Sunday, June 19, 2011


A Fathers Day Tribute To My Dad

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A Fathers Day Tribute To My Dad, "Dangerous Dan" Boyd

His name was Dan Boyd, and he was my father, but I have only hazy memories of him in the flesh. After all, I was only three and a half years of age when he died, surviving his wife, Dolly Tinney Boyd, my mother, by about 18 months. Both died in the mid-1930s.

That opposites often attract might explain the unlikely meeting, romance and eventual marriage of Dolly and Dan, both natives of Wood County, Texas who spent most of their brief adult lives struggling with the stark strata of emotional and economic tumult that we now regard as a three-word footnote to history: The Great Depression.

But they would marry and have three children (Nelda, Joe Dan & Tommy) before both died young, in 1936 and 1937.

Dolly, born June 4, 1913, to Ambrose and Elizabeth Tinney, was destined to be the beauty and the baby of a large farming family with strong roots in the Old South where her Alabama ancestors had sided with both the Union and the Confederacy. Her parents believed in hard work, religion, education, sobriety and neighborliness. She would become the family princess, carefully shielded from opposing viewpoints, and her beauty would assure a choice of marriage partners from worthy men who shared both her sheltered social life and high aspirations.

By the time Dolly was 15 she had finished 8th grade at Vernon Country School in Wood County, had been baptized at Tinney Chapel Methodist Church, which had been founded by a land grant from her father, and was on track to become a 1932 graduate, first in her family to do so, from high school in Winnsboro, a three-mile walk to and from her farm home. There, before her graduation, she was a serious student, enjoying home economics and playing on the girls basketball team.

At the Old Tinney Home Place where Dolly was born, raised, played the organ and demonstrated her dancing skills, she sometimes organized Sunday evening "social" events, such as ice cream suppers, recalls Helen Tinney Miller, one of Dolly's nieces, who was also a childhood playmate of Dolly's. No formal invitations, says Helen: News was passed by word of mouth, and anyone in the community who heard about a "social" was welcome to attend.

That would have included "Dangerous Dan" Boyd, a rough and rowdy man's man, widely regarded as a bit reckless, willing to take a drink, having a short fuse, unafraid to defend honor in a fist fight and who was six and a half years older than Dolly. He was also ruggedly handsome, and a real charmer with an effusive sense of humor who very likely captured Dolly's heart the moment their eyes met.

He also became a husband and father who loved his wife and children, according to his sister, my Aunt Mary Boyd Poe, who told me a lot about him after I moved back to Wood County in 1997. From Aunt Mary and another Aunt, Stella Boyd Weems, I learned of the Native American (Cherokee) history on my dad's side of the family. To help make ends meet during the Depression, Dan also joined the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), a New Deal creation, from which he obtained permission to leave a Colorado CCC Camp during February, 1936, to be with Dolly in her final hours of life.

So, on this Fathers Day, 2011, I salute you, "Dangerous Dan" Boyd, the father I barely knew, but who nonetheless loved me and my brother Tommy. For this I will always be grateful.

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