A Floyd Is Born

This is the first installment of an occasional series about my father and his forebears.

FLoyd 39-40 age 7_8
My father is about 7 years old in this picture. The shirt isn’t dirty. It’s a thumbprint from God knows when.

On December 24, 1932, a boy was born. His mother was 40, and his father 45. He would be the youngest of eight children. It may have been a starry night, and perhaps some of the family had attended church services that featured a Christmas carol or two, maybe even the one about the star that guided wise men to Jesus. The family had little resources or time to celebrate the birth of Jesus, as my dad was making his way into the world that day on one of the holiest nights of the year  in the midst of the greatest economic downturns the nation had seen or would ever see again. That boy would grow up to be my father.

His parents’ called him Harold. His sister preferred his middle name, Floyd. She thought perhaps the name Floyd was pretty and infamous, like the bank robber/Robin Hood folk hero of the same name. The name stuck. He would always be known as Floyd, not Harold

I am fairly certain that my grandmother and namesake, Laurentine, was not interested in another child. She had six other sons, and as well as one daughter. She had named the seventh child born a few years before after her husband. No other Junior had been planned. The couple would have no more children after Floyd, my dad, was birthed. 

Floyd, the pretty boy, would grow and become in many ways the elder of his seven siblings. That’s a story for another day.

FJ Kenneth Floyd
Dad is far right. Also pictured is his older brother and another relative. His brother is holding a pet rabbit.

The Matherne family was like many families in the 1930s. Strapped for cash, my grandfather sold some  farmland. His second to youngest nearly died of typhoid. Floyd, my father, escaped unscathed from disease during those lean years. His memories of his early years were happy ones. 

One of his favorite stories took place with the boys in the picture on the side of this post. He and his brother were playing in the family barn, and somehow, the littlest, a nephew, was left tied in in the loft for most of the day, His mom went looking for him at dusk, only to find him hanging from a rafter. No one was hurt, although Floyd and his brother probably earned a switching behind the woodshed for that prank.

Pretty boy Floyd, that is my father, not the outlaw, had many adventures as did his forebears. We’ll pick up later with some of those tales. For now, we leave Floyd in his youth, having fun in bayou country.

 

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Welcome to Gumbo YaYa. My writings are an eclectic blend. A Louisiana gumbo is a composite dish of roux, rice and whatever else the cook wants to add. Yaya is a Creole term for ladies all talking at the same time. The Gumbo Ya-Ya features my writing on spirituality, travel, culture, and humor. Grab a bowl of gumbo here and dig in!

10 thoughts on “A Floyd Is Born

  1. What a wonderful man he was “your dad”. I remember him always be happy. Well dressed for Church I still can feel the hand shake of joy. Miss seeing him. Your mom is as lovely as ever! Thanks for this remembrance.

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    1. My father was generally happy. I can recall only 2 or 3 times when he said a cuss word or got very angry. I remember, too, that he liked to wear a full suit to church. As he got older, I recall he didn’t like the fact that fashion was increasingly informal. He didn’t like jeans very much, and he would have been very uncomfortable to see people wearing jeans to church. You were a happy child, as least that’s what I recall.

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  2. Always with remember Mr. Floyd with fondness. He always made me feel welcome. What a hole there would have been in this world had he not been born and welcomed as a “surprise” baby.

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    1. Your words are very kind. Dad’s oldest brothers were very much involved in his upbringing as much as Stella was in naming him. Dad said he learned to keep his mouth shut at the dinner table as the brothers were always volunteering to give him a spanking so Papa wouldn’t have to get up from the table. His brothers taught him a lot about hunting, fishing, and even taught him how to swim.

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  3. Very interesting, I did not know that Uncle Floyd’s name was Harold. We learn something new everyday. He was always kind and had such a wonderful smile.

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  4. When he joined the National Guard, he was punished a few times for insubordination due to the fact that he didn’t respond quickly to a command for Harold Matherne. He had it legally changed afterward his stint in the guards.

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