Life with the Waples Family

 

Gilbert Cayetano Huesca (1915 – 2009)

Frank Waples  (1901 – 1993)
Fern (Lawton) Waples (1899 – 1961)

My darling father, Gilbert Huesca, at
the home of Frank and Fern Waples,
Chicago, Illinois.  Circa 1952 – 1954.
Some time around 1950, my father, Gilbert Cayetano Huesca, set out to find a new room to rent in Chicago.  He had lived for several years with his good friends, Louis and Theresa Algarin, since arriving in the United States, and he had started his own business, Lakeshore Printing, on Lakeshore Drive in Chicago. 
 
We don’t know why he decided to move.  Did the large Algarin family need the space for other children or grandchildren? Or did my father want to be closer to work? At that time, he did not have a car and had to rely on public transportation, so this would have been a good reason to move.   In any case, the Algarins were sad to see him go, but my father’s friendship with them remained strong and endured through two generations.  
 
When he saw a sign in a two story home on Chicago’s South Side advertising a room for rent, my father called the number on the sign and arranged with the lady of the house, Fern (Lawton) Waples, to view the room.   When he arrived, he was impressed by the meticulous  cleanliness of the room and the rest of the house, which was quite large.  
Frank and Fern Waples, dear friends of my father’s, at
their home in Downer’s Grove, Illinois, Memorial Day, 1957
 
Being fastidiously clean, my father minced no words but asked Mrs. Waples whether her house was always this tidy or had she cleaned up because she knew he was coming?   She was not put off by the remark but proved herself equally picky when it came to renters.  “Young man,” she said, “I should be insulted, but instead I can see that we think alike.  The room is yours if you want it.”
 
Frank and Fern Waples were about fifteen years older than my father, but they treated him like a son, much as the Algarins had.  
 
Frank had worked in various positions, from land appraiser to railway worker to insurance agent.  He was an affable man who seemed happiest when he was surrounded by family and friends. He and my father spent hours talking about everything under the sun.  He loved nothing better than hosting a large circle of family and friends at the Waples home for summer picnics and celebrations.  It was Frank who taught my father the art of the barbecue.
 
Gilbert Huesca, age 36, Chicago Illinois, January 20, 1952

Fern was a private school teacher.  She was charming and direct.  She noticed how much my father missed his family and friends in Mexico and took him under her wing, helping him with his English and coaching him on American culture and customs. She was always encouraging him to meet new people and experience new things.  My father recalled that Fern was a stylish dresser who rarely went anywhere without her trademark pearl necklace and earrings. She loved a good sale and was the person you went to when you wanted to know where to find that “something special.”  This special knack of hers would one day change my father’s life.

 

From what he told us, the big house was usually bustling with young people – the grown-up Waples children and their friends.  The family’s relaxed nature and constant activity made him feel right at home.  When he wasn’t playing chess with Frank or testing Fern’s baking, he was taking one of their daughters to the museum or the movies. 

I was only 6 years old when my father told me that Mrs. Waples, as we knew her, died.  It was the first time I knew someone who had passed away.  I recall my parents driving with my two sisters and me to the funeral home for the wake.   (I couldn’t figure out why they called it that when we knew she would never wake up.)

The sky was overcast, and a light rain was falling.  My father parked a short distance away from the funeral home. He and my mother took turns watching us while the other went inside to pay respects. They were very quiet all the way home.

Frank retired some time after that.  He moved to San Marcos in Southern California and marred a second time to a lovely lady named Katie.  They later moved to Arizona, where he died in 1993.

Still, the memories of those happy times with the Waples family would remain with my father all of his life, always sure to bring a smile to his face and a story to his lips.  

Copyright ©  2012  Linda Huesca Tully


 

2 Thoughts to “Life with the Waples Family

  1. Hi Linda,

    My name is also Linda, Linda Lee (Waples) Goodbrake. I am the daughter of Frank Lawton Waples and Patricia (Dodge) Waples. Frank and Fern were my Grandparents! I enjoyed reading your blog about your father and sharing it with my parents, who live in Prescott, AZ. They knew your dad. They are in their 80's and doing well. I live in Falls Church, VA and was researching family tree stuff when I came across your blog. How fun to see the pictures and read your dad's memories. My email is lgoodbrake@aol.com if you want to contact me. I am probably your age as I was only 6 when Grandma Fern died. Mom and Dad went to the funeral, but we lived in California at the time and there were 4 children by then, so we stayed behind. By the way, my dad was the only child Frank and Fern had, so we don't know who you might be referring to about taking daughters to the movies and museums. My older sister and brother were just babies then and too small and young to go to either. Dad was their only child, but the rest of the information seems very accurate. Thanks again. Linda

  2. Dear Linda,

    How wonderful to hear from you – you will not believe this, but I actually found your family tree on Ancestry.com two days ago and was about to contact you via their "member connect" this weekend! I guessed you might be a direct descendant but thought you might want to know about the posts. Talk about living in a parallel universe.

    Diane Waples – that is the person I thought was a daughter. I believe I may even have a picture of her. Perhaps she was a niece, then?

    My father loved your grandparents dearly and always spoke of them as two of the great influences in his life. In fact, if it hadn't been for your grandmother, I doubt that I'd be here today! She really knew just what to say to encourage him, especially when it came to asking my mother out. There will be more about her soon, incidentally. Stay tuned.

    I will e-mail you soon. Meanwhile, please give my best to your parents and let them know that your family will always be very special to ours.

    Thanks so much for visiting the blog and for your welcome note. Take care.

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