Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Uncle Floyd is one of only two uncles left. He was married to one of my mother's younger sisters, Henrietta, otherwise known as Aunt Hank. My childhood memories of Uncle Floyd are very spotty. I can recall only visiting his family twice: once when I was about in 8th grade and the other time at his oldest daughter Patti Jo's wedding almost 46 years ago. When I heard Uncle Floyd's name, I immediately thought of CF. Consolidated Freight. They were a trucking company and every time I would see a red and green lettered CF truck, I would think of my Uncle Floyd. I found out last weekend that he never drove truck for them. He worked in the office of the company.
This brings up my visit last weekend to the eastern part of this great state. My bride was out of town and I thought this would be a good time to connect with these long lost Thibodeau cousins. Uncle Floyd and Aunt Hank had 4 children: Patti Jo, David, Trudy and Joe. It was my hope to meet these four, again, and Uncle Floyd. 60% of the family was what I was able to be with.
This blog is more about my Uncle Floyd, so apologies to the rest of the family. I really love to visit with older people because it is like visiting with a living history book. It is even more "swell" ( using a term of their day) if that old person is family. I asked him how he met Aunt Hank. He said he was brought up on a farm and one thing he learned on the farm was he did not want to farm. His folks arranged to send him to Chicago to trucking school, I think. While there, a buddy was dating a nurse and the nurse had a friend. A double date was arranged and Floyd became smitten. They dated until Floyd was sent overseas during the war. They wrote letters for awhile but then Hank took up with another man. That did not last long and then she started writing Floyd again. It got serious in the mail and plans were made to be married.
Grandpa Duell, Hank's father, picked up Floyd at the airport upon his return. Hank sat between her Dad and her fiance' in the front seat. Floyd told me that Hank kept on poking him in the ribs to tell her father that they wanted to be married. He finally asked Grandpa Duell for his daughter's hand. Floyd said that Grandpa reached his hand across his daughter lap and took hold of Floyd's arm and offered his congratulations. Uncle Floyd never forgot that.
Breaking the news to Grandma Duell was another whole thing. "I don't even know you!" were her first words when approached with the idea of the up-coming nuptials. She was always against the wedding and him until an event occurred. Hank had ulcers and was never to drink. There was a party and Hank had not been drinking but then got goaded into it and had a drink. She disappeared shortly after into the bathroom. Floyd missed her and had someone go and check up on her. Upon entering the bathroom, there was blood all over from her throwing up and bleeding from her ulcers. She was taken to the hospital for recovery. Uncle Floyd "nursed" the nurse back to health. He said the Grandma Duell never forgot that and he was OK in her book after that.
Years after Hank's death, he was at a grieving support group and met a nun. She invited him for a meal, if I remember right. This started a romance and Uncle Floyd ended up marrying a 70 year old virgin. His family has stated that she has been such a blessing for him; given him a reason to go on living. Now her health is not the best and he is being a caregiver again.
It was so interesting to hear him speak of my own parents. Aunt Hank was a nurse with my mother in Chicago. They lived together but did not get along very well. No surprise there. Aunt Hank, I was told was very easy going, laid back. Quite the contrast to my mother. Floyd said he liked my mom all right and was quite fond of my Dad.
He told a "Dad story" to me. l My Dad was a salesman for part of his career, selling refrigerated truck bodies made in Rice Lake. While on the road, he stopped in Manitowoc one time for a quick visit . He called Uncle Floyd over to the trunk of Dad's car and for a look inside. There were cases of beer and liquor. Dad told him this is how he would impress his clients. Floyd was impressed enough to never forget that.
I said to him that I don't ever remember him coming to the resort. He corrected me and that he had been there once. I don't ever remember him coming over. I must have been 2-3 years old and just did not remember.
He has a great sense of humor and I so enjoyed my time with him. I was told by David, his son, that if I behaved myself while on my visit there, that I might, just might, be invited to Uncle Floyd's 90th birthday party on or around Oct. 31st. OOOOh, spookey!
Now for the bad news. It was just too short of a visit. Thanks, Uncle floyd for sharing part of your life with me and putting up with all my questions. You are a ten in my book!