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16 October 2014

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How Tommy Became a Man

By Thomas Dodge
February 2006, Aberdare
A digital story from Capture Wales

Becoming a Man

Tommy remembers how he was only yen years old when he became a man.

"My father was 15 when he was working in the pit and he has his leg off... and of course, that meant that he couldn't work underground anymore, so they gave him a job on top of the pit... and he worked there, and he married my mother and he started a family. The pit closed down.

Now my father, he used to be a good provider. He had a huge garden... and we had a few chickens - I think about half a dozen, no more - so him and his friends, they got together and they did this huge chicken run, as we used to call them in them days, and of course, they started selling the chicken eggs.

We had a dog then, Spot - cross, wire haired terrier. His eyes used to shine, his tail always wagging.

My father taught him to go up to the chicken shed, open the door... so Spot would push himself in, the door would close. Now we knew when the chickens were laying because they always used to go, "Buck, buck, buck-ah! Buck, buck, buck-ah! Buck, buck, buck-ah!"... and you knew they were laying, they would lay in the morning and they'd lay in the evening... you always knew that they laid because you could hear it from outside, "Buck, buck, buck-ah! Buck, buck, buck-ah! Buck, buck, buck-ah!"

...and all them chickens you know. There must've been about 70 odd chickens we had at that time.

So he used to shove his head under a hen, pull her off if he could, if not, he'd take the eggs!... open the door, come down and my mother would be there coaching him and she had this white apron and he'd come and he'd put the egg there... she'd put it in the dish and off he'd go and get another one. Now, this took about an hour every morning.

Well, it came. I was about ten years old, I think it was... must've been about ten, when mother said now, "It's about time you had a job." All my sisters had jobs, you know.

I said, "Aye, alright Mam."

She said, "You're in charge of the dog now to get the eggs!"

And it's always stuck in mind. I thought well I'm ten years old and I'm doing a man's job and Tommy became a man. I've always remembered that."

Thomas Dodge

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