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