This is a tale told in verse, but it captures every day life of the old man back when I was of school age, about his dry humour.
His pipe that he was never without, he had three caps and a top hat all for different occasions, (One cap to do the milking in, one to work about the farms in and his best cap to go to town in, the bowler was used at funerals).
And how his sister made the tea for the harvest men ---- with beastings (cows first milk) they were very frugal and thrifty, nothing ever wasted.
Owd Tom Abbotts (1886-1968)
Owd Tom Abbotts lived in a cottage, with his sister Nell,
They kept three cows and calves, and a few old hens as well,
Cattle grazed across four acres, the rest was mown for hay,
In his garden he grew his mangols, fed in short winters day.
He helped his neighbours, when they’re short handed,
With drilling hoeing weeding, with others he was banded,
At harvest time he stacked bays, till in the roof was bound,
Longest ladder then was cast, him get back to ground.
All the years I knew him, he always had some wit,
Smoked a pipe and chewed tabaca, and showed us how to spit,
He had a bike sit-up-and beg, handle bars reached his chest,
On Friday went to town on it, his hat he wore his best.
His shopping bag hung on his bike, a long carpet bag it was,
All stitched up on either side, flat by front wheel because,
When it was loaded it was safe, hung by strong loops of cord,
Should it be carried in his hand, it almost dragged with the hoard.
As a young man stood up straight, he’d be all of five foot eight,
Old and stooped and round of back, shorter still as life dictate,
Feet a splayed for easy stance, and knees a slight of bend,
One thumb hooked in waist coat pocket, tuther to pipe distend.
He always had a cheery smile, his eyes were almost closed,
When he had a dam good laugh, tears ran down his pointed nose,
His face was brown and ruddy, from working in all weathers,
On his nose and chin could see, red veins mapped all his features.
On his feet were black boots, well up above his ankle laced,
His trousers had a gusset, hold his expanding tummy braced,
It was a different colour , and could see when he bent over,
And buttons of his bracers , straining hard to cotton anchor.
Waistcoat matched his trousers, a suit some point decide,
Ten buttons some were missing, four pockets two each side,
One it held his pocket watch, secured to button hole with chain,
Another held his match box, England’s Glory was it by name.
His jacket didn’t quite match, been stitched around the collar,
Pockets drooped like open mouth, weighed down as if to cower,
In one was his bacca pouch, top pocket reserved for pipe,
Pipe was mostly in his mouth, not always did he light.
He carried a little pocket knife, his baccy Twist to cut,
When he rubbed it in his palm, into his pipe he put,
With cupped hand around his pipe, he lit it with a match,
Puff and suck till it was lit, mid curls of smoke detach.
Eventually it went out again , and back into top pocket,
Out with the Twist and cut a knob, chew into old tooth socket,
This is where he learned all us kids, to squit with baccy juice,
It went with long streak so far, to reach his poor old goose.
Tommy had a bowler hat , kept on peg inside of his back door,
As kids he let us try it on, and asked him what it was for,
It was used to go to town in, now for only funerals touted,
He kept it brushed and steamed, though it become out dated.
Now it was only flat caps, that he was nare without,
Into town he used his best, to walk around see whose about,
One was used to milk his cows, grease and cow muck plastered
And one used round house and village, not so much it mattered.
Tommy’s ears were large and thin, for a man so short,
Ragged round the top edge, frost bite they must have caught,
They tucked back nice and even, his cap they’re there to hold,
His head he kept it nice and warm, ears out in the cold.
His garden always nicely dug, and cow muck spread a plenty,
Grew his household veg and spuds, and runner beans a bounty,
The biggest plot was that of mangols, for his pampered cows,
The three of them all bedded up, roots chopped for them to brows.
We called round my dad and me, and Nelly made us a cup of tea,
One of Tom’s cows had calved, the others had dried off you see,
Milk she poured all rich and yellow, beestings from his old cow,
She had to stir most vigorously, tea too rich to drink right now.
In winter time when he was younger, Tom he carted coal,
Picked it up from Bridgeford Station, Seighford was his goal,
Brought it over Bridgeford bank , with donkey and a cart,
This it filled the time o’er winter, before drilling corn did start.
So it was that he got too old, to work about the farms,
Even gave up his cows and garden, that he loved and charmed,
Then he lost his sister Nell, and lived a few more years alone,
He himself succumbed to life, both in Seighford neath headstone.
Here I should have put a picture of their tomb stone in the Church Yard of St. Chads