Friday, March 09, 2007


By the time I was born in 1948 all my mother’s McFarland
Uncles were in their mid-fifties or older. Two of them had
already passed away before I was old enough to know them.
Uncle Frank and Uncle Tommy were still around and I have
memories of both, although more of Tommy than Frank. Of
the Aunts only Aunt Peggy was alive and I remember her
very well. Aunt Winnie had died but was not forgotten for
reasons I will mention later.

Uncle Frank was 62 years old when I was born so my earliest
recollections of him come from when he was about 70. Frank
had two children and split time living in Andover with his son
John and in Hanson with his daughter Mary, but occasionally
he spent a week with us in Dorchester. By this time he was
grey-haired and heavy set and used a cane when walking. It
was on one of those visits that Uncle Frank taught me how
to make tomato and mayonnaise sandwiches. This was a big
deal for me since the only time I’d ever used a knife was to
slice whatever was set before me at meals. I’d never actually
cut something up to MAKE a meal. It was the best sandwich
I’d ever tasted.

The next day I decided to make one on my own and I thought
it went pretty well until my Mom saw it. She asked where I had
learned to cut a tomato and then went off in search of Frank,
not for the reason you might think, though.

Awhile later, Uncle Frank came out to the kitchen and explained
to me about cutting thinner slices so I wouldn’t use up an entire
tomato in just one sandwich.

Frank only stayed with us a few times in Dorchester. We lived
on the third floor of a triple-decker apartment and the climb up
the three flights of stairs probably would have been difficult at
his age. Most of the rest of the times I saw him were at Andover
or Hanson during the various family functions. Somewhere I've
packed away an old copy of Zane Grey’s Lone Star Ranger that
I was given on a trip to Andover. I’m not sure if it was Frank’s
or if it had belonged to his son John.

Frank passed away at the age of 82 on September 21st, 1968.

Tomato and mayonnaise sandwiches are still my favorite, by the
way, simply because an old man spent some time to show an 8
year old boy how to make one.

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