Floyd, the Cornbread, and the Attic Fan

imageFloyd Lewis was a holdover from another time.   Daddy hired him whenever he needed help clearing new ground, cutting timber, or work of that sort.  Illiterate, with no social graces, Floyd muttered an unintelligible answer if asked a direct question.  Considering our financial situation, I know Daddy couldn’t have paid him much.  It is doubtful Floyd ever attended school, since he was of the generation before attendance was mandatory.

Part of Floyd’s wages was a 1953 Chevrolet Sedan, since prior to coming to work for Daddy, he had no vehicle.  At any rate, I never saw any indication that Floyd owned soap and water, or understood their use.  This became painfully apparent the first time Floyd shared a meal with us.  Daddy, Billy, and Floyd had been hard at work since daylight one hot June morning.  Sweat-soaked, they broke for lunch.  Daddy took his usual place at the head of the table, where he got maximum effect of the breeze the attic fan pulled in from the window at the opposite end of the table, where he’d directed Floyd to sit.  He’d pointed out the bathroom where Floyd could wash up, but I think Floyd must have have better uses for his time.

floyd plunked himself down in front of the window and the raunchiness was overpowering.  In her hurry to get lunch on the table, Mother hadn’t sliced the plate of cornbread sitting before Floyd.  With his grime- encrusted hands, he reached over and broke off about a quarter of the pone.  About that time, the nauseating stench hit Daddy.  Hurriedly he told Floyd, “trade places with me.  I think you’ll like this cooler spot. And Kathleen, let Floyd have that plate of cornbread.  I’d rather have like light bread.”  Floyd took the plate of cornbread and Daddy’s cool spot, which he enjoyed every time he shared a meal with us.  Oh yes, Mother learned to slice bread and put it on a plate next to Floyd.

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