Then and Now — 1934 & 2022 — 4650 21st Ave So.
This house was owned from 1934 – 1949 by Frank and Frances Cross. Frank Samuel Cross was born on January 9, 1882 in Chicago, Illinois, the eldest of two boys. After receiving his schooling in Chicago, Frank moved to Colorado where in the 1903 he had listed his employment as “Cowboy”. That same year Frank enlisted in the US Army and served four years. In 1907, after his military service was completed, Frank married Ms. Frances McCormick Key, while living in Denver. The couple never had children.
In 1908, Frank and Frances moved to Birmingham Alabama, where Frances was born, and Frank took a job as a draftsman. Progressing rapidly in this field, Frank soon became an architect.
The US entered WWI on April 6, 1917, and on June 8th Frank enlisted again in the US Army and was sent to France to fight. Frank progressed to the rank of Regimental Sergeant Major. The war didn’t end well for Frank, he lost both legs a mere five months before the wars end. Frank recuperated in a field hospital and was then transferred back to the states, and to his wife Frances, he was 36.
Frank went back into the architect business in Denver, but by 1920 had decided that life for a wheelchair bound person may be easier in a part of the country that had no snow. He and Frances had heard the wonderful things about the climate in St. Pete and were soon headed this way by train. When Frank arrived, he took a job with “Hollman & Glenn”, local architects and builders.
Frank was extremely involved with the local American Legion post and the D.A.V. and was featured in this 1934 Times article:
“Soldier Who Suffered Loss of Legs Finds He Is Not Handicapped – Who’s that fellow? We asked a nearby fan, pointing to the gentleman we had noticed occupying a ringside position every fight night at the American Legion armory. He always appeared in a wheelchair. We inquired about him mainly because we one saw him get into an auto. It was the neatest trick we had ever seen. He rose out of the light chair, locked the leg securely behind the knee and in a moment, he was seated behind the steering wheel, with the chair nicely folded in the back of the car.”
“He’s the Legion welfare officer” our informant told us. “He hasn’t any legs. He runs all around town, and I guess he holds the record for being the busiest man in St. Petersburg” Then, because we happen to know that welfare work demands a lot of physical activity, and because this man was so entirely indifferent to what would have been a desperate handicap for anyone else – and because we were just downright curious as to how he covered so much territory, we barged over and introduced ourselves.”
“The result of the introduction was an appointment the following morning when our new friend suggested we accompany him on his rounds. And so, we met Frank S. Cross – and learned many things about the work he is doing in the city. Frank, we discovered comes from a family of soldiers, and a mere thing like a double amputation would scarcely stop a man whose family had been scrappers since the fifteenth century. His forefather, Isaac Drew, served under George Washington and started this family’s military service in this country. Cross, who is an architect by profession, carried on the family’s yen for battles. Perhaps it’s the military discipline – or perhaps it’s the background of sturdy, altruistic, courageous folk which enables Frank to carry on in spite of the weary burden he is forced to carry. No matter, what the reason is, the result is startling.”
“Why welfare work, we asked. Doesn’t it mean a lot of dashing around and investigation? “Yes” he admitted, “it does, but I feel I am in a position to understand exactly the point of view of the poor fellow who is suffering some disability and is torn between a desire to sock the medico for keeping him in the hospital and a burning ambition to recover in as short a time as possible.” It seemed reasonable, we thought, wondering how frequently Frank, himself, had traveled that very road.”
“Only half of the Legion’s welfare job was completed when they see an ex-service man gets the proper medical and financial assistance. After that the other half of the job is turned over to the keen-eyed, legless man whose sympathy, common sense and executive ability combine to help the family of that ex-service man over the rough spots. The amount of work that he does in an average week is too voluminous to be presented in this article.”
“On Monday, Wednesday and Friday Frank goes to the Soldier’s hospital for personal treatment. It takes about two hours, but he usually spends the entire afternoon there as he does the same work for the Sunshine City Chapter No. 9, Disabled American Veterans as he does for the American Legion. The boys at the hospital might want him to take a message to someone in town, or buy them a greeting card, or to shop around and see where they can get room and board after they are dismissed. All these little errands, as well as a little visiting and acting as an audience to one or two who have grievances, take up more of Frank’s busy days.”
“His evenings are just as busy, with meetings at the American Legion and the D.A.V. as well as attending city meeting and making phone calls to many of the disabled service men. Frank also spends his days helping at the Crippled Children’s hospital. “The crippled children’s hospital, you know”, he explained, “is for crippled children – all crippled children. They don’t have to be children of Legionnaires – as a matter of fact, they don’t have to be children of ex-service men. If they’re children, and crippled, the facilities and staff, the clinic and the entire organization are at their service.”
“Frank, who lives at 4650 21st Avenue South, is giving his time and services to this extremely important phase of the American Legion work. He is not paid – and frequently he is not even thanked, but to quote our neighbor in the bleachers at the arena…”He’s a swell guy”.
Frank passed away on November 3, 1941, at age 59 and was buried in Bay Pines Cemetery with full military honors. Frances stayed in this house until 1949 when she sold.
Did you like this article? Please use the convenient links below to share on your favorite social channels! It helps us grow and keep writing.