Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Edna Bethel Franklin - daughter, wife, mom and sister

1 Edna Franklin, 2 Judith Ann Hayward

1913 - 2004

As is the case with us all, Edna's life was bracketed by the dates of her birth and death – with plenty of dash in between. So ". . .we'll start at the beginning - a very good place to start", to quote those great words from "Sound of Music".

Queen, Fred, Evert, Edna
On July 13, 1913, Fred, Queen, and their 15 month old son,William "Evert" Franklin, were living near the small town of Rosehill, Missouri, which had as its only claim to fame the fact that three railroads ran through it. On that day, Queen's tiny figure looked ready to burst at any minute; there was no doubt that their family dynamic was soon to be changed forever. When it  became apparent that labor had started in earnest, Fred made sure that Evert was secure in his bed before  rushing off to find the local doctor (they had neither a car nor a phone so it took some time to round him up). 

Years later Queen reported that she had given birth to her little girl without the benefit of husband or doctor, which gave her an opportunity to do things her way.  Based on her bad memories of birthing Evert only a few months before, Queen decided that instead of lying immobile, the traditionally accepted birthing method, she'd walk and then roll back and forth whenever there was a contraction. It worked!  During one of those rolls, her daughter was born.  By the time the doctor and Fred returned, the only services required were to clean up the baby and cut the umbilical cord.

Until Edna's birth certificate was amended by the State of Missouri in 1967, her name was shown as "Not Named". Years later, she would often comment that she wished her parents had thought of a prettier name, but was grateful that at least she hadn't been named Queen Jr.

WilliamEvert and Edna Bethel Franklin
If you've read earlier posts featuring Fred and Queen Franklin, you know that times were tough during the first decades of their marriage.  As the family teetered on the brink of flat-out poverty, they moved from Missouri to Ohio to Indiana and back again, always looking for viable work.  Fred might have lacked formal education, but he could read and was willing to do almost anything – no matter how physically hard – to support his family, while Queen, a former teacher, encouraged the children to read, kept house, made their clothing and tended a large garden.  

8th grade graduation

By 1923, the family had added two more little boys, Paul and Carthel, and had saved enough money to buy a farm near Versailles, Indiana.  Besides the house, barn, chicken coop and pig sty, the property contained a general store which Fred operated until the economy in the area changed and it was no longer viable. Although the only source of heat in the house was a wood-fed stove which was supposed to radiate heat throughout the house, water was drawn from a well, and the outhouse was the most popular building on the property, this house remained the "official residence" of the Franklin family for more than 30 years.  Fortunately, as time went by, some changes were made to the ambiance (an inside toilet and running water, for instance).

Fred Franklin and Harold Hayward
Although the people at that time didn't have electronics to entertain themselves, they still recognized the need to  have fun during the warm months (with games of croquet and horseshoes) and during the cold Indiana winters (with books, music and, later, card games).  Recently, the Franklin grandchildren discovered that Fred and his Uncle Bill Franklin were accomplished musicians and had  often been sought out to play at dances and weddings.  They were even more surprised when they came upon a 1925 recital program which listed Edna and Evert  performing on the violin and piano.  Huh?  Thanks to Carthel's memoirs, we now know that Edna and Carthel were given piano lessons, while Evert and Paul learned to play the violin.  Until those discoveries, the only known musicians were Queen (who played the piano not very well) and Paul (who sang, wrote and recorded music).

New Marion High School graduate
Harold Hayward High School graduate
Between April 1931 (when she and Evert finished high school) and May 1936 (when she married Harold Victor Hayward), brown eyed, dark haired Edna loaded up her "dash” with life-changing events, some of which were:
  • Working as a housekeeper to earn enough money for college;
  • Combining her financial resources with those of cousin Eva Franklin to rent a room while attending classes at Hanover College in Hanover, Indiana;
  • After earning a teaching certificate, returning to New Marion to teach for a grand salary of $100 a month;
  • Attending the University of Indiana for advanced studies;
  • Going out on a blind date with Harold Hayward in Chicago set up by a mutual acquaintance;
  • Falling in love with that Iowa farm boy who was almost two years younger and just starting his career in Chicago;
  • Being romanced through the mail or over the party line phone which was monitored by all the neighbors;
  • Marrying Harold at her parents' home in Indiana, surrounded by friends and family;
  • May 23, 1936 Franklin/Hayward Wedding
  • Starting a brand new life with a brand new husband in a tiny apartment not far from Lake Michigan to which they'd retreat with a blanket when the  house got too hot - a completely new way of life for this country girl. 

Life with Harold couldn't have been more different than the one she had dreamed about when a girl! She never taught in a classroom again but she used her teaching skills to encourage and mentor her three daughters, Judy, Susan and Linda.  
  • Where he was flamboyant, she was shy but always quietly supportive ; 
  • Where he loved to tell bawdy jokes, she'd surprise with her very dry humor; 
  • Where he was at his best selling and speaking to crowds, she was learning how to type and support him in his first insurance office. 
  • While he was instructing the girls in the intricacies of football, she was an avid basketball and Cubs fan who rooted for those perennial losers all her life. 
  • Where he rarely caught edible fish, she continuously hooked more than anyone else (including professional guides) but refused to clean, cook or eat them (her daughters believed the fish thought they had a better chance with her since she wouldn't eat them - they were wrong!). 
  • Where he had a beautiful voice and loved to sing – especially with his daughters - she would promise those same daughters that if they sang for her, she would do some of their chores. 
  •  After he became Governor of the Illinois-Eastern Iowa District of Kiwanis, she found her voice as his first lady, finally using the charm and wonderful sense of humor that only her family and close friends knew she possessed. 

DEATH (May 3, 2004): 
Edna was only two months shy of 91 when she died as a result of bad care in a local rehab facility. In a “normal” family, she might have been considered the “grand old dame” – but not in the Franklin family! After all, her mother bowled until she was 103 and lived to age 107; her older brother, Evert, died 3 months before Edna and 2 months before his 92nd birthday as a result of injuries sustained in an automobile accident; her younger brother, Paul, only made it to age 89; and her father, Fred, (also featured in a post) was little more than a baby when he died at age 86. Today, her “baby” brother, Carthel, still enjoys golf and travel at age 94.

The following poem was written in celebration of her life. Despite the fact that it's been more than 10 years since she left us, she is sorely missed - and her stories continue to be told.       
                                            Edna’s Song
You’d think the story’s over, but it’s only just begun.

Her life is woven through us - into each and every one.

The thread has not been broken, but the fabric takes new shape.

A shape that brings its own new joys, from which we can’t escape.

When something special happens, we know what she would say,

And feel her lingering presence as she'd send us on our way.

We’ll sense her joy and laughter, knowing that her pain is gone.

And that she knows she did her best - her loved ones can go on.

We’ll hear ourselves repeating her maxims and her jokes.

We know what she would want for us, her big and little folks.

She’d want us to remember her as wife and mom and friend.

She’d hope we’d build on lessons learned, and pass them on again.

We never thought she’d leave us, our lives would stay the same,

But God knew best the time and place, and took her home again.

Can’t you just imagine the reunions going on?

The joyous joining with all those who’d waited for so long.

Thanks to you, dear Edna, for all you said and did,

For always sharing whom you were with each adult and kid.

We miss you badly, always will, and know that some fine day

We will reunite with you and Dad in a whole new way.

 Judith Ann Hayward Copeland

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