The Banff and Buchan Collection

Alec Forsythe, Old Deer, 05/05/1994

Jimmie Thain, New Deer    
06/05/1994

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NEFA 1994.039.01    Transcription
P: Alec Forsythe
T: 
Old age
S: 
You never think you'll reach old age. He's losing his balance now.

NEFA 1994.039.02    Transcription
P: Alec Forsythe
T: 
Songs sung in the old says
S: 
Many folk sung in the old days. There were some fine singers. He sings to himself but not in public at all. Muckin o Geordies Byre, Gadie Rins, My Love She's But a Lassie Yet. He knows all the tunes. His son sings in front of people, bothy songs, etc., John Forsythe, he lives in Ellon and a burst retina, etc. Son is stout and his mother was too. Father was a little mannie like Alec himself.

NEFA 1994.039.03    Transcription
P: Alec Forsythe
T: Feeing markets 

S: 
There wouldn't be a dance at a feeing market, just straight to work. There were tests of strength, one with levers to test your pulling power. There were some big hefty lads, "Ah wite".

NEFA 1994.039.04    Transcription
P: Alec Forsythe
T: 
Candlemas Rhyme
S: 
Heard the rhyme but they never did anything about the day. He does not remember the second half. They never rolled easter eggs.

NEFA 1994.039.05    Transcription
P: Alec Forsythe
T: Meal an ale 

S: 
They'd have a meal and ale at harvest time. There would be dancing in the loft and afterwards a big dumpling. Johnston at Mains o Buthlay across from Cadger Hill had big meal and ales. There were several dumplings and tea carried from the kitchen to the loft.

NEFA 1994.039.06    Transcription
P: Alec Forsythe
T: The travelling mill 

S: 
On the go at harvest time. They had their own little mill but got the travelling mill two or three times a year. Sometimes they'd come the night before and set up [buzzer in home goes off]. Two lads on the mill working it. One lad from the farm would carry water for the mill all day.

NEFA 1994.039.07    Transcription
P: Jimmie Thain
T: 
Biographical background
S: [Begins with announcement.] B
orn in New Deer. Father was a roadman. Jimmie fee'd, handled the horses, and took care of the cattle. Fee'd at fourteen when he left the school. Born in 1920. 3/5d for six months. Then 10 a half year. You learned by copying the foreman and did what you were told. He was nineteen when he was in charge of his first pair. Never in a bothy. Round here it was a chaamer. You ate with the farmers.

NEFA 1994.039.08    Transcription
P: Jimmie Thain
T: Early rising on the farm 

S: 
Rise at five, see to the horses, breakfast at six. Brose, cup of tea, bread and milk. Two or three spoonfuls of milk. You had your own bowls. There would be cream on top of the bowl of milk, it was from the night before. Some places had a kitchie deem for cooking, others did not.

NEFA 1994.039.09    Transcription
P: Jimmie Thain
T: Commands for horses

S:
Hie, whish, left and right. Jimmie just worked the reins. Started work at 7 till 12. Dinner, then another five hours (1-5:30 or 6).

NEFA 1994.039.10    Transcription
P: Jimmie Thain
T: Evening pastimes 

S: 
They would news, read a book, some singing, some fiddling, sometimes a gramophone. Sometimes they would go away to a pub or another bothy for a visit.

NEFA 1994.039.11    Transcription
P: Jimmie Thain
T: What would they sing?

S:
They would sing cornkisters and "roch sangs" or just bothy songs. Drumdelgie, Nichy Tams, the Hash o Bennagoak, Bogie's Bonnie Belle. Remembers them but will not sing them.

NEFA 1994.039.12    Transcription
P: Jimmie Thain
T: Hogmanay
pastimes
S: 
Hogmanay they would have a dance and go to the pub. Eightsome reels, waltzes, grand march (first dance), Circassian Circle followed by an old fashioned waltz. There were good bands. Jean Stewart from Fetterangus had a good band. There were some queer tricks tried, like tying folk in their houses, etc. Never anything course but just fun.

NEFA 1994.039.13    Transcription
P: Jimmie Thain
T: Term time dances

S: 
Dances at term time. 28th May, 28th November. You finished at twelve o'clock on the 28th and then got the next day off. Always went to Maud feeing fair. Everyone was there even if they were not looking for a fee, it was the only day off. The farmer would come up to you and then you would haggle about the fee, etc.

NEFA 1994.039.14-15    Transcription
P: Jimmie Thain
T: Feein for a drink

S: 
Anecdote about farmer and his son who took him in for a good drink, but he did not agree to go. he got the drink without the fee! At that farm four times. He left and was invited back for more money.

NEFA 1994.039.16    Transcription
P: Jimmie Thain
T: 
Feeing and enlistment
S: 
There would be stalls at the feeing markets. Travellers would sell paper roses and such like, keeping the police away. The Gordon Highlanders would be there. They would get drunken lads to agree. If you could not get a fee, you might enlist.

NEFA 1994.039.17    Transcription
P: Jimmie Thain
T: 
The end of the markets and fairs
S: 
The fairs wound down and the tractors came in. The market in Maud stopped about 1942. Still got their holiday and went to Maud for a dram.

NEFA 1994.039.18    Transcription
P: Jimmie Thain
T: 
Candlemas rhyme
S: 
Has heard Candlemas Rhyme, starts reciting it. [End of side A.]

NEFA 1994.039.19    Transcription
P: Jimmie Thain
T: 
Changing from bothies
S: 
Not bothies now, now horses, just shelts and ponies.

NEFA 1994.039.20    Transcription
P: Jimmie Thain
T: 
School days
S: 
Gone to school in New Deer. Remembers the laird, Dingwall Fordyce. Had a Rolls-Royce. There was a chaufeur. Dingwall Fordyce helped out the boy scouts. New Deer show was held in the Pleasure Park. Cattle show, not really a sale, though there was some inside dealing. Then there was a rabbit show. It was in July and then there was another in August.

NEFA 1994.039.21    Transcription
P: Jimmie Thain
T: 
Aikey Fair
S: The fair was held
Wednesday and Sunday. There would be horse selling and drink. There would be fortune tellers, amusements and selling things out of vans. People came every year from far and near.

NEFA 1994.039.22    Transcription
P: Jimmie Thain
T: 
Harvest
S: 
Meal and ales were dying out by the time he came along. Later there were evenings out at the local school. Meal and Ale is a brose made with ale. He never liked it, but preferred the morning brose.

NEFA 1994.039.23    Transcription
P: Jimmie Thain
T: 
Jock Strachan, Crichie
S: Strachan
hired him as second horseman at a farm near Methlick. He was glad to get away from the farm he was at before. He seldom saw Jock. Geordie Will was the grieve at that time. Jock used to sing on the telly. Used to play the old fashioned concertina. He could play behind his back. He would be there. Once Jock set Jimmie's plough for him and went down the road saying that JT must be swearing at him. He was an ill trickit man. Once he attached the cart to the hames. But JT seldom saw him. Mostly saw the grieve. Had a course little devil of a horse. Big plough used to use three horses.

NEFA 1994.039.24    Transcription
P: Jimmie Thain
T: 
Cattle and horses
S: 
Preferred cattle to horses. Cattle man would feed them, breed them, supervise suckling, etc. Not so much walking as a cattleman and you were one your own. You were inside more too. The cattle would go away to market on floats. You would walk them to Maud in the summer.

NEFA 1994.039.25    Transcription
P: Jimmie Thain
T: 
Sheep at Crichie
S: 
Had three hundred hogs (sheep), but Jimmie never liked them. They made a mess of everything. Only a big farm would have a shepherd, the farmer usually looked after them.

NEFA 1994.039.26    Transcription
P: Jimmie Thain
T: 
Mutton and meat on a fee
S: 
People didn't get much mutton on a farm because you did not get much meat on any farm at that time. Perhaps you would get beef on a Sunday.

NEFA 1994.039.27    Transcription
P: Jimmie Thain
T: 
Feeing conditions
S:
You would get your fire and your food on a farm. You would go to bed at about nine after you sorted your horse. Then to bed on a caaf matress. It was changed every year, but you had to be careful not to get prickles. The maid would turn it every week or so. Plenty of blankets, and pretty comfortable. He's seen a railway carriage that was cold but a bothy was not too bad. Anecdote about drunken farmer. He left after two weeks and started at Mains o Auchleddie the following Monday. Someone knew he had left and he got the offer. Went to local shop for a dram on Saturday, and the next morning a farmer came to him with an offer. Names farms where he worked.

NEFA 1994.039.28    Transcription
P: Jimmie Thain
T: 
Shifting at term time
S:
Once the weekly wages came in it was easier to shift. During the war you could not shift, or you would be called up. Jimmie was discharged unfit, so he was free to come and go as he pleased. He passed physical, but others were amazed that he was let in at all. He was tested to see if he was shamming, 1940. That's when he went to work for Jock Strachan, till November when he moved on. Sometimes the lads made a bad move. Sometimes they would not be asked to bide on and so had to movve.

NEFA 1994.039.29    Transcription
P: Jimmie Thain
T: 
How did farmers know you were looking for a fee?
S: T
hey did nothing to indicate that they were for feeing, the farmers just knew. You had your blue suit and in those days you had just the one suit.

NEFA 1994.039.30    Transcription
P: Jimmie Thain
T: 
Going to church
S: 
Went to kirk until 1942. Not a lot went to church. You had to work every second weekend and you would have to change your kirk every six months. Still does not go to church.

NEFA 1994.039.31    Transcription
P: Jimmie Thain
T: 
Agricultural college work
S: [Eventually
got a job at the Agricultural college.] [End of Tape]

 

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