bluenoser312_ on Family Tree Circles
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THE LITTLE FRANK STORY
I am almost 61 years old (August 2010) and I cry every time I find myself telling this story …. The first time I heard of “Little Frank” was almost fifty years ago …. I didn’t even know his real name …. I was about twelve and on holidays with my mom and dad on Prince Edward Island near my Mom’s relatives in the Alberton/Montrose area …. I remember her asking a family friend (Lorne Dunbar) “Do you know where his grave is?” ….Lorne said yes he did and my mom asked him to show her where it was …. I had no idea who they were talking about much less care about whoever they were talking about ….I was young and too busy growing up…. I had been told my Mom was the oldest in her group of siblings and I had no reason to doubt that …. But I kept hearing “stories” …. Just “hints” of another baby…. older than my mom …. One day my mom said there had been an older brother …. But I still didn’t know his name or even then care very much ….He was dead …. I would never know him …. Why should I care …. I do remember though one time I became a small bit curious about this baby and for some reason I asked an aunt a few years younger than my mom, instead of my mom, to tell me what she knew about the “missing sibling” My aunt told me there was no missing baby and I didn’t know what I was talking about and my mom was the oldest of her family ….My aunt was quite emphatic about the matter so I dropped it …. Time passed and many years later I found myself living in Winnipeg Manitoba and in occasional contact with a cousin named Kim …. One day Kim called and asked me if I could supply some “family tree” info for a second cousin of ours, Mark Pridham, that lived in New Brunswick and was into genealogy …. I did and over a few months talking to Mark I quickly became hooked and started building my own tree …. This prompted me to take “an interest” in my mom’s family …. Including her long dead brother IF he existed …. My mom said he had existed …. But died very young …. Just a few months old ….then she was born next ……Her brother’s name was Frank …. She told me an interesting story that may have been how he came to be named Frank ….
My grandfather was named Harry …. One of his brothers was named Frank …. The two of them had an agreement that the first born son of each of them would be named after the other brother …. Was it an official agreement??? …. I don’t know …. And even doubt it ….but …. Frank did have a son he named Harry …. That Harry grew up and as of the summer of 2010 was alive and well .... Harry my grandfather did have a son he named Frank …. Baby Frank or “Little Frank” as he became known was my mom’s older and missing brother …. My mom couldn’t remember the exact dates of his birth or of his death other than he was born in the summer and died in the fall and some people called him a “blue baby” …. And she had seen his headstone ….. She said find the church and pack at the back …. You will see an open field and as you look across the field you will see a cemetery ….with a large tree in it …. The headstone will be at the back of the tree …. As my interest in genealogy grew I decided I had to find the headstone and Little Frank for myself…..
I had moved from Manitoba back to London Ontario and was visiting my mom and dad in Nova Scotia …. Because of my growing interest in “the family” her and my Dad had my niece take them to Prince Edward Island to see the grave again and my niece took some pictures of it …. Perhaps I was expecting too much but I when I saw them I considered them quite poor pictures …. They were too far away and you couldn’t tell any details …. But still it was a picture …. I had to go and find that cemetery …. I had to see it for myself …. So I planned a quick day- trip to Prince Edward Island to talk to two family members that I knew had some information regarding the family and while there I would try to find the grave ….. I stopped to see Vera Hansen (my Mom’s cousin) once I got to “the Island” and told her about my search for “Little Frank” …. She SHOCKED me …. Although she was only four years old at the time she remembered the coffin he was buried in …. She actually REMEMBERED …. With this information Vera had supplied a growing hope inside of me that I would find “Little Frank” …. During the rest of my conversation with Vera I felt myself visibly shaking …. I don’t know if it was nervousness or excitement or both but I was shaking ….
After my visit with Vera I was more anxious than ever to see if I could find Little Frank …. But I was still nervous …. I knew I was “close” to finding him but had no idea what I would …. Or should ….say ….. The only thing I could think of to say was “Welcome home Frank” and I kept thinking that over and over as I drove towards the town I was looking for ….About 30 minutes later I got to Alberton, the town the church was in but I actually drove past the church …. When I was directed back to it I drove to the back and parked and then as I got out of the car I noticed I was very short of breath …. Plus I was still shaking ….I looked and like my Mom had said there was an open field with a cemetery in the distance and a large tree ….I swallowed hard and started to walk …. As I walked across the field my eyes started to mist …. I wasn’t sobbing but I had to keep blinking …. Still all I could think of to say was “Welcome home Frank” ….I got to the boundary of the cemetery and stepped across the low fence …. I checked four or five headstones but none of those was the right one …. Then I looked to my left and saw one that I KNEW was the right one …. I was looking at the back of it but could recognize it from the pictures my mom had shown me …. I was aware of NOTHING else other than that headstone and kept thinking OH MY GOD .... OH MY GOD …. I felt myself walking around it so I could read the front and as I read it something I did not expect happened ….. All of a sudden I was weak at the knees …As I first saw the inscription my hand reached out and at the exact moment I touched the stone my knees dropped to the ground …. Through tears like I seldom had before in my life and as though I was speaking to someone there beside me I said …. “Welcome home Frank…. Welcome home ” …. He had been dead for almost ninety years but that didn’t matter to me ….By my being there he knew (and I knew) that someone was alive then (2009) that KNEW him and LOVED him and CARED that he had LIVED …. I CRIED non stop for about 20 minutes …. Tracing the letters with my hand …. Touching the stone …. Feeling him near me …. Finally I got up to leave …. As I walked away I turned around and pointed emphatically to the stone and said “I’ll be back Frank…. I will be back” …. Later that day my uncle Herb showed me my great grandfather’s Charles Pridham’s family bible with “Little Frank’s” date of birth and date of death in it …. And I knew my search was over …. I had found “Little Frank” ….. When I left and started my drive back to my Mom and Dad’s I did stop and see Little Frank again and I made him a heartfelt promise that day …. I don’t know how often I will visit Prince Edward Island during the rest of my life but this I DO know …. Each and every time I do visit the Island I will stop and see little Frank Clayton Pridham …. I will visit him because I am able to …. I found him …. Now that I know his story that is all that matters ….
The End …. For Now
Postscript: For those of you that are wondering as I read this to make sure I had it as good as I could make it before I posted it I cried again .... and thanked Frank Clayton Pridham .... "Little Frank" for being part of my life and teaching me the value of genealogy .... God Bless you Little Frank
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