Author explores the truth behind an old rumour

Grimsby Lincoln News, July 14, 2015

FULTON — For most of her life, what Barbara Fanson believed about her grandfather’s death was a lie.

Rumour had it Harry Fanson, who worked at the Fulton Store, was killed by a drunk motorcyclist in front of the store on Palm Sunday in 1933. It was a story that everyone knew, but nobody talked about. Fanson never asked her grandmother about that tragic day in April 1933.

“We didn’t talk about it,” said Fanson, who discovered the truth on the third floor of the Hamilton Public Library. While searching through old newspapers she found an article about the accident that took her grandfather’s life and several follow up articles.

Text Box: Because he was eating an onion, they assumed he was trying to cover up the smell. —Barbara Fanson “It was never proven that the driver was drunk,” said Fanson. “But because he was eating an onion, they assumed he was trying to cover up the smell.”

Her grandfather wasn’t struck by a motorcycle either.

“It was a family in a car,” said Fanson, who grew up in Smithville, but now calls Mount Hope home. “Everything I knew about it was squashed last summer.”

Harry Fanson was struck by the car at 10:30 at night in front of the store. Dr. Leeds drove from his home in Smithville and transported Harry to St. Joseph’s Hospital in his car. Harry passed away three days later, and his funeral was held that Saturday in the apartment above the store.

An inquest was held in Smithville weeks later. The coroner came from Wellandport. ”It’s too bad my dad is gone and never got to know the story,” said Fanson.

While Fanson’s father will never hear the true story of his father’s death, many will have the opportunity as Fanson has used it to form the plot of her first work of fiction. Fanson has written many non-fiction books — mostly how-to guides on desktop publishing and graphic design. Tragedy on the Twenty is her first work of historical fiction.

“It’s a story that interested me,” said Fanson. “I felt it needed to be told.”

The book is sprinkled with history — both local and international. At the time of Harry’s death, Bonnie and Clyde were in the middle of their exploits and the Stanley Cup playoffs were underway. Entire farms could be purchased for a few thousand dollars and homes were just starting to get hydro.

Fanson’s father was the eldest of the four; the youngest was born three months after Harry’s death.

That child’s birth is at the start and end of the novel.

“I rewrote the first chapter so many times,” said Fanson. “I didn’t know where I wanted to start.” Fanson also rewrote the book several times. First telling the story from the perspective of her father, who was three at the time of his father’s passing. She settled on a third person account with her grandmother, Janetta as the main character.

Fanson will be doing a reading from her book on Sunday, July 19 at Fulton Hall, next to the Fulton Stone Church on Highway 20. She will also be selling and signing copies of the self-published book, which is also available in e-book format on Amazon. The book launch takes place at 1 p.m.

Fanson will also be speaking at local libraries and for the West Lincoln Historical Society this fall. She will speak at the Smithville Public Library on Wednesday, Sept. 9 at 7 p.m. and Grimsby Public Library on Thursday, Oct. 8 at 7 p.m. She will speak at the historical society on Thursday, Oct. 1 at 7:30 at the Smithville Train Station.

Copies of Tragedy on the Twenty can be purchased at one of her presentations or this website.

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