It was bad before, but after turning fifty, some years back, my memory has accelerated towards the abyss. It’s now scarily bad. I need to keep writing fast. Funnily enough, and I suspect the same is true for many people, I have fairly clear memories of my early years.
It’s a waste of time trying to recall what was consumed for breakfast. But I will recall a childhood memory vividly, or something from my teenage years. It’s funny how the brain works.
However, I have no memory whatsoever of taking these photos. They show William Henry York, and his wife Bessie, of Eden. They obviously were taken at a gathering. Possibly Fenny York’s wedding in the late 1970s? Maybe, from the background in the main photo, at the Manor House Hotel in Castledawson? Just a guess.
A Few Memories
Cutting Silage each Summer
I recall working with Fenny York (Bessie and William Henry York’s son) each summer over at Stanley Mulholland’s farm. Our team consisted of Fenny cutting the silage (with the ‘new Davie Brown’ tractor and harvestor), me drawing it in (using Massey Ferguson 135 tractor and high sided trailor), and Uncle Stanley buck-raking it in to the silo (old Davie Brown tractor, buck-rake, and sometimes the old blue Fordson tractor later to compress the grass down).
This would go on for nearly three weeks each summer. When the grass got very high in the shed, 15 to 20 feet, Stanley would have to minimise the height of his cab-less tractor, by taking off the tractor’s exhaust pipe, and remember to duck down, each time that he reversed up the grass ramp into the silo. It was fairly dangerous by that point.
Then the big black barrels of treacle (finger licking delicious) would be opened and applied to the grass in the shed, before the crop was sealed with a black plastic cover. It would be opened come November time, to feed the cattle, when they were brought in to the silo for the winter. After the silage was in, the hay work would begin.
Lemonade Bottles by the Bed
I remember William Henry and his love of big bottles of lemonade. There would always be several around his bed. He would regularly shout for Bessie. She had her work cut out.
Two ABBA Singles
Mum was always working – she was a nurse at the local health centre. Bessie would clean one day each week at our house in the mid to late 1970s, into the early 1980s. If I recall correctly, it was each Thursday and the wage was 5 pounds.
I wasn’t that well at one time. Bessie must have felt for me and she bought me two Abba singles (see below), I Have a Dream, and Super Trooper. That’s nearly 45 years ago, but you never ever forget a kindness. A lovely memory.
Early Morning Walk
The morning after dad died in 1982, I recall Bessie walking around our long farm lane with me, as I took a bucket to feed young calves.
It was a beautiful mid September morning, somewhat of a contrast to how we were feeling in the aftermath of the events of the night before. The sky was blue, the sun was shining. I hadn’t been to bed. Bessie and I had a great chat, as we tried to make sense of the world and the purpose of it all.
She could be direct at times (in a good way) in her opinions, but she was also very thoughtful and kind.
Where does the time go to. I moved away from the Eden area in 1990 (up to the North coast) and eventually abroad. We sadly lost touch. I spent a few recent summers back in Ulster, and have looked out her grave (which is not far from dad’s) and always kneel, reflect on the memories, and say a little prayer.