Friday, May 8, 2015

The Leaving of Boyle

The old Ford car crossed the hills, affectionately known as the "Three Dollies", on the Boyle/Frenchpark road. The early mists of Ballymore challenged and reshaped the youthful myth and magic of my imagination. Pressure on my leg from the compressed cardboard case, which contained all my worldly possessions, was now the symbol of reality on that lovely May morning long, long ago. The dismantling of the psychological support props of childhood was gathering momentum.

It was my first time travelling to Boyle in the cattle dealer's car
...and there would be no charge.

I had said my goodbyes and had collected my "good luck" money from my friends and neighbours. "The meadow will be saved when you come back" remarked the dealer "and in the hayshed too" I managed to reply. In silent thoughts I remembered my goat and wondered would she have three kids. Unseen by anybody I had said goodbye to her in the fort on Sunday. It was my first and somehow I knew that it would be my last goodbye. My Home Guard potatoes, bought from the sale of five hens to Associated Merchandise, Lower Oriel Street, Dublin, will get mixed up with the Kerrs Pink and my rhubarb will surely be neglected I thought. Nobody had any value on rhubarb save myself. "Too much sugar" they said. It was majestic in full growth.

I was full of grief and a barely concealed fear of the unknown. The old dealer could not be fooled by an eighteen year old still wet behind the ears. "Everybody is lonely when leaving for the first time" he said with authority. His well intentioned comment gave me no consolation "You won't know yourself when you start earning the money, you will have more than any of us then. It is hard to get money and it is harder still to keep it" he said with sincerity. "I heard somebody say that you were thinking of selling rhubarb in the town one time, is that right?" "Yes" I said. "Sure nobody would buy rhubarb from you" he said. I made no reply, it was too late to start defending myself.

We arrived well before the train time. He took the case off my knees. "I will say goodbye to you here" and he then grabbed my hand and wished me luck. In that "shake hands" he passed me a half-crown. "Don't lose it now" he warned.

Five days later I received my first pay, in cash, from a middle aged man who was the head cashier in my new job. He was at least thirty five years old. "Always remember this day" he said. "From now on you will have to pay your own way" he said. I made no answer.