A Dozen Kinds of Sorry, and a Hundred Kinds of No

Image and caption: Native Texan farmer on relief. Goodliet, Hardeman County, Texas. “Tractored out” in late 1937. Now living in town, and on the verge of relief. Wife and two children. “Well, I know I’ve got to make a move but I don’t know where to. I can stay off relief until the first of the year. After that I don’t know. I’ve eat up two cows and a pair of horses this past year. Neither drink nor gamble, so I must have eat’n ’em up. I’ve got left two horses and two cows and some farm tools. Owe a grocery bill. If had gradutated land tax on big farms, that would put the little man back again. One man had six renters last year. Kept one. Of the five, one went to Oklahoma, one got a farm south of town and three got no place. They’re on WPA (Works Progress Administration). Another man put fifteen families off this year. Another had twenty-eight renters and now has two. In the Progressive Farmer it said that relief had spoiled the renters so they had to get tractors. But them men that’s doing the talking for the community is the big landowners. They got money to go to Washington. That’s what keeps us from writing. A letter I would write would sound silly up there.”  Farm Security Administration – Office of War Information Photograph Collection (Library of Congress) LC-USF34– 018277-C

A dozen kinds of sorry, and a hundred kinds of no
Are fast friends to a poor man, with nowhere left to go
Without two dimes to rub together, nor any living kin
It ain’t “if” you’re going to hear them, the only question’s “when”

“I’m sorry we ain’t hiring,” “No men wanted here”
“This town don’t welcome strangers, you’d better well steer clear”
“It’s a crying shame to hear sir, how you’ve plum run out of luck—
But things are tough all over, sorry I can’t spare a buck”

You told "no" by the banker man, you get no’d by the boss
You get sorried by the gov’ment that your farms a total loss
You’d think old Mr. Shakespeare had cottoned to the chore
Of coming up with “no’s” and “sorries” you ain’t heard before

A dozen kinds of sorry, and a hundred kinds of no
Will bruise you bad as any brickbat a hooligan might throw
‘Cause a thousand looks of pity won’t do you one lick of good—
And you know some folks ain’t saying “yes”—even when they could