Frances Patricia Ford, Sheridan Wyoming
late 40s – early 50s

This has been a favorite photo of mine for quite some time. It is a photograph of my former mother-in-law Francis (Ford) Cole doing a Betty Grable type pose for the camera. It was taken in the late 40s or the early 50s by her then-boyfriend Charlie, who was into photography. It was shot in Sheridan, Wyoming. Following is a little background on Frances’s life at that time, and how this Iowa farm girl ended up in Wyoming.

In an interview with her daughter, Kathleen, she stated that “From high school, she went directly into the cadet nursing program – in Rochester, Minnesota. It was a 2-year government program during the war. (WW II) However, the war was over by the time she graduated, so she and her girlfriends decided to go out West to Sheridan, Wyoming. So, they all went together. Her father, John Thomas Ford, signed the note for her to buy car, (It may have been a Plymouth or a Chevy), to make the trip with. She got a job as a nurse there.”

I’m not sure why it appeals to me so, but I think it may be that it shows the optimism of that period after World War II; she being so young with her life ahead of her. Besides that, she’s just plain cute! When asked the same question, why do you like this picture – what do you think of when you see it, her daughter Kathleen said, “I just think I like it because she was young and out on her own and loving life.” She went on to say, “I was told stories by her sisters, my aunt’s, that she was always the fun, adventurous one. She liked to do chores with her brother, rather than cook or do any of the inside chores. She had a hot temper. She was fun-loving, loved to dance, loved to try new things, and go to new places.”

She is missed by so many.

Here’s to you, Frannie!

This article has 2 comments

  1. TaraBradyGillam

    I didn’t know Grandma Cole as well as my Manchester cousins, but I remember visiting the house in Estherville for holidays and a summer after my dad died. She had the priest come and bless me and she taught me the rosary. I remember her reading the Des Moines register every morning and her asking embarrassing questions about menstruation and taking out her false teeth to enforce our good dental hygiene practices. I remember holidays at Patty’s house and how she was very particular about having her toast buttered all the way to the edges and how patient Digger was to return to the kitchen to make sure that her toast was just right before bringing it back upstairs for her. One morning I was up and in the kitchen eating cereal before everyone and grandma shuffled carefully down stairs to the kitchen. The day before she had singed her perm trying to light her cigarette on the gas stove, this morning she had devised an ingenious plan to overcome her Parkinsons and light her morning cigarette on the red hot coil of the toaster which was perched on top of the microwave just out of reach! She couldn’t see me in the corner in the breakfast nook, she was squirming on her tiptoes, crosseyed lazerbeam focused on the cigarette pursed between her quivering lips, an her shaky finger pressing firmly down on the lever on the toaster, she tried with great but ultimately fruitless effort to light the blasted cancer stick. Finally after watching several failed attempts and listening to her curse at the red hot coils that refused to heat the end of her cigarette to more than just cenge the paper, I finally couldn’t hold back my giggles anymore! I fell on the floor laughing and told her that it was way past time to quit. She shuffled away cursing under her breath because I was still to young to light it for her and slammed the door behind her hoping I’m sure that she had woke someone who would be more sympathetic and help her put another nail in the coffin.

    • ericcook

      Oh, Tara! You sure can paint a picture with your writing! You have a flair, indeed! It’s funny that you wrote about her desire to have her toast buttered to the very edge of the toast. I recall in the 70s, when I had just met her, I was assigned the task of making her a sandwich. She complimented me on how I spread the mayonnaise right up to the edge of the bread.

      Thank you for sharing your memories, my dear.

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