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Doug Wintch: Music

Frank the Fighting Seabee

Its hard to squeeze someone who's bigger than life into a song. I wrote 5 or 6 trying to come up with a tribute to Frank that I could live with. He was the genuine article...I only hope we did him somewhat proud. I took the liberty of telling this story through the eyes of my friend Peter. I'm sure I got some of the details wrong...but every word is true in spirit.

It was a privilege to observe and share a little of their friendship during the last few years of Frank's life. Frank and Peter met in a wedding reception line...the day Peter married Frank's niece.  As they shook hands and sized each other up, what Frank actually whispered was "I could kick your ass." Can you imagine the poor groom standing there in his tuxedo smiling and shaking hands with some gnarly-carpenter-seabee-uncle-dude that's whispering: I could kick your ass!

Seabee comes from the abbreviation C.B. which stands for construction battalion. Construction workers were needed badly in World War Frank enlisted, and actually did build bridges in the South Pacific. The motto of the fighting Seabees is,  "Can Do!  We'll find a way or we'll make a way!"  And that was pretty much Frank's attitude. 

On a final note, I don't generally write songs about butterflies...never say never I guess!  Please know that there really was a monarch sitting there on Frank's flag/casket drying his wings.  It was a lovely and amazing sight.  Naturally, I haven't seen a monarch since, without thinking of Frank.

Frank was a fighting Seabee

Way back in world war II

He shipped out for the South Pacific

When Uncle Sam said I want you

If it was wood, Frank could build it

He built bridges everyday

And if he ever saw his comrade struggling

Frank knew what to say

     Pull up a bucket

     Rest your weary bones

     When the task looks too rugged

     Remember you’re not alone

I’d never seen such gnarly fingers.

As we clamped hands in my wedding line

He whispered young man, you’ll curse the day

You don't take care of that niece of mine

Soon he taught me to swing a hammer

Abetter friend, I never found

For thirty years he kept me level

He’d smile when I was plumb down

     Pull up a bucket

     Rest your weary bones

     When the task looks too rugged

     Remember you’re not alone

     He smoked ‘em cause he had ‘em

     We'd think it through a while

     We'd pull up a bucket...

     Then we’d go the extra mile

In the graveyard grass this morning

We gathered round the stars and stripes

That covered Franks’ wooden casket

On top was a brand new butterfly

We all told our own Frank Stories.

Beneath the giant maple trees

And when the monarch’s wings were ready

He rose up on the breeze

     Pull up a bucket

     Rest your weary bones

     When the task looks too rugged

     Remember you’re not alone

     Smoke ‘em if you gotta

     Think it through a while

     Pull up a bucket

     Then get up and go the extra mile

Frank the fighting Seabee...sailed on home today