Frank H. Abston, WWII Veteran

Posted January 19, 2021 at 2:17 pm

Frank Abston.psd

The following was taken from an interview done by Walton Haddix on October 3, 2002 for the Clinton County Historical Society-Library of Congress Veterans History Project.

Frank Abston was born on January 7, 1918, the seventh of ten children Richard Blaine and Fanny Ellen Summers Abston were blessed with. The family lived on a small farm in the Highway Community of Clinton County, which was located midway between Albany and Burkesville, Ky.

Blaine Abston joined the U.S. Army while a young man in his teens and served during the Spanish-American War.

Returning from service, Blaine married and started his family in a two story log cabin on a sixty acre farm which had more than one acre devoted to a garden. All family members who were able worked in the garden, since most everything on the table and most of what they had to eat was raised in the garden.

Frank remembers when a circus traveled through Highway, from Burkesville to Albany. The elephants and most of the other animals traveled through on foot. When the elephants came through, they reached over into gardens along the road with their long trunks and pulled up vegetables to eat.

There was only one general store in the Highway Community, which was operated by two Mackey brothers. The Abston family had very little cash money and were able to buy only a few items from the store. However, staples such as salt were acquired by trading eggs, from laying hens kept on the farm. Only on rare occasions did the family eat eggs since they were the only farm produce that could be easily traded for needed items.

Prior to starting grade school at Highway, Frank was taken by his father for an overnight visit to his grandfather Summers’ at Wago, a distance of four miles. A heavy snow fell overnight and was too deep for little Frank to walk in. His dad had to go home to feed the livestock, so Frank was left with his grandfather for three whole days and he remembers being very homesick the entire time.

Frank attended Highway grade school with his other siblings, and when it came time to attend high school, Blaine Abston moved his family into Albany in order to give them an opportunity to attend high school. With remorse and fond memories, the Abston family left their Highway home and moved to a rented house near where the Albany water tank is now located.

To provide for his family, Blaine opened a shoe repair and leather shop upstairs in an old wooden building, where the present Granville Hotel building is today. Frank entered high school and graduated in the spring of 1937 with high marks. He was also very musically inclined, playing fiddle with great skill. While in high school, he played in a band with A.B. Gibson, Wendell Wade, Ben Dyer, J.D. Speck and others. He was strong, with great physical strength and athletic ability as well. He played on the basketball team with Wendell Wade, J.B. Owens, J.D. Speck and others, but the school had no gym at the time. One game he remembers in particular was playing Mill Springs at the Monticello National Guard Armory, where the Albany team won 102-35.

After graduating high school, Frank planned on continuing his education by going to college, but due to his father becoming seriously ill, he agreed to stay home and operate the shoe repair and leather shop for a year. The year passed and Blaine had recovered and was able to trade a Jersey cow to A.B. Mackey, president of Trevecca College in Nashville, for Frank’s first year’s tuition. Mr. Mackey, being from Highway himself and knowing the work ethic of the Abston family, agreed to let Frank work mowing grass and doing building repairs for room and board.

After two years of college, war was declared by President Roosevelt and Frank got a full time job in a plant making airplane wings for the Army Air Corps P-47 Thunderbolt fighter planes. He worked 12 hour shifts and attended college part time between working the 12 hour shifts. After classes and study, there was very little time to sleep and no time for recreation.

In November 1943, Frank joined the Army Air Corps and qualified as a pilot in a small army training plane to win his wings. However, he never got to be a regular pilot due to being sent to flight engineering school. There he was trained as a flight engineer on a B-29 long range bomber preparing for the invasion of Japan.

After being discharged from the Army in November 1947, Frank went to Indiana to work and found a job at the Perfect Circle plant and worked for six months before returning to Nashville to complete his college degree at George Peabody College.

In 1948, his home town came calling and wanted him to teach history at Clinton County High School. From the first day of his teaching career to his last, after more than 27 years, Mr. Abston was one of the most adored and respected teachers who ever walked the halls of Clinton County High School.

Mr. Frank H. Abston, father, husband, World War II Veteran, musician, teacher, advisor, athlete, farmer…a man who it seems has lived by the rule “it is better to give than to receive” because his entire life has been devoted to giving to all who know him.

*Note from Mr. Abston’s son: Thank you Dad, for everything you did for us. We love you and miss you. May we all strive to find common ground to make this a better year. God bless us all.