Mrs Phylis Harvey recalls the lasting effects of WWI

Phylis Harvey interviewed by Robert McQuistan at Creetown. Phylis recalls a frequent visitor to her childhood home.

  • Interviewed: May 2012.
  • Ref: DG2/1/1/2.
  • © European Ethnological Research Centre, 2012.

PH: We also had a tramp that came every year, auld Wullie. And when ever the sky went dark, that man came. And, he never knocked, he never did onything he jist went intae the barn, went up on tae the – where, the potato loft, whaur it was new wood and a staircase up tae it – and there was a single bed there. And ma mother always waashed two blankets and folded them and put them on the end of the (get away), in her spare time.  (In her free time) At the end of the bed. And in the mornin these feet would come doon, ah can picture it yet. And she would say, ‘Oh, here’s Wullie comin.’ Now he was excellent because he would, if it wis snowy and the kye wurnae oot, he wid carry watter, he would bed them doon, he would muck the byre.

RMcQ: He would earn his keep.

PH: Of course he did. He wis an auld sodger that had been through the Somme and couldn’t settle. So he wis on the road wi his bag on his back.

I’n’t that interestin.

PH: Ah don’t know. It’s so sad ah could greet when ah think aboot it.

RMcQ: Puir fella, puir fella.

PH: And he wis so kind tae us. So kind tae Doreen [her sister] and me. Ma mother never even thought that we’d be ocht [to be worry about] when we were oot playin.

RMcQ: No. Nae danger, No, no, no.

PH:Nothing at all, it wis excellent. And the next thing was, when the snow would be by or whatever he’d come in, he fed at the table wi us. He never was given (no, no) something – He had his fried brakefast, his 3 course meal at dinner time and whatever wis goin. Ye always had yer porridge at night with something. And he got a this and he jist, went back up – what he did was, the straw that wis in the end o the barn, he used to take, he always cleared it away before he left and he took new straw up and it put it on the bed and he had his twa blankets to pull-up over himself, and that wis him.

RMcQ:Getaway. And how lang wid he stiy fir?

PH: Till the snow went. It could be a fortnight, could be a month.

And then wid he have gone tae the next fairm and do the same thing?

PH: He would, ma mother would never know, unless she went oot tae feed the hens. Everything wis cleared away and ye wid see him goin’up towards Billy’s Brig and he would be goin oot ower that way.

RMcQ: Gang tae the next fairm?

PH: No. He wid maybe gang tae Langholm, before he wid stop again.

RMcQ: And what, what, he wouldnae walk tae Langholm in a day?

PH: Oh no! But he would stop-off at different places, sleepin at, in a hiystack or a whatever happened to be there, hm mh.