Fran Martinsek Miller was always musical, as were most of her 7 brothers and sisters.
Her dad, Ata, played the button accordion for his friends, and her brother, Tony, picked it up too.
Here is the family when Fran, the oldest girl, upper right, was about 10.
Her two big brothers, Frank and Tony are standing in the back.
Seated are Annie, Frances (mother), Tilly, Anton (Ata the dad) and Johnny.
Fran says that her mother looks very sad in the picture because their neighbors had taken their cow.
They claimed it had gone through the fence and was now theirs! Ata got it back.
Mary and Elsie hadn't been born yet.
Somehow the family scraped together some money for a violin for Fran and an accordion for Tony.
Fran had a good friend, Ann Yersin, who also took up the violin.
They loved to practice together. Lots of Chopin, Brahms and Beethoven!
Even before the violin, Fran had started playing the old pump organ, seen in the background.
She was eager to start highschool until she found that mom and dad had no money for the bus at that point.
To help keep the house she got a job picking cookies off cookie trays in the cookie factory.
Soon all her fingers had blood blisters at the tips, no more violin playing.
But Tony said the accordion was the money maker anyway, got her one,
and by the age of 15 she was a full time entertainer, playing dance music, popular songs, movie music and classical numbers on request.
Pictures above: Martinsek sisters left to right: Mary, Annie, Tilly, Elsie and Fran.
Same sisters about 8 years later.
Fran entertaining in Milwaukee.
Fran, Renny and Grandma Miller in Milwaukee in 1950.
Fran and Renny in about 2000.
Fran, Renny and Dave at Scandia about 2009.
Fran and Elsie and Elsie's husband, Andy Redmann, drove up to Fish Creek in 1959 and looked an old lodge over.
They decided to buy it, fix it up and rename it. They called it the White Gull Inn.
Fran threw herself into the enterprize: she wove rugs, sewed curtains, designed the cup-cake tin chandeliers,
hammered out copper sconces on the sides of the fireplace (still there), hunted down colonial furniture,
put together the New England Buffet menu, supplied most of the recipes from her years of hobnobing with chefs,
did most of the baking on the weekends, baked all the pies and bread....
Then she would take off her apron and pick up the accordion and entertain the guests.
She continued on for a year or two after Andy and Elsie sold the Inn in 1963.
Here are a couple of fairly recent youtube videos of Fran. (Use the back button to get back here.)
At home about 2001, playing for her cousin Andriette (not pictured): Georgia Brown
At the Accordion Fest in Institute, Door County, WI in 2006: Fran's Show
Fran is now a full time resident at Scandia Village Retirement Home in Sister Bay
where she is still entertaining every day on the keyboard!