Early Days

Alf Blyth (1868 -1956) was known to his family as Old Alf or "Little Grandad"

Excerpt from "Memories of Myrtle Bank" by Jack Skemp pages 152-153

The regular player for the dance was a small man with a Jewish cast of countenance known as Old Alf to distinguish himself from his son Young Alf. Old Alf played good time, which he marked heavily with his foot, but was rather sparing of the volume of sound from the instrument. He wanted to make his melodeon last as long as possible and so didn't impose any undue strain upon it. Often all that could be heard was the beating of his foot as he gave his "music" a spell. Young Alf was as good a player as his father, and had no compunction about drawing the wind-jammer out to its fullest extent, particularly if he had been primed with a beer or two beforehand. One or two other people could play as well, but Old Alf was charry of letting them use his melodeon. They were far too vigorous in their methods for his liking. The player was paid for his efforts by a collection from the dancers. The M.C. took round a hat and the amount of the collection was reflected in the subsequent tone and vigour of the music. Old Alf had a fair store or tunes, playing from ear of course, since he was quite illiterate and could not read words let alone music. Each kind of dance demanded its own particluar rhythm and some of the dances like the Varsouviana apparently could only be performed to a certain tune that fitted the steps while there were standard tunes for others which seldom varied. A schottische or barn dance was heralded by strains of "Killaloe", "Ring the Bell, Watchman", or even "Come to the Saviour"; "Do you know the Muffin Man?" made an excellent polka.

It seems some members of the Blyth family took exception to the description that Jack Skemp used in the above chapter of his book to describe Old Alf. It was true that he was illiterate, sadly although his father Robert had been educated Alf was not given the same opportunity. When I bought a copy of the book at an auction in Launceston in the mid 1980's my Auntie Phyll told me then of how Jack Skemp had fallen from favour and no-one in our family wanted to own a copy of the book when it was published. I am very glad I found it though as it gives an excellent account of life around Myrtle Park in the time my family was living there. Jack Skemp, his parents and Uncle were long time neighbours of the Blyth family.

The Examiner Newspaper October 10th 1956

BLYTH On October 9, 1956 at Nazareth House, Alfred, beloved husband of the late Bridget Blyth, late of Launceston and loving father of Alf (Patersonia) Cis (Mrs Bewsher, Melbourne) Kathleen (Mrs Baldock, Melbourne) Vera (Mrs Walsh, Campbelltown) Phyllis (Mrs Dunn, Launceston) Winifred (dec) and Gladys (dec). In his 89th year. The funeral of the late Mr Alfred Blyth is appointed to leave 16 Brisbane Street on Thursday morning at 11 am for the Carr Villa Cemetery.

The Examiner Newspaper October 16th 1956

The death occurred suddenly at Nazareth House of Mr Alfred Blyth a former resident of St Patricks River and Myrtle Bank for 40 years. Mr Blyth, who was in his 89th year, spent the last 32 years of his life in Launceston. In his younger days he was a keen sportsman, being interested in chopping, running and shooting. His wife died 15 years ago. He is survived by four daughters, a son, eleven grand children and thirty four great grand children. The funeral which took place at Carr Villa was attended by relatives and friends. The Rev. L. Browning of St. Leonards conducted services at the funeral chapel and graveside. Chief mourners were son Mr Alfred Blyth (Patersonia) daughters Mrs Kathleen Baldock (Melbourne) and Mrs Jack Dunn (Launceston), son in law Mr Jack Dunn, granddaughters Mrs Gladys Imlach, Mrs Phyllis Broadhurst, Mrs Pat Calvert and Mrs Yvonne Hitch. Pall bearers were Messrs Jack Dunn, Len Towns, Keith Broadhurst and Ray Calvert.

Bridget Blyth (nee Corkery) 1862 - 1941

Bridget was born on the 26th December 1862 at Prossers Forest to Jeremiah Corkery and Judith O'Connor. Her grandchildren remember her fondly and tell of stories of going there to stay when their mother was having another baby. They enjoyed the company of both Bridget and Alf and felt happy and secure there.

Before her marriage Bridget worked as a housemaid at the Calendar House near Ross in the midlands of Tasmania.

The Examiner Newspaper August 15th 1941

BLYTH : On August 13th, 1941 at her residence 5 Hobart St. Launceston, Bridget, dearly loved wife of Alfred Blyth and loving mother of Alfred (Patersonia), Cis (Mrs Bewsher, Patersonia), Winifred (dec), Kathleen (Melbourne), Vera, Gladys (dec), and Phyllis. In her 79th year.

The funeral of the late Mrs Bridget Blyth is appointed to leave her late residence 5 Hobart St., Launceston on Friday afternoon August 15th at 2.30 for internment in Carr Villa Cemetery.

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