Almanac Singers "Belt Line Girl"
Written by Agnes "Sis" Cunningham

I stood on the station platform
And looked at the lonesome track.
The train had gone around the curve
The train that might never come back,
For it carried my soldier sweetheart away
The one I loved so true.
My heart was sad, but I did not weep
I thought of the work to do.

Joe had gone to the fighting front
And he left his job behind.
Now I must step into his place
On the long assembly line.
I said I'll learn to build a ship
I'll learn to build a plane.
For the faster we speed this belt line, girls,
The quicker our boys return.

If you think that danger is far away
And cannot reach our shore,
Go ask the wives of MacArthur's men,
They'll tell you about this war.
Go ask the widows of the Pearl Harbor boys
Our heroines brave and fine.
You'll find them at work in the training schools
And on the assembly line.

If a thousand men leave a thousand jobs
To go and fight the foe,
Our factory wheels would slacken their speed
And the belts would move too slow.
But when a thousand hard-working girls
Step in and take a hand,
Out roll the tanks and the planes and guns
And there's freedom in the land.

Agnes "Sis" Cunningham (b. 1909) wrote "Belt Line Girl" and was the soloist on the Almanac Singers' album, "Dear Mr. President", another Keynote recording in early 1942. Growing up in rural Oklahoma, Sis was early involved in labor organizing as a musician. She married Gordon Friesen in 1941 shortly before they moved to New York City in December, when she joined the Almanac Singers. She and Gordon later would edit Broadside magazine, a topical songs publication that first published Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs, and many others. "Belt Line Girl" captures the role of women on the homefront effort during World War II, as workers as well as wives and lovers.

Illustration: Anti-Fascist Songs of the Almanac Singers (Almanac Singers, 1942)

© Copyright Labor Arts Inc.