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Dorothy Hobson, 82, and her husband, Andre, 85, are making bread out of their Rogue River kitchen and selling it at the city’s Creekside Sunday Market. - Jim Craven

Retirees' hands knead to keep busy

ROGUE RIVER — Dorothy and Andre Hobson can't seem to retire, no matter how hard they try.

By Dorothy's count, the 82-year-old Rogue River resident and her husband, Andre, 85, have hung it up, called it quits and driven off into the sunset eight times. Careers in real estate, high-tech sales and retail, among others, are now memories fading from the rear-view mirror.

But the Hobsons are back in business, selling bread at the outdoor Creekside Sunday Market in town.

Dorothy Hobson has made bread for 50 years. When someone suggested she should sell some at the local growers market, she and Andre baked a batch and showed up for the 9 o'clock opening at the corner of Main and Park streets.

Each week the selection has expanded and each week it has sold out. Prices range from $3.50 for most loaves, to $3.75 for challah and $4 for rye.

"I've got three commercial mixers and we just line them up," Dorothy says. "Last Sunday I made 42 loaves and I'm making more this week. Cinnamon bread, French loaves, eight-grain and whole wheat are among the offerings.

"We've had people call for the challah," she says. "They can't buy it in bakeries so they call us."

In the late 1950s, Dorothy kept her five sons busy on summer days delivering bread.

"With 11 children we always had a huge commercial mixer. I told the boys, 'I'll give you 50 cents a loaf for delivering — you get the orders,' " she says. "The boys got excited and got big baskets for their bikes. Pretty soon I had three bulletin boards listing orders — they were competing against each other. By the end of summer I was making 40 to 50 loaves a day. I was wondering when school would begin."

Each Monday, the Hobsons buy 50 pounds of flour and other supplies for the week. Dorothy sets out experimenting with rosemary, cheese and other ingredients before cranking up production with Andre — a former semiconductor factory sales rep — assisting.

"We triple-wrap (the early loaves) and freeze them," she says. "I'd love to find a place with a huge kitchen."

Rogue River was supposed to be the quiet place where the Hobsons, married nearly 62 years, could kick back after rising fuel prices persuaded them to settle down last November after a year traveling in a motor home.

"My daughter asked, 'Why don't you prop your feet up?' and I said, 'I did for 10 minutes and that was enough,'" Dorothy says. "I was going crazy. I've got to have a project, that's all there is to it."

The first of her two careers in real estate might have been enough for most people. She developed a Top 10 Bay Area sales firm in Menlo Park over 20 years.

Long after earlier retirements, the Hobsons launched in 1994 what grew into a small chain of closeout fashions on the corner of Sixth and Ivy streets in Medford.

After a year in the original location, Clothes Outs expanded to two east Medford locations, in the Black Oak Shopping Center and Bear Creek Plaza.

That venture culminated with the opening of a Bend store in 1996.

"That went well," Dorothy recalls. "But it was too difficult to get over there during the winter because of the snow."

The monthly drive to Los Angeles to pick up high-end apparel was arduous, she says. "Everybody loves that stuff, but that 11-hour drive was a lot of work."

By 2002 Clothes Outs as a retail venture was headed for the family archives, but the e-tail chapter was just beginning. For five years the Hobsons sold clothing on eBay.

"We did the eBay business until our suppliers in Los Angeles went kaput two years ago," she says. "All of them sold out or went out of business."

Retirement only lasted as long as they could keep on the move, visiting their children, who are scattered through Germany, Kansas, Colorado, California, Idaho and Oregon, 12 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Then it was time to get back to business.

"Relaxing doesn't last long," Dorothy admits. "There's no way I want to retire. I know it's kind of stupid, but that's the way it is."

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 776-4463 or e-mail business@mailtribune.com.

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