DOWN MEMORY LANE

Frank Dale Watson (1933-2019)

Mary Ellen Sparks

Mary Ellen Sparks writes the column "Down Memory Lane," for the St. Clair Times.

One day about 3 years ago, from out of nowhere, my hubby and I got a telephone call from Frank Watson. When I first heard his voice, it reminded me of Walter Brennan, who played “Grandpappy Amos McCoy” on the 1957-63 TV series “The Real McCoys”. Frank soon wiggled his way right into my heart. 

Frank would call me about once a month asking me to type or print something. I told him I absolutely loved being his personal secretary. He always brought old newspaper clippings and pictures to help me with my column. His remembrance of yesteryear was astonishing. He and I, along with my hubby, would sit on my back porch, just a swingin’, just a swingin’. Well, not actually swingin’. We would be just a rockin’, just a rockin’, in our big white rocking chairs.  

Frank never talked much about himself but here’s some interesting facts about him. Frank was the son of John Willard Watson and Grace Turner Watson and a brother to Alice and Mary. In 1944, when school lunches were 10 cents, his mother was lunchroom manager for St. Clair County High School.  Frank was a 1952 alumni and senior class president of St. Clair County High School. He graduated from Jacksonville State University and was a member of the Army Corps of Engineers for 3 years. He retired from USF&G.

Frank and his mother both were parliamentarians. His mother, in the 1960’s, helped establish the Odenville Community Club and Odenville Garden Club. In 1975, the Garden Club erected/dedicated the old original 1908 SCCHS cornerstone and placed it in front of Odenville Middle School. Frank was the designer of that historical monument. 

Frank was on the board of directors for Liberty Cemetery. His survey is what catalogued the names and dates for 22 people who were born more than 200 years ago. Of those 22, nine were born in the 18th Century. Many of the gravesites he identified were from the 1918 flu pandemic.

In 1972, Frank helped organize the St. Clair County Historical Society. He was elected vice chairman. At one of those early historical society meetings they were entertained by an Alabama lady who wrote ghost stories about her house ghost named Jeffrey and she had a photograph of Jeffrey. 

Frank loved the Odenville Presbyterian Church and held his 66-year SCCHS class reunion there June 2018. He was so excited about the combined 1952-54 class reunion planned for Oct. 12, 2019. He did attend, but only briefly. Frank died on Nov. 20, 2019, at the age of 85. He’s buried at Liberty Cemetery. As far as I know, he never married, but to my eyes he was a ladies’ man. We loved him dearly. The poinsettia with bright red petals that Frank gave me for Christmas 2018 still sits on my windowsill soaking up the warm sunlight. Contact Mary Ellen Sparks at odenville1914@gmail.com.

 

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