Friday, February 12, 2016

THE MYSTERY OF THE MISSING EASTER CHICKS

Willie Louise (Lindsey) Floyd
1862 - 1941

I never met my great grandmother, Willie Louise (Lindsey) Floyd.  She died in 1941 well before I was born. I don't even recall seeing a picture of her until many years later.  However, as a young girl I did know she existed. Her children made sure all of her descendants had the opportunity to know about her.

Each year one of her children would host a reunion in Willie's birth month of September to celebrate her life. I recall my Grandmother, Lennie Floyd Ross, Willie's eighth child, would talk about the family's reunion when I would visit throughout the year. She seemed to enjoy them immensely.

The Floyd Family reunions were usually held at one of the children's home near Gurdon, Arkansas. Everyone was invited and it seemed to me hundreds of people attended.  Most of Willie's children lived in Arkansas, with only a couple ever moving out of the state. Each year when it was time to return to south Arkansas for the reunion, all of the Floyd relatives would descend with their potluck dishes to add to the long tables that were usually set up outside.

When Granny Ross hosted the reunion, she would set up her sawhorse tables along the side yard of her house in rural Beirne, Arkansas.   She would lay the plywood over sawhorses then adorned with her white bedsheets serving as tablecloths. These outdoor potlucks with long sawhorse table were an old southern standard!

One particular reunion vividly stands out in my memory.  As one of my brothers says about his childhood memories that he recalls are the events that were traumatic, I too have traumatic childhood memories.  I guess these type of memories do manage to stick with you. I refer to this particular memory as "The Mystery of the Missing Easter Chicks."

I don't recall exactly what year it was, but it had to be around 1960 or 1961 when one of my brothers (I believe Larry) brought home as a surprise for me--a few Easter chicks.  You know, those cute little baby chicks that were dyed different colors. So what do you do with baby chicks when you live in an apartment? Well, you keep them corralled in the bath tub! What do you do with bigger chicks after Easter has come and gone?  Well, you take them to live in Granny Ross' hen house.

I think I was convinced since I knew there were other chickens living happily there.  I guess I thought my Easter chicks too would be happy living in her hen house. I recall feeling okay about taking my Easter chicks to live there. Mother drove me and my Easter chicks on the sixteen mile trip to my grandmother's house.  My chicks made the trip just fine.  I remember helping them get settled and then going on about my business playing. I visited my Easter chicks each time Mother and I would visit over the next several months.

It would soon be September and the Floyd Family reunion was coming up soon. Again we gathered at Granny Ross' for it was her time to host all of the relatives for the reunion.  I recall arriving and rushing over to the hen house to visit my chicks.

A couple of my cousins had already arrived and went with me to the hen house. Mother must have gone inside to help since I don't remember her being nearby when I discovered my my Easter chicks were not in the hen house.

Panicked that my Easter chicks had got out, I ran to find help.  It was my cousin Jeff who helped me solve the mystery of the missing Easter chicks.  As we ran past the long sawhorse tables set up in the side yard we froze!  There they were on the table, three cooked chickens ready for all the reunion attendees to enjoy!  I remembering being so distraught that Granny Ross would serve my Easter chicks for lunch.  I don't think I ever enjoyed the reunions as much after this trauma.

In 1981 I was living again in Arkansas and attended what I believe was the last Floyd Family Reunion. There were only three remaining children left to celebrate their mother's memory.  Three three sisters, Lennie, Georgia, and Johnie Viola were treated by their children with a picnic at DeGray State Park near Arkadelphia. It was well attended by daughters, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and if my memory serves me, a couple of great great grandchildren of Willie Louise Lindsey Floyd.