Thomas Evans, Tom Bodgrugyn.
I came into this old world in 1910 and was lovingly brought up by the best of mothers. Note I don’t mention a father. She was exceptional with me and was both mother and father to me in the truest sense of the word. She was from Penygroes but after a bereavement came to live to Bodgrugyn. The Bodgrugyn family were also kind to me.
It was an old cottage with a “Simne fawr”(inglenook fire), mother would bake bread, I remember her baking bread on the griddle. We children would gather heather and dried cow dung, great stuff for making fires. The old women of Rhiw would gather dried cow dung, their sackcloth aprons full to the brim they would then empty them into to sacks and you’d see them carrying their sacks for home. I doubt if anyone wears sackcloth aprons anymore.
How tasty the bread from the griddle was, but do you know what we liked best the unleavened bread mother made after baking with plenty of fresh farmhouse butter, it was heavenly.
Mother would churn of course turning the old square churn with the handle, quite a task, but the butter was well worth it, and old Griffith Jos Penmynydd an old boy with a long white beard used to take note of churning days on the various farms and come along to collect the “green butter”.
This was the butter that would drop off between the handle and the churn, the old fellow would collect old polish tins and put the ointment he made in them. He’d gather puff balls from the fields, dried ones were best, then combine the powder with the “green butter” to make the ointment and sell them for tuppence a tin. It was good stuff for chilblains a real cure Needless to say mother got hers free in exchange for the butter.
Now I know you’ll laugh at me and probably won’t believe me but the story I’m going to tell you now is the God ‘s honest truth. There was a place further down from our house called Bodgrugyn bach and my mother had warned us not to go anywhere near it, especially if it was misty as it was where the fairies lived and they’d be sure to come after us. I was eight at the time and my brother Guto about four, when one Sunday afternoon we decided to go and pick some blackberries, it was misty at the time and as children do we went against what our mother had told us and headed for Bodgrugyn Bach Having picked some blackberries we sat upon a large stone and decided to share out the blackberries, I could take you to that stone now I remember it so well, mind you it would probably be smaller!! Suddenly out of the gorse bushes there appeared a little creature a small Blackman, black as pitch he was running towards us and I grabbed my little brother and we both ran as fast as we could crying our hearts out. He chased us for quite a while but suddenly stopped, I’d be able to show you exactly where it’s so vivid in my mind. You can say what you like but I’m telling you the little people are real enough to me.
We went to Rhiw school it was only five minutes walk from our house. We used to write on slate with stone I used to get my stone from the hedges on the way to school, they were always the right shape.
The first teacher we had was called “Dewythr” (uncle) I can’t for the life of me think what his real name was. One day we were all gathered for prayers when all of a sudden “Dewythr” stopped and asked Tom Man Garreg what was hanging out of his pocket “ A snare sir” he replied, imagine poachers in school, they were good though!!!
I also remember Dafydd Erw coming to school late one morning he’d just had a haircut and “Dewyrth said “Where did that turnip-head come from?” He was a character was old “Dewythr”
Then came R. H. Griffith as schoolmaster, he was a young man at the time, quite a poet. I have to tell you that I was quite a bit of a scholar, but of course mother couldn’t afford to send me further than Rhiw school , but do you know what Griffiths did he created standard 7 specially for Iola Foel, Mary Syntyr, and myself.
At fourteen I left to work on farms gathering corn at first working three or four days and on Saturday afternoons being rewarded with five shillings it seemed like a fortune at the time.
My first real job was with Mr and Mrs Rice I was there for a season and had £6.10.0. Each morning I’d walk about half a mile from there to a place called Tyddyn Engan, back for lunch and then back again for supper with a pitcher full of milk after milking and doing the chores.
Then I went to Lewis Griffiths at Trewan. I was there for a season for which I was paid £7.0.0. One evening I went from there to Aberdaron on my bike it was a really dark night and although the carbide lamp worked it didn’t throw much light.
I can’t really remember why I went to Aberdaron that night but I’d started off soon enough, as I was going past Morfa Mawr someone with a lantern in his hand stopped me and asked “Do you Know who this is?” there was a man lying in the ditch.
“He’s dead” said the man with the lantern “Go to Aberdaron and fetch the policeman”.
Well I did just that and when I returned to Morfa Mawr there was quite a crowd gathered. Talk about being terrified all the way home all I could see was this man lying dead in the ditch, passing Llandegwning graveyard was the worst!!! I learnt later that the dead man was from Aberdaron.
Griffith Williams, Bryn Awel.
Meillionydd was the next farm I worked at they had six servants at the time as well as two sons. It was during my season at Meillionydd that the farmworkers union came into being. Griffith Williams Bryn Awel Rhiw used to collect the dues a groat a week as I recall. I remember one very important Saturday we all got together to make “club eyes”. Do you know what they were? Well I’ll tell you they were clubs with hook shapes used for beatings. We’d heard that the servants of Bodwrdda were refusing to join the union and we were hell bent on giving them a beating. However they did join and no we didn’t give them a beating after all!!!
Off to Trygarn next, but whilst there I became ill, really ill and for thirteen weeks, old Dr Jones from Botwnnog visited me every day. He was a good Dr Bless his soul.
My next job was at Cefn Isa Cricieth, Eifionydd farmers paid much better wages than their Llyn counterparts and many young men went from Llyn to work to Eifionydd , after that it was to Llanaelhaearn to Richard Hughes’s he was a good Christian. Note I didn’t use the word religious. There are plenty of religious people but very few Christians .Richard Hughes asked me when taking me on “Which church do you go to?” “I don’t mind which one just as long as you do”
I went to chapel with the other lads even though I’m a churchman still I’ve been church warden now for twenty six years.
In those days Sundays were sacred and you wouldn’t dare do anything, when we lads gathered at Pentra Bach we’d only have to see Richard Hughes’s hat coming around the corner and we’d scarper to wherever we worshipped.
Bodwyddog was followed by Carreg Plas which is where I met my wife, she was a maid at Ty Isa. It was at the “Shrove Tuesday Eisteddfod” at Rhoshirwaun that I first set eyes on her I thought she was gorgeous and we’ve been together now for forty three years and have six children.
I was a rabbit catcher then with my father in law to be honest there was a plague of them we used to get 1/6 a pair for them.
“Where did you learn to sing Thomas?”
Gosh in the Rhiw Male voice choir of course. There were about thirty or more young men in the choir, the strange thing is most people born in Rhiw could sing. We’d meet at the old chapel house in Tanyfoel, no organ or anything just the old tuning pitch. John Jones Terfyn was the conductor he was really good, but sometimes he’d be poorly and Griffith Williams Bryn Awel would take his place as conductor. He’d walk all the way from Neigwl Plas now that’s what I call dedication. We’d sing in small groups folk songs like “Mari Lon”.
In 1940 the King sent me a letter asking if I’d become one of his servants, the job came with a suit, a khaki one!!! I don’t like talking about that old war but I’ll have to tell you this one. As pagan as I was and still am no doubt, I always read my bible each morning. Some of the lads on the boat to North Africa shouted at me one day “Taffy throw that bloody book away” A few nights after we’d arrived in North Africa we had a terrible battle “Jerries” were bombing and shooting at us and our lads rifles were red hot. By morning our section was told to pitch up a small camp and the sergeant told us to rest and gave us cocoa to drink, whilst in the camp one of the lads asked “Where your book Taffy? Read Taffy” I explained that my bible was welsh “Makes no difference Taff there’s something in that book of yours after all”
I read it to them every morning after that.
Yes indeed there is something in
that “Old Book”.
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