Gwynedd County Council tape 13: interview for oral history project. Sample containing about 7235 words speech recorded in leisure context

4 speakers recorded by respondent number C374

PS2W2 X m (No name, age unknown, historian, Interviewer) unspecified
PS2W3 Ag5 m (Aled, age 76, entrepreneur, Interviewee) unspecified
HETPSUNK (respondent W0000) X u (Unknown speaker, age unknown) other
HETPSUGP (respondent W000M) X u (Group of unknown speakers, age unknown) other

1 recordings

  1. Tape 103901 recorded on 1986. LocationGwynedd: Caernarfonshire () Activity: Interview for oral history project Interview/reminiscences

Undivided text

(PS2W2) [1] Er erm about the [...] it doesn't matter about my voice you see there.
[2] Erm about working in the office of the Brothers in Porthmadog.
Aled (PS2W3) [3] Well Brothers were very early early organized er slate merchants in Porthmadog.
[4] Started by my uncle by marriage, Jonathan of [...] , and his brother Richard of [...] .
[5] And as I understand it they came down from somewhere er near [...] they obviously were involved in the slate business and then they or organized their own firm Brothers and I believe it was about seventeen er eighty nine, maybe earlier.
[6] And their of first office as I recall as a little boy, was on the q quay as we used to say in Porthmadog .
(PS2W2) [7] Yeah.
Aled (PS2W3) [8] Now whether it was n near grave's quay or wherever it was, they had a a quay there and of course they had a quay in [...] .
(PS2W2) [9] Yes.
Aled (PS2W3) [10] Er where the [...] used to bring the slates down from
(PS2W2) [11] Yes.
Aled (PS2W3) [12] Festinniog and those who went by by train would be transferred to the quay in .
(PS2W2) [13] Yeah.
Aled (PS2W3) [14] Those going by sea of course came right down to the quay in in Porthmadog .
(PS2W2) [15] Yeah.
[16] Would the offices be on the side of where
Aled (PS2W3) [17] Yes.
(PS2W2) [18] Yes.
[19] [...] Hill, Hill that would be [...]
Aled (PS2W3) [20] I think it'd be in that direction.
(PS2W2) [21] Yes.
[22] Fine.
Aled (PS2W3) [23] If if we were walking down there now I think I could probably give you the er exact place where it was because I've got a young memory of going in there, we used to er walk around the the [...] you see. [break in recording]
Aled (PS2W3) [24] Er er shall I go on now?
(PS2W2) [25] Yes, yeah.
Aled (PS2W3) [26] Well I suppose I should introduce myself.
[27] Er since I'm experting on my very early youth.
[28] My name is Aled Pierce and I was born in the [...] on November the eighth nineteen ten.
[29] And er my mother Janet Hughes was a s sister to Mrs Jonathan [...] .
[30] And Jonathan was justice of the peace and quite a leader in [...] ar area.
[31] After my father's death in twenty three, he was executive of the estate and my guardian.
[32] Co-guardian with my mother.
[33] So I have close contact with the [...] family from from my childhood.
[34] And anyway erm I first went to and the money ran out and so Grammar School, and then er I was transferred to PorthMadog County School where er Jonathan at that time was chairman of the board of governors.
[35] And after some slight difficulty I wasn't a very good student, er I finished early before There was no chance of my passing matric anyway.
[36] It would have been a w waste of time.
[37] So I became er an office boy at Brothers.
[38] By this time they had purchased a building which had been I think a a bank or a savings bank or something at Street in Porthmadog.
[39] And that's where I served as an office boy, kind of a a latter day Bob Cratchitt.
(PS2W2) [40] How old were you then?
Aled (PS2W3) [41] Well I was between sixteen and seventeen because I think I started r er working there in the ... mid Summer or or m early Spring of twenty seven, and worked there through that period, all through nineteen twenty eight, then I emigrated to the United States in nineteen twenty nine.
[42] So I was between say sixteen and seventeen and erm Brothers er by this time of course, Mr Richard was dead.
[43] And his son in law O J , had become one of the partners and my cousin [...] was one of the partners, but old Jonathan was still the senior partner.
[44] The rest of the staff was W old W J , who had been who had worked in the central Post Office I think in London, very well trained in in er office management and so on so on.
[45] And then your cousin er Margaret . [...]
(PS2W2) [...]
Aled (PS2W3) [46] [...] .
[47] And then er [...] James was a doctor of Captain James and er a daughter of Captain James [...] .
[48] She had another sister by name of Nellie, went to school with me in in Porthmadog and another one older, I've forgotten what her name was.
[49] But we were the staff and er er my uncle Jonathan was a very victorian in every way.
[50] I think he was er at one time, head of the er Calvinistic Methodist Church and he was a great chapel goer.
[51] And a very strict man and er his word was law.
[52] Now [...] and Robert were in the front room sharing a room, and uncle Jonathan had his own room upstairs and there was a little bathroom up there.
[53] And then we were down below and er there was erm a table with some antique typewriters on it.
[54] And then we had the desks, sloped desks so that these huge big er
(PS2W2) [55] Ledgers?
Aled (PS2W3) [56] ledgers that are now on the archives could be l placed down there and fascinated me because he could add a column of pounds, shillings and pence, he'd take his three fingers at the bottom of the long ledger column, and as fast practically like a computer, would add to the top and then put it in pencil.
[57] And then And never made a mistake of course, he tried to teach me but it was just a waste of time.
[58] But anyway I did have to do some of them.
[59] But my basic job would be kind of a dogsbody for everybody.
[60] I had to keep the fire going for example and I had to ... go and get er some e Eccles cakes for Uncle Jonathan for his tea.
[61] And the telephone number I remember to this day, was Porthmadog so that shows it was at least probably the telephone to to go into being in Porthmadog.
(PS2W2) [62] He didn't like using the telephone.
Aled (PS2W3) [63] But er Uncle Jonathan only used the telephone if if absolutely essential.
[64] And necessary.
[65] H he thought that er it was very imperative for orderly behaviour and for a well organized and to put things in writing.
[66] And as a matter of some real interest, he would have a copy made and for example say that er I was a messenger boy among other things, he would er give me a a written hand written And he wrote beautifully.
[67] A hand written note to go to say, er er Lloyd George in George's offices.
[68] And William George of course was still practising at that time.
[69] Down the road.
[70] And and er say [...] send something to William George, or something involving the magistrates cos he was chairman of the of the er of the er
(PS2W2) [71] The bench.
Aled (PS2W3) [72] bench.
[73] And he would then call f ring three times I think [...] maybe it was four times, and it was my my job to then run upstairs and I mean fast, you didn't dawdle.
[74] And, Yes sir?
[75] And he would say, Go on Aled [...] Mr William George [...] .
[76] And he'd have written a thing I'm just using William George as an example of course.
(PS2W2) [77] Yes.
[78] Yeah.
Aled (PS2W3) [79] And he said, Here's the note.
[80] And then he would fold it very carefully and put it in an envelope and then slit the flap he'd he'd not seal the envelope.
[81] And he said, Now, he said, Why do I do this?
[82] Well I had no idea of course.
[83] He said, Well, he said, it's a matter of tradition.
[84] That if you send Number one you should never use any messenger unless the messenger is trustworthy.
[85] And naturally you expect a member of our own family to be trustworthy.
[86] Therefore, he said, you're to show your trust in the messenger, you never seal the envelope.
[87] Then the receiver would know that this was a trustworthy messenger and could treat you accordingly.
[88] Now, he said, if there's any question of doubt, he'll seal it and then the receiver would know there was some question of doubt, and he would seal back the reply.
[89] But if it came unopened, unsealed, he would return the reply unsealed.
[90] He said, That is a showing that people are honest.
[91] Which made quite an impression on me er have you heard of this before Aled?
(PS2W2) [92] No and er what is interesting to me too is that erm in that office, you w w were responsible for carrying me message in the Porthmadog area.
[93] Now erm the letters that were er written, there was always copies made.
Aled (PS2W3) [94] Oh yes.
(PS2W2) [95] How was this done?
Aled (PS2W3) [96] And er this of course er we th the office was being run I would think in the early twenties very much like it was done in the late nineties.
[97] And we had all the equipment that was needed, the only new thing wa was a very aged er er typewriter, maybe
(PS2W2) [98] Mm.
Aled (PS2W3) [99] two.
[100] And there was the best one of course, your cousin was able to use.
[101] So then er [...] and I had to do with the [...] antique .
(PS2W2) [102] The other.
[103] Mm.
Aled (PS2W3) [104] But basically, when my uncle he sometimes would dictate his letters.
[105] And your cousin was one of the first one of the few women I ever knew, who could take shorthand in Welsh.
[106] Because he wrote quite a few letter in Welsh and he would dictate them to er Margaret .
(PS2W2) [107] Margaret.
Aled (PS2W3) [108] And then she'd type them on this special machine that had indelible ink in it.
[109] Then [cough] it was my job to take the original t and take the original because they didn't use erm er black-sheet as we M er Americans call it .
(PS2W2) [110] Carbon.
Aled (PS2W3) [111] D didn't use carbons.
[112] You would take then the original, and you'd put it in the copy press.
[113] [...] there's be books o of they were leather-bound er letter books you see.
[114] And flimsies on them.
[115] And you would take this book and you'd put a hard piece of [...] it was a kind of a a cardboard that wouldn't absorb water I've forgotten what the thing was made of.
[116] You'd put that down first.
[117] Then you'd put the flimsy down.
[118] Er no no the out the the original of the er letter down.
(PS2W2) [119] Yeah.
Aled (PS2W3) [120] Then you'd put the flimsy over it and then there was a kind of a an e an absorbent kind of a rag the right size, not too wet, cos if it was too wet it would run.
[121] And you'd put that on top of the flimsy and you'd close the book and you'd take the book and put it in the letter press and squeeze it [...] Archimedes theory of a screw and this thing My cousin [...] later told me, was bought third hand in eighteen sixty nine.
[122] So God knows where it was built.
[123] And er it's cast iron of course, with a steel screw and then er [...] big brass balls on the end of this thing and then you would squeeze it down and then if you did it correctly, you took it out and the indelible ink, would have transferred the actually letter including the signature on the flimsy which was then filed in the
(PS2W2) [124] Ledger.
Aled (PS2W3) [125] in in in the ledger.
[126] In the letter ledger you see.
[127] For for every amen.
[128] And then you mailed the letter or delivered the letter or whatever was necessary.
(PS2W2) [129] Yeah.
Aled (PS2W3) [130] Now you didn't have to copy everything, but Uncle Jonathan was very meticulous and anything that there would be any debate on, or any discussion on, he always made a copy and it was my job to do this without smearing it.
[131] And if I smeared a copy, God help cos then there'd be a problem.
[132] Er
(PS2W2) [133] How many of these a day would you have?
[134] Was it quite a lot?
Aled (PS2W3) [135] Oh yes, because er we had a lot of letter going back an forth to architects or to other slate merchants or to quarry owners.
(PS2W2) [136] Mm.
Aled (PS2W3) [137] Or er you know er quotations on this ,
(PS2W2) [138] Yes.
Aled (PS2W3) [139] and quotations on that.
[140] And you had to be careful and you had to keep your hands clean.
[141] That was one of the orders, there was a little bathroom down in the in the first floor and the thing that they must not get, was your hands dirty.
[142] Now old wore a black thing afore his shirt, now because he was with ink all over him you see, but he he he didn't do this.
[143] That was my job so therefore my hands had to be constantly clean and that's not easy for a seventeen year old to keep his hands clean all the time but I had to.
[144] And if you did smear it, there was all hell to pay because then, Margaret, your cousin, would have to retype it.
(PS2W2) [145] Yeah.
Aled (PS2W3) [146] And then I'd have the joy of taking it up to Uncle Jonathan to get a new signature and of course he'd know that something had gone wrong and then he'd
(PS2W2) [147] Yeah.
Aled (PS2W3) [148] looked over his glasses [...] you see.
[149] And then they had a dumb waiter from er the main office to [...] and ... and Robert's office and and [...] did not suffer fools gladly either.
[150] [laugh] . And so he'd holler down, he wanted a certain book of correspondence and invariably you might put the wrong one in.
[151] And once I nearly got my head flattened, cos I sent up the wrong thing and bang he sent it down and I just got my head out of there in time.
(PS2W2) [laugh]
Aled (PS2W3) [152] But this was a part This was a very dangerous job to stick your nose up in there.
[153] But then.
[154] we had a strong room were some of the very confidential matters, estates and all that kind of stuff, er was kept and some money kept.
[155] And because er as I said, this had originally been a bank or a
(PS2W2) [156] Mm.
Aled (PS2W3) [157] savings and loan or something and this was a big strongroom in there.
[158] And it was a lot lot of fun you see, to to get in there I hope [...] will never hear this, to get in there and squeeze her. [laugh]
(PS2W2) [laugh]
Aled (PS2W3) [159] [laughing] In the strong room. [] [laugh]
(PS2W2) [160] [laugh] Yeah.
Aled (PS2W3) [161] But er then there was erm a desk [...] we had big stools and poor old was trying desperately to get me to add correctly you see, and he'd he'd let me add and then he'd always find there was a mistake in it and he'd try to tell me why.
[162] Didn't carry this, didn't carry that.
[163] But I was supposed to do some of the clerical work.
[164] But he checked every bit of my work of course and so most of the time [...] do it by himself and let and me do other things.
[165] And then the table where the girls sat on their typewriters, then there was a on this on [...] a hall, you came into a hall.
[166] And there was erm a kind of a glass door, a sliding door with a er b bell push on it.
[167] So that if somebody come in to call, they'd pull this thing and then Mr or somebody would open the the sliding door and [...] you see.
[168] [laughing] So [] one time I made a very sad mistake, Somebody pushed the bell, and I opened it and I said, I'll have two bitters.
[169] And it was my Uncle Jonathan.
(PS2W2) [laugh]
Aled (PS2W3) [170] Well this was not very good.
(PS2W2) [laugh]
Aled (PS2W3) [171] So orders were given that I was not under any condition to open that thing unless I knew [laughing] who was there [] .
(PS2W2) [172] [laugh] You also got into trouble about the press didn't you?
Aled (PS2W3) [173] Oh yes.
[174] Trying to impress er and your your cousin, on my strength you know, young men always try to sh show women of any age, how strong they are.
[175] Up to a certain point.
[176] I've reached that point now.
[177] I couldn't fight my way out of a paper bag now [...] .
(PS2W2) [laugh]
Aled (PS2W3) [178] I I was trying to show [...] how tight
(PS2W2) [179] Yeah.
Aled (PS2W3) [180] I could squeeze this
(PS2W2) [181] Yeah.
Aled (PS2W3) [182] thing and cracked it.
[183] So naturally I had to get it with [...] and it was heavier th I don't know how much it weighed, I I I got it by the way, in my barn in farm in Indiana, one of the last relics of Brothers.
[184] And I had to put it on the seat of my bicycle, push it all the way and it'd be a good mile from Street to right across from [...] .
[185] To have them er weld it.
[186] Cos it was cracked, it was useless of course.
[187] And and I had to pay for it of course.
[188] Now I was making ten shillings a week, and I had to pay a penny toll every day to come to ... from [...] office.
[189] And then I had to pay tuppence in [...] cafe for a cup of tea and mother would fix me a sandwich.
[190] And occasionally if I was really flush, I'd buy a little cake for another tuppence you see.
[191] Couldn't afford to go to [...] they was too expensive.
[192] [laugh] Anyway I had to push this thing and had to wait for it.
[193] No no I wasn't allowed to wait for it cos it was gonna take [...] peddled all the way back to do something else.
[194] And the next day I picked it up and of course it was ten shillings, my full ...
(PS2W2) [195] Week's wages.
[196] Yes .
Aled (PS2W3) [197] week's er wages and erm and I'd deservedly so, it was my own damn fault.
(PS2W2) [198] Mhm.
Aled (PS2W3) [199] It was years later that my cousin who dies some years ago, he was ninety two.
[200] Told me that at just about the same age, he did the same thing to try and impress the then girl in in the office.
[201] So anyway that was one of the reasons, when I found that Brothers was slowly going out of business, when I saw last in [...] , and I asked him if er I could have this thing?
[202] And he said, Well, he said, you go and see .
[203] was still there.
[204] This was many years ago now ab ten years ago I guess, so I went and saw and of course, erm Mr was dead and his son was running it and had sold his shares.
[205] But anyway, they allowed this that they didn't have any further use for it that I could have it.
[206] SO I asked some friends of mine who were in the antique business from , Indiana, pick it up.
[207] And I've got it at home.
[208] But er it was interesting that both young men
(PS2W2) [209] Mm.
Aled (PS2W3) [210] s s several decades apart, had broken this about the same place you see.
(PS2W2) [211] When you were in the office,wh was there much contact with overseas countries, were they shipping a lot of slate ?
Aled (PS2W3) [212] Yes there was still some contact with Hamburg, and there was still some contact with other Baltic ports and then there was some contact in repairing of of erm s churches.
[213] I think I think there was som some sent to Chester for example, I think they were doing something in the cathedral in Chester.
(PS2W2) [214] Mm.
Aled (PS2W3) [215] And then you were talking about San Francisco earlier, now there are some churches in San Francisco that had Welsh slate and it must have gone by sea all the way
(PS2W2) [216] Yeah.
Aled (PS2W3) [217] to to to San Francisco [...] before my time.
[218] The one that I remember and I hope that that er the papers are either here in Caernarfon in the archives or p possible in the National Library because my cousin , gave most of the Brothers papers that he had control over
(PS2W2) [219] Mm.
Aled (PS2W3) [220] to the National er
(PS2W2) [221] Library.
Aled (PS2W3) [222] Library in Wales.
[223] And I understand that [...] have given you the balance here.
(PS2W2) [224] Mm.
Aled (PS2W3) [225] So therefore the the Brothers are divided.
[226] And anyway the thing that I remem recall vividly, this happened in nineteen early nineteen twenty eight.
[227] It was years later that I knew all about it.
[228] But the Rockefeller Brothers as you probably know, have spent millions of dollars in redoing er Williamsburg, Virginia which was the colonial capital.
[229] And also where [...] from [...] taught at William and Mary College.
[230] And is buried there.
[231] And er William The college of William and Mary is still going of course.
[232] They're one of the fine universities of Virginia.
[233] But anyway, some lawyer I think in New York, working for Rockefeller Brothers, sent a piece of slate to my Uncle Jonathan, asking him could he tell, what quarry in Wales, this particular tile had come from.
[234] Because the governor's palace was in a state of very sad repair and they had to put a new roof in it.
[235] And they had come to the conclusion that it was not American slate cos there were no quarries in that time.
[236] Even in Pennsylvania, and that this was Welsh slate taken probably from Bristol in Ballast to get tobacco back.
[237] So I cannot tell you now, I can't remember where the quarry was whether it was North Wales Quarry, whether it was Slate Quarry down in in in
(PS2W2) [238] Mm.
Aled (PS2W3) [239] South Wales, because Uncle Jonathan was part owner of the Quarry.
[240] And as you know, the slate's on
(PS2W2) [241] Mm.
Aled (PS2W3) [242] on er er the college here in
(PS2W2) [243] Mm.
Aled (PS2W3) [244] in Bangor.
[245] And but anyway, I remember this inquiry coming in.
[246] And the old man saying exactly what quarry it came from.
(PS2W2) [247] Mm.
Aled (PS2W3) [248] And then writing back to this contact i either in New York or in Virginia or wherever it was, saying that it th they would give him the dimensions of the roof, that they could tell him exactly how many slates they'd need to cover it.
[249] So many squares you see.
(PS2W2) [250] Mm.
[251] Mm.
Aled (PS2W3) [252] So e eventually, in due course, Brothers got the order.
[253] To furnish the slates to reroof the governor's palace in Williamsburg Virginia.
[254] And I hope when you go there e Aled that you'll look at that because that's all Welsh slate.
(PS2W2) [255] Mm.
Aled (PS2W3) [256] And handled by Brothers now.
[257] I I remember working on some of the of the paperwork involved in it.
[258] We had a you know there was a lot of paperwork involved.
[259] We had to but the slates, we had to er g get the right dimensions, the right thickness and all that stuff.
[260] And so I worked on it as as a kid now.
[261] I wasn't er the main one of course because it was
(PS2W2) [262] Mm.
Aled (PS2W3) [263] all very high mucky muck stuff and they wouldn't trust me with anything but at least I did the copying work on it.
(PS2W2) [264] Yeah.
Aled (PS2W3) [265] So it must be in the records somewhere.
(PS2W2) [266] Yeah that's very interesting.
[267] How many slate shippers were there in in PorthMadog when you were in the office, was there another shipper?
Aled (PS2W3) [268] Well was er er er was
(PS2W2) [269] Yeah.
Aled (PS2W3) [270] sending slates and er ... I think I don't know if there are any o er er many of the slate merchants had gone .
(PS2W2) [271] Had gone out of business, yeah.
Aled (PS2W3) [272] There were some of course in in Bangor and Caernarfon.
(PS2W2) [273] Yeah.
[274] Yes.
Aled (PS2W3) [275] From the [...] .
(PS2W2) [276] Yes.
[277] But not in Porthmadog [...]
Aled (PS2W3) [278] Not in Porthmadog I think I think that I think that Brothers probably was the last.
(PS2W2) [279] Yeah. [...]
Aled (PS2W3) [280] Slate merchants.
(PS2W2) [281] Erm David the shipbuilder was still alive then wasn't he I think.
[282] Do you er did [...] but they hadn't built a ship in Porthmadog since nineteen thirteen.
[283] [...] disappeared?
Aled (PS2W3) [284] No I remember I er I don't remember the yard.
(PS2W2) [285] No.
Aled (PS2W3) [286] But I remember so I remember the ships some of the ships in in Porthmadog.
(PS2W2) [287] Yeah.
Aled (PS2W3) [288] Because er on another er matter, my Uncle John John from from er [...] .
[289] During the first war he'd he'd lost a ship and so finally he decided to buy a ship and he bought two little schooners in f in Porthmadog.
[290] One I think was the industry and the other was was it the Brendan that he says in
(PS2W2) [291] Yeah.
[292] Brandon yes.
Aled (PS2W3) [293] Well I remember being aboard the Brandon, because Uncle John came and stayed with us at the cliff and er, er father was at sea somewhere but he came and stayed with us and then he now went down into [...] er to see his captain cos they were sailing on on the tide the next day.
[294] I think they were going somewhere to Ireland, I'm not sure, but they had a load of of slates.
[295] For somewhere and and something else.
[296] May maybe something I don't know what they [...] .
(PS2W2) [297] How many crew would there be on the Brandon?
Aled (PS2W3) [298] About four or five.
[299] And anyway, they sailed cos I was aboard the night before they sailed as a [...] .
[300] This was about nineteen seventeen.
[301] You see I I'd be about seven.
[302] But I was interested in the sea, I wanted to go to sea, and and er Uncle John was my pirate uncle I thought.
(PS2W2) [303] Yeah.
Aled (PS2W3) [304] [...] very fond of.
[305] And erm he'd gone to sea at a very early age and had er [...] both steam and sail and you k I've given you his history, er and he was quite a fellow.
[306] But the only thing I know is that that ship was sunk by the Germans in Cardigan Bay.
[307] Probably the next day.
[308] And I was interested in seeing er er your T V series about this ship from Porthmadog that was sunk in the Mediterranean.
(PS2W2) [309] Yeah.
Aled (PS2W3) [310] But you didn't mention a a thing about a ship being sunk in cardigan Bay.
[311] Maybe you didn't know about it.
[312] Anyway, the only we know is that the lifeboat was washed ashore near [...] , and not a sign of of men on it.
[313] So the men all were lost.
[314] And as I recall, there was some talk that there were some machine gun bullets in in in in the boat.
(PS2W2) [315] In the boat.
[316] Yeah.
Aled (PS2W3) [317] In the boat.
(PS2W2) [318] And this was nineteen seventeen?
Aled (PS2W3) [319] About nineteen seventeen, towards the end of the war.
(PS2W2) [320] Cos there were a lot of losses of course o in [...] after the convoys had been introduced for the ocean thing but they hadn't introduced convoys for inshore.
Aled (PS2W3) [321] That's right.
(PS2W2) [322] And this is where the ships were being lost.
Aled (PS2W3) [323] That's right.
[324] And of course
(PS2W2) [325] Mm.
Aled (PS2W3) [326] a a sailing vessel was duck soup.
(PS2W2) [327] Absolutely.
Aled (PS2W3) [328] And of course er the Cardigan Bay is dangerous for submarines God knows but they were pretty good submariners,
(PS2W2) [329] Yeah.
Aled (PS2W3) [330] the Germans were.
(PS2W2) [331] Yes.
[332] And they would be [...]
Aled (PS2W3) [333] They'd be they'd be on their way If they were going to Ireland, they'd be a a a well away from St Patrick wouldn't they?
(PS2W2) [334] Yes.
[335] Oh absolutely.
[336] No you w to go back to your days in the office, erm you say that there was er er this group of wo people working in the office.
Aled (PS2W3) [337] Yeah.
(PS2W2) [338] Erm ... were there er opportunities for boys in Porthmadog to get erm work or was it a a period when it was difficult to get work?
Aled (PS2W3) [339] Well er don't forget [...] it was it was after the w after the war and the depression.
[340] You see the shell factory at er at [...] had closed down and of course there was a lot of women and er out of work there and boys too.
[341] And the ex the explosives were just starting up.
[342] Th they had been Mi Ministry of munitions works
(PS2W2) [343] Yeah.
Aled (PS2W3) [344] Making T N T in in [...] .
(PS2W2) [345] Yeah.
Aled (PS2W3) [346] And the quarries of course were er the the the pretty dead.
[347] The quarries never fully recovered really after the big strike you know .
(PS2W2) [348] [...] and also of course the fact that the German market had closed.
Aled (PS2W3) [349] The German market had closed.
(PS2W2) [350] Which was the reason the raison d'etre
Aled (PS2W3) [351] [...] That's right because you see the the German Mark was worthless.
(PS2W2) [352] Mm.
Aled (PS2W3) [353] In the twenties.
(PS2W2) [354] Yeah.
Aled (PS2W3) [355] And er you you the I even if they wanted to to to buy Welsh slates,
(PS2W2) [356] Mm.
Aled (PS2W3) [357] They didn't have the wherewithal.
(PS2W2) [358] No.
Aled (PS2W3) [359] And of course another thing and and my Uncle Jonathan was a very great liberal and a great believer in free trade, but I think his faith in free trade started to take a a bashing because he was inundated by French and Belgian sl er er not slate er
(PS2W2) [360] Tile.
Aled (PS2W3) [361] Tile.
(PS2W2) [362] Mm.
Aled (PS2W3) [363] Was coming i [break in recording]
Aled (PS2W3) [...]
(PS2W2) [364] Yes.
Aled (PS2W3) [365] in other words, there were very n very little new building
(PS2W2) [366] Mm.
Aled (PS2W3) [367] going on with with with the specifications of of of of slates.
[368] I remember for example having to to to send reams of letters to architects
(PS2W2) [369] Mm.
Aled (PS2W3) [370] and I found that you do not address an architect as Mr Jones, it must be Edward T Jones Esquire.
(PS2W2) [371] [laugh] Yeah.
Aled (PS2W3) [372] And er because they were professional men you see .
(PS2W2) [373] Yeah.
[374] Yeah.
[375] Yeah.
[376] To come back to Jonathan for a moment, you say he was a great liberal, he was an admirer of Lloyd George?
Aled (PS2W3) [377] He was one of [...] Lloyd George's very early supporters.
[378] And er whether this is true or not is immaterial, it's part of the family er story that when Lloyd George was importuned by the this family up in [...] .
[379] Er w and he'd been turned down by [...] and all the other er top lawyers in
(PS2W2) [380] Yeah.
Aled (PS2W3) [381] in in Porthmadog or [...] on taking on er the the Bishop of Bangor, I mean that was taking on
(PS2W2) [382] Mm.
Aled (PS2W3) [383] A pretty important er creature you see.
[384] And er the story's been told many many times that Lloyd George advised them, I've forgotten the name of the old man, but his wife was buried in the churchyard, and his family wanted to bury him next to her, but they wanted the nonconformist
(PS2W2) [385] Mm.
Aled (PS2W3) [386] minister
(PS2W2) [387] Mm.
Aled (PS2W3) [388] to do the the honours.
[389] And of course the disestablishment, disendowment bill had passed but No it had not passed then.
[390] It was one of the things that brought it about but they they could bury her there, but only the Anglican
(PS2W2) [391] Mm.
Aled (PS2W3) [392] priest could er do the honours.
(PS2W2) [393] Mm.
Aled (PS2W3) [394] You know, the nonconformist was anathema.
[395] So Lloyd George as the story goes, advised them to go there with their father and take some crowbars with them, and not to break down the gate, to break down the wall, and take their minister with them and bury their father.
[396] Then he said, the Bishop of Bangor will have to sue you.
[397] Then I'll take the case.
[398] Well he was just a struggling young lawyer in Porthmadog.
[399] But a close personal friend of Jonathan .
[400] Jonathan was a was a coming up he was then, not then a Justice of the Peace but he was a up and coming young young er business man in Porthmadog and of course Porthmadog was a very er prosperous place at that time.
[401] [...] And the slate merchants were doing alright because there were thousands and thousands of tonnes of slate going through their hands.
[402] And so the story goes that he er said he would support David er David G Lloyd George and help on this case.
[403] And the story that I heard which may not be true that he had [...] he didn't have the wig and gown.
[404] Because it eventually went it a high court you remember.
[405] And so er well they hired it from Moss Bros [...] they did, Uncle Jonathan paid the fee, for the rental of the of the gown and whatnot to to try this case.
[406] But that's what I was told, whether it's true or not, maybe the Lloyd George people deny it but there it is.
[407] He didn't have much money you see at that time.
(PS2W2) [408] What else do you remember about Porthmadog, you were talking about it d during the war years now for example when you were a very young boy.
[409] Erm what else do you remember about Porthmadog during that period?
Aled (PS2W3) [410] Well I remember er there was a fella by the name of [...] Have you ever run across him?
[411] Or [...] ?
[412] Who was a second or third officer on the Lusitania.
[413] And he ended up as the port captain for Cunard in New York.
[414] [...] Because they had to keep him there for so damn long in this inquiry er the senate inquiry and all the stuff on the Lusitania.
[415] So he finally they made him port captain for for Cunard and I knew him.
[416] He he was a contemporary of my cousin .
[417] That's one thing I remember.
[418] And then of course there was always ... young men being lost at sea.
[419] And erm my my Mrs Jonathan , my aunt Auntie Bessie, invariably in Porthmadog, went to call on the families of people who'd been lost, as my mother did in in [...] we lost you see in [...] fifty two men killed in world war one.
[420] And er I remember one one day, there was nineteen of them.
[421] maybe it was the battle of the Somme, I don't remember, but I remember I had to go carrying the basket, and mother would go and call on these poor people who had lost their their families.
[422] And occasionally I'd go with Auntie Bessie in in Porthmadog you see.
(PS2W2) [423] Do you remember the any particular vessels being lost?
[424] Do you remember [...]
Aled (PS2W3) [425] The Brandon I remember.
(PS2W2) [426] Yes.
Aled (PS2W3) [427] Because I was aboard her.
(PS2W2) [428] Mhm.
[429] That's right yes.
Aled (PS2W3) [430] But erm
(PS2W2) [431] Did you see any of the other schooners in there?
[432] Do you remember [...]
Aled (PS2W3) [433] Oh yes [...] there used to be a lot of schooners.
[434] Then there was an old ship, the Spooner,
(PS2W2) [435] Yes the Sea Spooner.
Aled (PS2W3) [436] Sea Spooner, now she became a hulk didn't she.
(PS2W2) [437] Yeah.
Aled (PS2W3) [438] And she was laying up by the quay by [...] where they've got those
(PS2W2) [439] Yeah.
Aled (PS2W3) [440] silly buildings now.
[441] But she was there when I was a boy and even when I went to school in Porthmadog.
(PS2W2) [442] Yes.
Aled (PS2W3) [443] When did she b break up eventually?
(PS2W2) [444] Er [...]
Aled (PS2W3) [445] Must have been the thirties.
(PS2W2) [446] Ye yes I think so, yes.
[447] And the Elizabeth came back to er Porthmadog at the end of the war I believe and was erm she was a schooner and also didn't er er David the builder buy some submarines for scrap or something?
Aled (PS2W3) [448] Seems to me that there was some [...] and then of course the Wave of Life [...]
(PS2W2) [449] Yes.
Aled (PS2W3) [450] I rem vaguely remember her.
(PS2W2) [451] You may remember her yes.
[452] Yeah yes .
Aled (PS2W3) [453] Vaguely you see, seeing her puffing up and down.
(PS2W2) [454] Yes.
Aled (PS2W3) [455] We'll stop there erm for a minute.
(PS2W2) [456] Does this make sense? [break in recording]
Aled (PS2W3) [457] Now another er I remember after the war, er 's explosives took over the [...] works in in [...] .
[458] And they started er exporting whatever they were making, explosives.
[459] A lot of them of course went to the quarries, but then they had a little steamer called the Florence Cook and she plied wherever she went and you probably know where she went. [...]
(PS2W2) [460] Mm.
Aled (PS2W3) [461] Used to go to Liverpool I think.
(PS2W2) [462] Yeah.
Aled (PS2W3) [463] And some other places.
[464] Maybe maybe Wrexham [...] somewhere.
[465] But she I remember her going [...] in and out of Porthmadog.
(PS2W2) [466] 's father was master of her at one stage.
Aled (PS2W3) [467] Was he?
[468] Was he?
(PS2W2) [469] Yes that was a point of contact [...]
Aled (PS2W3) [470] Yes.
(PS2W2) [471] And Jack of course went [...] ran her out once I think.
Aled (PS2W3) [472] Yes.
[473] Jack of course er er I I know I've known him [...] know him in the United States, but er Jack jumped ship in Baltimore.
(PS2W2) [474] Yes.
Aled (PS2W3) [475] I don't know what ship he was on?
(PS2W2) [476] No.
[477] No.
[478] Jumping ship No he w he went to the United States, so did you.
[479] When did you go to the United States?
Aled (PS2W3) [480] Well I went to the United States, I I I sailed from on the R M S Corinthia, from Liverpool on the twenty eighth of September, nineteen twenty nine, and arrived in New York, on the seventh or eighth of September in nineteen twenty nine, which was just one week before the stock market crash.
[481] And I was er I was er let me see, eighteen years and ten months old.
[482] And er I of course always wanted to go to sea, but er wh with two drowning in the family, er mother w w didn't appreciate that much.
[483] So anyway I finally persuaded her that I'd that I'd like to emigrate to to the United States and she we I had some contacts in the United States of course, through her.
Unknown speaker (HETPSUNK) [484] I'm sorry to disturb you.
(PS2W2) [485] That's alright.
Unknown speaker (HETPSUNK) [486] May I just put this on
(PS2W2) [487] Yes.
Unknown speaker (HETPSUNK) [488] Mr 's desk.
Aled (PS2W3) [489] Right.
(PS2W2) [490] [...] .
Unknown speaker (HETPSUNK) [491] I'll take these away too.
Aled (PS2W3) [492] Thank you very much for the coffee.
(PS2W2) [...]
Unknown speaker (HETPSUNK) [493] Have you got your
Aled (PS2W3) [494] Very good.
(PS2W2) [495] Yes yes thank you.
[496] [...] thank you very much [...] .
Unknown speaker (HETPSUNK) [497] Right [...]
Aled (PS2W3) [498] Er now it's it's rather interesting er [...] as an aside, I'd heard that the Central African mounted police were trying to hire young men of er er at least sound mind and [...] probably tough body.
[499] And the theory was that if you served thirty years in the Ce Central African police, you'd be given a section of land in what later became Rhodesia.
[500] And of course I I wanted some land as I presume all Welshmen are land hungry.
[501] And especially since we were freeholders, er but anyway, er thank God I wasn't quite old enough.
[502] And I didn't go, but a chap that I knew from [...] whose name I can't remember at the moment, did go and he was killed within about three months of his er arriving in Africa.
[503] Probably I would have been too.
[504] But so then my mother ... My mother's father and the father of Golden Rule Mayor Jones of Toledo, Sam Jones, born in [...] were first cousins.
[505] And er Golden Rule Jones there's all kinds of stories about him of course.
[506] He became a very rich man but he he er ran his company based on the golden rule [...]
(PS2W2) [507] Which was?
Aled (PS2W3) [508] To do unto others as you would have others do unto you.
[509] He was the first man to organize an eight hour day, and two weeks' vacation with pay.
[510] And erm there's a lot [...] they've they've they've done some television work on him and anyway er in nineteen O three, he came over in the you know about in nineteen hundred with his family and I've got a picture of them in [...] that's where he came from in [...] .
[511] And [...] from [...] is quite a he's doing some research into him and [...] who comes form [...] you know these people.
[512] And they're chasing chasing him.
[513] Well he was my my mother's first cousin you see.
[514] So he invited her sent her a ticket to come to America for a year in nineteen three.
[515] But my grandmother was an old victorian, my mother would not [...] then insisted that she have a chaperon, so Mrs Jonathan , Auntie Bessie, went with her.
[516] But er according to my mother's great joy, she got seasick even on the landing stage in in Liverpool and never came out of her cabin, so she had a big time as a young women running around the ship.
[517] And old man Heinz of Heinz fifty seven varieties, they were a big time, and gave her a little silver pickle with Heinz on it.
[518] [...] sterling silver, and I've still got it.
[519] [laugh] But anyway, she went to so she had she she wasn't she'd been very pro American until I decided I was gonna emigrate.
[520] But anyway, she made me promise that my first day in New York, I'd go to ... Statue of Liberty.
[521] Now Statue of Liberty of course is in in the news.
[522] And when I was when I got to New York, I was met by two first cousins from two different families er Bert who's er er nephew of my my mother's sister Laura Anne in in New York, and another one, William who'd been very successful [...] vice president of [...] or something.
[523] So anyway, erm they met me and Bert had to go back to his office and Will said he had to go back to his office, but he said, What would you like to do?
[524] I said I'd like to go see the Statue of Liberty, I promised my mother I would.
[525] Well he said, Alright, he said, ... I've made arrangements for your baggage to be picked up and you'll stay with me in New Rochelle, and he was going away and he slipped me ten bucks cos I only had ten pounds money.
[526] And he said, here's a cab, and you tell this cab driver where you want to go.
[527] So I had no idea where this place was, I knew where it was at the chart but I didn't know where it was from from pier fifty four in New York.
[528] Cunard Pier.
[529] So I got aboard this cab, and the guy said, Buddy where do you want to go to?
[530] And I didn't know what this buddy meant?
[531] And I said, I want to go to [...] 's Island.
[532] He said, Where?
[533] And I said, [...] 's Island.
[534] He said, Never heard of it.
[535] I said, Obviously you haven't read the chart, that's where the Statue of Liberty is, on [...] 's Island.
[536] Cos I had studied the chart to k know something about er and I I presume I was one of the few people in New York, who knew the damn thing was on [...] 's Island you see.
[537] Anyway I went there and I was impressed, I'd seen it from the ship and I completely concur with everything that's been said.
[538] How all those immigrants and children of immigrants, that the Statue of Liberty, means a great deal to those Americans who whose parents or who came themselves from another country.
[539] Now I wasn't coming I wasn't a refugee from anything except unemployment.
[540] But erm er the on that ship I remember we stopped at Queenstown [...] .
[541] And I remember a whole boat-load of these young Irish lads and lasses coming aboard you know, weeping and wailing.
[542] And there was a guy with one arm, [...] and saying, you know, Come ye back to Ireland.
[543] You know.
[544] very moving but we had a big big time and of course when you're eighteen, er it'd be an adventure.
[545] And of course er I knew something about America, my mother had been there and er we had some c I had eighteen first cousins in America when I went there.
[546] But anyway, my job was to go out to Toledo.
[547] And stopped on the way of course in [...] .
[548] And they tell the story you know about the Welshman from [...] or erm [...] or somewhere, emigrating to America and heard about [...] all his life as being the great Welsh centre.
[549] And we got to New York [...] .
[550] [...] . How much bigger will [...] be?
(PS2W2) [laugh]
Aled (PS2W3) [551] [...] in his mind was bigger than New York.
(PS2W2) [552] Yeah.
Aled (PS2W3) [553] But anyway er New York in those days, first time I ever remember, I ran into the flappers you see.
[554] Girls with silk stockings and [...] and the girls in in er Wales I must say, and even in Liverpool in those days, used to wear [...] stockings.
(PS2W2) [555] Mm.
Aled (PS2W3) [556] But these silk stocking things you know just
(PS2W2) [557] Yeah.
Aled (PS2W3) [558] drive a man up the wall. [...]
(PS2W2) [laugh]
Aled (PS2W3) [559] But anyway er that's when I went and then I went from there to Toledo, Ohio.
[560] And er what I had done really was to skip going into the bank.
[561] Er my brother John had been er gone to work for the Bank in [...] and unfortunately was drowned in an accident when he was not quite twenty.
[562] And he had begged my mother not to ever put me in the bank.
[563] And the only examination that I ever voluntarily and with malice aforethought,
(PS2W2) [564] Mm.
Aled (PS2W3) [565] er failed, was the Bank examination, entrance examination in Colwyn Bay in nineteen twenty seven I think it was.
[566] And that's one of the reasons I ended up I ended up in in Brothers because I had missed the chance to go into work with the Bank you see.
[567] And I didn't want to go work for the Bank. [recording ends]