Hit record helps jobless

I used to wear my hard hat with so much dignity inside And now that I am jobless, it seems I lost my pride. . . .

from the lyrics of 'Steel Mill Blues' by Michael Pickering

For such a sad song, Mike Pickering's ''Steel Mill Blues'' is creating some pretty happy results.

The teen-ager wrote the song to cheer up his uncle, Bob Sullivan, after 4,000 mill workers were laid off in Midland, Pa. The song is now cheering up thousands of workers - and helping to feed them, too.

Generating more than commiseration among the unemployed, a recording of the song is doing a booming business in record stores and in juke boxes throughout western Pennsylvania, and Mr. Pickering has agreed with union and record company promoters to give all local profits to food funds for the jobless.

Pegged as the ''national anthem of the unemployed,'' and selling as if it were, the 45 r.p.m. record has raised $15,000 since its December release in the Ohio Valley.

''I don't follow politics, I'm just a songwriter and mostly I just write what I hear. And was just listening to the men of the union, this is what I heard,'' young Pickering explains. ''Mostly the feeling in the family and around the neighborhood was depressed. . . . They didn't know what they were going to do. The record was maybe to get the government to help a little bit'' - by stopping foreign imports of steel in order to give local mills more business.

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