Who Is Francie?


Francy Pinkowski was born in Niagara Falls, NY, on April 27th, 1918. And, she was my maternal Grandmother. After marrying my Grandpa, Stanley Gryzbowski, she changed her name to Frances Gibbs, though she had many aliases over the years (not because she has been running from the law!): Pinky, Nana, Grandma. It was from her that I “inherited” my love for fashion, as well as an appreciation for a really great deal.

She lived to be “almost 97” and she continues to be an inspiration to me in so many ways. Her life was a non-stop adventure. She worked: from inspecting airplanes at Bell Aircraft during WWII, to a manager at Kimberly-Clark, to a hairdresser, to a restauranteur (my cousin still runs the tavern she and my Grandpa opened up in Sanborn, NY, The Walmore Inn). She was never one to sit still. She traveled to Hawaii in 1960 right after it became a state, drove through the night by herself to South Carolina in 1942 to surprise my Grandpa who was stationed there, took a journey to her ancestors’ homeland (Poland) in the 1970’s, enjoyed countless trips to Florida and Las Vegas with friends, and she’s been sure to visit me wherever I’ve landed.

She was the life of the party, up until the day she died. She had a vast library of jokes (rated from G to R!) stored in her “computer” – she could hold a room’s attention for hours with her jokes and stories. She loved a good Manhattan or Martini and I can think of many nights when I was in my 20’s and she was in her 70’s where I was ready for bed but she could have stayed out dancing until the sun came up.

She crocheted her entire life, and did a crossword puzzle every morning (if not two!). She cooked the most mouth-watering comfort food this side of the mighty Niagara. She read books rather than watch daytime TV. She knew more about current events and news than most people half her age.

Francie’s Boutique is my attempt to recreate the service and fashion sense of the dress shops of the mid-1900’s. And, to honor my Grandma.

– Leslie