PEG AND AWL

Posted on Posted in Breedloves's Folk Songs
  • PEG AND AWL
    “Peg and Awl” is a song about shoe making, but seems that the dates in the song don’t
    accurately document the history of shoe making. Up to 1845 shoes were made with hand
    tools, the curved awl, the chisel-like knife and the scraper, the pincers, the lapstone, the
    hammer and a variety of rubbing sticks used for finishing edges and heels. Perhaps the
    song refers to the the “Lasting Machine” invented by the Black shoe maker Jan
    Matzeliger while working at McKay’s.
    In March 1883, the United States Patent Office issued him a patent. Within two years,
    Matzeliger had perfected the machine that could produce up to 700 pairs of shoes each
    day (as compared to 50 per day for a hand laster). The song rhymes the same if we start it
    in the in 1851 or 1881! Since Matzeliger’s invention is the one that best fits the line “Pegs
    a hundred pair to my one” maybe we should sing “In the year eighteen eighty one” and
    work up from there. It’s a great example of an “industrial song” and perhaps one of the
    few that rejoice in a new labor saving machine.
    In the year of eighteen and one
    Peg and awl
    In the year of eighteen and one
    Peg and awl
    In the year of eighteen and one
    Peggin’ shoes was all I done
    Hand me down my peg, my peg and awl
    In the year of eighteen and two
    Peg and awl
    In the year of eighteen and two
    Peg and awl
    In the year of eighteen and two
    Peggin’ shoes was all I’d do
    Hand me down my peg, my peg and awl
    They invented a new machine
    Peg and awl
    They invented a new machine
    Peg and awl
    They invented a new machine
    Prettiest thing I ever seen
    Throw away my peg, my peg and awl
    Pegs a hundred pair to my one
    Peg and awl
    Pegs a hundred pair to my one
    Peg and awl
    Pegs a hundred pair to my one
    Peggin’ shoes it ain’t no fun
    Throw away my peg, my peg and awl
  • In the year of eighteen and three
    Peg and awl
    In the year of eighteen and three
    Peg and awl
    In the year of eighteen and three
    New machine it set me free
    Throw away my peg, my peg and awl
    In the year of eighteen and four
    Peg and awl
    In the year of eighteen and four
    Peg and awl
    In the year of eighteen and four
    Swore I’d peg them shoes no more
    Throw away my peg, my peg and awl