On this day: December 6

Thanks to the very handy addition to the Ancestry app, I have an easier way of keeping track of anniversaries among the three major trees I research. It’s like what Facebook does with birthdays — makes you seem really awesome for not forgetting.

Today would have been my great uncle Frank’s 84th birthday. Looking back, I realize how cool he really was. He also thought he was cool, which could grate on you at times. I guess that’s what family does.

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James Franklin Street was born 6 December 1930 in the Antioch community outside Ripley, Mississippi, to Emmett Columbus Street and Leona Elizabeth Linville. He was the last of six, but the only boy. He had a childhood fascination with motors and speed.

One of my favorite stories about his childhood goes like this:

My great-grandfather sent Frank to the garage up the road where the family Chevrolet was being worked on, just to see how close the car was to being ready and to get the bill. Frank gets the information and the mechanic turns and goes back inside. Now, my uncle was ten years old at this point and really did know better, but I guess he couldn’t help himself. With the mechanic inside and not paying attention, he clambered inside the car and pretended he was driving. Haven’t we all done that at one point? He was pushing hard on the gas pedal, imagining how fast that car could go. Something else must have happened because suddenly there was a loud noise and a crash on the floor. The car had thrown a rod, causing the mechanic more work and my great-grandfather more money. My great-grandfather was as mad as anyone had ever seen when he found out what happened. I can’t say I blame him. I would be mad too.

Luckily, his dad got over it and Frank got to grow up.

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That’s teenage Frank with his parents. He loved having his picture taken.

Two of his brothers in law, Fred Malatesta and Eugene Webb, were Air Force pilots during WWII. I’m sure they regaled teenage Frank with stories from their service. There were also family friends who had their own planes, landing them in a field in the middle of town with everyone watching. Frank became obsessed with planes.

Frank graduated from Mississippi State College (now Mississippi State University) with a business degree. There he was the epitome of cool, taking selfies before selfies were a thing.

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No, really, he was smart and popular because of his good looks (though we won’t discuss the Errol Flynn stage) and outgoing personality.

He married Margaret Schuchart from Pennsylvania and had two sons, Paul and David. They moved around often because of his Air Force commitments but he saw more of the world than any of the family ever had.

When the conflict with Korea loomed on the horizon, Lieutenant Street was ready. He served with distinction in both Korea and Vietnam during 1965 becoming Captain Frank Street before long. He never discussed his military career with anyone much, though we were all proud. I know he got out of Vietnam a lot better off than some guys did because he was a fighter pilot. But it had to be hard.

In civilian life he was a commercial pilot for American Airlines until his retirement in 1990.

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By the time I knew him he looked more like this, pictured here in 1997 with his sisters, Lottie and Lucy.

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  He passed away 4 March 2006 at his home in Crystal Lake, Illinois at the age of 75.

Happy Birthday, Uncle Frank!

Shopping Saturday: E.C. Street and his Sewing Machine

One hot day this summer, I found some motivation and went to the library to do newspaper research. The dog days of summer is an appropriate name for that time of year. I just wanted to do nothing.

While rolling through microfilm of Southern Sentinels from the 1940s (I think) looking for an obituary that I never did find, I came across an advertisement for my great-grandfather’s store. I have to admit I did a genealogy no-no and didn’t document my source. I didn’t pay attention at all to when this ad ran because it was a shock to even find it.

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I knew that he owned several businesses, including those his children ran, but had never really known exactly what type of business he operated himself.

Singer sewing machines? I wonder who demonstrated them.

My grandmother Hazel? She was probably running her ice cream parlor at this point.

Aunt Lois? She might have also been running her beauty shop at this time.

Aunt Lottie? Would the inaugural Miss Ripley do something so common as sewing?

Aunt Lucy? As long as it’s before her marriage to Uncle Eugene in 1940.

Aunt Polly?

My great-grandmother? She was probably at home, working.

Uncle Frank? Certainly not! He would have been mortified at the thought of doing such a girly thing. Besides, he was probably too young at this time.

I never knew, so I never thought to ask. Now there’s no one left to ask. I don’t even know the name of the store.

It wasn’t until I began writing this blog that I realized how much I didn’t know. Genealogy is not for the dumb, the lazy, or the faint of heart.