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

239387
Date
1993-05-28
Collection
Florida Folklife Collection
Description
One audio cassette recording. The theme for the 1993 Florida Folklife Area was transportation.
Description
One audio cassette. 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. Wright explains the strength needed to work on railroads. Mealing leads "Good Evening Everybody." Wright defines the term "gandy dancer" and the role of the "caller." This tape is an alternate recording of C93-5, the Gandy Dancers' second demonstration on May 28, 1993. It is only a seven minute fragment.
Type
sound
Item ID
C93-25
Wright, Cornelius

Sunday performances at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival (Stage III) (Tape 5)

240531
Collection
Florida Folklife Collection
Type
Sound
Item ID
D93-42
Wright, Cornelius

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

296307
Date
1993-05-29
Collection
Florida Folklife Collection
Description
Wright tells stories about his family and growing up in Birmingham, Ala., including a story about catching frogs and getting disciplined by his mother. At 6:39, he describes the resourcefulness of earlier generations and how it is lacking in current generations due to modern technology. "Washboard" Bill Cooke can be heard occasionally interjecting in the background. Wright was a member of the Gandy Dancers. The interview represents the first 11 minutes of tape C93-9.
Type
sound
Item ID
C93-9a
Wright, Cornelius, Jr

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

239386
Date
1993-05-30
Collection
Florida Folklife Collection
Description
One audio cassette recording. Oral history of Cornelius Wright, Jr. (member, leader, and a "caller" of the Gandy Dancers of Birmingham, AL) conducted by NKwanda Jah; traffic noise in background. He discusses his studies at Morehouse College. He also discusses his experience with a white supervisor and gives message to young people. The theme for the 1993 Florida Folklife Area was transportation.
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.
Type
sound
Item ID
C93-26
Item ID
C93-27
Wright, Cornelius

"Washboard" Bill Cooke interview at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival Folklife Area

239375
Date
1993-05-28
Collection
Florida Folklife Collection
Description
<div>Two audio cassette recordings. NKwanda Jah serves as emcee. &nbsp;On C93-3, "Washboard" Bill Cooke tells stories about traveling the railroads as a hobo during the 1930s; beginning his career as a washboard musician after World War II in 1946; problems with living in Palm Beach; and working for the Seaboard Air Line Railroad, Atlantic Coast Line Railroad, and the Florida East Coast Railroad. &nbsp;He tells a story about working in St. Lucie County for Reid and Lowe Railroad Contractors on the Florida East Coast Railroad, lasting only three days due to the mosquitoes. &nbsp;Some of what Cooke says it difficult to hear due to background noise. &nbsp;Cornelius Wright and Elder Brown of the Gandy Dancers join the conversation and discuss the differences between the railway workers and the machines used to replace them. &nbsp;Cooke reminisces about the Louisville and Nashville Railroad, his favorite line. &nbsp; &nbsp;</div> <div>On C93-4, Cooke, the Gandy Dancers, and Jah discuss blues musicians including B.B. King, Elvis Presley, and Mississippi John Hurt. They talk about the African American background of many of Elvis's songs. They also discuss integration in Birmingham and the Apollo Theater; treatment of children in the company "quarters" in the 1940s; pay; foods and their cost of living at that time. The theme for the 1993 Florida Folklife Area was transportation.</div>
Description
Two audio cassette recordings. NKwanda Jah is the interviewer. On C93-3, Cooke tells stories about traveling the railroads as a hobo during the 1930s; beginning his career as a washboard musician after World War II in 1946; problems with living in Palm Beach; and working for the Seaboard Air Line Railroad, Atlantic Coast Line Railroad, and the Florida East Coast Railroad. He tells a story about working in St. Lucie County for Reid and Lowe Railroad Contractors on the Florida East Coast Railroad, lasting only three days due to the mosquitoes. Some of what Cooke says it difficult to hear due to background noise. Wright and Brown of the Gandy Dancers join the conversation and discuss the differences between the railway workers and the machines used to replace them. Cooke reminisces about the Louisville and Nashville Railroad, his favorite line. On C93-4, Cooke, the Gandy Dancers, and Jah discuss blues musicians including B.B. King, Elvis Presley, and Mississippi John Hurt. They talk about the African American background of many of Elvis's songs. They also discuss integration in Birmingham and the Apollo Theater; treatment of children in the company "quarters" in the 1940s; pay; foods and their cost of living at that time. The theme for the 1993 Florida Folklife Area was transportation.
Type
sound
Item ID
C93-4
Item ID
C93-3
Wright, Cornelius, Jr

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

239374
Date
1993-05-28
Collection
Florida Folklife Collection
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, 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.
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.
Type
sound
Item ID
C93-2
Item ID
C93-1
Wright, Cornelius, Jr

Cornelius Wright, Jr. & "Washboard" Bill Cooke interview at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival Folklife Area

296306
Date
1993-05-29
Collection
Florida Folklife Collection
Description
Wright discusses his family background and the efforts they made to preserve food and be resourceful due to harsh economic circumstances. Cooke joins the conversation about six minutes in and explains how hoboing helped him learn to predict snow in Florida. Wright tells stories about eating snow and his dog stealing sausage out of his family's smokehouse. Cooke tells a story about snow in Florida in 1932, and a story about an unseasonably hot February in New York, while it was cold in Florida. Wright then tells stories about attending school in Birmingham, Ala. and punishments for being late coming home. He explains that he liked to fight in school. He begins a baseball story before the tape cuts off. Wright was a member of the Gandy Dancers. The interview represents the second portion of tape C93-8.
Type
sound
Item ID
C93-8b
Wright, Cornelius, Jr

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

239379
Date
1993-05-30
Collection
Florida Folklife Collection
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."
Description
Two audio cassettes. Mealing and Wright recieved NEA National Heritage Fellowships in 1996. The Gandy Dancers (Mealing, Jones, Vinson, 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."
Type
sound
Item ID
C93-12b
Item ID
C93-13
Wright, Cornelius, Jr

"Washboard" Bill Cooke interview at the 1993 Florida Folk Festival Folklife Area (Second interview)

239388
Date
1993-05-28
Collection
Florida Folklife Collection
Description
One audio cassette recording. Informal discussion and reminiscences by Gandy Dancers and Cooke. Interviewer is NKwanda Jah. Topics include hoboing, Buck Dancing and the tune "Buck n' Wing". Other conversations and children playing can be heard in the background. The theme for the 1993 Florida Folklife Area was transportation.
Description
One audio cassette. NKwanda Jah is the interviewer. The tape stops and starts intermittently. Cooke tells stories about busking and buck dancing. Members of the Gandy Dancers can be heard in the background. Cooke tells various stories from his life, including being locked up in Waycross, Georgia for hoboing and working on a chain gang. He recounts his days hoboing before becoming a professional musician. At 15:00, Jah asks Brown about the consequences of African American men talking to white women in Alabama. At 16:30, Cooke discusses how old his instruments are. An audience member asks him to autograph his washboard. Cooke talks about "buck and wing" dancing and being born in Dupont, Fla., and moving to Sanford at eleven years old. He talks about Club Eaton in Eatonville, Fla.
Type
sound
Item ID
C93-24
Wright, Cornelius

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

296320
Date
1993-05-30
Collection
Florida Folklife Collection
Description
Two audio cassettes. Mealing and Wright recieved NEA National Heritage Fellowships in 1996. The Gandy Dancers (Mealing, Vinson, Jones, Brown, and Wright) sing while demonstrating track lining and spike driving. On C93-14, Wright introduces the Gandy Dancers and Mealing leads "Good Evening Everybody." Wright then gives some background on their railway work before the coming of the machine age. He defines the role of the "caller" in motivating railway workers, and emphasizes the importance of understanding the sciences. He advocates for the development of high speed rail in the United States. He describes and demonstrates the various tools used in railway work, as well as the various types of calls employed by the caller in getting the men to work together. Wright gives some of his background and tells a few stories about getting an education. On C93-15, the Gandy Dancers demonstrate spike driving. Wright tells a story about a handkerchief being misunderstood as an invitation to spend the night with a woman. He then explains how physics are used in keeping the tracks level and safe for trains. Mealing advocates for education among young people and tells a story about teaching his grandson to count. He then introduces their closing song, "We'll Understand It Better By and By."
Type
sound
Item ID
C93-14
Item ID
C93-15
Wright, Cornelius, Jr

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

239377
Date
1993-05-28
Collection
Florida Folklife Collection
Description
Two audio cassette recordings. 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 C93-5, Wright introduces the Gandy Dancers and gives some background about his education and railway work. He explains the importance of women in supporting railway workers. He discusses the way workers were phased out by modern machinery and described the labor involved in working on the railroads. He introduces "Good Evening Everybody," on which Mealing sings the lead vocal line. Wright explains the origin of the term "gandy dancer" and the importance of the "caller" in motivating the railway workers to stay coordinated. He describes and explains the tools, experience, and agility necessary to work on the railroads. He discussed the nature of the track-lining songs sung by the "caller," and expressed the difference between singing in "the cut" and singing around women and children. Jones led "When I Go and Come Again." Wright explains the meaning of "Kinking the Track" and how workers would express themselves and their situation through the music. Mealing leads "The Preacher Song" and "I Got a Gal in the White Folks' Yard." The Gandy Dancers demonstrate driving a railroad spike. Wright discusses his role as the "lead spiker" on the railroads. On C93-6, Wright tells a story about mistaken identity due to a handkerchief, as well as other family stories from his youth. He describes the different sounds that the train whistles would make to indicate their cargo. He explains the use of sexual songs to excite the railway workers to work harder and faster, the importance of understanding mathematics, physics and chemistry in railway work, and the three things that hold a train on the track: the gauge, flange of the wheel, and the gravitational pull. He explains the modern express trains and their power, and laments the lack of American involvement in the creation of the new technology. At 14:40, Wright demonstrates track leveling, and explains the importance of the elevation of the track on the curves. At 17:41, the Gandy Dancers demonstrate tamping ballast under the ties. At 19:50, Wright explains that workers have a feel that machines lack. At 20:40, he tells a story from 1949 about a caller having to calm his railroad gang down with a song in the presence of women and church goers. At 24:00, Mealing details his singing background in church and the importance of a closing song.
Description
Two audio cassette recordings. Mealing and Wright recieved NEA National Heritage Fellowships in 1996. The Gandy Dancers (Mealing, Vinson, Jones, Brown, and Wright) sing while demonstrating track lining and spike driving. On C93-5, Wright introduces the Gandy Dancers and gives some background about his education and railway work. He explains the importance of women in supporting railway workers. He discusses the way workers were phased out by modern machinery and described the labor involved in working on the railroads. He introduces "Good Evening Everybody," on which Mealing sings the lead vocal line. Wright explains the origin of the term "gandy dancer" and the importance of the "caller" in motivating the railway workers to stay coordinated. He describes and explains the tools, experience, and agility necessary to work on the railroads. He discussed the nature of the track-lining songs sung by the "caller," and expressed the difference between singing in "the cut" and singing around women and children. Jones led "When I Go and Come Again." Wright explains the meaning of "Kinking the Track" and how workers would express themselves and their situation through the music. Mealing leads "The Preacher Song" and "I Got a Gal in the White Folks' Yard." The Gandy Dancers demonstrate driving a railroad spike. Wright discusses his role as the "lead spiker" on the railroads. On C93-6, Wright tells a story about mistaken identity due to a handkerchief, as well as other family stories from his youth. He describes the different sounds that the train whistles would make to indicate their cargo. He explains the use of sexual songs to excite the railway workers to work harder and faster, the importance of understanding mathematics, physics and chemistry in railway work, and the three things that hold a train on the track: the gauge, flange of the wheel, and the gravitational pull. He explains the modern express trains and their power, and laments the lack of American involvement in the creation of the new technology. At 14:40, Wright demonstrates track leveling, and explains the importance of the elevation of the track on the curves. At 17:41, the Gandy Dancers demonstrate tamping ballast under the ties. At 19:50, Wright explains that workers have a feel that machines lack. At 20:40, he tells a story from 1949 about a caller having to calm his railroad gang down with a song in the presence of women and church goers. At 24:00, Mealing details his singing background in church and the importance of a closing song.
Type
sound
Item ID
C93-6
Item ID
C93-5
Wright, Cornelius, Jr

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

239378
Date
1993-05-29
Collection
Florida Folklife Collection
Description
Three audio cassette recordings. Mealing and Wright received NEA National Heritage Fellowships in 1996. The Gandy Dancers (Mealing, Jones, Brown, and Wright) sing while demonstrating track lining and spike driving. Some of the speech his inaudible when the performers walk away from the microphone. On C93-10, Wright tells a story about going to church and drinking coffee, then introduces the Gandy Dancers. He emphasizes the importance of mathematics, chemistry and physics in railway work. He explains the origin of the term "gandy dancer" and describes the role of the "callers" to motivate the workers through song and keep them focused. He demonstrates and explains the tools necessary for railway work, as well as the differences between American and European track gauges. He describes the various challenges of railway work, including calculating the mathematics necessary to level the track on curves. Mealing leads the Gandy Dancers in "Good Evening Everybody." Wright describes the importance of railroads to American culture, as well as the importance of women to railroad men. On C93-11, Wright explains the change in decorum of railway workers "in the cut," as opposed to their behavior around women and children. Wright leads "Mary Had a Little Lamb." He then explains the importance of the "dead-eye" in driving spikes, and emphasizes the human element of railway work. The Gandy Dancers perform a number of track-lining songs (including one about the Southern Railway, the Louisville and Nashville Railroad and the Seaboard Coast Line Railroad) and demonstrate spike driving. Wright discusses how crews could be competitive and used songs to antagonize each other. He tells a story about how his mother motivated him to pursue an education, and one about working for the St. Louis–San Francisco Railway in 1949. On C93-12a, the Gandy Dancers perform "We'll Understand It Better By and By" as their last song. This recording represents the first portion of tape C93-12.
Description
Three audio cassette recordings. Mealing and Wright received NEA National Heritage Fellowships in 1996. The Gandy Dancers (Mealing, Jones, Vinson, Brown, and Wright) sing while demonstrating track lining and spike driving. Some of the speech his inaudible when the performers walk away from the microphone. On C93-10, Wright tells a story about going to church and drinking coffee, then introduces the Gandy Dancers. He emphasizes the importance of mathematics, chemistry and physics in railway work. He explains the origin of the term "gandy dancer" and describes the role of the "callers" to motivate the workers through song and keep them focused. He demonstrates and explains the tools necessary for railway work, as well as the differences between American and European track gauges. He describes the various challenges of railway work, including calculating the mathematics necessary to level the track on curves. Mealing leads the Gandy Dancers in "Good Evening Everybody." Wright describes the importance of railroads to American culture, as well as the importance of women to railroad men. On C93-11, Wright explains the change in decorum of railway workers "in the cut," as opposed to their behavior around women and children. Wright leads "Mary Had a Little Lamb." He then explains the importance of the "dead-eye" in driving spikes, and emphasizes the human element of railway work. The Gandy Dancers perform a number of track-lining songs (including one about the Southern Railway, the Louisville and Nashville Railroad and the Seaboard Coast Line Railroad) and demonstrate spike driving. Wright discusses how crews could be competitive and used songs to antagonize each other. He tells a story about how his mother motivated him to pursue an education, and one about working for the St. Louis–San Francisco Railway in 1949. On C93-12a, the Gandy Dancers perform "We'll Understand It Better By and By" as their last song. This recording represents the first portion of tape C93-12.
Type
sound
Item ID
C93-12a
Item ID
C93-11
Item ID
C93-10
Wright, Cornelius, Jr

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

296221
Date
1993-05-29
Collection
Florida Folklife Collection
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.
Type
sound
Item ID
C93-7
Wright, Cornelius, Jr

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