Mrs McDonald, like Harry Chaplin, came to my attention through the local ABC station manager. I was touring in the area, and, as usual, I popped into the ABC to record a short interview on my search for old songs. Mrs McDonald was the relieving matron at the Broken Hill Home for the Aged.
The Miner/Don’t Go Down the Mine, Daddy
The miner, he goes and he changes his clothes,
And then makes his way to the shaft,
For each man well knows he’s going below
To put in his eight hours of graft.
With his calico cap and his old flannel shirt,
His pants with the strap ’round the knee,
His boots watertight and his candle alight,
His crib and his billy of tea.
The platman to the driver will knock four and one,
The ropes to the windlass will strain;
As one shift comes up, another goes down
And working commences again.
He works hard for his pay at six bob a day,
He toils for his missus and kids;
He gets what’s left over and thinks he’s in clover,
To cut off his ‘baccy in quids.
At this stage Mrs McDonald commenced to sing ‘Don’t Go Down The Mine, Daddy. Apparently the combined song was popular as a dance in the Broken Hill area. After two verses she returned to the main song.
And so he goes on, week in and week out,
To toil for his life’s daily bread;
He’s off to the mine, hail, rain or shine,
That his dear ones at home may be fed.
Digging holes in the ground where there’s gold to be found,
And most times where gold it is not!
A man’s like a rabbit with this digging habit,
And like one, he ought to be shot!
(Tune: Bill Bailey)
Won’t you come home Bill Bailey,
Won’t you come home?
I moan the whole day long,
I’ll do the cooking, honey,
111 pay the rent,
I know I’ve done you wrong, etc.
Collected from Mrs Frances McDonald, Broken Hill, New South Wales, in 1974
Also collected a similar version from Matron Williams, Broken Hill Old Folks Home, 1977