Mudcat Café message #23162 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #3952   Message #23162
Posted By: Art Thieme
06-Mar-98 - 10:15 AM
Thread Name: info about Paul Clayton??
Subject: Lyr Add: THE SHANTY BOY ON THE BIG EAU CLAIRE
A song I got from Paul after a hoot at the old GATE OF HORN in Chicago---about '59 I think. Never remembered his tune but used Joe Heaney and Ewan MacColl's tune from "Morrissey and the Russian Sailor". Here's "THE SHANTY BOY ON THE BIG EAU CLAIRE" pretty much as I recorded it on one LP & a later cassette. It's a grand Wisconsin ballad apparently written by W. N. Allen of Wausau in the late l870s. It's the old Romeo & J. tale once more. By the way, a RAPIDS PIECE is a section of a larger log raft that can be separated for easier navigation of the rapids. The rapids at Mosinee was quite treacherous. A dam of sorts was built there to make for easier navigation and to create a pool beyond the dam. But one can surely see the rocks of the old rapids below the dam on the Wisconsin River right in downtown Mosinee. (As far as I know, Paul Clayton never recorded this ballad.)

Every girl she has her troubles. Likewise, a man has his.
I'll relate to you the agony of a fellow's story, viz.,
It relates about affections of a damsel young and fair,
And an interesting shanty boy from off the Big Eau Claire.

Now, this young and dauntless damsel was of noble pedigree,
And her mother ran a milliner shop in the town of Mosinee,
Sold waterfalls and ribbons and imitation lace
To all the high-toned people in that great and festive place.

The shanty boy was handsome. He had a curly head of hair.
No better man could there be found from off the Big Eau Claire,
And the milliner said her daughter a shanty boy never should wed,
And Sue was truly saddened by the things her mother said.

The milliner took up all her goods and she went and hired a hack,
And she opened up another shop way down in Fond du Lac.
Sue grew broken-hearted. She was weary of her life,
For she dearly loved her shanty boy but was forbidden to be his wife.

So when brown autumn came along and ripened all the crops,
She lighted out for Baraboo and went to picking hops,
But in this occupation, she found but little joy,
For her mind it kept returning all to her shanty boy.

She caught the scarlet fever and lay ill a week or two
In Asa Baldwin's pest house in the town of Baraboo.
The doctors tried, but all in vain, her helpless life to save.
Now millions of young hop lice are dancing on her grave.

When this news reached her shanty boy, he quickly to perceive,
He hid his saw in a hollow log and then he quick did leave.
He hired out as a hauler on a fleet of Sailor Jack's,
But the milliner's daughter's funeral to his mind came frequent back.

He fell off of a rapids piece at the falls of Mosinee,
Which ended all his fate for life and all his misery,
And now the broad Wisconsin rolls its waves above his bones.
His companions are the catfish; his grave a pile of stones.

And the milliner, she is bankrupt and her shop has gone to rack.
She talks quite strong of movin' away from Fond du Lac.
Her pillow it is haunted by her daughter's auburn hair,
And the ghost of that young shanty boy from off the Big Eau Claire.

HTML line breaks added. --JoeClone, 18-Oct-02.