Saturday, January 10, 2009

Take the rag away from your face

William Devereux Zantzinger, whose six-month sentence in the fatal caning of a black barmaid named Hattie Carroll at a Baltimore charity ball moved Bob Dylan to write a dramatic, almost journalistic song in 1963 that became a classic of modern American folk music, died on Jan. 3. He was 69.
His death was confirmed by an employee of the Brinsfield-Echols Funeral Home, who said Mr. Zantzinger’s family had prohibited the release of more details.
Mr. Dylan took some liberties with the truth in the song, “The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll,” though there is disagreement over just how many. He recorded it in 1964 for the Columbia album “The Times They Are A-Changin’,” for some reason dropping the letter “t” from Mr. Zantzinger’s name. It begins:

William Zanzinger killed poor Hattie Carroll

With a cane he twirled around his diamond ring finger

At a Baltimore hotel society gath’rin’

The incident occurred on Feb. 8, 1963. Mr. Zantzinger, a 24-year-old Maryland tobacco farmer, and his wife, Jane, had stopped with friends at a restaurant on their way to Baltimore’s annual Spinsters’ Ball, a white-tie affair.
Mr. Zantzinger was wearing a top hat and carrying a toy cane he had picked up at a farm fair. At the restaurant, he became disorderly, hitting employees with the cane, then left with his group after they were refused more drinks.(read more..)
Thanks to Cliff...

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