railway workers
Work songs
Music -- Performance
/fpc/memory/omeka_images/thumbnails/folklife_people.png
a_s1576_30_c93-012bThe Gandy Dancers demonstration at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival Folklife Area (First demonstration)soundFolk festivals
Florida Folk Festival
Music -- Performance
African Americans
Railroads
Work songs
Railway workers
/fpc/memory/omeka_images/thumbnails/audio.jpg
a_s1576_30_c93-007The Gandy Dancers demonstration at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival Folklife Area (First demonstration)soundFolk festivals
Florida Folk Festival
Railway workers
Railroads
African Americans
Work songs
Music -- Performance
/fpc/memory/omeka_images/thumbnails/audio.jpg
a_s1576_30_c93-001The Gandy Dancers demonstration at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival Folklife Area (First demonstration)soundFolk festivals
Florida Folk Festival
African Americans
Railroads
Railway workers
Music -- Performance
Work songs
Poetry
/fpc/memory/omeka_images/thumbnails/audio.jpg