Page 24 - Wilfred Best: "The Merchant's Song"
ISSUE : Issue 44
Published by Ronald Caplan on 1987/1/1
said, "I want 50c too." "Well," he said, "I haven't got 50c, all I've got is a dol? lar." So he gave us a dollar each! So he went to mark it in the book. He said, "You never ever got paid for all the work you did here this spring." I said, "No. I told Mack to put it toward my father's bill"-- or something, whatever word I used. I fin? ally went in one day, and they gave me the money. Mae: You thought you were rich then. Wilfred: Oh gosh, I don't know. It wasn't very much, but it was a lot then, though. (But normally you wouldn't get it.) No, no. See, everybody built their own boats those days there. They built their own homes. But if they wanted an engine for the boat, well they just went to the merchant, and they'd get them the engine. But the en? gines they were using then, they cost a- bout $210. Mae: I don't know how they would have got? ten along without the merchants to back them up, because they had no cash to buy anything themselves. So they really de? pended on them to give them a start. So in that way, I mean, it sounds bad when you just hear one side of the story, but when you hear both sides of the story, they were very well off in the sense that they were protected. Where they wouldn't have that protection if they weren't there. Times were hard, and fish--you know, it was a rough country down here. Lots of time they'd get in bad storms, they'd lose their gear, everything they had. And there would be no way to replace it if it wasn't for those people. (You mustn't think that I take the atti? tude that the merchants were just evil.) So many of the old songs depict how bad they were. (To be honest with you, on one hand I don't feel that they were evil, evil people. On the other hand, I feel that they could have given the people a little bit more.) They took advantage, that's for sure. They took advantage-- there's no two ways about that. Wilfred: They had everything in the store. Everything you wanted, shoes, clothes..Of course, the women mostly made their dresses then--they had great bolts of cloth there. Everything there. If you wanted a pair of shoes, all you had to do was go over in the store to get it. If you wanted a suit of clothes, you could go in there and get it. Anything at all. They had more stuff then than they've got now. Mae: That's the way with the world. You get a people who probably aren't as well educated as they could be or might be, and you get a class of people who want power, and they want to make use of, you know, the way people are. Wilfred: It was done all over the country.. Below: Jack Lawrence, who is considered by some to be the maker of "The Merchant's Song." Do you know more about this song? Photo courtesy of Jack Lawrence's WHY GO WITH THE IMITATORS WHEN YOU CAN STAY WITH THE ORIGINATORS? The originator of: The Shine Guaranteed for Life , The Ultimate Protection for 86 Reeves St. Sydney, N. S 539-1630 (24) i lauaranieeq Tor une g Your Car '''jt'U HOBBY HUT The Knitting & Craft Stiop Commercial St., North Sydney, N. S. Tel. 794-7774 Pure Wool & Synthetic Yarns Knitting Needles & Patterns Smocking Supplies Locally Made_Ceramics Artists' Boards Sewing Notions Knitted Items Wide Range of Craft Supplies
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