Let's All Be Frank
Francis G. Bartlett
September 24th, 1925
- January 13th, 2005
Look, I'm going to be Frank with you. As I grew up, I discovered the joy of my Uncle Frank. One of my mother's younger brothers, Frank was the jovial and spirited member of the Bartlett clan who lit up any room with his high energy, enthusiasm and sense of fun. His humor, his laugh and big personality were infectious; often they drew friends and family to him. As a brother, he almost always elicited a smile and a chuckle from my mother I rarely saw. As an uncle, he always took interest in our lives. As a realtor, his personality and energy often sealed enough real estate deals to enjoy the fruits of his labors without letting them rule him. He worked to live.
Of course, I only saw him from a limited perspective, from afar most of the time so my image of him was probably askew. But his reputation always seemed to precede him. Certainly women flocked to him because he was so much fun to be around. His boyish charms and devil-may-care attitude both attracted may and disquieted a few, nevertheless, he never wavered from his party boy and playboy approach to life. "The only difference between men and boys is the price of their toys" fit Frank. He loved cars, boats and homes; they became his kids.
While Frank and his wife Sally never had children of their own, they always doted on their nieces and nephews as if they were theirs in their presence. He always greeted me with enthusiasm and treated me with respect and interest. In many ways, he was the fun a son wanted from his father.
Frank was a social being. He liked to imbibe in a celebratory afternoon libation or two. His cocktail of choice appeared to be stingers. He even named his boat after his favorite drink. I never was quite sure exactly how he "earned" his nickname "trashy". All I know some have suggested it was by the way he sailed...his boat had an undeserved reputation for making some unconventional moves on the race course. I do remember observing his spinnaker flying high above his mast, trailing above like a huge flag as he sailed to windward one race.
I crewed for him him on his 36' Stinger the summer after my accident. He like my eye doctor, Jim Thompson, reached out to me with an invitation to crew for him. That week we competed in Annapolis Race Week was unforgettable for helping me see myself better. While we didn't do any placing on the race course, we did discover our place at the post-race social hour bars and restaurants around Annapolis. This was my first real opportunity to know my uncle as an adult. He seemed to know everyone and everyone knew him. And he introduced me to all of them. He made me feel like I was his son.
Frank loved his grilled steaks.
I visited Uncle Frank on my honeymoon in 1979 to Chester Nova Scotia. The morning after our arrival at a bed and breakfast, Frank was knocking on our door at 8:00 am ready to take us to his boat Sinbad (probably not named so much for the Arabian Nights character, but more for the sin and the bad parts.) Frank wasn't beyond some practical jokes or late social hours.
I had something in common with Frank that few had. In our youth, we both experienced the loss of sight in one eye. As a youth playing with a bow and arrow, he was injured when he shot an arrow into the sky and looked up to see where it landed. In many ways his outlook on life helped me see better. Frank lived fully and freely, seemingly without any major burdens. His carefree, happy-go-lucky spirit is what I loved about him. Let's be Frank...honest, open, carefree, friendly, playful, kind and generous. Frankly speaking, he was the uncle every boy wants.
Lunenberg, Nova Scotia - the construction site of the famous schooner Bluenose.
Proud owner / skipper, Frank admiring his Sinbad
anchored in Rose Bay Nova Scotia during the summer of 1978.