Page 18 - Johnny Murphy, North East Margaree
ISSUE : Issue 18
Published by Ronald Caplan on 1977/12/1
Johnny Murphy, North East Margaree You know, we were very poor. In order to exist, you had to pretty well learn sound. My grandmother, she used to make a lot of cake and cookies for a daughter of hers that lived two miles out here. And she'd hide them • in a trunk she had. She had a bunch of keys, the keys for these trunks and the keys for the door. My brother would want to find those keys. He stood up on the table and I put my ear on the floor and he'd jump off the table and I'd hear where the keys were at. Sort of a matter of sur? vival. If the keys were hanging on the wall anywhere you'd hear them rattling. If they were on the floor, if she hid them under a mat • we'd find those keys, it didn't matter where she ever hid them. My father used to play music. Used to play the violin. I was only a year and a half old when he died. He was only 32 or Jk • got cold I guess. He had had a bad experience before. Him and my cousin got lost, looking for cattle. It was in June or July. The cattle used to go chase what they call this cow cabbage. They followed till-they got way back and they got lost. And I don't think that he ever got over that night in the woods. He was a carpenter as well. I know when they built that big barn he could walk the ridgepole before there were shin? gles. But he couldn't go up after that night in the woods. Then after that he took sick. There was an old 0*Ryan fellow, he was going home with a load of hay • the road was right below the house • and the wheel of the cart broke. My father went to help this old fellow with his cart. And. he had the cold. I believe he had been working making something in the forge • and he was warm. And he got cold then. He helped this old fellow get the wheel on the cart so he could get home • but he didn't live too Jong after that. Turned to pneumonia, I imagine. And that left my mother with three of us. I was only a year and a half old. I often wondered, how did she raise us? When I was a little boy, we had no money at all, but there's something I can tell you. I was coming from school, in Frizzleton • they call it now Margaree Centre • and I met this man with a horse and wagon, little red horse. I can remember it as well as if it was yesterday. He said to me, "What's your name?" I told him. He said, "Your father's dead, ain't he?" • and I said, "Yes." He said, "I knew your father quite well. He used to run a cheese factory." And he gave me a quarter. Well, look here, Johnny Miles wouldn't catch me going home with that. And I had a job to convince my mother I didn't steal it on somebody. You imagine. That was a lot of money, I'm telling you. (When did you first hear music?) Well, this Dan Young was building my mother's house. He played the violin and he was a beautiful singer too. He happened to come to the house, brought his fiddle. And I was crazy about it, I just loved it. That's how I came to play. But he didn't teach me. I just picked it up on my own. My father had had a violin, and I was awful anxious to hear what it would sound like. So I told my brother if he'd learn to play the fiddle, I'd steal eggs on my mother ajid take them sind sell them and get fiddle strings. And he'd get my father's fiddle. And I got the strings and got old Dan Young to put them on for him • but he didn't make a very good success of it. So I decided I'd try. So first time I tried I could play a tune on one string. But I couldn't time the thing. But I started from that. I had to steal about three or four dozen to get the fiddle strings. Just keep gathering
Cape Breton's Magazine