Newsboy Funeral

from by Poor Man's Blood

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about

Most children in nineteenth-century America were buried as members of a family or a church, not a trade. Yet in cities across the country newsboys publicly laid to rest many of their fallen comrades. An ethnographic reading of these humble rituals, and a reconsideration of the often-sentimental literature and images in which they appear, enable us to see children's grief not solely as a product of personal loss or religious faith, but as expressions of class feeling.

Studies of children and death usually focus on middle-class attitudes and domestic practices, but newsboy funerals can broaden our understanding of bereavement to working-class children in the public sphere and illuminate why poor youths feared burial in a potter's field more than death itself.

Newsboys took up collections for flowers, caskets, and gravestones for each other; they drafted letters of sympathy and resolutions of condolence, and marched en masse in funeral trains. Some boys dispensed with clergy and conducted the last rites themselves. In so doing, they were not simply aping bourgeois standards of propriety and spirituality, but drawing on a host of cultural influences, both bourgeois and plebeian, religious and commercial, to develop their own masculine codes of affection and rituals of mourning.

lyrics

No one knows when Skinny died
But we found him dead in the snow
The bankers and lawyers walked right on by
On the corner where the day shoppers strolled

Skinny’s his name, for he had no kin
And nothing to call his own
So we gathered him up in a cheap wooden box
And carried little skinny on home

CHORUS
We carry our dead
We carry our dead
through the streets where we work to the bone
We carry our dead
We carry our dead
Through the streets that we all call our home

we carry our dead to the outside of the town
A place no one cares to go
And in a cold vacant lot we bury our dead
In the ground ---where the paperboys go

no one knows when timothy died
but he was stuffed in a dumpster in Queens
beaten black and blue and buggered on thru
and his throat cut to silence his screams

so we carried him off thru the streets at dawn
while the urbanites observed the scene
some stood and stared but most didn’t care
as the city bustled and steamed

CHORUS


I’ll sell you a paper if you’ll spare me a dime
For you know that we fend for our own
And I'll forego my meal, For we'll need every cent
To carry our brother on home

No one was there when Johnny died
He was ran down like a rat in the street
the trolley kept rolling and left Johnny there
all mangled and covered in sleet

And as the headlines in the papers cheered
the new age of progress is here
we carry our dead to the outside of town
where the eulogies won’t make a sound

CHORUS

OUTRO

credits

from Poor Man's Blood, released March 6, 2014

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Poor Man's Blood New Mexico

Also check out Jeff's punk band "Article 15" at www.article15nmpunx.bandcamp.com.

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