A beautifully told story with colorful characters out of epic tradition, a tight and complex plot, and solid pacing. -- Booklist, starred review of On the Razor's Edge

Great writing, vivid scenarios, and thoughtful commentary ... the stories will linger after the last page is turned. -- Publisher's Weekly, on Captive Dreams

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Uncle Francey

Francis Thomas, son of Francis Thomas, son of Daniel Joseph,
son of John Thomas, son of Martin Flynn of Loughrea

My uncle, Pere's brother, died yesterday at the age of 85. He wasn't quite in the middle of the seven brothers and sisters, but he definitely "jumped the line," as my aunt Patsy told me this morning when we drove past her place. "We're supposed to go in order," she said. There is a certain Irish cast of humor there.

He ran Flynn's on the Hill, a local catering hall, and was well-known throughout the area. He saw his vocation not as "running a catering business" but as "feeding people," and whatever was left over he donated to the poor. He was known among his contemporaries as "Salem" because as a kid he was famous for his slovenly dress which was said to resemble a local pack peddler named Salem (or Salim). 

He was famously devoted to the catering so much so that his children once had to trick him into catering his own birthday party.

Uncle Francey is on the left. Pere in center, Uncle Danny on right.
Front: Aunt Patsy and Aunt Mary.
One time, TOF was engaged in telephone conversation with a potential client in northern New Jersey. As we were concluding, I asked her if she was from Easton, since her voice was identical to my cousin's. She said no, she was from Phillipsburg though everyone up her way thought she had a Philly accent. So I said, maybe you know my uncle's place. "Sure, everybody knows Flynny's." She had gone to high school with cousin Timmy. On another occasion, some clients at a seminar in IIRC Florida, asked me as we were all waiting for an airplane if I knew of Flynn's. On yet another occasion, the QC manager at a company in Edison NJ, while waiting for a meeting to commence, asked me where I lived. "Right here in Edison," I said. "Oh," he replied. "My son is marrying a girl named Flynn; but she lives way over the other side of the state, in Phillipsburg." "That would be Nancy Jo," answered I. His eyes grew wide and round. "You're everywhere," he said.

Everybody knew Flynny.

Pere habitually referred to him as "Flynn", which considering the plethora of Flynn in these here parts, is remarkably non-specific. He also called him "my brother," which narrows the field only a little, as he had three of them. Everyone knew who he meant.

For all that, he was often mistaken for his brother and once conducted an extensive conversation with a guy who appeared to know him before he realized that the guy meant his brother. "He thought he was talking to Flynn," my father said. 

I pointed out that he, too, was a Flynn. He seemed startled.

Around table: Mary, Patsy, Danny, Sissy, Francey.
In rear: Pere, Tommy.
Uncle Francey is survived by his wife of 61 years, Ann Ryan Flynn, and by his five children: Jimmy, Francey, Timmy, Ann, and Nancy Jo.


Uncle Francey, 2nd from left, with Aunt Ann

Funeral arrangements are by Finegans. In another burst of Irish humor, the two Finegans were driving down Firth St. a couple years ago and passed the old home where the seven Flynns were setting on the front porch in rocking chairs. Finegan stopped the car and called out: "We do group rates!"

The arrangements are yet to be announced; but it is inconceivable that the meal will not be served at Flynn's on the Hill, putting Uncle Francey in the odd position of catering his own funeral.


  1. My condolences for your loss.

    BeannĂș DĂ©,

  2. May your dear Uncle rest in peace through the mercy of Our Lord.

  3. Maybe, just maybe, God wanted a good man out of the way before things get really bad.


    1. In my family, a line like that would just be begging to be answered, "What's that saying about the rest of us?" Heh.

  4. Praying.

    May light perpetual shine upon him.

  5. Not sure how to otherwise contact you.
    Do you have any of your series such as The Great Ptolemaic Smackdown in PDF or other printable versions? I have tried printing the blog posts and that sort of works but includes lots of marginal stuff.


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