Living up to his name
Local student has presidential connection
Tracy B. Cieniewicz, Hartselle Enquirer
Whether it's the leader of the free world or the leader of a major toy conglomerate, one Hartselle Junior High School student is surely destined for great things.
Franklin "Frankie" Goodwin, 13, named for former U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, plans to major in politics and computer design when he attends college someday. He figures either area of study will be helpful if his dream of being the president of the United States or the CEO of Lego Toys is achieved.
The seventh grader hopes to attend Princeton University.
"That's where President George W. Bush went to college," Frankie said. "I want to get into a very good college like that and get the best education possible."
If Frankie had been eligible to vote in the 2000 presidential election, he said he would have voted for Bush, even though the president is a republican.
"My mother comes from a long line of democrats," Frankie said. "But I want to vote for the best person, no matter what political party they represent. And no matter who gets elected president, I support them and think other people should, too."
That's why Frankie decided to write a letter to President Bush just before the nation went to war with Iraq earlier this year. In the letter, Frankie told the president that he had complete confidence in his leadership abilities and thought the U.S. should wage war against Iraq and Afghanistan.
"I also told him that our country should help the Iraqis and Afghanis with food and other aid if we did go to war," Frankie recalled. "I just wanted the president to know that I have confidence in him and supported whatever decision he made."
Earlier this month, Frankie discovered President Bush supports him in return.
"I got a letter back from him and a photograph of President and Mrs. Bush," Frankie said as he displayed the carefully preserved documents. "A lot of my teachers were amazed and it has given us lots to talk about in my social studies class."
President Bush thanked Frankie for his support and encouraged him to be a good citizen, study hard, make the right choices, and help others.
After months of anxiously waiting, Frankie understands why it took the president so long to respond.
"All presidents are under a great amount of stress and stay very busy," Frankie said. "That might be why the young President John F. Kennedy had a touch of gray in his hair."
Frankie plans to write President Bush another letter after the 2004 presidential election to either congratulate him on his re-election or to thank him for being a good president and leading the country so well.
However, if he were able to vote, Frankie said he would vote for democratic hopeful Howard Dean.
"He has a lot of good ideas for the country, like improving health care," Frankie said. "I like that because it would benefit my grandmother and other members of my family. I hope to write a letter to Howard Dean next year congratulating him on his win."
Creating something great
Frankie wrote another letter recently-one that took him an entire year to compose.
A train enthusiast since the age of 3, Frankie meticulously designed a Sante Fe Express Train and submitted his idea to Lego Toys.
Moving away from today's diesel style of train and reminiscent of the 1950s Super Chief, Frankie's design includes a caboose and five freight cars, complete with electricity and moving parts.
"I said to myself, 'I want to create something great,'" Frankie said of his design. "I worked bit by bit, day by day, for a year. When I told people what I was doing, they didn't take me seriously."
But they should have.
Frankie received a response from the Lego Corporation on Halloween informing him that his design is seriously being considered as a new design for the company. The company also sent him two unreleased Lego designs, a holiday turkey and snowman, as a sign of gratitude.
"I told them I hoped my design would bring joy and happiness to kids like me," Frankie said. "I was really honored that they picked my design."
Frankie is currently working on another new Lego design.
Frankie said he learned the art of composing a formal letter in the fifth grade and all about expository writing, the kind of writing he used in explaining his design idea to the people at Lego, in sixth and seventh grades.
However, he credits his mother, Kathy Goodwin of Hartselle, for inspiring him to actually send both letters, and for many of his other achievements in life.
"My mother inspired me to write to President Bush and Lego," Frankie said. "Now that I see how they both responded to and listened to me, and didn't shred my letters, I'll write more letters to more important people. Who knows what could happen."