Thanks muchly, Carrol.

Dr. Peter C. Montgomery
Dept. of English
Camosun College
3100 Foul Bay Rd.
Victoria, BC CANADA V8P 5J2
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-----Original Message-----
From: Carrol Cox [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
Sent: Monday, February 03, 2003 6:25 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: FW: In memoriam to space shuttle Columbia

Peter Montgomery wrote:
> Carrol a friend is curious as to th original plane
> crash to which this refers. Do you know?

By this time Guthrie was becoming increasingly ill with Huntington's
Chorea, and that is probably the reason he never wrote mustic for the
song. I got the information below at

I have heard some versions of it sung with (in my estimation: I've never
done a thorough check on the textual history) the first stanza's
pronouns screwed up. In my reading the whole structure of the poem
revolves around the pronoun variation. The "you" of the first stanza is
the "they" of the chorus; the "they" of the first stanza is the "you" of
the chorus. And the pronouns (especially "we") become steadily more
complex, until there is a fundamental shift (not easily glossed) in the
we [our] of the last stanza. The text I use is taken from a song book
edited by Pete Seager, which ought to be pretty dependable.


From a web site:

[log in to unmask]) provided this info on on 29 Jan 1997:

The New York Times of January 29, 1948 reported the wreck of a "charter
plane carrying 28 Mexican farm workers from Oakland to the El Centro,
CA, Deportation Center.... The crash occurred 20 miles west of Coalinga,
75 miles from Fresno."

I got out my California map book, and found a Los Gatos Road and Los
Gatos Creek northwest of Coalinga, near
the Fresno/San Benito county line. That's one of the most desolate areas
of California, and I'm sure it was even more desolate in 1948. In
Summer, the hills there are brown and forbidding, and the heat
oppressive. That's how I pictured the crash site. However, the crash
took place in January, and in January those hills west of Coalinga are a
beautiful green, splendid with wildflowers. Perhaps it is some slight
consolation that these poor people died in a place of breathtaking
beauty. May they rest in peace, and may we never forget them.

He [WOODY GUTHRIE] was writing as many songs as ever, but few of any
consequence. His children's songs continued to be charming... and his
other songs remained perfunctory, with the notable exception of "Plane
Wreck at Los Gatos (Deportees)," which he composed after reading, early
in 1948, that a plane deporting migrant farm workers back to Mexico had
crashed. It was the last great song he would write, a memorial to the
nameless migrants "all scattered like dry leaves" in Los Gatos Canyon,
where the plane crashed.... The song, as he wrote it, was virtually
without music -- Woody chanted the words -- and wasn't performed
publicly until a decade later when a schoolteacher named Martin Hoffman1
added a beautiful melody and Pete Seeger began singing it in