It wasn’t as grand a place when Bert’s father’s family bought the house and the land sometime in the 1940s. By the time Bert’s mother married his father and came to live there the family consisted of Bert’s grandfather, his father, and his father’s two brothers Bobby and Andy. It was certainly ‘some handlin’’ for Pearlie taking on the job of looking after four grown men and as she said herself, “Sure nobody would do it nowadays.”
There was no talk of getting your own place then. People only left home to get married or, if times were hard, to find work abroad either in England or America. Eventually Bobby found a woman to take him but Andy did not marry and it was only natural that he should stay at home to help with the farm work. At that time people’s living expenses were not so great and it would have been much more economical to have family members work for their keep than to hire outside labour. Uncle Andy would not have needed much to keep him happy. A shilling or two would have taken him out, bought clothes could be mended, jumpers and socks knitted, darned and worn for years. As long as there was a decent suit for Church and the Lodge nothing more was needed. As for food a bit of extra flour, a few more laying hens and another drill or two of potatoes planted was all that was needed there.
By all accounts Uncle Andy was a crabbit, short-tempered man and he and Bert were often at odds with each other. As Bert grew up he took delight in torturing the poor man. He says he remembers Andy going for him with a pitchfork and his father having to intervene. But Bert’s best ruse ever was to rig Andy’s iron bedstead to the electric fencing unit. Imagine the excited anticipation of Bert as he waited for his uncle to retire for the night knowing that as soon as Andy touched the bed that the volts would go coursing through him. Not enough to harm him but enough to discomfit and annoy him and to bring joy to Bert’s black heart.
Now all those men are gone and only Pearlie and Bert are left.
So when I mentioned to Bert, that until our new beds are delivered, he’d be sleeping in the big brass bed in Uncle Andy’s room he said,
“I can’t sleep in Uncle Andy’s room. That’s the haunted room!”Little wonder Bert’s worried. His conscience may be bothering him. Andy died from heart trouble. Who knows if the stress Bert caused him didn’t hasten his end.