Daddy’s Old Tin Cup

Image and caption: Going to back door to ask for handout, Omaha, Nebraska,  Farm Security Administration – Office of War Information Photograph Collection (Library of Congress), LC-USF33- 001298-M1

 In ’32 with the farm foreclosed, we gave city life a try
 My folks, they’d never seen times so lean, but it seemed we were gettin’ by
 Momma took in some sewing, daddy worked dawn to dusk seven straight—
 Scratching up rent on our one-room apartment and putting just enough food on the plate
 After school I’d run the streets, ‘cause ‘stickball and dicin’ were free
 The one day down the steps of a big fancy house here’s Daddy walking toward me
 I asked if he was odd jobbin’, or delivering for a store-- 
 And he said “No I ain’t found a day’s worth of honest work—been tin cupping door-to-door
 It’d be best if this was our secret, son, I hope you understand”—
 I crossed my heart, then he shook his cup, and dropped two dimes in my habd
 Momma was never the wiser, I kept my lips sealed tight
 But Dad spoke less as the weeks wore on and started settin’ up all night
 It wasn’t long ‘til he passed on, I was not surprised he died--
 See Daddy had a back that was strong as a Brahmin ox--but that day something broke inside 
 He told me “son, take care of your momma, have faith, keep your chin up”--
 I can still hear the coins jingling in daddy’s old tin cup
 Now it’s one year on since Dad’s been gone, I have my worse and my better days
 Skipping school to do what a man's got to do, in the streets where I once played
 I find a place to stand, tin cup in hand, smile and swallow my grief--
 So I can supplement the income of a widow on relief
 Imagine holding hope you might  muddle through, and then the worst  luck interrupts--
 If you sympathize I hope you’ll spare a dime for Daddy’s old tin cup