AUSTRALIAN RAILWAY STORY


Trains of Treasure CD: THE BALLAD OF JANET OAKDEN

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A song by Pip James (1976)
Matilda's Mob. Megan Broadbent - vocals

Let me tell you 'bout a woman, Janet Oakden is her name
She came here from England, just to drive a train
She started as a steward, and why I cannot tell,
When she tried to join a union, the men all ran like hell.

CHORUS
 Janet Oakden, Janet Oakden
 You should be very proud,
 With the odds stacked against you,
 Your spirit was not cowed.

The union said "We'll help you, but let us make this clear,
The railway wives won't like to see their husbands placed so near,
The feminine temptation a woman would present,
You must have separate quarters, so morals won't get bent."

They raised up great objections why she can't drive a train,
"You can't lift up the engine, or undertake the strain,
Of toting all the fireman's gear upon your fragile back, 
What happens if your nails should break, your make-up start to crack?"

But Janet was too wily for all those doubting men;
She took herself to drivers school, and answered back again,
Now she can be a driver, and fill a driver's shoes,
This courageous woman has earned the right to pay her union dues.

Notes

Trains of Treasure a CD of Australian railway songs and poems