This Historic Day… My Father

Francis Matthew Sinclair, my father, was born on this day, May 27, in the year 1915.

He was the son of Joseph F. and Mary (Winkler) Sinclair and lived almost his entire life in Exeter, NH. He graduated from Exeter High School in 1933.

In May of 1941, he married my mother, Avis Louise Foss, in Exeter, NH.

In 1961, Dad started his own business; collecting and selling wildflowers and ferns. He and my mother operated this business, entitled Francis M. Sinclair Wildflowers, from a property on Newmarket (now Newfields) Road on the outskirts of Exeter. We moved there during the summer of my 8th birthday. I worked with my Dad every summer from high school through college.

Besides his business and his family, my father had two other passions in his life: being a fireman and going ice fishing.

As a firefighter, Dad was an active, long-time member of the Exeter Fire Department, serving as a “call fireman,” attached to Engine #1.

In the winter, the off-season for collecting ferns and widflowers, Dad went ice fishing, in his 8’x8’x7′, hand-made shack, catching smelts whenever the tide was right on the Newmarket River. For many years, once I was deemed old enough by my mother, Dad often took me along.

In the mid-1980’s, Dad retired from the wildflower business. By the early-1990’s, his life of often-demanding physical labor began to take its toll and his ice fishing days became a soon-to-be thing of the past as well.

Inspired by a novel I was reading at the time, “Language In The Blood” (1991) by Kent Nelson and singer/songwriter/guitarist Steve Goodman’s wonderful 1988 waltz, “Old Smoothies,” I set out to chronicle our ice fishing adventures in a song.

In honor of my father’s birthday, here it is.

“Winter Of ’92” – words, music, guitar & vocals by Eric Sinclair

The most valuable lesson I learned from my father, and one for which I am continuously grateful, was the incalculable importance of making your living doing something you love to do.

Dad passed away on January 26, 2000.

Miss him.

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4 Responses to This Historic Day… My Father

  1. Kathe says:

    Loved this story-song…the loving empathy really resonates beautifully. Thanks for sharing. I enjoyed the song and the write-up. 🙂

  2. Chuck Rhoades says:

    The relationships between fathers and sons can be so complicated and rarely is the essence of a good one captured as clearly and warmly as you do in this song. Many thanks.

  3. sinclakr says:

    and you, my dear father, passed that same invaluable lesson on to me, for which i am also continuously and forever grateful 🙂 love you!

  4. Jane Laberee says:

    I used to send for your Dad’s wildflowers while growing up in Swampscott, MA. Receiving those packages was like a second Christmas. I still have the old catalogs. Thanks for a great story and song and a new 3-dimensional view of the person behind the name on the catalogs.

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