Friday, January 8, 2010

Work Song

I had the car windows rolled down on yet another mild January afternoon. While I waited for a light to change at Huntington and Fair Oaks I heard one of these men singing. It was something lovely. Melodious. And I wondered ... what's that poem? That one about the workers singing?

It was this one:

I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,
Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe and strong,
The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam,
The mason singing his as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work,
The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat, the deckhand singing on the steamboat deck,
The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench, the hatter singing as he stands,
The wood-cutter’s song, the ploughboy’s on his way in the morning, or at noon intermission or at sundown,
The delicious singing of the mother, or of the young wife at work, or of the girl sewing or washing,
Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else,
The day what belongs to the day—at night the party of young fellows, robust, friendly,
Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.

--Walt Whitman


Mister Earl said...

Glad to see that South Pasadena has such a sophisticated well-read workforce. Great colors. This rivals the famous depression-era photo of New York construction workers sitting on a steel beam!

Judy Williams said...

WOW - I'm blown away by the perfectness of that poem with that photo. There is just something about singing, whether good or bad. The words just cascade out of your mouth from your heart. (sorry, I got a little too into that one) HA!

Mister Earl said...

This one:

San Diego Farmgirl said...

Was the song about chi chis? I think I know that one ...

Texas Longhorns have a fantastic 'silver lining' to last night's game: your quarterback will never again be intimidated by any situation. I think you've got three great years ahead of you - the kid impressed me! Looked like a young Favre out there, interceptions and all! :o)

Mister Earl said...

I hope Colt McCoy's arm is ok. He said he had no feeling in it and couldn't move it. Not good.

No matter what, with him out, it took the excitement out of the game. The only way it really could have mattered is if Texas had been able to win without him. Now there are questions about whether Alabama really would have won.

Cafe Pasadena said...


Early in the morning factory whistle blows,
Man rises from bed and puts on his clothes,
Man takes his lunch, walks out in the morning light,
It's the working, the working, just the working life.

Through the mansions of fear, through the mansions of pain,
I see my daddy walking through them factory gates in the rain,
Factory takes his hearing, factory gives him life,
The working, the working, just the working life.

End of the day, factory whistle cries,
Men walk through these gates with death in their eyes.
And you just better believe, boy,
somebody's gonna get hurt tonight,
It's the working, the working, just the working life.


Dixie Jane said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dixie Jane said...

What a great Walt Whitman poem to accompany a great photo of workers.

We can give Disney credit for making work a happy experience. "Whistle While You Work", "Hi Ho, Hi Ho it's off to work we go." All the while Snow white was singing while she made pies.

There is something so satisfying about happy workers. Try and picture a large office full of cubicles with all the workers singing. I've got a song, "I've Got a Right To Sing the Blues." Then there is the man in the street with the jackhammer in 101 degree weather. Well, it just isn't going to happen We live in a different world than The Seven Dwarfs. But I'm happy for the workers pictured herel

altadenahiker said...

I'm sorry. Farmgirl made me giggle uncontrollably. I'll regain my composure in a minute.

Yakpate said...

The only workers I ever hear singing are the Mexican housekeepers at my apartment complex. No matter where they are or what they're doing... say, picking up trash in the underground parking levels... they sing like birds, and I love them for it.

When I lived in the Canary Islands, one of the sounds of morning was all the housewives singing as they worked in their small adobe houses.

And of course... the blues evolved from slaves singing in the fields to lighten their lot.

Let's see... what do junk bond salesmen sing as they swindle their clients?

Judy Williams said...

Maybe they are paying tribute to Elvis Presley's 75th birthday today.

A little less conversation please (My favorite remix ever)

dbdubya said...

Sorry your beloved 'Horns lost last night, Laurie and DJ.

These workers are the contract landscaping crew that maintain the center medians on Fair Oaks and Huntington. Good to see they are enjoying their day.

Mister Earl said...

I think Farm Girl may have been referring to Rodney Carinton's "Show them to Me," which you can find on YouTube under "Show them to me with subtitles"

Petrea said...

I love love love this photo, Laurie. Just love it.

Laurie said...

Hey gang,

Thanks, everyone!

We won't mention the Horns' loss. Sob.

I love everyone's comments/lyrics/links/observations today. Have I mentioned lately how great you all are?

Until tomorrow...

Sumi Ko said...

Yakpate, junk bond salesmen could sing, "Money, money, money" by Pink Floyd.

I never heard Mexican housekeepers sing, but I'll never forget one fine morning while weeding in my yard, I heard someone whistling brightly like a bird.

I looked up at my neighbor's tree and saw their Mexican gardener half-way up the branches whistling and clipping away whith a pair of pruning shears!