"Dr Jones"

( Dr Robert Henry Jones LACP, LRCS, & LRFR)

       "1883~1964"

One of the most well known and loved characters of Llyn was Dr Bobi, he was a country doctor in the fullest sense of the word, a faithful friend to his many patients, his wit and humour a far better tonic than any that came from any bottle, a man small of stature but a huge character, loved and respected by all. Any who knew him could never forget him he was so different to any other doctor. The small frail body – his brown tweed suit far too big for him. You could never see his shoes hidden beneath the trouser bottoms, and the overcoat that trailed the ground and had such a large collar you could barely see his head. He wore a hat so out of shape from years of wear, some said he hardly ever took it off for any occasion. Even his glasses looked larger than they should, barely clinging on to the tip of his nose. In reality the doctor appeared too small for his clothes, or maybe they were too large for him, in his oversized pockets he had medicines for every ailment imaginable.

His parents were originally from Llyn, his father from Tudweiliog and his mother from Bryncroes, but they raised their family in a farmhouse called Hendy in Tram rd, Penygroes in Arfon. Robert attended daily school in Penygroes until he was thirteen and then he delivered milk with his horse and cart each morning before getting the train to ‘Ysgol Jos Bach’ (school ) in Caernarfon where he gained a scholarship to Penygroes Grammar School from where he gained his qualifications for University.

But instead of going to University as you’d expect, Robert took up an apprenticeship with an old doctor from Rhostryfan, who was an odd character and very fond of drink. Robert’s job was to deliver medicines to the patients in the area and to this end he had the old doctor’s horse and cart, the horse stopped religiously at every inn and tavern in the area, having done so for his old master!!

After gaining valuable experience in Rhostryfan Robert left for University, he went to Edinburgh and then to Glasgow two of the most renowned medical schools of their day, there he gained his degrees LACP, LRCS, LRFR, he came to practise in Llyn in 1927, but left for Bethesda in 1930 only to return to Llyn in 1934 where he lived until his dying day.

"His surgery in Rhiw"

It’s for his eccentricity, his quiet humour and his uniqueness that he is best remembered, every thing about him was so different. You’d never know whether he’d make journey’s end in his old car, there was an air of Fawlty Towers surrounding his every move. He’d taught the old ford pop to open gates that were left off the latch, naturally this left it’s mark on the car, he had frequent collisions on the narrow lanes of Llyn. One summer’s afternoon he had a collision near Siop y Bont Llangwnadl, with the car of a visitor, a luxurious vehicle whose owner was proud of. The visitor ( who was English ) came out of his car up to the door of the old ford pop, at first he thought there was no driver, but Dr Bobi casually emerged where upon the visitor began ranting and raving ‘Look at the dent you’ve made in my car.’ To which the doctor for once took a good look at his ford pop and replied ‘Look at the dents you’ve put in mine’!!! Never was a truer word spoken dents was right to describe the old doctor’s car.

He was a very approachable person and consequently would often be taken advantage of where ever he was. Whilst at  Ellis Roberts( the carpenter)’s garage in Congl Meinciau a man from Sarn came up to him complaining that he was very ill. ‘I’ve got a temperature of a hundred and five’ ‘Oh I see’ replied the doctor ‘It’s not me you need, you’d better have a word with Ellis Roberts and order your coffin, seeing as you’re in that condition!!!’ Another time a young man came over to Aberdaron from Bardsey with his old grandmother who was ill, the doctor was waiting for them. The young man whispered in the doctor’s ear ‘Don’t go to too much cost, remember she ‘s a good old age!!’ When a doctor was required on Bardsey they would light a fire on Bardsey mountain knowing that someone from Uwchmynydd would see it and go and tell Williams Penbryn Bach, the local coastguard, and he would then light a fire to let them know on Bardsey that they’d got the message. If the doctor were needed urgently they would blow the smoke from side to side. On another occasion the doctor got a call from one of the cottages on the mountain side at Rhiw, this particular evening it was snowing heavily and Dr Bobi had to abandon his car and walk up through the snow to Rhiw. After a huge struggle he arrived at his destination and as was usual he knocked the door, walked in to the cottage where upon he saw the old bachelor sitting by the fire, his face ruddy in the glow of the fire. ‘What’s the problem then?’ enquired the doctor of his patient ‘Well seeing as it’s such a stormy night I wanted to see if I was ill and needed the doctor that you’d be able to come!!’ The doctor disappeared into the night keeping his thoughts wisely to himself.

"Bardsey calling the Doctor"

Another late night call he had to Rhiw was to Pen yr Ogof, at the time the Keating sisters were living there. One of the sisters had gone to Seaview to ask Robert the Postmaster to phone for the doctor to come and see her sister at once, Robert asked the doctor whether or not he had an instrument to pump the stomach. Dr Bobi arrived at Seaview and Robert escorted him by the light of a lantern over the rocky path that leads to Pen yr Ogof. On arrival the doctor found the Keating sister in hysteria, he eventually managed to calm her down and began examining her and questioning her as to what the matter was. It turned out that Miss keating had been dreaming and had awoken to see a mouse scurrying across the foot of the bed, and she thought she’d swallowed it in her dream!!! It would have been far better for had the family made their fortune from selling ‘mouse pellets’ than flea powder !!!

"Pen yr Ogof"

The old doctor always had appropriate sayings for various situations one of which was ‘I know how you feel, I once suffered from that’ which made the patient feel better seeing as the doctor had recovered so well from the ailment. This was his favourite saying until he told it to a pregnant woman!! He was more careful in it’s use thereafter. He was examining a middle aged woman to find out what the trouble was, he turned his back on her to look out of the window and mumbled to himself ‘Pregnant’ in the reflection of the window the woman noticed what he’d said to himself and started ranting, raving and shouting ‘Well I don’t understand how it got there’ the doctor still staring out of the window replied ‘Well I do’.

Dr Bobi was asked by an old man from Tyddyn Sandars Tudweiliog who suffered from rheumatism and could hardly move for some thing to make him more mobile. A medicine was prescribed and the doctor called in a couple of days to see how his patient was getting on ‘Did the medicine do the trick?’ enquired the doctor ‘Well I have had the runs for the past two days’ ‘There you go at least your mobile at one end!!’

The doctor and the midwife were attending a mother giving birth, the father was very nervous and on the verge of passing out, after a while the doctor came down the stairs and placed the baby in the father’s arms as he returned upstairs the doctor paused and said ‘She’ll soon give birth to another to which the stunned father replied ‘Good Lord don’t shake the bed too much’.

The old doctor used to smoke ‘woodbines’ and he’d often tell his son ‘I’ll have to give these up or I’ll be dead before my time’, he was over eighty at the time!!!!

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"Dr Jones's Wedding"

He used to say to Wil the Butcher of Sarn ‘You kill them to eat and I kill them to bury them!!’ When writing a cheque to Now Mynachdy for the calor gas he asked what’s your full name? O M Morris ‘I see Old Man Morris’!! One day during a  news broadcast on the radio it was announced that Dr Jones had sadly died, messages of sympathy came from far and wide by telephone, imagine their surprise when the old doctor himself answered with a witty riposte ‘You come to my funeral and I’ll come to yours’. In 1964 Dr Bobi died quietly in his sleep at Ty’r Ysgol Llangwnadl where he had lived with his second wife Jennie a lively artistic woman. She was the daughter of Ap Morys the headmaster and known to hundreds of welsh children who read the comic ‘Hwyl’ as the mother of the cartoon character she created ‘Porci’ the little pig. She also wrote the book ‘Tomos of Bardsey’. Jennie would often accompany the doctor on his rounds and when they were in the hospital at Bryn Beryl, she’d play the piano and sing to the patients raising their spirits, she was a real tonic a breath of fresh air such was the spirit of her character. She was an actress from her head to her feet a live wire bursting with energy, her lips always red, her cheeks rouged and she wore frilly dresses, high heels and always a fur coat, she was a woman ahead of her time and dared to wear make up and show off her femininity at a time when most about her were more conservative. Her most haunting memory will be to hear her singing ‘Across the sound to Bardsey’ on the Irish air. It still brings tears to the eyes of many. Now this most extraordinary of couples lie in peace amongst friends and neighbours at St Gwynhoedl’s, a couple of characters we’ll never see the like of again, and I had the good fortune to know them well as ‘Uncle Bobi and Auntie Jennie’.

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With thanks to Mr R T Jones ( Dr Jones’s son) and the Rev, Emlyn Richards for their help with this article.

 His wedding photograph from Mrs L Griffith. 

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