Researching Yiddish penny songs (tenement song broadsides of theater and variety show songs, 1895-1925)
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Monday, September 9, 2019

Der zig fun di klokmeykers: The Cloakmakers' Victory (labor union history) a Yiddish waltz about a victorious strike. Also to the same tune: The Tailors' Strike

UPDATED because I recently learned (at Trip to Yiddishland) that geblibn mit di noz means very disappointed, left with nothing, deceived. But I don't know why!

garment workers strike ladies cloakmakersI love when I can find historical evidence of the events described in the Penny Songs. I'm pretty sure this lyric is referring to the Cloakmaker's Strike of 1910, known as the 'Great Revolt,' carried out by more than 50,000 workers in New York, which was preceded in November 1909 by the "Shirtwaist Strike," also known as the Uprising of 20,000, mostly young Jewish women in their teens and early twenties. The Jewish Women's Archive notes:
The young strikers' courage, tenacity, and solidarity forced the predominantly male leadership in the needle trades and the American Federation of Labor to revise their entrenched prejudices against organizing women.
Both strikes were bitterly fought by the garment companies but the second strike ended with the bosses capitulating. Click the great picture for a larger view and see the end of the article for the sheet music cover with a fine, fine picture of Morris Rund the lyricist for so many of the Penny Songs. He was a proud Union man himself, a member of Local 100, the Kosher Bakers' Union.

Here's my version of the song, recorded today, click to hear it on youtube:



Here is the cover of the Yiddish song broadside, click for a larger view:


And here is the cover of "Take a Car," the specified melody. You can find it on line and you can also find a cute period recording of it on Youtube.



Morris Rund used the same tune for a very similar strike song. I believe he could churn these out by the dozens. The second one is "The Tailors' strike" - here is the first verse and chorus, if you want more let me know.

Der shnayder strayk

Toyzender shnayder oy kempfn yetst laydn
Tsu lib a shtikl broyt
Farlaykhtn dos lebn iz yetst zeyer shtrebn
nit laydn zo fil noyt
Es kumt yetst di ende fun di boses bande
Genug shoyn geshklaft far zey
Genug shoyn gelitn fun di parazitn
Yo, endlekh vet ir vern Fray

Yo der strayk, yo der strayk!
Der groyser shnayder strayk
Kempfn atsinder darf a yeder glaykh
Genug shoyn gezoygn oy dos blut fun aykh
Yo der strayk, yo der strayk!
Oy arbeter makht nit keyn shvayg
Shteyt nit fun vayter
Tsu shmetert di kaytn
Gefrayt aykh fun der shklaferay!

Transliteration from the Yiddish and translation of Der zig after the jump



Der zig fun di cloakmakers

Bakant iz a yedn fun kind biz un zeydn
Der strayk vos hot zikh gemakht
Di klokmeykers file, di brave, di shtile,
Gestraykt hobn zey vokhn akht
Zeyere shmertsn un veyen un yomer geshreyen
Hot men yorn lang nit gehert
Un plutsim hurray! Far dem finftn July
A strayk hobn zey gor derklert

Yo, der strayk, yo der strayk
Der groyser klokmeyker strayk
Gekost fil gelt hot a yedn balebos
Es ende geblibn zenen zey mit a noz
Yo, der strayk, yo der strayk,
Gedoyert hot er akht vokhn tsayt
Di bosses association hot gekrign vacation
Yo, durkh dem klokmeyker strayk

Gekempft hot a yeder fun kleyn groys keseyder
Vi rizn zikh ale geshtelt
Kepf fil geshpaltn un dokh oysgehaltn
Gezigt vi der grester held
Shreklekh gelitn fun di parazitn
Hot ir klokmeyker a tsayt
Biz endlekh der krig hot gefirt tsu a zig
Un fun shlafheyt aykh bafrayt

Di bosses di bande getsaygt zeyer shande
Hot ir yetst klokmeyker zey
Es iz aykh gelungen di bosses tsu tsvingen
Opshafn di shklaferay
Yetst arbeter elende, plogende kvelende
Gekost hot aykh der zig blut
Darum nemt aykh a 'lesson' ir zolt nit fargesn
Un imer nor kempfen mit mut.


The triumph of the Cloakmakers

Everybody, from kids on up, knows about the strike that just took place
The many cloakmakers, the brave and quiet
Went on strike for eight weeks

Their heartache and pain and loud laments
Had been ignored for many years
And suddenly, hurrah for July 5th!
They declared a strike.

The strike, the big Cloakmakers' Strike
It cost all the bosses a lot of money
And in the end they were left with nothing
The strike, the strike, it went on for eight weeks
The Bosses Association had to go on vacation
because of the Cloakmakers' Strike

Every one, young and old
Tormented with worry, all took a stand.
Many heads were cracked and of course remained faithful
There was triumph as with the greatest hero
You cloakmakers suffered terribly from the parasites for quite a while
Until finally the struggle led to a victory
and you were freed from slavery

That bunch of bosses
You succeeded in forcing the bosses to abolish the slavery
Now, worker, desolated, plagued, oppressed,
The victory cost you blood
Therefore learn a lesson you won't forget
And always struggle with all your might




For sheet music and/or performances contact me: jane@mappamundi.com

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