Showing posts from May, 2010

Loading Sixteen Tons

You load sixteen tons and what do you get. Another day older and deeper in debt. St. Peter don’t you call me ‘cause I can’t go. I owe my soul to the company store. The song, Sixteen Tons, recorded by Tennessee Ernie Ford in 1950, grew in such popularity in West Virginia and Southeastern Kentucky it made Ford’s name a household word and the song an instant hit. Because so many miners were working in mines that had few federal regulations for safety or fair treatment, the song held a core deep truth miners identified with. At that time the labor unions were in existence but did little to protest how the work force they represented were treated or even paid. So the mines paid their workers in what the miners called scrip. Scrip was paper or metal tokens the mine owners printed up or had fashioned to pay their miners instead of money. They didn’t want to keep cash on hand and it was more convenient for them to cheat miners if they paid him in scrip. If the miner requested currenc