Frances Posner - In Memoriam

Vol. XVI No. 3 - FALL 2005

Frances Posner was born in 1913 to Jenny and Joseph Posner who had purchased the home at 1305 Rosedale in 1919. Frances lived there her entire life and sold the home when she moved to St. Paul’s Nursing home in 2002. Frances died in September, 2005.

Because she wanted to support the Edgewater Historical Society she gave the contents of the home to the Museum to produce a sale. Kathy Gemperle and Pam Ball organized the sale and an army of volunteers worked at the two day event. While we were at the event a reporter from the WBEZ radio program “This American Life“ stopped by and interviewed people who were purchasing items and going through collections of books. Frances had been a librarian and had worked in the Chicago Public Schools. An excerpt of one of these interviews was played on the radio broadcast of “This American Life.”

Although the sale was successful in many ways, several items did not sell and have become a part of our museum furnishings. The maple kitchen table and chairs seemed to fit perfectly in the old fashioned kitchen. Her round oak dining room table is used at the entrance of the museum to hold flyers and handouts. Tucked in the corner is a “mini Pianette” which is for sale for $150. It is in a solid maple case and has been tuned. We also kept some of Frances’s lamps because they were in good working condition and could be used.

Frances also left us a memoir of her life at 1305 W. Rosedale. We are in the process of transferring it from handwritten text to computer flies. Last issue we published a short story she had written about Thorndale beach. Perhaps in the future we may publish more of her stories. After reading just part of her writing, I found a picture of a real character who enjoyed her life and was happy to be a little out of the ordinary.

Frances was born after the death of her two brothers who succumbed to the flu in the 1918 epidemic. She had an older sister Helen who lived at the house in her old age and died there. It was Helen who had had the house altered to be two apartments in order to get some income during the depression. This alteration was only reversed after the house was sold in 2002. Her writings about her childhood included stories of how she would be so entranced by a book that when her mother had asked her to do the dishes she found her downstairs in the basement in front of the furnace with her nose in a book. The printed word held a magic for her that transported her to many worlds.

In adulthood, Frances became a world traveler, visiting the American West, Mexico and Israel. It seems that everything in life was an adventure for her. In her old age she tried to start an historical society and met with some neighborhood ladies at the Edgewater Library. But through some change of administration the things that they had collected were disposed of and the group disbanded. When we met for the first public meeting to form the Edgewater Historical Society in 1988, Frances was there and she was thrilled to be a part of it.

Through the years we held meetings at the Edgewater Library and Frances was always there. She was a college educated woman from the University of Chicago in an era when few of her neighborhood peers went to college. She had her degree in Library Science as well. As she got older and less able to get out, she invited people over for coffee and even lunch. Her house was cramped but warm, filled with unique things that she treasured. When we went to empty it we found much more than we expected. Many people in Edgewater have beautiful things in their homes now that were once at Frances’s house. It’s as if we all have a little bit of Frances and that she lives with us still.