howtheduck (howtheduck) wrote in binky_betsy,

Treasures from the Treasury Part 4: Doug Franks

One of the big surprises for me in Treasury #4 was the inclusion of a wedding picture with Lynn and her first husband Doug Franks.

First of all this was quite a difference between this picture and the Doug Franks Lynn drew in her 2011 talk at the Charles Schulz Museum, where she described him as being covered in hair.

It was not what I was expecting considering Lynn’s description of him in her 10th anniversary collection (1989):

Although our lives had gone in different directions, I kept in touch with my original high school ratpack of musical and theatrical rowdies, several of whom had entered the high energy world of broadcasting.

It was at a party of would-be media personalities, that I met Doug Franks.

Doug was tall and laid-back, he had a deep voice, sleepy blue eyes, and a smile that had mischief written all over it. After a few beers you could always count on him to be the life of the party.

Doug was funny. He was naturally comedic in his gestures and as far as I was concerned, he had all the right qualities in a mate; he was attractive, he liked me, and he could make me laugh.

The guy looks like a class A nerd. He’s a 30-year-old cameraman and he marries a 20-year-old art school dropout. Looking at the picture I can easily imagine how he could have been pushed into moving to Hamilton, Ontario.

This is the description of why they moved to Hamilton. I notice in the text that the Lynn called the move “temporary” which it obviously was not. When talking about the poor state of the Vancouver broadcasting industry she says, "the bottom appeared to fall out." My knowledge of Lynnglish has grown to the point now where I recognize that something which "appears" to happen is not something that actually happened. I also recognize the use of the "temporary" phrase has all the smell of an excuse that was used to convince someone of something.

Doug was working for the CBC as a television cameraman when we were married in 1967. For a year, we lived in Vancouver’s wonderful hippie west end. I’d lived all my sheltered life in my parents’ home and now had my own apartment. I loved the freedom and the title “Mrs.”

In 1969, the bottom appeared to fall out of the Vancouver broadcasting industry. Spending cutbacks affected every facet of the business. CBC had massive lay-offs, and people were dismissed in order of seniority. Because he was a new recruit, Doug knew that his job was on the line.

We made plans to go east, just for a while, to find temporary work. When the situation improved, we’d go back to Vancouver.

Here is Lynn’s description of the end of the marriage and as usual I note that Doug was so anxious to leave he only took what he packed up on his motorcycle:

If work was wonderful, the marriage was not. Friends one day and enemies the next, Doug and I had gone from being Blondie and Dagwood to Flo and Andy Capp.

By now we were too entrenched in the east to return to Vancouver.

I was twenty-six and wanted a family. My freelance work had increased, and I knew I could establish a small business at home.

The subject of a baby drove a wedge between us. Vacillating between wanting and then not wanting a family, Doug finally begged total freedom from the decision altogether. I conceived Aaron.

New motherhood was not easy. Emotionally, I was still a child myself. Though Doug appeared to be pleased with his small son, he found parenthood too confining and too much of a commitment. When Aaron was six months old, he moved out of the house.

No divorce is easy, but I suspect ours was less difficult than most. He left everything that could not be carried on his motorcycle. I was to keep the car, the house – everything – and in exchange, he was to be free forever of all responsibility. This was our agreement.

Doug Franks from the interview Lynn had with Tom Heintjes for the Hogan’s Alley magazine in 1994, where the reasons for the divorce have significantly changed in the 5 years since the 10th anniversary. This is the story Lynn now maintains is what happened. No longer a man who didn't want to be a father, he is now a cheater who called Lynn "fat and ugly."

Heintjes: Contrast Aaron’s upbringing with your daughter’s, Kate.

Johnston: When Kate was born, she was born into a world of joy and happiness and confidence. The difference between the children is night and day. She’s happy, she’s thriving, she’s full of self-confidence. I tell her she’s beautiful every day before I send her off to school. When I had her, I was happy, and when you’re happy, you can look in the mirror and say, “You know, I’m not so bad.” But when Aaron was born, it was different. My husband would say things to me like my mother did. “You’re fat and ugly.” And he treated me like garbage. His girlfriends would call him at home, and when I would pick up the phone, they would giggle at me. And I would look in the mirror then and say to myself, “If only I were pretty. If only I were thin.” So I decided to get thin, and boy, did I get thin—I went down to 110 pounds. I was anorexic. I would go to bed and my stomach would be cramped.

Heintjes: How did your upbringing affect the way you rear your own children? Do you find yourself reacting against the way she brought you up?

Johnston: [Pause] I treat my children both like my mother and myself. But I really need to answer that question later, because I had to go through so much before I learned how to raise my children.

I had a terrible marriage the first time around because I had no self-confidence, even though I had tremendous self-confidence. That was the strange thing. That’s why I’m a perfect Gemini. One part of me says that no matter what happens, I have a talent that no one else has. I could sing, I could write, I have so many gifts that I could fall back on. I knew I wouldn’t have to work at Woolco. I could go into show business. I knew, deep down inside, that I was never going to starve.
The other side of me said, “You’re fat, you’re ugly, you don’t deserve the best.” I never believed I was in love with a guy unless I was crying into my pillow. Any kind man who brought me flowers and remembered my birthday, I thought, “You wimp!” Any guy who treated me like shit, I wanted! “Please God, don’t let him go! He said he’d call me!” So I went for these guys who treated me like shit, and I married one of them! The guys who treated me badly were the funny guys, and I always went for the guys with the sense of humor. But I married a guy who treated me very badly, but I was happy. I was miserable, so I was happy.

Heintjes: This was Doug, the man who gave you Aaron?

Johnston: Yes, and when I had Aaron, he left me, and I didn’t know how to raise a child.

There you have it. That wedding picture was exactly the opposite of what I expected from Doug Franks, the hippie-dippie cameraman. He looks straight-laced, conservative, nerdy and quite a contrast from Lynn's description.


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