The unbelievable story of why Woody Guthrie hated Donald Trump’s dad
The story begins with Kaufman, the author of one book about Guthrie already at work on another and a performer of the folk hero’s music, sifting through the Guthrie archives in Tulsa last year. There, in one of Guthrie’s notebooks — which contain pages upon pages of lyrics never set to music — he found these lines, written in the early 1950s:
Old Man Trump knows
Just how much
he stirred up
In the bloodpot of human hearts
When he drawed
That color line
Here at his
Eighteen hundred family project
There was also this:
Beach Haven ain’t my home!
I just cain’t pay this rent!
My money’s down the drain!
And my soul is badly bent!
Beach Haven looks like heaven
Where no black ones come to roam!
No, no, no! Old Man Trump!
Old Beach Haven ain’t my home!
“Beach Haven,” it turns out, was an apartment building erected by Fred Trump — that is, “Old Man Trump,” who died in 1999 — in New York to house large numbers of veterans returning from World War II. Guthrie, who served in the Merchant Marine, was among them. As Kaufman recounted in a story first published at the Conversation, the singer moved there in 1950.
“When Guthrie first signed his lease, it’s unlikely that he was aware of the murky background to the construction of his new home, the massive public complex that Trump had dubbed ‘Beach Haven,’” Kaufman wrote. “Trump would be investigated by a U.S. Senate committee in 1954 for profiteering off of public contracts, not least by overestimating his Beach Haven building charges to the tune of US$3.7 million.”