Boxes of Bobbins
Charlotte Brody

Sometimes I think the noise of the spinning room's
the only sound I hear
Sometimes I think that spindles of spinning yarn's
the only thing I see.

Eight hours a day
Six days a week
Thirty-seven years

Sometimes I think that boxes of bobbins are
the only thing that's me.
I used to think that one day I'd leave this place
and start my life again
But thirty years of staring at spinning thread
has made all my dreams dead

Eight hours a day
Six days a week
Thirty seven years

Sometimes I think that all my heart's feeling
has been tied with cotton thread
Now when I dream
There's still the scene
Of these mill room walls
It don't seem right to spend a life dying
from the sameness of it all

Boxes of Bobbins
Anyone who has worked in a factory knows the endless monotony of such work. Charlotte Brody worked as a registered nurse and became the director of Planned Parenthood of North Carolina. After the 1994 EPA Dioxin Reassessment, Brody realized that medical waste incinerators were a medical hazard due to the dioxin they emit. She became one of the three coordinators of Health Care Without Harm, an international coalition of some 390 organizations from 44 countries, which has the goal of making health care more environmentally responsible and sustainable. Since 1994, 3600 of 6000 medical waste incinerators have been shut down.
Brody is chairwoman of the Environmental Working Group, organizing director of the Center for Health, Environment and Justice and has served as coordinator of the Caroline Brown Lung Association, an organization which focuses on the safety and health hazards for cotton textile workers. Listen to the recording, Brown Lung Cotton Mill Blues, June Appal 006, LP, for the benefit od the Carolina Brown Lung Association.


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The Winnsboro Cotton Mill Blues

Old man Sargent, sitting at the desk,
The damned old fool won’t give us a rest.
He’d take the nickels of a dead man’s eyes
To buy Coca Cola and Eskimo Pies

I got the blues, I got the blues,
I got the Winnsboro Cottonmill Blues.
Lordy, Lordy, spoolin’s hard;
You know and I know, I don’t have to tell,
You work for Tom Watson, got to work like hell.
I got the blues, I got the blues,
I got the Winnsboro Cottonmill Blues.

When I die, don’t bury me at all,
Just hang me up on the spool-room wall;
Place a knotter in my hand,
So I can spool in the promised land.

When I die, don’t bury me deep,
Bury me down on Six Hundred Street;
Place a bobbin in each hand
So I can doff in the Promised Land.

youTube: “Winnsboro Cottonmill Blues”


Winnsboro Cotton Mill Blues

This song was written in the 1920s by an unknown factory worker in Winnsboro, Sorth Carolina. The music was a popular blues melody. Bill Wolff learned it during a course at the Southern School for Workers in North Carolina, where he taught. One of his students sang it to him.



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