Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Uncle Frank on "Making Do"

I’m pretty sure every family has an “Uncle Frank.”

Dated 1918
My mother’s uncle has been mentioned before. This is the brother of my grandmother who came to live with them when he was 63 or 64. He was given 6 months to live, but no one told him that. He lived six years. It was some kind of spinal cancer, and to my knowledge he never had any kind of treatment.

He had lived in Cleveland, and because he and his wife had no children, even my mother didn’t know him well until he moved in with her parents. His wife had some illness but refused treatment as she was a Christian Scientist. She died in her 50’s or perhaps early 60’s.

Uncle Frank was born in 1893. He would have been in his 30s and 40s during the Depression. Uncle Frank was the epitome of “making do” and even inventing ways to make do.

The coffee table, many years later.
My grandmother bought a new coffee table and it had glass on the top. One day, someone spilled some coffee and it got under the glass. Frank thought we should drill a hole in the table and put a gallon jug under it to catch any possible future spills. This was how his mind worked.

This is close to the type of car he
sold my Dad.
When he moved in with Grandma and Grandpa, he sold his car to my Dad. It was a 1953 Ford. My Dad called my Mom out to look at this car when he got it home. In the trunk, where the spare tire was kept, it was secured with no fewer than nine nuts on one bolt! That spare tire wasn’t going anywhere!

He had to have been a bit eccentric. He always said that he drove in the middle of the Interstate (between the lanes) because there were possibly nails in the gutters. Keep in mind, these were the 50s when the Interstate system was new. Can you imagine someone driving down the Interstate today in the middle of the road? They’d be arrested.

When my aunt was too young to drive, her Daddy, my Grandpa, took her and her friends to a drive-in movie. Uncle Frank suggested that they keep a gallon of water and rags in the truck so that they could clean the windshields and watch clearly.

Whenever someone “jimmy-rigged” something together, we invoked Uncle Frank’s name. Whatever it was, however it was put together, it was NOT GOING to come apart!

There was another side of Uncle Frank and as I write this, it may come as news to any family member that reads it. My grandmother told me this, and as far as I know, it was never discussed. Whenever Frank came to visit, he left a $20 bill under her jewelry box. It was for the extra food or whatever he thought his visit cost them! Grandma and Grandpa did NOT need this money! However, Grandma saved it over the years and eventually was able to buy the lot next to their home so there would be plenty of room for children to play—and of course, no neighbors. She never told Grandpa until she had the entire amount. They purchased the lot.

I don’t remember much about Uncle Frank except from the background. It’s a shame that as a young child I didn’t spend more time with him. Although he had no children, he certainly didn’t have an aversion to them. He was about my age when he became ill. If my life was limited as his became, I would enjoy the conversation of little ones.

I regret not knowing him myself, instead of remembering him from the “Uncle Frank stories.”
Uncle Frank would join us on the porch when we

When Uncle Frank would have dinner with us. He sat
at the head of the table.