Sunday, June 18, 2017

Remembering my dad

Please bear with me, as I have a story to tell.  My dad, known locally as Frenchy, was a hard working Kansas farm kid, WWII veteran, and blue collar worker who ended up in central Minnesota where he put down roots. My freshman year in college (1972) he realized his dream of starting his own business. And Frenchy's Body Shop became a reality in a small shop he built on the alley behind my parents' house.  He ran a successful business until his stroke in the spring of 1988.  He passed away on Halloween 1990 and my mother died 8 months later. We sold the property in the fall of 1991.

My cousin Ernie and the new owner took down that bottom sign from the alley side of the shop that fall and he hung it inside his own business as a wonderful remembrance of my dad. But for the past 5 years or so, it has sat forgotten in his garage. Which brings me to the rest of this story . . .

This past March a picture of that top weathered sign was posted to my Facebook timeline by Kim, the brother of one of my high school classmates.  He had noticed that the sign was still hanging on the back side of dad's old building and took a picture for me.  His post stimulated a wonderful Facebook conversation among people I grew up around who remembered my dad. Eventually this gentleman suggested that he would check with the current owner to see if it was OK to take the sign, because he thought I really should have it.  How nice was that?  

And in late May he messaged me to say the sign was in his possession at no cost to either of us. He would hang onto it until I was able to come collect it.  So this past week my husband and I took a mini vacation for some family visits, some Twins baseball, and golf.  More on that another day!

We came home on Saturday through my hometown to visit my cousin and to connect with Kim and that old sign.  We had a wonderful chat with Kim when he brought that weathered sign over to my cousin's house.  Lucky for us the new owner never painted the building since 1991, because he probably would have just painted over this simple piece of plywood. When Kim left and we went back into the cousin, my cousin said "now, do you want the other one?".  And he pulled the other sign out of his garage. He and his wife had forgotten that they still had the one he took down in 1991.
So, thanks to a couple of really great guys, I have both signs from my dad's body shop and I can pass them on some day to both of my girls in remembrance of their grandfather.


  1. How wonderful to have both signs! Reading this post renews my faith in the goodness of ordinary people - thanks for sharing the full story.

  2. Very very cool to have one sign from Frenchy, much less 2!! Thanks for the story. I was surprised to learn he didn't start the bsns. til '72; would've guessed earlier. He did work at another Renville garage before that though, right?

    1. Yes he did work for others. Started at the Chevrolet dealer back in the 1950s, and the Ford dealer in the late 60s and until he started his own business.

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