Francine's Dryer Chair

Vintage Dryer Chair w/ Normandie Beehive
Vintage Dryer Chair w/ Normandie Beehive

My great grandmother, Francesca “Frannie” Silvi was born in 1914 to Italian immigrants living in the Boston area. Frannie opened her beauty parlor, Francine’s, in Roslindale, Massachusetts, just after World War II. She chose the name Francine to capture the post-war fascination with all things French--France was an ally to the United States during the war, while Italy was not, resulting in anti-Italian sentiment. The business did well, enabling her to relocate her family to Roslindale. This was a strategic move, done so her son, Guy, could attend Boston Latin High School. Though migrating between Boston suburbs is very different from immigrating from another country, this move had a huge impact on the future of my family. The Ciannavei’s new neighbors in Roslindale were the Bastianelli family--Their daughter, Joanne, is my grandmother. Reflecting on my family’s story, there are parallels between Frannie and Guy and my parents and me. My parents moved my brother and I from Stamford, Connecticut to West Hartford so we could benefit from better public schools. Both my parents have been business owners, and they chose my namesake not only because she was a beloved mother and grandmother, but because she was a self-made woman despite the obstacles of her time. Frannie passed before I was born, but the chair is still with us. My parents took ownership of it, and have dutifully moved it between the three houses we have lived in in Connecticut. It currently resides in our garage. 

Place(s): Massachusetts, New England, Italy, Walpole, Roslindale

– Francesca Ciannavei

Relationship:  Great-grandchild of im/migrant or more Great-grandchild of im/migrant or more