Jessie Lyon

 

Jessie Lyon lived alone across the road from us (Hoboken, NY) for many years before we moved there in 1953 and after. She never married, and lived with her mother until her mother died at age 100 or a little over. Jessie didn't make it to that age. She made it only to her late 80's or early nineties, we think. We never knew exactly how old she really was. Whenever we asked her, she changed the subject. If we asked about some event, which would give us a clue as to her age, she very slyly couched her answer so as not to give away the secret. She was buried in Glenwood Cemetery in Oneida, N.Y.

Jessie was a "little different". In some ways she seemed smart, but she was in most ways sort of "child-like". Maybe she was tied to her mother so long she just never grew up.
We lived about 5 miles out of Oneida, and Jessie would think nothing of walking downtown for errands such as to get groceries, or to see her lawyer. (I think someone had been appointed as her guardian to handle her money). I don't think she was rich, but had enough income to get by on if she spent it wisely and lived frugally.
As she got older she would walk to town, and then try to get a ride back with a friend or neighbor. It was becoming harder for her to walk both ways carrying groceries and other bundles. Often, during the time I worked in Oneida for the Ralston Purina Co. I would come into the office from the feed mill in mid afternoon, and there would be Jessie sitting there, waiting for me to go home. It might be a couple of hours or more that she had to wait. But she was doing what she had to do. She didn't want to bother anyone to make a special trip for her.
One summer when she was well over 80, we looked over to her house and saw she was "up a tree" (literally). She had climbed high up in the peach tree that grew by her back door! She wasn't going to let a single peach go to waste.
One spring at maple syrup time when we were tapping our maple trees and making syrup, she invited us tap the few trees in her yard. As the season ended and the sap began to taste "buddy", we pulled our taps to quit for the year.
We started to pull the spouts from her trees, and she said " Oh, no, the sap is still running and will go to waste". So we left the taps in her trees and she collected the sap herself. She took it in the house to boil down on her kerosene stove. A few days later Alberta visited her and found she had every pail and container she owned filled with sap waiting to be boiled. And she was drinking the fresh sap that was still running from the trees trying to keep up with it.

She finally realized it was a losing battle and gave it up. I imagine the sap she had collected turned sour before she ever got it boiled down. Well, she tried!
Jessie was good-hearted and generous to her friends. A few times she stayed with our kids if we went out for an evening. This was after our kids were really old enough to take care of themselves. Maybe it was a question of "who was baby-sitting whom". (We didn't think it wise to leave her with little kids, but probably would have been ok).


One day the highway department started scraping the road shoulders and hauling the dirt away. Jessie ran out and told them to stop running away with her dirt. IT WAS HER DIRT and she made them dump it in her yard, even though she had no use for it. Nobody was going to cheat Jessie.

Dawn Tuttle Ranz who grew up in Hoboken on the family farm tells a story about Jessie. She agrees Jesie was good hearted and helped her out when her mother was sick, but she says Jessie "had her own ways". Dawn tells "I remember when Jessie and Rube (Rube Snyder was Nevada Tuttle's hired man) had a pact to plant vegetables on that little patch of land on our side of the creek . It was a small triangular strip but belonged to her. Rube was to cultivate and hoe and share the garden, but when it came to harvest, Jessie took it all. We thought it was funny but I guess poor Rube didn't".

Jessie was a good and interesting neighbor.

Charles E. Page