Teppintine

04:53
Doug Spears
2010-01-01
Doug Spears

Story

A major industry through the Southeast US and down through north Florida in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s was turpentine – the production and distillation of turpentine, mineral spirits, etc. The base ingredient is pine sap gathered by cutting a series of v-notched grooves in the trees (called a “cat’s face” because of its appearance). Gathering the sap, boiling it over huge wood fires in iron pots, then distilling it to the final raw substance was dawn ‘til dusk, back breaking, life depleting work done mostly by former slaves or their descendants under the often cruel iron hand of the “woodsrider” – the foreman in charge of the work crews. Like the coal mines in West Virginia, the pay was small and any money they made was spent in a company store at inflated prices making it so that you always owed more than you could repay. The blacks working those camps didn’t call it turpentine – they called it “teppintine.”

Lyrics

 

 

Well from northwest Florida down the old Spanish trail, Men have been livin’ in a Teppintine hell, They been workin’, drawin’ that sap out of those pines, Singing good God almighty get me out of dis teppintine. Work all day for a dollar or so, You spend twice what you got in that old company store, On credit, then they own you until you die, Well, good God almighty get me out of dis teppintine. Got me a one room shack and a woman they owned, We got three kids, Lord we’re bound to have more, And I don’t know how I’m ever gonna keep those kids alive, Well, good God almighty get my kids out of dis teppintine ‘Cause there ain’t no law to help a teppintine man, That old woods rider he’s got blood on his hands, Don’t you cross him, you’ll earn yourself a shallow grave up in the pines, Well, good God almighty that’s one way out of dis teppintine. Now you don’t get into teppintine, You’re born in to it and you spend your time, Tryin’ to get out of this hell up in the Florida pines, Singin’ good God almighty get me out of dis teppintine.