She Gets There Just the Same (Jim Crow Car)
DESCRIPTION: "The white gal smells like Castile soap, The yeller gal try to do the same, The poor black gal smell like little billy goat, But she gets there just the same." Verses comparing the methods and results of several groups
EARLIEST DATE: 1914 (Brown)
KEYWORDS: discrimination train clothes travel drink food money
FOUND IN: US(SE,Ap) West Indies(Jamaica)
REFERENCES (4 citations):
BrownIII 477, "White Gal, Yaller Gal, Black Gal" (5 texts plus 3 fragments; 3 of the texts have the chorus of "Coming Round the Mountain (II -- Charming Betsey)"); also 483, "Rich Man Ride on a Pullman Car" (1 fragment)
BrownSchinhanV 477, "White Gal, Yaller Gal, Black Gal" (3 tunes plus text excerpts)
Darling-NAS, p. 355, "[no title]" (1 text)
ADDITIONAL: Olive Lewin, "Rock It Come Over" - The Folk Music of Jamaica (Barbados: The University of the West Indies Press, 2000), p. 175, "(I'm a white man, and I drive mi motor car)" (1 text)
cf. "Coming Round the Mountain (II -- Charming Betsey)" (floating lyrics)
NOTES: I've heard this sung by Sixties folk groups in a form which contrasts city and country girls. This may be the original form -- but I suspect it's a clean-up.
The version in Darling is only a fragment, but describes the fate of Blacks forced to ride "Jim Crow cars" on trains (poor-quality cars, often used to ship animals and, quite possibly, not cleaned out after being used for such a purpose).
Brown's verses are much more diverse: The White women ride cars, yellow women ride trains; Blacks are stuck in carts. Whites use cold cream, Blacks lard. Clothing, beds, alcoholic beverages -- in all cases, the Blacks have it worst, but they look good, sleep, get drunk just the same.
What appears to be a rewrite by Decie Smith appears on pp. 94-95 of Doug deNatale and Glenn Hinson, in their article, "The Southern Textile Song Tradition Reconsidered," published in Archie Green, editor, Songs about Work: Essays in Occupational Culture for Richard A. Reuss, Folklore Institute, Indiana University, 1993. It is a piece written in commemoration of Smith's half century in the mills, and is an ironic praise of the boss. - RBW
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