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Francine loved to give parties and to go to parties. She loved the captains parties on our cruises. It gave her a chance to dress up formally, which she enjoyed doing. I hated to dress up for the parties because my suits never fit right due to my large size. So I would usually tell her that I wasn’t going to go with her to the parties when we booked the cruise. But I always went so she wouldn’t have to go alone. I am so glad now that I did. After she got into the vintage clothing business she would buy new evening wear on sale and if she didn’t like a dress after she bought it or after she had wore it a couple of times she would sell it. On the last cruises we did she would take four formal outfits for two formal events and decide at the last minute what to wear.

Francine and the Red Dress

It was in the summer of 1981 in New Orleans. We were there for the American Numismatic Association’s annual convention which was to be the summit event for Shiloh Rare Coins. Michael, Ritchie Clay, Frank Howard, and myself were doing the show.

Francine, who had retired from the company a few months earlier, was there to visit and go to the ANA banquet. She had bought this red dress, but had not had the courage to wear it in Macon. She decided New Orleans was the perfect place. The dress was not as reveling as it looked, but was stunning. Francine was a perfect match for the dress. She was 44 years old and her figure was perfect. She always had a good figure right up to the end, but that night it was tops. We went to the banquet where she got a lot of attention but nothing like what was to come.

Our hotel was on the corner of Bourbon Street and Francine wanted to walk up the street and show off her dress. I was not as happy about it as she was, but I went along. From the start there was people surrounding us to get a better look. Men would be coming down the street and I would watch them as they ran across and back up the street to get ahead of us again. People were coming out of bars to see her. Maybe many of them thought she was a celerity. The crowd kept getting larger and larger. Francine was totally aware of the effect she was having and was loving it. After what seemed like hours, but was only a little while, she sensed I was uncomfortable and said we should start back. For once I knew what it was like to be with a celebrity.

Francine was to have many moments where she was the center of attention, but none with greater magnetism than that night in New Orleans. She stole everybody’s heart and for one night she was the undisputed “Queen of Bourbon Street. ”



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