A Tribute to Jessie Hobbs by Ron Bull
23.7.1927 – 26.10.2015
In some families it might be considered a challenge to speak well of your mother-in-law. I am pleased to say that it is not a problem for me. Tricia and I were married here in St Mary’s during the glorious summer of 1976. A few months before this Jessie passed her Mother-In-Law test by giving up a day’s holiday to go down to Southampton to exchange our vouchers for Saints’ Cup Final tickets- Tricia and I got our tickets, Saints won the cup and Jessie got her son-in-law!
Any funeral is a sad occasion and it has been quite distressing to witness Jessie’s recent ill health, particularly the rapid deterioration of the last few weeks. However, I hope that we can focus today on the many happy memories of what was, for the most part a healthy, happy life.
Jessie was born 88 years ago on a farm in East Tisted. She spent her early years on various farms that her father worked on finally settling at Alrebury Park Alresford. It was here that she went to school and later got her first job. However, it was while working in the Post Office in the Broadway, Winchester that she first met Francis. He was in the army at the time and Jessie always said he would park his army lorry outside the Post Office and refused to move it until she agreed to go out with him. Well whatever tactics were employed it worked and they were married here in St Mary’s on 2nd July 1949 and they set up their first home together in the village.
Jessie retained her love of the countryside though out her life and some of Tricia and Charlie’s earliest memories of being taken on walks through the fields. These walks often involved a picnic, generally involved Charlie falling in water of some sort and always, always involved coming home by a different route. Whether this was the result of her sense of adventure or of a poor sense of direction was never certain! Luckily Charlie was undeterred by these outings and Jessie couldn’t have been prouder when he decided to follow her dad’s footsteps and made farming his career.
Cricket was also an important part of her life and she and Francis had a long association with Easton and Martyr Worthy Cricket club. For many years Jessie was the scorer for the team, a job she did really well and with great enjoyment. We wondered how she came to be given this job rather than helping the other wives with the cricket teas. She told us that not being much of a tea drinker herself she made the most awful, barely drinkable tea in the urn that it was suggested she might do better with a pencil and the score book. An inspired suggestion as it turn out that gave her much enjoyment for many years.
Jessie was also very good at planning holidays. Every summer when the children were young they would head off to Devon or Cornwall for two weeks in a caravan. These holidays took a lot of organising and started long before the day with the gradual collection of food tins to take along not to mention having to persuade family and friends to care for the many pets while they were away. In a time before motorways and by-passes long traffic jams were inevitable until she discovered they could be avoided if you set off really early in the morning. So it became traditional to leave while everyone else was sleeping taking a bag of bacon sandwiches to eaten for breakfast as soon as we they could the sea. Sea side holidays with an ever growing family of grandchildren remained very import but in later years she and Francis also ventured further afield to Malta, Spain, Scotland, Germany and France (to mention a few).
She took the opportunities that these holidays offered to indulge another of her interests. Gardening. Jessie loved being in the garden and grew a wide variety of flowers that had been bought or more often “collected” as cuttings from many of the places she visited.
Jessie was proud of her five lively grandchildren and when they were small (hard to imagine now) she was always chasing them around with her instamatic camera. Often when the prints were returned it was discovered that the children had moved faster than their gran and the pictures came back with arms, legs or even heads missing!
Living locally, Jessie was able to spend a lot of time during the early years of her retirement with her grandchildren, Richard and Peter, particularly when Chris was working at the local Primary school. The boys spent a lot of time walking with Jessie, going on buses rides, cooking and learning card games. In return they taught her all about Sonic the Hedgehog!
Her other three grandchildren were also regular visitors from Bristol. Accommodation in the bungalow in Hazeldene Gardens was always cosy but we discovered that three small sleeping bags would fit neatly in the space supplied by folding up the dining room table.
These are just a few of the memories we have of Jessie and there are very many more that we could share but I’d like to finish with an observation that many people have made in recent days – Jessie laughed a lot.
Please take a few moments now to have a smile for Jess.