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Hung a Man for Making Steam

Wincing Devil 30 Dec 07 - 10:58 PM
Bonnie Shaljean 30 Dec 07 - 11:04 PM
Amos 30 Dec 07 - 11:22 PM
katlaughing 30 Dec 07 - 11:32 PM
Bonecruncher 31 Dec 07 - 12:17 AM
Dave Hanson 31 Dec 07 - 02:36 AM
BillE 31 Dec 07 - 03:58 AM
Melissa 31 Dec 07 - 05:05 AM
MartinRyan 31 Dec 07 - 05:41 AM
Charley Noble 31 Dec 07 - 04:45 PM
McGrath of Harlow 31 Dec 07 - 08:14 PM
dick greenhaus 31 Dec 07 - 08:46 PM
MartinRyan 31 Dec 07 - 10:04 PM
Dead Horse 31 Dec 07 - 10:11 PM
Charley Noble 31 Dec 07 - 10:25 PM
katlaughing 01 Jan 08 - 01:28 AM
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Subject: They Hung a Man for Making Steam
From: Wincing Devil
Date: 30 Dec 07 - 10:58 PM

The lyrics to the Shanty A Hundred Years ago include the line:

"They hung a man for making steam".

Does anyone have any idea what that means? When was steam making a capital offense?

A HUNDRED YEARS AGO


Oh, a hundred years on the Eastern Shore
Oh, yea, oh!
A hundred years on the Eastern Shore
A hundred years ago!

Ol' Bully John from Baltimore
I knew him well, on the Eastern shore

Ol' Bully John was the boy for me
A bully on shore and a bucko at sea

Ol' Bully John I knew him well
But now he'd dead and gone to hell.

He's as dead as a nail on the lamp room floor
He's as dead as a nail that son of a whore

They used to think that pigs could fly
Have you ever heard such a silly lie?

They thought the world was square and flat
Don't tell old Chris Columbo that!

They say that mermaids was no yarn
In Baltimore they've a lot to l'arn

They hung a man for making steam
Throwed his body into the stream


Oh a hundred years is a very long time
Oh a hundred years is a very long time


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Subject: RE: Hung a Man for Making Steam
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 30 Dec 07 - 11:04 PM

Maybe it's meant as another tall tale, as improbable as the square earth and mermaids and flying pigs? Only a guess -


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Subject: RE: Hung a Man for Making Steam
From: Amos
Date: 30 Dec 07 - 11:22 PM

Possibly it is a conflation between two tales from ancient Greece -- one being the invention of the steam-propelled axis used in (I believe the tale was) some ancient temple to open the massive doors, and the other being the death of Socrates by hemlock for insisting on truth. I don't know any tales of man hung or otherwise punished for making steam per se, but new inventions are often looked on as the Devil's handiwork.


A


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Subject: RE: Hung a Man for Making Steam
From: katlaughing
Date: 30 Dec 07 - 11:32 PM

Wonder if it had anything to do with the expression about someone being "steaming mad" which brings to mind the old cartoons in which steam would blow out of the ears of one irate character or another.

Or, possibly with first use of steam engines to help in the mines? Click here for interesting stuff on early engines. This is a purely speculative suggestion.

Or, what about something to do with steam trains?


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Subject: RE: Hung a Man for Making Steam
From: Bonecruncher
Date: 31 Dec 07 - 12:17 AM

BTW meat is hung, men are hanged!
Colyn.


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Subject: RE: Hung a Man for Making Steam
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 31 Dec 07 - 02:36 AM

It a ' shanty ' the words don't have to make sense, just keep the rhythm to get the job done.

eric


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Subject: RE: Hung a Man for Making Steam
From: BillE
Date: 31 Dec 07 - 03:58 AM

Maybe the invention of steam and steamships would put shantymen out of work?

Bill


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Subject: RE: Hung a Man for Making Steam
From: Melissa
Date: 31 Dec 07 - 05:05 AM

If hanging was truly ever the reward of using steam, it would probably have been because the ability to harness and control an invisible force would have been understood as evidence of conjuring demons.


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Subject: RE: Hung a Man for Making Steam
From: MartinRyan
Date: 31 Dec 07 - 05:41 AM

donkies?

Regards


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Subject: RE: Hung a Man for Making Steam
From: Charley Noble
Date: 31 Dec 07 - 04:45 PM

The phrase "They hung a man for making steam" also suggests to me that it's a protest against the use of small steam engines (aka donkey engines) for helping to do work aboard ship that was traditionally done by hand.

Ships with such labor-saving machines would need less crewmen, and would have less of a need for the shantyman.

The reference to "stream" is where the ship was moored prior to sailing, i.e., anchored in the stream.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Hung a Man for Making Steam
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 31 Dec 07 - 08:14 PM

Farting?


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Subject: RE: Hung a Man for Making Steam
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 31 Dec 07 - 08:46 PM

Some men are hung. Some men are well hung.


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Subject: RE: Hung a Man for Making Steam
From: MartinRyan
Date: 31 Dec 07 - 10:04 PM

... and some deserve to be hanged - well or otherwise!

Regards


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Subject: RE: Hung a Man for Making Steam
From: Dead Horse
Date: 31 Dec 07 - 10:11 PM

That particular set of verses is a total mish-mash of verses from other shanties. To make a shanty out of verses from several others was quite common, as the shantyman would sing whatever came into his head at the time. Thus, a new shanty was born.
The reference to hanging a man for making steam is very likely to have been a square rigged sailors dig at the new fangled steamships that were taking all their trade and spelling the death of "true seamen".
Donkey engines were generally seen as a good thing, which enabled sailing vessels to compete with more modern ships for some years to come.
As for the words not having to make sense, completely untrue.
They had to mean something to the men at work. To tell a story, to raise a smile, to lighten the heart and therefore to lighten the load of the job in hand. The rhythm was not necessarily in the verse, but more usually in the chorus where the men actually sweated on a rope, a capstan bar or pump handle etc.
The CHORUS didnt have to make sense, just be repetitive and easy to sing (shout in unison would be a better description).
The art of the shantyman was to be able to make up or remember verses at will, and to gauge the task with reference to the conditions prevailing at that moment, such as the fitness of the crew, the number available for it, the strength of wind, sea and tide, plus other factors too numerous to mention. (Or in my case, too difficult to comprehend to one who has never had to make a living at sea aboard a wind jammer.)

P.S. Mr McGrath of Harlow should be hung, drawn AND quartered.
Not purely because he suggested farting as a viable answer, but just because he should be anyway. So there !!!


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Subject: RE: Hung a Man for Making Steam
From: Charley Noble
Date: 31 Dec 07 - 10:25 PM

Dead Horse-

Hear! Hear!

Hell, hang the lot o' 'em!

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Hung a Man for Making Steam
From: katlaughing
Date: 01 Jan 08 - 01:28 AM

But I thought having dangly bits meant you were all already hung?**BG**


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