Hot Ash-Pelt, The
DESCRIPTION: Singer McGuire leaves the farm for the asphalt crew. A peeler insults the men, and the singer knocks him into the boiler. They pull him out but the tar won't come off; now he hangs in the National Museum, "an example of the dire effects of hot ash-pelt"
EARLIEST DATE: 1952 (collected from John McLaverty)
LONG DESCRIPTION: Singer McGuire leaves the farm to be boss of the asphalt crew. A peeler (policeman) asks to light his pipe on the boiler fire; he insults the men, and the singer hits him, knocking him into the boiler. They pull him out and scrub him, but the asphalt won't come off; now he hangs by his belt in the National Museum, "an example of the dire effects of hot ash-pelt"
KEYWORDS: fight violence work humorous boss worker police technology
FOUND IN: Britain(Scotland) Ireland
REFERENCES (3 citations):
Kennedy-FolksongsOfBritainAndIreland 225, "The Hot Ash-Pelt" (1 text, 1 tune)
MacColl-ShuttleAndCage-IndustrialFolkBallads, pp. 26-27, "Hot asphalt" (1 text, 1 tune)
NLScotland, L.C.Fol.70(70a), "Hot Ashfelt," unknown, c. 1890
cf. "Napoleon Crossing the Alps" (tune)
NOTES [169 words]: Although we tend to think of paved roads as a modern contrivance (with, perhaps, the exception of the Roman roads), paving has been around for quite a while. The first modern paved roads were built by John Loudon McAdam (1756-1836), who as paving commissioner of Bristol from 1806 began using crushed rock to build solid surfaces ("macadam").
The idea caught on quickly; by the mid-nineteenth century, most "turnpikes" in the United States were paved. (A fact which could have important historical effects, e.g. during the Civil War. It's often stated that the Battle of Gettysburg took place where it did because it was a road center -- which is true, but there are plenty of road centers in Pennsylvania. Gettysburg was especially noteworthy because no fewer than three turnpikes -- the Baltimore, Chambersburg, and York Pikes -- met there.)
The earliest macadamized roads were made simply of rock, but by the end of the century, bitumen was being used as a binder, requiring a device to keep the asphault hot. - RBW
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