Sunday, February 17, 2008


My grandmother Agnes(Aggie)McFarland was one of a large
Irish Catholic family, but was one of the younger children. So
by the time I was born and was old enough to interact with
adults, most of her older siblings were deceased. I only have
memories of three: her older brothers Frank and Tommy,
and her younger sister Margaret ( Peggy). I’ve already
written a bit about Frank, and a future post will be about
my Aunt Peggy, but today I’m posting my memories of
Uncle Tommy.

Thomas Luke McFarland was born on 14 Jun 1893 in Boston,
Suffolk County, Massachusetts to John and Annie McFarland.
He was their seventh child, one of the nine who would survive
to adulthood. He appears on the 1910 Federal Census as a 17
year old office boy for a “diamond office”, probably the Arthur
A. Crafts Company at 125 Summer St. where he worked for
most of his life. By the time he registered for the World War
1 draft in 1917 he had worked his way up to tool maker. He
had a slim build and was of medium height with brown eyes.

Sometime in the early 1920’s he married Frances. (I don’t
know Aunt Frances’ last name as yet. I’m in the process of
tracking down the marriage’s date) and by 1930 they had
moved out of Boston south to the town of Milton. By now
Tom was a diamond cutter at A. A. Crafts Co. which
specialized in industrial diamonds and so he and Aunt
Frances were able to buy a house at 58 Sunnyside Road.
Frances was like most women of her times a homemaker, and
at some point her sister Katie came to live with them in the
small white house with the fenced in yard.

My earliest memories of Uncle Tommy, Aunt Frances and
Aunt Katie involve food, books, and their dog. Frances and
Katie would take my sister and I out to the kitchen where the
table folded up into the wall and serve us homemade ice
cream, chocolate cake or apple pie with a glass of milk. Tom
and Frances didn’t have any children and they always spoke
to us in a way that made me feel a bit more grownup, and
boy, could Frances and Katie cook! That chocolate
cake still ranks up there as the best I’ve ever tasted.

I envied Uncle Tommy’s living room: it had a glass door
bookcase. I can’t recall if it went the length of the room’s wall
but I do know it held a set of encyclopedias. What really
sticks in my mind is that on several occasions there were
copies of Analog Science Fiction Magazine and since I’ve been
a lifelong sf and fantasy reader, I wish I had talked with him
about his interest in it. When did he start reading it?
Who were his favorite authors?

Lastly, there was Tommy and Frances’ dog, Chips. (There
may have been a Mr. in front of the Chips.) He was a little
Boston Terrier and had the buggy eyes common to the
breed. He also liked to carry around in his mouth one half of
a pink rubber ball which sometimes would be held so it
covered his nose and made Chips look very funny.

I don’t recall ever seeing Tommy drive a car or if they even
had one. There mighty have been a garage next to the house
but I seldom spent time outside when we visited them. I’d
usually grab something to read and go sit in the other room
while the adults talked. There were family picnics, like in
the picture above, where my parents would pick Tommy and
Frances up in our car and they’d ride along with us

Time passed in that sneaky way it has of doing. One of the
first times I noticed was when at age 13 or so I realized that
I was now taller than Frances and Katie. The younger
McFarland and McCue adult relatives visited Uncle Tommy
for his expertise when they purchased their wedding rings.
I never had cause for that service, so as I grew to adulthood
the visits to Tommy and Frances grew fewer and fewer.

Uncle Tommy passed away in 1977 and Frances followed
ten years later. The picture of them with this article is pretty
much as I recall seeing them: Tommy in a white or light blue
shirt smoking his pipe and Frances every inch a lady.

I never heard either of them say a cross word, either to each
other or to anyone else.


Apple said...

I very nice remembrance of Tommy & Frances. I wish I'd had family nearby when I was young.

Lidian said...

What a lovely post about your uncle - I can just see them, and the house, and you with that chocolate cake!:) You write wonderfully.

Isn't it funny to look back and wish you had known to ask older relatives about things? I was just thinking today about what I wish I had asked one of my great aunts, but never thought to.