It was at Bowral that he met Jessie Menzies. Theirs was indeed a delightful and enduring love story that stood the test of time. Quizzed in his 1996 interview to Channel Nine about when he fell in love with her, The Don was very clear: “I think that would be the day she came to live with us when I was about 12 years of age. I remember the day very well because I’d been sent by my mother on a mission to buy some groceries and I’d run into the doctor’s car and had an accident, had my bike smashed up. When I got home she was there.”
Jessie’s parents owned a property away from Bowral and it was difficult for her to get to school. So her father had come to drop her at the Bradman home where she would live for a year. She was nine-and-a-half months younger than him. “That was the day I fell in love with her,” Donald reminisced.
Together they would walk across the Glebe wicket, which is now the Bradman Oval, to Bowral Public School, situated just a block away from where now stands the Bradman Museum. It was during that year that he decided he wanted to marry her. They got a chance to spend some more time together when in 1928 Don moved in to G.H. Pearce’s house in Concord West, Sydney, which was, fortuitously, very close to Burwood where Jessie and her parents lived. She now worked as a clerk in the Commonwealth Bank.
The wedding took place on April 30, 1932 in St. Paul’s Anglican Church, Burwood, New South Wales, when Bradman was already a hero to millions. He described his marriage as “the greatest partnership of my life.” After the happy event, the couple lived in a flat in North Sydney. They had an extended honeymoon touring North America in the northern summer with an Australian team managed by the former leg-spinner Arthur Mailey.
Jessie was his anchor and support, and together they built their red brick house when they shifted to Adelaide two years later. The house was modelled on good friend Walter Robin’s abode in Berkshire, England. This was to be the home they loved so much for the rest of their lives, and where they maintained a lovely garden.
Their son, christened John Russell Bradman, was born on July 10, 1939. Incidentally, he shares his birthday with the great Indian opening batsman Sunil Gavaskar, who is exactly ten years younger. Daughter Shirley Jane arrived on April 17, 1941.
(Author Indra Vikram Singh can be contacted on email firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Indra Vikram Singh on Twitter @IVRajpipla).
Published by Sporting Links
ISBN 978-81-901668-5-0, Fully Illustrated
French Fold 21.5 cm x 28 cm, 188 Pages
Price Rupees 995
Indra Vikram Singh’s latest books published by Sporting Links:
A Maharaja’s Turf ISBN 978-81-901668-3-6
The Big Book of World Cup Cricket ISBN 978-81-901668-4-3
Don’s Century ISBN 978-81-901668-5-0
Crowning Glory ISBN 978-81-901668-6-7
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