Tim and Ruth Murphy - interview

Tim Murphy                                                                                                                      1/24/18

0:00:02 Jim Haggerty

This is January 24th, 2018 and we're here at the William B. Ogden Library with Robbie Jean Rice and myself, Jim Haggerty.  The two guests we have today are Ruth and Tim Murphy.  We're very happy to have you come in and tell us a little bit about your connection with Grant Rogers [as] we're trying to understand a little more [about] his impact in the community.  Tell us a little about how you knew Grant Rogers or his family.

0:00:41 Tim Murphy

I can give you a little bit of background.  My mother's aunt and uncle were relatively close friends to Grant back early on, long before my time.  I moved to Walton in 1960 and in that first year here we met at Aunt Mildred and Uncle Pete McAdams' home on Wakeman Brook. Grant and Uncle Pete's brother, Don McAdams, they played there, and I got to see [and hear] them play.

0:01:20 Jim Haggerty

Did they [Mildred and Pete McAdams] play music?

0:01:21 Tim Murphy

Uncle Pete and Aunt Mildred, they did not play any music, but like I say, they were friends of these folks, lifelong friends.

0:01:30 Robbie Jean Rice

So, [did] they play like a house dance there?

0:01:33 Tim Murphy

No, [they] just played. The two of them set down to entertain just with us few people.  They had done things, I understand, in the past lots of times with dances and bigger gatherings, but the time that I'd met them it was just [a] casual stop in for supper kind of thing, and all the guys are going to play some music for us tonight, oh, great.  I think I was like 11 or 12 years old when that happened and that was the only time I remember actually seeing and hearing Grant.  Later on, as time went on,       [. . .] there was music out there big time. [In] that timeframe [the] Cannonsville Dam was being built, and Grant wrote a tune about that, and we'd hear that on WDLA on occasion.  So, that sort of kept the memory alive that way, but the history, I guess you could say, my ties to him, indirectly, [were] all via family.

0:02:39 Robbie Jean Rice

He [Grant] lived right there, right?

0:02:40 Tim Murphy

Yea, he lived on Wakeman Brook at that time. I don't know where else he had been life long, but there was a mobile home on the brook that he was in, for a few years, at least. [. . .] Later on he had married Ethyl.  She was a McAdams, and that was her link to my family.  She's my mother's first cousin.  So, anyway, she came there, and, so, that made us all a little [more] closer.

0:03:16 Jim Haggerty

You said that your aunt and uncle were good friends with him.

0:03:22 Tim Murphy

Right.  One of the close ties was because my great uncle's brother played with him. His name was Don McAdams, and he played mandolin. So, when they did some music around the countryside they often would play together. So, they were friends from way back as well.

0:03:42 Jim Haggerty

I think I've run into his name somewhere in the materials about McAdams because I asked and they're not related to the McAdams at the machine...[shop in Walton]

0:03:52 Tim Murphy

Yup. Actually, it's more of a shirttail relation. They are the same family tree, let's put it that way, yup.

0:04:02 Robbie Jean Rice

So, we just watched the movie Indian Summer, and there were people playing [music] with Grant Rogers there. I wonder if that was one of them.  Would you, if you saw that, would you know what he looked like?

0:04:14 Tim Murphy

I would recognize Don McAdams if I saw him. He was a large man.

0:04:16 Jim Haggerty

He played the mandolin.

0:04:19 Tim Murphy

Yup, and it was always a mystery to me because his fingers looked bigger than my thumb, and the mandolin, to [. . .] finger that is, just dumfounded [me] that he could do that, but he did, and he did it quite well, actually. Probably [the] reason he got to playing with Grant [was] because he was good at it. [. . .]

0:04:40 Jim Haggerty

Now, Ruth, you said you knew Grant's wife.

0:04:42 Ruth Murphy

I knew Ethyl, yes. She was a wonderful lady. Hard working lady, best cook, loved to bake, she [was] just so sweet. [. . .] I just never forget how hard [. . .] working [. . .] she was. [. . .] She would pick up, do things, that I wouldn't even attempt, but I have some of her recipes and stuff. [. . .]

0:05:05 Robbie Jean Rice

[. . .] How long did she live after Grant died?

0:05:10 Ruth Murphy

Oh, boy, she lived awhile.

0:05:10 Tim Murphy

[. . .] A few years, probably. Probably 10, I'm guessing, I don’t know that. [. . .]

0:05:19 Robbie Jean Rice

Because I've driven up Wakeman Brook and I know there's that old house that your aunt and uncle lived in, and there's the house right behind it that you live in--right, correct--and how was that related? [. . .]

0:05:37 Tim Murphy

[At] the original old house there's 130 acres of land there; it was a small farm. That was my aunt and uncle's farm and after my uncle had passed then mom and dad acquired a piece of the farm there and built the new house. Yea, the old, [. . .] original barn is [. . .] still there.

0:06:02 Robbie Jean Rice

So, Ethyl still lived right there and you all spent time together?

0:06:07 Tim Murphy

Time together, yes, but [. . .] the trailer where they lived was way down at the end of the road closer to Route 10. It was, like, the second dwelling coming up the road from Route 10. That's where that was.     [. . .] Well, the land is there, but the mobile home's gone. There's a doublewide at the beginning and then there's a stick built house. Well, [. . .] Grant's place was in between those two. So, that's all gone now, so, it's just lawn between those two houses, but that's where Ethyl lived. So, hop skip and a jump. I mean, the whole road's only a mile long, [. . .] and being related [. . .] birthdays, Christmas, and stuff, whatever family gatherings, Ethyl generally would be up there.

0:06:51 Ruth Murphy

She liked to play pinochle, so we all played pinochle.

0:06:54 Tim Murphy

That was a big thing. [. . .] My aunt and uncle's [pastime] was playing pinochle, and so my folks and Ethyl, and I would assume at some point Grant, was involved with that 'cause they would play, like, on the weekends, say a Saturday night, and just [say] come play cards for all hours. [. . .] It was just a kind of [. . .] family thing.

0:07:18 Robbie Jean Rice

So, can you describe Grant as a person?

0:07:21 Tim Murphy

No. I was really, like I said, too young to know him personally that way. Image wise, [. . .] I don't remember him as being physically tall, just, [I] think, [an] ordinary size person, maybe stocky built, I guess. I really can't judge too much other than that. My impression [was] he probably did lots of outdoor hardworking in his life. I got that notion, but I really don't know.

0:07:50 Robbie Jean Rice

[. . .] He was not home as much, either, right?

0:07:53 Tim Murphy

Probably not, but if he's involved with music, then [. . .] he traveled. [. . .]

0:08:00 Jim Haggerty

[. . .]

0:08:22 Tim Murphy

[. . .] In Cooks Falls, and I don't know the establishment, but there was a place over there where they did dances frequently, and I know there's a lot of folks that would come to the country in those days just to get away from the city environment, a lot of vacationing like that, so, a spinoff of that, you see, you had a lot of big square dance activity going on, like [at] some of the hotels of the day. [. . .] I know that I'd heard that they had played there a lot, but I think it was close to where they all lived in the Cooks Falls area.

0:09:02 Jim Haggerty

I know we have here today this album that you brought in to look at and maybe record, or something, Grant Rogers, Ballad Singer. Do you have other materials of Grant Rogers'? Where did this come from?

0:09:13 Tim Murphy

That came from my aunt and uncle's home. [. . .] Of course they've long passed, but we still have their home. [. . .] I haven't totally cleaned the place out, so I'll keep an eye out to see if there's more treasures there relative to Grant.

0:09:31 Robbie Jean Rice

[. . .] He was their son-in-law, right?

0:09:35 Tim Murphy

No, no, he wasn't related to them. Their niece married him. [. . .]

0:09:41 Robbie Jean Rice

Ok, their niece married him, ok.

0:09:43 Tim Murphy

But, they were lifelong friends and neighbors. [. . .] At the end of his life they were neighbors, but even early on in life, like I say, my uncle's brother played with him. So, they kept crossing paths, lived in the same vicinities. They were in the Beaver Kill area in their youth, my aunt and uncle were, and I think Mr. Rogers must have been over there someplace because he was playing over there all the while.

0:10:13 Jim Haggerty

[. . .] Your relative was down in the cabins, right?

0:10:16 Tim Murphy

Yes, he was Peter's brother.

0:10:23 Robbie Jean Rice

[. . .] Do you have a stone quarry on your farm?

0:10:27 Tim Murphy

There's [. . .] been quarries there in past years. [. . .]

0:10:34 Robbie Jean Rice

…'cause he did stone quarrying.

0:10:36 Tim Murphy

Oh, yea, that's right. I'd forgotten that, yup. I don't know that he had worked on that farm. Could have 'cause there was quarry work done there. I never had heard that, but I really don't know.

0:10:49 Jim Haggerty

You mentioned about hearing him on the radio too, [. . .] one time. [He] was on the radio once in awhile. [. . .]

0:10:57 Tim Murphy

Yea, the song that he did, "The Cannonsville Dam" is what he called it. Actually, I have a copy of the lyrics of that, if need be.

0:11:10 Robbie Jean Rice

[. . .]

0:11:13 Jim Haggerty

He actually wrote, apparently, two songs and he called them "Two Dam Songs." [. . .] I don't know. I haven't heard that [second one] yet or heard anybody who has that.

0:11:23 Robbie Jean Rice

So, [. . .] you started to say one time you remember him being on the radio doing…

0:11:29 Tim Murphy

Yea, because that song was quite popular during the construction of the Cannonsville Dam. So, it's about that and [for] a lot of people [it was] still fresh in their memories. [The song was] all about it and the people that had to move, and the whole story of that, and of course the lyrics tell the story.

0:11:50 Robbie Jean Rice

So, do you remember, [. . .] if you moved here in 1960, do remember before the water came?

0:11:57 Tim Murphy

Oh, yea, I do.

0:11:58 Robbie Jean Rice

Ok, and the building [of] the dam, or no?

0:12:02 Tim Murphy

Yup, 'cause I was old enough to see that, actually. We went down while [. . .] the earth movers were literally building the dam down at the bottom. That was quite a view 'cause [of the] sequencing of that they relocated Route 10 to where it is now. So, they had a portion from Stilesville up to  [the] Cannonsville Bridge, that part had to get done first, so they got the road moved 'cause where the old road was went right through where the dam is. So, they had to get rid of that traffic, so they built the road to do that [. . .] which made [. . .] a pull off there, just above the dam. Well, we went down there several times just to set there and watch them build it because they did that like 24 hours a day 'cause they were in doing that as fast as they could do it.

0:12:57 Jim Haggerty

Have you seen that movie Indian Summer? (No, I have not.) Ok, well, we'll be showing it this year so see it because it sounds exactly like what you saw, or parts of it. [it would] be interesting [to hear] your comments on the movie.

0:13:08 Robbie Jean Rice

[. . .] Did they divert the river while they were doing that, too?

0:13:13 Tim Murphy

Yup. [. . .] They played with that, worked around it, because they could do most of the dam leaving the river alone, but then they had to make another way to work it. [. . .] I'm not sure of all of that, how they did that, but I suspect [. . .] there's what they call [. . .] gates to maintain river flow [. . .]. I think that when they constructed this thing they established that real close to where the original riverbed was. Then, they'd have a smaller diversion 'til they had built that [. . .] think. Then, once it had that built, then they could open the gate and fill in the other diversion. [. . .] I couldn’t see that up close to know.

0:14:02 Jim Haggerty

[. . .] Your aunt and uncle--were they displaced?

0:14:05 Tim Murphy

Nope. My aunt and uncle, their place is still there. They're up above. [. . .]

0:14:11 Robbie Jean Rice

[. . .] Your family wasn't displaced?

0:14:13 Tim Murphy

Well, actually, we [. . .] rented one of the homes from the city [. . .] 'cause my dad worked for the city. That's why we moved. [. . .] So, yea, I got to see a lot of it around, like in Beerston, [which] was my home base. [I'm] pretty much familiar with where all the houses were and actually owned one of those houses because we moved it. I still have that house.

0:14:41 Robbie Jean Rice

[. . .] That's the one up on Beers Brook [Road] when you moved. So, you were sort of on the side of "this is a good thing we're building the dam".

0:14:53 Tim Murphy


0:14:55 Jim Haggerty

You saw both sides.

0:14:55 Tim Murphy

Yea, both sides of it. It's heartbreaking when you think of the history of people who have been there for generations and they have to give up their home. That's a very sore spot for a lot of folks so I'd be more inclined to side with the home folks, if you will.

0:15:12 Robbie Jean Rice

[. . .]

0:15:34 Tim Murphy

It's hurtful, I guess is the very least you could say, somebody's losing their home that's been their home for generations in their family. [. . .] That's [. . .] a very hard pill to swallow right there.

0:15:45 Robbie Jean Rice

So, I can understand why Grant was the voice for those people.

0:15:51 Tim Murphy

Yea, yea, for sure.

0:15:52 Jim Haggerty

[. . .] He tried to express both sides of the story a little bit, which was probably not that common.

0:16:00 Tim Murphy

Well, he had to sell a record, you know, so you want to capture it for accuracy, but to get the emotions in there as well.

0:16:07 Robbie Jean Rice

[. . .] Ruth, [. . .] you didn't grow up here, did you?

0:16:10 Ruth Murphy

No, I grew up in the Finger Lakes area.

0:16:12 Robbie Jean Rice

So, you moved here when you married Tim. So, your view of this is from…

0:16:20 Ruth

[. . .] I felt bad for the homeowners because I can't imagine that happening to me 'cause I love my home. [I] can't imagine somebody coming in [and] just taking that from me. So, you know, I've always felt bad for the homeowners, but I can see why they had to build it, too.



0:17:23 Tim Murphy

I noticed there's a date somewhere on that record, 1967, so that kind of gives you the timeframe of when he was doing stuff in a big way.

0:17:34 Jim Haggerty

That whole Cannonsville Reservoir was a big part of the story at that time. [. . .] He had a voice in that, so it's a big part of this project.

0:17:42 Tim Murphy

[It's] kind of nice in the ballad scenario, if you will, it's a snip of time in our valley here and he captured it in his tune.

0:17:53 Jim Haggerty

That's exactly it, and that's what real folk music is, is talking about real things. He also talked about quarrying and lumbering, and this [reservoir] was a big project.  The Cannonsville Reservoir, as you said, made an impact on the area because people listened to it.

[closing comments]