Never Could Spell Our Last Name

This week my Aunt Pauline (Pauline Fancher) turned 103. As I was walking this morning I started thinking about her and her amazing life. Oh, she didn’t rescue 100’s from a huge catastrophic event. She was never President of the United States and she didn’t have any children who grew up to be President. No, she was amazing for so many, many, un-amazing things.

For example, she never got a driver’s license. But then everything she needed to do was within 2 miles of her house. She worked as an art teacher at 3 or 4 schools but the farthest was about 2 miles away. Still, she could be seen walking with her art supplies or some object or piece of art all over Winsted, Connecticut. She’d walk to church. She’d walk to the store. She just walked everywhere. No need to drive a car.

She was born in 1910. So, when the stock market crashed in October of 1929 she was already 19 years old and the oldest of 9 children. The 9th was just born so I’m assuming the crash kept it from being 10 or 11 children. Interesting side note: My dad was the same age, when I was born, as my grandmother was when she had my Uncle Bob. Maybe being in her late 40’s is the actual reason for not having any more children.

By the time she was officially an adult of 21 she had witnessed men going of to The War to End All Wars. She had seen the Stock Market Crash of 1929. And, she had (probably) tasted some of the dust flying from the Dust Bowl of the Midwest into the North East.  Yet, she had another 80+ years to go!

In 1940, as Germany started pushing outward, she was turning 30 and, as the census image shows, she lived at home with 5 of her siblings and my grand parents. Notice that in the census record above people were already spelling the name Fancher wrong. Yet, as I searched for information about Pauline Fancher there were a bunch of Pauline Fanchers in the Connecticut/New York area in the early 1900’s, so the name Fancher wasn’t exactly a rare word.

By the time I was born, in 1958, she was nearly 50. She had been teaching for quite a few years. She had visited Europe and had traveled quite a bit around the Northeast. Her brothers and sisters were off being normal human beings having families and driving cars and such.  My Grandfather had died in 1950 and she was taking care of my Grandmother. My Grandmother didn’t exactly need too much taking care of. She lived at home until her death at 95 and I never thought of her as an invalid.

Did I mention she never drove? Well she also didn’t drink or have too many other things that we would call vices. She was always active in social clubs and her church which kept her walking all around town to meetings and events. And when she did want to go somewhere she just called one of her siblings (there were 8, remember) or one of her nieces or nephews. Because of these calls most of the nieces and nephews got a chance to have some “quality” time with dear old Aunt Polly.

The one I remember happened in around 1978. I was a 20ish college kid who was home for the holidays. The phone rang and it was my aunt. She told me how she had gotten tickets for Lawrence Welk in Hartford (almost 30 miles away!). She had two tickets and she needed someone to go with her and drive her to the concert. And I was the fortunate one. And I sincerely mean that. Oh, I rolled my eyes and probably did a bunch of complaining to my mom and dad, but a few days later I was sitting at the concert enjoying a really great show!

But that’s how she rolled. And, for 103 years she has been rolling along enjoying life. Happy Birthday Aunt Pauline!

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