On December 24, 1913, seventy-three people were trampled to death. Fifty nine of the dead were children.
That Christmas Eve, 500 striking copper miners and their families were having a Christmas party at Calumet’s Italian Hall located in Calumet, Michigan when one of the scabs poked his head through the door to yell, “Fire!”
There was no fire, but panic ensued. As people desperately tried to get out of the building, nearly 60 children and 14 adults were trampled to death.
Here’s how Woodie Guthrie described it in his song “Massacre 1913.”
A few people rushed and it was only a few,
“It’s just the thugs and the scabs fooling you,”
A man grabbed his daughter and carried her down,
But the thugs held the door and he could not get out.
And then others followed, a hundred or more,
But most everybody remained on the floor,
The gun thugs they laughed at their murderous joke,
While the children were smothered on the stairs by the door.
In the 21st century, workers have turned their backs on organized labor, along with the Democratic party. But if we forget what it was like when bosses ruled the worker with an iron, and often brutal fist, working people suffered gravely. There’s no guarantee we won’t, or aren’t, going back to a time when workers live under the boot heel of management.