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Origins:Deportees-seeking original Woody recording

DigiTrad:
DEPORTEES


Related threads:
Looking for a particular recording of 'Deportees' (47)
New Info About Woody Guthrie's Deportee (29)
(origins) Origin: Plane Wreck At Los Gatos (background) (44)
happy? – Jan 29 (Los Gatos crash) (12)
ADD: The Grape Pickers Tragedy (Jack Warshaw) (8)
song challenge: deportees/illegal migrants (6)
W. Guthrie's Deportees: meaning? (57) (closed)
(origins) Origins: was Deportees based on Bold Robert Emmet (13)
oranges and creosote (10)


Joe Offer 23 Jan 97 - 04:13 AM
Bill 23 Jan 97 - 09:59 AM
Bill 23 Jan 97 - 01:44 PM
Joe Offer 27 Sep 97 - 05:36 AM
RS 27 Sep 97 - 12:54 PM
RS 27 Sep 97 - 01:04 PM
Joe Offer 27 Sep 97 - 01:56 PM
Tim Jaques tjaques@netcom.ca 27 Sep 97 - 11:21 PM
Joe Offer 28 Sep 97 - 02:19 AM
Tim Jaques tjaques@netcom.ca 28 Sep 97 - 11:09 PM
RS 30 Sep 97 - 07:47 PM
Wolfgang 01 Oct 97 - 03:31 AM
Bill D 04 Oct 97 - 12:34 AM
leprechaun 04 Oct 97 - 05:11 PM
Joe Offer 04 Oct 97 - 05:56 PM
Becky 05 Oct 97 - 08:41 PM
Tim Jaques tjaques@netcom.ca 06 Oct 97 - 05:39 PM
Joe Offer 20 Jan 01 - 05:19 PM
McGrath of Harlow 20 Jan 01 - 06:36 PM
jaze 20 Jan 01 - 07:45 PM
Bev and Jerry 20 Jan 01 - 08:57 PM
mkebenn 21 Jan 01 - 10:54 AM
Peter T. 21 Jan 01 - 11:59 AM
Doctor John 21 Jan 01 - 01:59 PM
Mark Clark 21 Jan 01 - 11:51 PM
Joe Offer 26 Mar 01 - 08:09 PM
GUEST,BigDaddy 26 Mar 01 - 10:56 PM
raredance 27 Mar 01 - 12:13 AM
simon-pierre 27 Mar 01 - 01:20 AM
Maryrrf 27 Mar 01 - 09:34 AM
Joe Offer 03 Oct 01 - 04:35 PM
GUEST,Genie 03 Oct 01 - 05:15 PM
McGrath of Harlow 03 Oct 01 - 07:29 PM
Bev and Jerry 03 Oct 01 - 08:33 PM
GUEST,Genie 03 Oct 01 - 08:51 PM
GUEST,karen 03 Oct 01 - 10:16 PM
catspaw49 03 Oct 01 - 10:24 PM
Joe Offer 04 Oct 01 - 03:57 AM
GUEST,karen 04 Oct 01 - 05:24 AM
Joe Offer 04 Oct 01 - 05:57 AM
iamjohnne 04 Oct 01 - 12:57 PM
Linda Kelly 04 Oct 01 - 01:06 PM
Wolfgang 04 Oct 01 - 01:20 PM
McGrath of Harlow 04 Oct 01 - 02:00 PM
Joe Offer 04 Oct 01 - 02:19 PM
Wolfgang 04 Oct 01 - 02:22 PM
Joe Offer 04 Oct 01 - 03:15 PM
Joe Offer 04 Oct 01 - 03:46 PM
catspaw49 04 Oct 01 - 04:18 PM
McGrath of Harlow 04 Oct 01 - 04:31 PM
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Subject: Deportee - looking for background information
From: Joe Offer
Date: 23 Jan 97 - 04:13 AM

I think it was January, 1948, that a plane crashed in the beautiful green hills of Los Gatos Canyon, about 10 miles from Coalinga, California. The plane carried workers who were being deported to Mexico. The crash killed everyone aboard. Woody Guthrie read a New York Times article about the crash, and wrote "Deportees." As I understand it, Woody chanted the lyrics to no particular tune; and then a tune was written by a schoolteacher in the 1960's. I wonder if anybody knows where I can get a recording of Woody chanting the original version. Any ideas?

Joe Offer


Click for lyrics in Digital Tradition
Click for related thread
Also here


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Subject: RE: Deportees
From: Bill
Date: 23 Jan 97 - 09:59 AM

I remember hearing a set of songs that Woody Guthrie was comissioned to do for the Library of Congress, I think "Deportee" may have been on it but I am not sure of the tune. That might be a starting point though. Good Luck. hoymanwi@dmps.des-moines.k12.ia.us


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Subject: RE: Deportees
From: Bill
Date: 23 Jan 97 - 01:44 PM

I just found the Library of Congress recordings. They were made by Alan Lomax. He interviewed and recorded Woody Guthrie in 1940 so it was before Deportee. They are on Rounder:CD's 1041--1043


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Subject: RE: Deportees
From: Joe Offer
Date: 27 Sep 97 - 05:36 AM

I'm still looking for a recording of Woody's original, chanted version of this song. Anybody know where I might find it?


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Subject: RE: Deportees
From: RS
Date: 27 Sep 97 - 12:54 PM

Sorry, can't help with the Woody Guthrie recording. There is a later version on the album "Judy Collins #3" - EKS-7243. "The Judy Collins Songbook" gives the following information: "Deportee: Plane Wreck at Los Gatos - Words by Woody Guthrie; Music by Martin Hoffman - Copyright 1961 and 1963 Ludlow Music Inc., New York, N.Y."

Are you looking for the words? - I didn't find them in the database, can post them if needed.


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Subject: RE: Deportees
From: RS
Date: 27 Sep 97 - 01:04 PM

Should've checked my bookmarks before submitting the last post. Check out "The Woody Guthrie Pages" at: http://www.artsci.wustl.edu/~davida/woody.html - the site includes "Discography" & "Record Info", so it might well answer your enquiry.

Also the lyrics to Deportee are at: http://www.artsci.wustl.edu/~davida/0deportee (These differ slightly from the ones in the "Judy Collins Songbook", e.g. the website has "The oranges are filed in their creosote dumps" vs the songbook has "piled", which makes more sense to me ... but I'm not in the mood to do proofreading today).

Haven't checked the Woody Guthrie website in detail though ... let me know if it has what you're looking for!


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Subject: RE: Deportees
From: Joe Offer
Date: 27 Sep 97 - 01:56 PM

Thanks, RS. The Woody Web Site was really interesting - but no "Deportee." The song is listed in the database as "Deportees," by the way. I'll keep looking. It may be there were no recordings because it may not have been much of a song until Martin Hoffman came up with an actual tune.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Deportees
From: Tim Jaques tjaques@netcom.ca
Date: 27 Sep 97 - 11:21 PM

I seem to have a dim recollection of this being sung by Arlo Guthrie, but I could be wrong because in the days before the loss of almost all of my vinyl I had several Woody Guthrie collections and I might be confusing the two.


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Subject: RE: Deportees
From: Joe Offer
Date: 28 Sep 97 - 02:19 AM

Hi, Tim - I e-mailed the guy with the big Woody Web site, and he claims to have a discography of just about everything Woody recorded - with no recording of "Deportee" until after the tune was added in the 1960's. Arlo recorded it on the "Together in Concert" album he did with Pete Seeger in 1975, but he used the 1960's tune.
-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Deportees
From: Tim Jaques tjaques@netcom.ca
Date: 28 Sep 97 - 11:09 PM

I don't think I ever had an album of Arlo Guthrie and Pete Seeger together, but I did see them at the 1980 Atlantic Folk Festival in Nova Scotia so maybe I heard it then and it stuck in my mind. (Although very little from that weekend sticks in my mind)

BTW, today I found a whole box of my vinyl when looking through my storage locker. It was like meeting a group of old friends after a ten year separation. Woody, alas, was not there.


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Subject: RE: Deportees
From: RS
Date: 30 Sep 97 - 07:47 PM

Well I had checked the Database for "Deportee", and when I was told "Sorry, no documents were found which match your query", I didn't even bother to check for "Deportees", because I assumed that "Deportee" would have been recognised as a _part_ of the longer word "Deportees", if either word were in the Database.

Did indeed find the song when I rechecked for "Deportees".

I gather that the search for text within the Forum Threads _is_ this kind of "inclusive" search (sorry, I don't know the technical name) where, for example, a search for "Art" will retrieve both "Arthur" and "Martin". Perhaps it would be a good idea to include this in the Database Search as well - either as the default mode, or at least as an option (if it is felt to be too inclusive for general use).

Thoughts on this?


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Subject: RE: Deportees
From: Wolfgang
Date: 01 Oct 97 - 03:31 AM

the option is already there: enter deportee*, or if you want even *portee*


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Subject: RE: Deportees
From: Bill D
Date: 04 Oct 97 - 12:34 AM

Searching the entire internet for 'deportee' gave 123 hits...includuing PP&M websites and Woody Guthrie sites...maybe there is something out there...(I was too sleepy to look all the way thru the list..)


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Subject: RE: Deportees
From: leprechaun
Date: 04 Oct 97 - 05:11 PM

In my The Greatest Songs of Woody Guthrie album, the song is parenthetically called "Plane Wreck at Los Gatos," and the album cover says, "Words,Woody Guthrie;Music,Martin Hoffman." And in the song on the album sung by Cisco Houston, the oranges are stacked in their creosote dumps, which seems to be a recurring image in Woody Guthrie's works.

The album also has "Buffalo Skinners," one of my favorites.


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Subject: RE: Deportees
From: Joe Offer
Date: 04 Oct 97 - 05:56 PM

Come to think of it, I don't really know what that phrase means, about oranges being stacked in their creosote dumps. I lived in Fresno for five years, so you'd think I would know. I never did see what happened to rotten fruit - I guess I just assumed it went for cattle feed. Leprechaun or somebody, can you explain?
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: Lyr Add: DEPORTEES (Woody Guthrie)
From: Becky
Date: 05 Oct 97 - 08:41 PM

Well, I tried 3 times to post these words last night...better late than never?!? (If it'll let me this time!)

Arlo Guthrie did a documentary about Woody, some 10-15 yrs back. A friend of mine got it on videotape, and I taped (audio) a song Arlo and Emmylou Harris sang, Deportees. These are the words to that version. Sorry, none of it was in a 'chant' form.


DEPORTEES
(Woody Guthrie)

The crops are all in and the peaches are rotting.
The oranges are packed in their creosote dumps.
They're flying you back to the Mexico border
To pay all your money, to wade back again.

My father's own father, he waded that river.
They took all the money he made in his life.
My brothers and sisters, they work in the fruit trees.
They rode the truck, till the took down and died.

CHORUS: Goodbye to my Juan. Goodbye, Rosalita.
Adios, mis amigos, Jesus y Maria.
You won't have a name when you ride the big airplane.
And all they will call you will be deportee.

Some of us are illegal, and some are not wanted.
I work contracts out and we have to move on.
Six hundred miles to the Mexican border,
They chase us like rustlers, like outlaws, like thieves.

We've died in your hills. We've died on your deserts.
And we've died in your mountains, 'n' died on your plains.
We've died 'neath your trees and we've died in your bushes.
Both sides of the river, we've died just the same. CHORUS

The sky plane caught fire over Los Gatos Canyon.
A fireball of lightning that shook all our hills.
Who are all these dear friends, all scattered like dry leaves?
The radio says, "They were just deportees."

Is this the best way we can grow our big orchards?
And is this the best way we can grow our good fruit?
To fall like dry leaves and rot on the topsoil,
And be known by no name except deportee. CHORUS

Sorry I have no chords of music to add, but providing there's no major typos, at least here are the words.

Becky aka O2bnmbr1


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Subject: RE: Deportees
From: Tim Jaques tjaques@netcom.ca
Date: 06 Oct 97 - 05:39 PM

I think that I had that album years ago. Does it have a version of the song that goes "Way down yonder in the Indian nation/ I ride my pony on the reservation" . . .

I do remember a version of Buffalo Skinners. Is it a lot slower than you usually hear it sung?


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Subject: Corrected Lyrics: Deportee
From: Joe Offer
Date: 20 Jan 01 - 05:19 PM

Balladeer told me that the lyrics in the database don't match what's in the Judy Collins songbook, so I checked that book and Carry It On (Pete Seeger and Bob Reiser) and the Sing Out! Reprints book and came up with the lyrics I'll post below. They don't exactly match the Collins version - it's my extrapolation from the three of what seems to me to be closest to the "original." I relied most heavily on Carry It On, because that seemed to be the most credible source.
I see above that I noted that Woody chanted the lyrics with no specific tune. I wrote that back in the days when I was more casual about documenting my sources, and now I can't find the information again. Anybody know of a source that explains that Woody chanted the song?
-Joe Offer-

DEPORTEE
(Woody Guthrie & Martin Hoffman)

The crops are all in and the peaches are rotting
The oranges are piled in their creosote dumps
You're flying them back to the Mexican border
To pay all their money to wade back again

CHORUS
Goodbye to my Juan, goodbye Rosalita
Adios mis amigos, Jesus y Maria
You won't have a name when you ride the big airplane
And all they will call you will be deportee.

My father's own father, he waded that river
They took all the money he made in his life
My brothers and sisters come working the fruit trees,
And they rode the truck till they took down and died.

Some of us are illegal, and some are not wanted,
Our work contract's out and we have to move on;
Six hundred miles to the Mexican border
They chase us like outlaws, like rustlers, like thieves.

We died in your hills, we died in your deserts,
We died in your valleys and died on your plains,
We died 'neath your trees and we died in your bushes,
Both sides of the river, we died just the same.

The sky plane caught fire over Los Gatos Canyon
A fireball of lightning which shook all our hills
Who are these friends, all scattered like dry leaves?
The radio says they are just deportees.

Is this the best way we can grow our big orchards?
Is this the best way we can grow our good fruit?
To fall like dry leaves and rot on my topsoil
And be called by no name except deportees?


Copyright 1961 and 1963 Ludlow Music, Inc.

Full name of the song is "Deportee (Plane Wreck at Los Gatos Canyon)." Woody Guthrie wrote the lyrics after reading an article from the New York Times.
Surplus produce is often dumped to keep prices high. It appears that the creosote was used to make the oranges inedible.

The New York Times of January 29, 1948 reported the wreck of a "charter plane carrying 28 Mexican farm workers from Oakland to the El Centro, CA, Deportation Center....The crash occurred 20 miles west of Coalinga, 75 miles from Fresno."
I got out my California map book, and found a Los Gatos Road and Los Gatos Creek northwest of Coalinga, near the Fresno/San Benito county line. That's one of the most desolate areas of California, and I'm sure it was even more desolate in 1948. In Summer, the hills there are brown and forbidding, and the heat oppressive. That's how I pictured the crash site.
However, the crash took place in January, and in January those hills west of Coalinga are a beautiful green, splendid with wildflowers. Perhaps it is some slight consolation that these poor people died in a place of breathtaking beauty.
May they rest in peace, and may we never forget them. JRO

recorded on Judy Collins/3 and Guthrie Greatest
@death @work
filename[ DEPORT2
Tune file : DEPORTE
JRO JC


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Subject: RE: Deportees
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 20 Jan 01 - 06:36 PM

A mention of the original tune Woody used comes in this recent thread, with the words "Woody performed the song as at least one of the Peoples' Artists hoots in New York, but his original tune was almost a flat monotone and it (the tune) was not well received."

I'd like to hear it sometime - I can think of some great songs which people have put down as having pretty well no tune. You don't necessarily need to use a lot of notes.


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Subject: RE: Deportees
From: jaze
Date: 20 Jan 01 - 07:45 PM

The best version of this song I've heard was by Emmylou Harris and Arlo Guthrie on the "Vision Shared" video. Sadly, one of the best performances(I think) was left off the CD. So I frequently watch the video. They should do a whole album together.


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Subject: RE: Deportees
From: Bev and Jerry
Date: 20 Jan 01 - 08:57 PM

Joe:

Nice post. These are the lyrics we have used for many a year so they must be the right ones!

Bev and Jerry


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Subject: RE: Deportees
From: mkebenn
Date: 21 Jan 01 - 10:54 AM

I am always amazed at the blank stares this song receives in certain circles, it made me weep as a twelve year old.."Farewell to my Juan, farewell Rosalita" Mike


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Subject: RE: Deportees
From: Peter T.
Date: 21 Jan 01 - 11:59 AM

jaze, is that right? Did they leave the Arlo/Emmylou song off the album -- damn, I was going to go out and get it, as I saw the video just last night. Emmylou Harris at her most gorgeous (I mean this most sincerely, even as a big fan, but boy, did she look great). Where was I?
Oh yes, nice version of Vigilante Man, as well, by Bruce Springsteen (nothing to do with the Guthrie version at all). And terrible pontificating by Bono of U2.

To make a useful contribution to this thread -- Nanci Griffith did an interesting version of Deportees on one of her group albums (Trip to Bountiful maybe): Tish Hinojosa injects a little Spanish!!!!yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Deportees
From: Doctor John
Date: 21 Jan 01 - 01:59 PM

There is certainly no recording of Woody performing this either for the Library of Congress (and not all of these are released) or for Moe Asch. However he did make a series of recordings - 200, I think - for his music publishers, the Richmond Organisation. The Guthrie family at one time agreed to release these but later had a change of mind. One has been released (somehow) by the Bear Family - "I've Got To Know". I suppose there is a possibility that "Plane Wreck" may have been recorded in this series but I have never been able to obtain the list.
Joe - Creosote Dumps. The fruit growers in California soaked their excess fruit, which was going to waste, in creosote to make it uneatable so it could not be "stolen" and eaten by the hungry migrant families. Nice what we do to each other.
Dr John


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Subject: RE: Deportees
From: Mark Clark
Date: 21 Jan 01 - 11:51 PM

I first heard friends sing this wonderful song but the first recording of it I remember hearing was done by the short-lived Whisky Hill Singers in the early sixties.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Deportees
From: Joe Offer
Date: 26 Mar 01 - 08:09 PM

Collectors Choice Music just released a 14-cut CD called Dave Guard & the Whiskeyhill Singers. Some of the cuts are great, but I can't say I like their recording of "Deportee."
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Deportees
From: GUEST,BigDaddy
Date: 26 Mar 01 - 10:56 PM

I've been haunted by the imagery and beauty of this song for years (first heard it sung by Dolly Parton). Just this past week I've finally gotten around to teaching it to myself. So I was startled at the synchronicity of seeing the thread here. Anybody else have one of those moments on Mudcat?


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Subject: RE: Deportees
From: raredance
Date: 27 Mar 01 - 12:13 AM

The recently published "Woody Guthrie Songbook" (1999) and the old "Woody Guthrie Songbook" (1976) both contain a couple minor differences from the lyrics that Joe posted above. End of the first line is "rott'ning" which looks not quite right, but I think some of the recordings actually use it. Second line "oranges" becomes a three note word, or-an-ges, "are" is dropped. In the chorus the line is give as "You won't have your names...". Not just any name but "your" name seems directly more personal. And the last word is plural "deportees"

One of my favorite versions of the song is by Sweet Honey In The Rock, has a real emotional intensity, as does most of their material.

rich r


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Subject: RE: Deportees
From: simon-pierre
Date: 27 Mar 01 - 01:20 AM

Good discussion on the meaning of the song in this Other thread


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Subject: RE: Deportees
From: Maryrrf
Date: 27 Mar 01 - 09:34 AM

I like the version of this song that was done by "The Highwaymen" - which was Johnny Cash, Willy Nelson, Chris Christopherson and Waylon Jennings touring together. I didn't realize it had been recorded by so many others!


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Subject: Deportee - Newspaper Article
From: Joe Offer
Date: 03 Oct 01 - 04:35 PM

I've been meaning to post this for quite some time, but never got around to it. This is the text of an Associated Press article from the New York Times, printed on January 29, 1948, the day after the fateful "Plane Wreck at Los Gatos Canyon." I imagine this must be the very same article that Woody Guthrie read, the one that inspired him to write "Deportee."
-Joe Offer-

From the New York Times, January 29, 1948

32 KILLED IN CRASH OF CHARTER PLANE
California Victims Include 28 Mexican Workers Who Were Being Deported

FRESNO, Calif., Jan. 28 (AP)

A chartered Immigration Service plane crashed and burned in western Fresno County this morning, killing twenty-eight Mexican deportees, the crew of three and an Immigration guard.

Irving F. Wixon, director of the Federal Immigration Service at San Francisco, said that the Mexicans were being flown to the deportation center at El Centro, Calif., for return to their country.

The group included Mexican nationals who entered the United States illegally, and others who stayed beyond duration of work contracts in California, he added. All were agricultural workers.

The crew was identified as Frank Atkinson, 32 years old, of Long Beach, the pilot; Mrs. Bobbie Atkinson, his wife, stewardess, 28; and Marion Ewing of Balboa, copilot, 33.

Long Beach airport officials said that Mr. Atkinson, formerly of Rochester, N.Y., had logged more than 1,700 hours flying time as a wartime member of the Air Transport Command. The guard was identified as Frank E. Chaffin of Berkeley.

The plane, which was chartered from Airline Transport Carriers of Burbank, was southbound from the Oakland airport, when it crashed in view of some 100 road camp workers.

Foreman Frank V. Johnson said that it "appeared to explode and a wing fell off" before it plummeted to the ground. A number of those in the plane appeared to jump or fall before the aircraft hit the earth, he added.

The wreckage was enveloped in flames when the fuel tanks ignited. Not until the fire died down were rescuers able to get near the plane. By then, there was nothing to be done but to extricate the bodies.

The scene of the crash is in the mountains about twenty miles west of Coalinga, seventy-five miles from here in the rough coastal area.


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Subject: RE: Deportees
From: GUEST,Genie
Date: 03 Oct 01 - 05:15 PM

Joe,
For what it's worth, I prefer the tune that The Whiskey Hill Singers use for Deportees. Maybe that's because I heard it first, but I think it's a prettier tune than the one more commonly heard.
Sweet Honey In The Rock have still a different tune.
Anyway, Woody didn't write the tune, so I guess it's ok to stray from the one folks usually sing.
In fact, I think what I sing now is a combination of the Whiskey Hill version and the more common one, mainly because they've kind of blended in my mind, with my favorite parts of each being retained.

Rich, from what I've seen of Woody's original notebooks (in the travelling Smithsonian exhibit), he probably DID write "rott'ning.'


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Subject: RE: Deportees
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 03 Oct 01 - 07:29 PM

Names of the crew, no names of the deportees - you can see how the song would have shaped itself as he read that report.

"...Mexican nationals who entered the United States illegally, and others who stayed beyond duration of work contracts in California... All were agricultural workers."

"Some of us are illegal, and some are not wanted, Our work contract's out and we have to move on"

Nothing really changes does it? "Economic migrants" they'd call them today.


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Subject: RE: Deportees
From: Bev and Jerry
Date: 03 Oct 01 - 08:33 PM

Joe:

Thanks for the article. We saved it. When a little more time has passed sincd September 11, we'll read it to the kids before we do the song. This will give them the message a lot better than what we've been saying.

Bev and Jerry


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Subject: RE: Deportees
From: GUEST,Genie
Date: 03 Oct 01 - 08:51 PM

Not that this excuses the paper for not following up, but is it possible that in 1948 passenger lists were not readily available?
I often hear news reports nowadays that say things like, "to Iraeli (or Palestinian) children and their father were killed by a bomb ...).
Genie


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Subject: RE: Deportees
From: GUEST,karen
Date: 03 Oct 01 - 10:16 PM

McGrath. I'm not sure nothing changes. Someone please correct me if I'm wrong as I've not studied this much over the recent few decades but,....at the time the song was written, wasn't it US law that any of those illegals that managed to have a baby while in the US could remain because the child was a US citizen? And, was the law later altered to state that only children born of at least one citizen parent were naturalized?


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Subject: RE: Deportees
From: catspaw49
Date: 03 Oct 01 - 10:24 PM

Thanks muchly Joe....That had to be a tough find and it surely does make the song obvious as Mac said....almost like sitting in Woody's mind as he wrote.

AND GENIE.......Yeah, Woody didn't write the tune although it would be more accurate to say that Woody didn't put a tune to it.......Woody didn't write many tunes at all!!!!!(:<))

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Deportees
From: Joe Offer
Date: 04 Oct 01 - 03:57 AM

Hi, Karen - there have always been loopholes in U.S. immigration law that allow some people to stay in the U.S., but the Immigration and Naturalization Service has always found ways to deport lots of people. some of those on the fated airplane were in the U.S. legally as seasonal farm workers - but their work contracts were up, and it was time to move on. They were being shipped from Northern California to the El Centro Deportation Center on the border. The Immigration officers round the people up and ship them down to deportation centers along the border. Nowadays, though, they go by bus down Interstate 5.

I did employee background checks in the deportation center in El Centro for three weeks in the summer of 1996. Not a happy place, although the employees had great carne asada cookouts on their days off. The employees, by the way, are mostly hispanic.

-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Deportees
From: GUEST,karen
Date: 04 Oct 01 - 05:24 AM

Thanks for the information, Joe....how long (time wise) would that trip take if going by bus? How many fuel stops along the way and so forth? If you know, that is...don't want to seem demanding.:) Hope you moved on to a more pleasant job.


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Subject: RE: Deportees
From: Joe Offer
Date: 04 Oct 01 - 05:57 AM

Well, Karen, the Immigration Service was only one of many agencies I serviced. It was lots of fun doing clearances on astronauts and political appointees, and I got paid to spend weeks in the national parks, clearing law enforcement park rangers.

The employees of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) have a dismal, frustrating job. Generally, they're overworked and underpaid, because they're not a "glamor" agency. A large percentage of the employees are foreign-born or have foreign spouses - that helps, because they have to be able to speak at least two languages.

The Border Patrol is a separate law enforcement division within the INS, and their working conditions are generally better. The daily bus starts way up in Northern California, and drives four or five hours to the Border Patrol Sector at Livermore, just southeast of San Francisco. From there, it's another three or four hours south to Bakersfield, where some detainees are temporarily housed in the county jail (a federal subsidy of impoverished Kern County). From there it's four to six hours to El Centro or San Diego. The drivers go from one stop to the next, and then go back on the northbound bus.

I don't know how the actual deportation takes place. I know that some are flown to Central Mexico or beyond, but I think that many just are escorted as they walk back across at the border crossing to Mexicali or Tijuana (and some of those go back to the States the very same night).

The INS recognizes that most of the detainees are not criminals, and their treatment is generally humane - but still pretty dismal. Yeah, I occasionally came across employees who were abusive - there are a few bad apples in every bushel, and it was my job to try to cull them out.

Now I'm retired, goofing off full time - but I had 25 very interesting years working as a federal investigator. I felt like I had my finger on the pulse of California all that time (with occasional trips outside the state).

-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Deportees
From: iamjohnne
Date: 04 Oct 01 - 12:57 PM

I first heard this song sung by Vince Martin back in the Coconut Grove days in Miami Fl. He had an voice like honey. I think he used the lyrics that Judy Collins used. It is still a great song, and the tune is as memorable as the lyrics.

Johnne "Goin where the weather suits my clothes"


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Subject: RE: Deportees
From: Linda Kelly
Date: 04 Oct 01 - 01:06 PM

In the UK, Jon Brindley does a version which is quite beautiful. generally I have heard this with quite a quick strong rythmn, but Jon's version is much slower and very ballady -anyway, its an extraordinary song which ever way it's played.


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Subject: RE: Deportees
From: Wolfgang
Date: 04 Oct 01 - 01:20 PM

It's a great find, Joe, and praise for the post. However, though the picture of Woody Guthrie reading the very same words as we can above is compelling, it just may not be true. First, the radio said they are just deportees is Woody's own claim as to the source of the information, and, second, the site of the crash, Los Gatos Canyon that Woody included in the lyrics and the title, is not mentioned in the article above.

Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: Deportees
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 04 Oct 01 - 02:00 PM

I was thinking that too, Wolfgang - since Woody said radio, he probably meant radio.

But I'd imagine that the radio and the newspaper would have used the same wire services, so the actual radio report would probably have been very similar, but maybe with extra details, like Los Gatos Canyon. Anyway, Joe's find gets us a lot closer to the event itself, and how it must have felt. After September 11th I think it's a bit easier to tune in. (There is an echo of it in the fact that there were probably large numbers of dead in the Towers who will never be known or identified, because they were illegals in borderline employment.)

And that first line - I think rott'ning, as quoted by rich r is actually more vivid than rotting. Going rotten. I think I'll use it any time I sing the song.


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Subject: RE: Deportees
From: Joe Offer
Date: 04 Oct 01 - 02:19 PM

Good thinking, Wolfgang. You're almost as good as Sandy Paton at goading me to honest research. I read somewhere that Woody wrote the song in 1948 after reading an article in the New York Times - now, I wish I could remember where I read that. If the story is true, Woody must have had an additional source of information - maybe he fabricated a little information himself (or maybe the article I read was more complete in another edition of the newspaper). The Times article said only that the crash was about twenty miles west of Coalinga. On my map, I'd say Los Gatos Canyon is ten to fifteen miles west-northwest of Coalinga, in the Coastal Range of mountains that separates the Central Valley of California from the Pacific.

I'm working on checking the Fresno and Sacramento Bee newspapers for more information. Coalinga has never had much of a newspaper. Fresno, the county seat, is about 70 miles east of Coalinga. Fresno is miserable, and Coalinga is worse. Both places have blistering heat in the summer and depressing fog and overcast during the winter - but spring and fall are tolerable. I visited Coalinga once during an infestation of crickets - cars were skidding on streets all over town, sliding on cricket carcasses. One winter night, I drove home forom Coalinga to Fresno in fog so thick I couldn't see the road. Just north of Coalinga is an oilfield - all the rocking pump arms are decorated to look like animals. A big annual event in Coalinga is the Horned Toad festival (although the animal is now called a horned lizard).

I last visited Coalinga in 1999, when I spent a day doing interviews at the police department. I'll say this about Coalinga - the cops were young, innocent, and delightful. They thought it was pretty cool to be interviewed by a federal agent.


In his book Where Have All the Flowers Gone?, Pete Seeger says Woody made up "Reuben James," "Deportees," and "Isaac Woodward" from seeing short items in some paper. The Sing Out! Reprints (pink book) says the following:
A few years ago the newspapers reported the crash in Mexico of a plane which was flying home a large group of Mexican "wetback" workers who had entered the United States illegally - induced by promises of good-paying jobs from unscrupulous agents of the large fruit orchards in California. Woody Guthrie immediately wrote the following song. The tune by Marty Hoffman has been slightly adapted by Pete Seeger.
I'd question the accuracy of this. I think Woody was more correct in saying "some" of the deportees were illegal, because there was a program at the time that allowed farmworkers to enter the U.S. legally to do seasonal work.

OK, so back to work on more research.

-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Deportees
From: Wolfgang
Date: 04 Oct 01 - 02:22 PM

Well possible, Kevin: the N.Y.Times article has (AP) as the source which doesn't mean they printed every bit of that information. 'Los Gatos Canyon' might have been too detailed for a New York reader. Good guess is there was a single source for all kinds of reportings about that crash and we have one version coming from that source and Woody heard another.

I understand that song better after 11/9 of this year. I read and saw in TV that the names of all passengers from the four planes were mentioned. This would never be done in Germany. In our culture, you leave it to the relations whether they want to make it known or not. From my cultural background, I never really could understand what was so bad about only calling the dead 'deportees', for that is what I would have expected from a similar report in Germany. In a German report, no name at all would have been mentioned, even the known persons would have been 'crew' and nothing else.

Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: Deportees
From: Joe Offer
Date: 04 Oct 01 - 03:15 PM

In another thread, Steve Suffet gave a nice summary of his research on the song. Since it's the only message in that thread about that particular song, I'm going to paste a copy here. I don't have the Joe Klein biography he refers to, and I'm not shure which Leventhal book he's talking about Leventhal edited a collection of Woody's writings called Pastures of Plenty, but that book makes only passing mention of "Deportee."
-Joe Offer-
Thread #29549   Message #374302
Posted By: Suffet
14-Jan-01
Thread Name: El Do Re Mi
Subject: RE: El Do Re Mi

By the way, if you don't know the story of "Deportees," here is a brief (?) summary courtesy of information I gleaned from Joe Offer, Joe Klein, and Harold Leventhal.

On January 28, 1948, a chartered airplane crashed in Los Gatos Canyon, about 20 miles west of Coalinga, California. All aboard perished, including the crew, several immigration agents, and 28 Mexican farmworkers who were in the process of being deported. Woody Guthrie claimed that he heard a radio broadcast report of the crash in which someone stated that the 28 Mexicans were "just deportees" and did not give their names when the names of the crew and agents were announced. In response, Woody wrote the song that he called variously "Plane Wreck at Los Gatos," "Deportees," and "Goodbye to My Juan." Woody performed the song as at least one of the Peoples' Artists hoots in New York, but his original tune was almost a flat monotone and it (the tune) was not well received.

About 10 years later, a young folk singer named Martin Hoffman wrote a new and hauntingly beautiful tune to go with Woody's lyrics. Cisco Houston, Woody's old sidekick, soon recorded "Deportees" for Vanguard using Hoffman's tune. So did Judy Collins, and the song quickly became an American folk standard.

By that time, however, Woody was seriously ill with Huntington's disease, and he was confined to a mental hospital. It is doubtful that he ever sang the Hoffman tune himself, but it is pretty well established that others sang it to him.

--- Steve


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Subject: RE: Deportees
From: Joe Offer
Date: 04 Oct 01 - 03:46 PM

There's some interesting additional information on this site (click). It's part of the "History in Song" site maintained by Manfred Helfert.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Deportees
From: catspaw49
Date: 04 Oct 01 - 04:18 PM

Wolfgang, I would never have thought of the lack of names in that way. To me, I thought Woody was saying that we (Americans) viewed the illegal immigrants, and basically all Mexicans and migrant workers, as something less than human and therefore they were just nameless, faceless, nothings......"just" deportees......no big deal. It seems to speak to the prejudice and bigotry more than anything else (IMHO).

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Deportees
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 04 Oct 01 - 04:31 PM

About the tune - in the thread about the song he wrote about the NYC Firefighters, InOBU was discussing the tune he put to it, "Lough Hospitasl"(aka Locke Hospital) and he said "By the way Deportee is very like Lough Hospital, which is also Bold Robert Emmitt, and Beat the Drum Slowly and Play the Pipes Lowly, and Streets of Laredo."

Which is true. And the older tune fits very well to the words of Guthrie's song.

"Nothing really changes" - as you said karen, sometimes they get worse. Sometimes they get better as well, but it all balances out, and on the whole "nothing really changes". We get rid of polio, and along comes Aids. Still, if you don't keep on trying to make it better, it'd just get worse.


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