Look who popped up in Troy

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 27, 2001

Features Editor

After a four-year hiatus, Fran Sharp popped up in Troy Wednesday, but only long enough to say "howdy."

Then she was back in her "box" and headed back to the hills and the gleaming Alabaster city she now calls home.

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For a while, after she left the small town carousel life for a roller-coaster ride in the big city,

all roads still led to Troy.

Then, Frannie began to put down feeler roots in "metropolis" and then a tap root cemented her to urban life.

Had it not been for her love of writing, she probably would not have shown her face around town the other day.

As a free lance writer, she was assigned a story with a lot of dough attached. So she just kind of roll-ed over to Sister Schubert’s in Luverne then panned out to her old hometown and brought her friends up to snuff on her "mundane" big city life.

To hear Fran tell it, grass is growing under her feet up there, but if you read between the lines, you’ll know it’s Bahia and it’s shooting up fast and taking her with it.

After pondering a few minutes, she did come up with the "only interesting thing I can think of."

Fran writes for "Friends and Family," a magazine publication of ALFA and a weekly column for The Messenger. She recently won two first place awards in a contest sponsored by the

Alabama Media Professionals.

The awards were for a piece in "Friends" and a column in The Messenger.

"And, oh yeah," she said, almost as an afterthought, " the piece in ‘Friends and Family’

won second place in a national competition – the National Federation of Press Women."

The article was a fascinating piece about Fran’s uncle who served in Korea during the first days of the war.

"The story would have been fascinating even if he had not been my uncle," Fran said. "During the 50th anniversary of the Korean War, he returned to Korea with other members of his unit. A most interesting aspect about his return was that his daughter was there in Korea as a major with the Army. Their being in Korea together was a great story."

Other than writing and winning awards, Fran would have her friends believe that she’s just driving around her mother, who is 80-something and an energetic greeter at Wal-Mart, sitting and watching her sister dust and move items around in her antique shop and taking "rented" children to movies with concealed canned drinks and candy bars in her purse – "a cost saving measure, not a lesson in deceptive practices."

In an attempt to show the kids she’s still young enough to kick up her heels, Fran bounced around with the youngsters in a Moon Walk. They took the bait, hook line and sinker, and were fully convince "Aunt Fran" is a spring chicken or a springing chicken. However they didn’t see "old Fran" the next day hobbling around stiff and sore and rubbing on Ben-Gay to the tune of "Blue Moon."

But, Fran did admit she has some interesting things on her plate in the coming days – pork, to be exact.

"I’ve been asked to judge the pork cookoff for the ALFA Commodities Convention in Birmingham," she said, adding she’ll begin fasting three days before going to the trough in order to be able to pig out with an eye on the prize.

One other thing Fran did mention, with an obvious sense of pride and accomplishment, was that she has overcome the canine fear that kept her behind closed doors and in locked cars for so long.

The reason?

Fran now has a granddog, a Weimaraner that belongs to her son Jason and his wife Misty, who live in Little Rock, Ark.

Little grand things have a way of turning a grandma to mush, but a dog on the phone is not as frightening as one in the room. So, Fran’s conquered fear might surface when she comes face-to-face with a dog big that’s enough to ride down to the Piggly Wiggly for a 50-pound sack of sugar.

That Fran and Joe’s older son, John, has made his mark in the world is not up for debate. John’s debate team at West Georgia College won the National Debate Championship in 2000. He is now in graduate school at the University of Southern California and a fellow in the Annenburg School of Communication.

In October, Fran and Joe will be attending a physicians’ conference in Los Angles. They will spend time with John and also take a side trip to San Francisco.

Fran, who has California "raisin" to her credit, said she will be returning to her people.

"I’ll be going back to ‘my’ people in the land of fruits and nuts," she said, laughing. "That’s just where I belong. I can hardly wait!"

She and Joe are also counting the days until his retirement. Then, they have a shared dream of his accepting a medical service appointment in a Spanish speaking country.

"I’m going to take Spanish classes at night to prepare myself for this," Fran said. "I’ve got to be able to speak the language so I can tell the people where to line up so Joe can give them their shots.

"Really, this is something we have talked about for a long time and it’s something that we want to do. When a man and woman become get to the age they have granddogs and grandcats, they deserve to do some of the things they want to do."

Fran added that spending more time among friends in Troy is another one of the things she wants to do. Whether she meant that or not is up for debate. The alternative was their visiting her. She would probably rather be a guest than have one – or two or three.