FRANCIS CALLISON

in my own words...

Francis CallisonI must say that I couldn't have asked for a better family.  The Albanys were one of the most prominent families in Simpson Valley.  Father was a banker and Mother stayed at home with me.  She could have worked if she had wanted to because we always had Mrs. Primrose around to help out.  She was our housekeeper and she was almost like a second mother to me.  Mrs. Primrose could have taken care of me and the house while Mother was at work, but times were different and a woman's only job was to be a wife and mother.  Not much has really changed, but at least we can vote now.  It wasn't like that when I was growing up.  One of the biggest fights I think I ever heard between my parents was when one night Mother was going to a suffragist meeting.  He said that women didn't know enough to vote.  I think Mother set him straight because she went to the meeting and I never heard him mention it again.

Spring dances, fall dances, church picnics....it was all very nice and lovely.  It was rather boring, too.  I wanted a career.  I wanted to do something with my life.  A young girl thinking those thoughts in that day and age was almost blasphemous.  My father refused to even consider letting me attend college.  I told him I wanted to be a teacher because of my love of English and Literature, but he insisted that I was to attend finishing school and become a young lady so I would be a proper wife and mother one day.  Mrs. Primrose would laugh when I'd roll my eyes while he went into one of his long monologues about a young girl's proper place in society.  At least I managed to convince him to let me come visit my aunt Betty and uncle Louis in Albanyville one summer after I had graduated high school.

Albanyville was the place where my father grew up.  He used to tell me stories when I was little about his great great great grandfather, give or take a great or two.  Quinton Albany had been the founder of Albanyville way back in 1802.  It was just a little spot of nothing back then, he would tell me, but Quinton was there to make sure that that town would grow.  I think if Quinton could see Albanyville today, he'd be a happy man.  It was a good sized city with booming industry and wonderful people.  Of course, it wasn't near as big as Chicago, but it had almost everything Chicago did, but without all the crime and dirt.  It was almost perfect.  Because of Quinton, the Albanys were naturally the most prominent family in town.  Uncle Louis was even the mayor.

I spent a lot of time at the university in Albanyville that summer.  Usually I was in the library reading Dickinson.  I had always loved her work.  It was there that I met Simon.  He was working at the circulation desk and we found a common love of poetry.  He spent a lot of time together in the library and when he asked me to a dance on campus, I quickly said "yes".  Little did I know how that dance was going to change my life.

I saw Charles almost from the moment we walked in.  He was standing by the punch bowl and was looking more than a little uncomfortable.  I didn't know what it was about him, but I couldn't keep my eyes off of him.  I felt bad for Simon, but suddenly I just felt like I was at that dance with the wrong person.  A few days later, I ran into Charles on campus and we started talking and found a mutual interest in music and the arts.  We would sit under the trees for hours and talk.  Simon took it really well when I told him I was in love with Charles and couldn't see him any more.  Charles and I married the following spring.  My parents were really happy that I'd found such a respectable man to marry.  After the wedding, my dreams of becoming a teacher just became a memory.  Suddenly, I had turned into my mother.

One by one, the children came and as I had Mrs. Primrose as a child, they had Hannah.  Charles was working hard to make his family's business a  success and as it grew, we started to see less and less of him.  Don't get me wrong, he loves me and our children very much.  It's just that he's always seemed so driven to succeed.  I'm not one to just sit around and knit, so I had to pick up hobbies to keep myself busy.  I started volunteering at Albanyville General Hospital and began working on various fund raisers for them.  I always seem to be the one hosting an afternoon tea for the doctor's wives or organizing a bake sale for the foundling's home.

Now that our sons are grown, I only have our little Maggie to raise, but she's almost an adult herself.  Well, at least she likes to think she is.  I still have all the children living under one roof, but I know that won't last forever.  Reginald seems to be getting very serious about his girlfriend Jillian and I just know that they'll get married.  I'm not sure that I'm ready to be a grandmother, though.

Father has been dead for several years now and I keep trying to get Mother to come live with us, but she's such an independent soul.  I guess I actually wound up just like he wanted me to.  A good wife, a good mother, a prominent lady in the community, and utterly bored.  Well, at least I have my stories on the radio during the day.  I can live some of the excitement I miss in real life through Hazel Barbour on One Man's Family.  Just don't bother me while it's on.

March, 1935