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Ohio Prison Fire

This song is by Bob Miller and appears on the compilation People Take Warning! Murder Ballads & Disaster Songs, 1913-1938 (2007).

Cries of "Fire!" filled the air
Maddened men ran everywhere
In that big Ohio prison tragedy
Ways to safety were all blocked
Many cells were barred and locked
And the raging flames brought death and agony

Frantic convicts begged for air
Many were cremated there
Oh, the horror of that scene! The moans and pleas
While the red inferno raged
Human beings, trapped and caged
How they prayed and cried to God on bended knees

Picture an old lady there
Climbing up the smold'ring stair
Looking for her boy, a victim of the flames
Now her tears are falling fast
And she finds her son at last
All a-tremble she looks on his charred remains

Man: Is this your son's body, lady?

Woman: Oh, this might be him. Oh, he's little and frail like that. Oh, Jimmy, Jimmy, it's Mother, Honey, Mother.Oh, Mother knows you were good.-You were always good to Mother, weren't you dear?

Man: Can you identify this body?

Woman: Oh, sure, sure, I'll take him. I'll take my boy back now.-The state's finished with him. The state's finished with all of these bodies, these poor charred bodies.-Oh, who's to blame for this awful, awful thing? Who's to blame? Oh, bodies, bodies, bodies! I can't stand it! I can't stand it! I can't stand it!

Now the state so graciously
Gives his body back to her
After life has flown and he has paid the toll
Prison bars kept them apart
Kept him from her lonely heart
But they can't imprison his immortal soul

Oh, society may sneer
At these convicts lying here
After all, they're human, be they what they may
Judge not each man for his crime
For we'll all be judged sometime
When the Master calls us on the Judgment Day


Written by:

Miller and Mahoney


24 April 1930


Bob & Charlotte Miller

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