I, Frank Farr, was born in a tiny apartment somewhere behind the screen of a movie theater in Picher, Oklahoma, on March 3, 1924. I am told that as my mother’s labor pains intensified and came more frequently, the theater owner/manager sent the patrons home and locked the doors so she could have some privacy in her travails. My father was working in the mines in and around Picher, which was booming in the 1920s, and the little apartment was the only residence they could find at the time.

My parents were Frank C. Farr and Ethel Mae (Spencer) Farr. Like my three siblings, Carmen Farr Gregory, Jane Farr Sigler and Noah Philip Farr, they were not only close kin, they were the finest, most supportive friends one could have. They were all intelligent, sensitive, talented people.

Perhaps being born in a theater marked me in some way. I have lived music and letters all my long, happy life. At this writing I am about a month short of my 86th birthday. Mine has been a blessed life: I have been able to make my career in education and journalism, my first loves as a young man. I married three women whom I loved, though I was unable to live with the first two, Lois Bickell and Eugenia Bonnot. Lois and I met when we were both working at the Oakland, CA, mail order house of Montgomery Ward. My daughter Linda was born to Lois and me on July 31, 1944, the day of my first combat flight over Germany, a bombing mission to Munich. Genie was the most beautiful girl in San Jose State College, as I saw it, and we married, alas, despite her honest observation that she never really loved me, but she thought we could make beautiful children. We did. A daughter, Regan, was born to Genie and me while I was still doing post-graduate work at San Jose State College in 1950. Peter came along two years later when I was teaching Spanish and English at Gridley (CA) High School. My children are all bright and attractive.

Linda is the CEO of a credit union in Seattle. (Imagine MY daughter having that kind of an eye for financial detail!) Regan writes much more beautifully than I, her father, can although I have been writing for many more years than she. Peter, a creative and talented musician, has surpassed his father’s skills on the guitar (though I can still do a few things he can’t). All of my children have inherited a talent for writing that seems to run in the family.

The gods were smiling on me when I met my last and dearest wife, Irma King, another beautiful lady. We have had 48 years together. We both love gypsying about North America in first one kind of camper and then the other. We share a love of books and music, though we don't always agree on what kind of music. She had three bright, loving children, two of whom I was lucky enough to help grow from their later childhood to adulthood. These were LaVonne and Rick, who could not be dearer to me if I had sired them. John, Irma's oldest, has been a source of pride and affection for years. John spent 25 years in the U.S. Navy, retiring with the highest non-commissioned officer rank the Navy offers. LaVonne retired as a counselor in a large high school, Turlock (CA) High School. Rick is the Special Education chairman and athletic director at Crownpoint High School in northwest New Mexico.

There are numerous grandchildren—his and hers, but all ours. Linda has four children, Carmen, Natalie, Jerry, and Rhonda. Pete has four children, Benny, Philip, Carmen and Liraun. Regan has two beautiful daughters, Tessa and Annie. Via email I have come to know Tessa better than “my” other grandchildren, whom I have seen but rarely over the years. Annie has produced my first (on my side) great grandchild, Fletcher. John and Saundra have three children, Stephen, Rick and Cathy. LaVonne has four children, Monica, Christopher, Leslie and Nathan; Chris has two, Alex and Fiona; and Leslie has two, Geddie and Lola. Rick has two children, Jennifer and Jason. Irma and I took Jason into our household when he was two, and he has lived with us forever—until leaving for college. There are, by this time, numerous great grandchildren, and their number grows.

Over the years I have enjoyed an extended family that included four uncles and aunts and numerous cousins, nearly all of whom I had spent some of my childhood with. My brother Noah Philip, who died in a tragic automobile accident when he was quite young, left me three nieces, Cindy, Carolyn and Marilyn. Marilyn, in her turn, died in an automobile accident when she was very young. My sister Janie has a son, David, who retired not many years ago from the California Highway Patrol.

I had more than 50 years in education, if I count the summer sessions. Thirty of these years were in California, 25 in the little town of Gustine, Ca, and the last 20 in Crownpoint, NM. I have done nearly everything in the career line I ever wanted to do. I have been teacher, counselor, vice principal, principal, and I worked for many years as a news reporting stringer for the Modesto Bee and the Merced Sun-Star. I was for a couple of years editor of the Gustine Standard, a small weekly paper, and I subbed as editor for the Los Banos Enterprise and the Dos Palos Star. I taught the things I loved most—languages (Spanish, French, Russian and English), geography, history and journalism. And I was able to serve as coach of the two sports I love most, tennis (for many years) and baseball (junior varsity for a couple of years).

Along with education and journalism, I was privileged to be involved in local Gustine City politics for six years. I was appointed to the City Planning Commission. The following year I was chairman of the Commission; and a year later I was elected to the City Council. I valued this part of my fellow Gustinians’ confidence, especially as I was elected over five or six other candidates, several of them lifetime Gustine residents. I served two years on the Council and was elected Mayor of the City of Gustine by my fellow councilmen at the beginning of my second term. My political career ended when we moved to Crownpoint, New Mexico. I resigned as mayor in 1986 with about two months remaining in my term.

I was a navigator in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World war II, I flew 16 and a half missions over occupied France and Germany in the famed B-17 Flying Fortress. On my second mission, bombing a German air field near Chartres, France, I was wounded slightly by enemy antiaircraft fire and, as a consequence, was awarded the Purple Heart. On my last mission, the 17th, my airplane was shot down over Merseburg, Germany; and I spent the last six months of the war as a prisoner in German prisoner of war camps Stalag III and Stalag VII-A. I flew my missions as a lieutenant but was promoted, I learned very recently, to captain before my honorable discharge.

Irma and I and Jason live in a modest home in a beautiful site on the slopes of the Zuni Mountains in New Mexico, overlooking a breathtaking vista of bright red cliffs across a narrow valley. We were privileged to raise Jason, from age two to twenty, and he has enriched our lives immensely. He is now 23, living in Las Cruces, NM, and about to graduate from New Mexico State University with a BFA degree, specialty in computer graphics.

Mine has been a wonderful life, and I am grateful for it.




  copyright© 2006 | February 28, 2010