Sunday, March 3, 2013

What's In A Name?

Thank you for all the lovely notes about my Aunt Frances.  Memories and stories continue to stream through my mind.

One of these is how she almost wasn't my Aunt "Frances".  The family story is that my grandparents had just assumed that she would be a boy because they already had a girl.  Therefore they didn't chose any girl names.  Her name was going to be "Frank" after her grandfather, Franklin. When the baby was a girl instead, my grandparents were caught off-guard without a suitable name. 

Weeks later when my grandmother made her first appearance in public at their church, someone asked what they had finally decided to name their new baby.  When my grandmother told the lady the name they had chosen, the response was, "That's a peculiar name."  (I won't write the name here because I don't think it's peculiar, and I don't want to offend any readers with the same name.)  "Since you were going to name a boy Frank, why didn't you just name your little girl Frances?"  My grandparents talked it over and then went to the courthouse and had my aunt's name changed to "Frances Elizabeth".

Once as a young child, Aunt Frances got lost.  When someone trying to help her asked her name, she replied "Fanny Izzie Otts".  I guess she couldn't say "Frances Elizabeth Watts".  It's a wonder they found her parents.

Fast forward more than 70 years to my parents' 50th wedding anniversary.  It was a big family celebration, and Aunt Frances and Uncle Jack had flown in from Virginia.  When Tom and I and our children arrived at my parents' home, my aunt and uncle were already there.  My aunt could hardly wait to tell us what she had brought with her: to surprise my mother Aunt Frances decided to bring the hat she had worn as matron of honor at my parents' wedding.  When she pulled the hat out of the box, my mother took one look and said, "Frances, that is not the hat you wore!"  Poor Aunt Frances wouldn't believe my mother until she showed her a photo from the wedding.  Aunt Frances had not only saved the wrong hat for 50 years, but she had also carried it all the way to Florida on the plane.  We are still laughing about that.

Several of you were surprised that my aunt didn't sew at all.  Her grandmother was the one who made all the wonderful quilts I showed you last April.  Both my Grandmother Watts and my mother sewed, but not Aunt Frances.  When we visited her last April, I saw a sampler on the wall of her guest room that my grandmother had stitched.  The sampler was a stamped one stitched in the early 1930's.  My mother had stitched one about the same time.  I asked my aunt where hers was, and she told me that she had never finished it.  I wonder if my cousins will find it when they go through her household things.

The Watts Girls--Frances and Carolyn

PS  After I posted this note, I heard from my cousin, Anne Paul, who wrote, "No, Mother could not sew and I inherited that gene! But thankfully Nancy and Betsy can! They are the creative ones on this side of the family! John is good at painting and photography. Do you also remember the story about Aunt Carolyn and Mother as little girls riding in the back seat of the car. The door opened as they drove over a bump in the road (no paved roads), Mother fell out of the car and Aunt Carolyn didn't say a word! There, in the road, Mother sat until they drove back to find her! Many, many stories and fun times."

Nancy and John are my cousin's sister and brother, and Betsy is her daughter.  Carolyn is my mother.


Margaret said...

I enjoyed reading your stories about your Aunt Frances and your mom. It's wonderful to remember. Love the photo too -- both girls posed the same way. So cute!

Barb said...

Wonderful stories and fun to read. That picture is just adorable!

Nicola said...

Fancy not saying a word when her sister fell out of the car, I had a chuckle about that one.

Enjoyed your post immensely.

Karoline said...

Wonderful stories. I'm so sorry for your loss

woolwoman said...

Two sweet posts about your Aunt Frances - The Farewell by Bronte brought a tear to my eye. Loved seeing all the photos Ellen - thanks for sharing your treasured family memories - with deepest condolences to you for your loss
Hugs mel

Catherine said...

Wonderful family memories!

Jo who can't think of a clever nickname said...

what great stories, love the idea of saving the wrong hat all those years!
Sharing these stories is a great way to keep the memories alive.