"THE SCREEN DOOR -- ON THE PASSING OF R.A. BOYD"
December 17, 1917 – July 14, 2003
by Lynda Broome-Taylor
My husband, Sandy, and I met Mr. Boyd about six years ago when we purchased property behind his home. We had bought the “Olliff-Robinson-Tracy” house that sits on the corner of Sixth and Cherry Streets. That house has a great big porch and we filled it up with Adirondack furniture and rocking chairs. As we sat on that porch we always enjoyed the view from across the street, especially in the spring time with redbuds and dogwoods in bloom. Mr. Boyd’s old red barn with the beautiful maple tree, planted by his sister Annie Lou, growing up close to the barn, the old fence with vines and foliage, the pear trees, the 1950 green Chevrolet parked in the carport and Mr. Boyd puttering around in the yard.
These little nuances took us back in time to a surreal setting of Harper Lee’s “To Kill A Mockingbird.” Spring and summer nights were even better. The sounds that came with the relative quiet, were music to my ears. The sound of the trains passing through Folkston, the sound of the courthouse clock striking the hour, and most of all the sound of Mr. Boyd’s screen door opening and closing.
Over the six years we knew Mr. Boyd, my husband and I formed a close friendship and bonded with him. Quickly we learned what a good neighbor Mr. Boyd would be, keeping an ever watchful eye and ear on the neighborhood. There were several instances he came through for us but what stands out most in my mind was the time he saved Lois Mays home from burning. One of the times Mr. Boyd’s puttering in the yard paid off. While outside his home Mr. Boyd heard a smoke detector buzzing somewhere in the neighborhood, he followed the sound to Mrs. Mays back door. She was not home so he went inside, took a scorching pot off the stove and opened windows to get rid of the smoke. He stayed until Mrs. Mays returned a few minutes later. She was very thankful that he had helped prevent her home from burning.
Mr. Boyd was a good conversationalist and a very interesting person. Many nights we three and maybe at times a few others sat on our porch, deep in conversation, intent on solving all the problems of Charlton County and the whole wide world. Mr. Boyd was a good person as well as a good neighbor. Many times he rescued kittens abandoned on his property or born in his barn, placing them in safe hands, all the while not particularly liking cats or having any of his own. Mr. Boyd talked many times of his support for fair and humane treatment of our fur and feathered friends. During the 1999 hurricane threat I removed some of my cats to our house there in Folkston. Two of the cats remained there for a while with myself and Mr. Boyd attending to their needs. Every night that I was not there and even after I left when I was there he would check on “Momisita” and “Boo Boy”. One night Mr. Boyd was on my porch with a long straw playing with the cats. Another good neighbor saw the shadowy figure of a man, which was Mr. Boyd, thought we had a burglar and called 911. Mr. Boyd said “I was playing with the cats and the next thing I knew there were blue lights everywhere and more than one or two officers.” We all had a good laugh on that one and all were grateful to the watchful eye of the other neighbor and quick response by Folkston’s Finest.
Mr. Boyd also had a great concern for our rivers and ecology as well as historic preservation. For longer than I had known him, Mr. Boyd, had a keen interest in neighborhood preservation. Mr. Boyd was once an attorney who chose not to practice but rather enter the field of accounting, where he served may years with the U.S. Postal Service as an auditor. My husband and I, both law enforcement officers, soon realized Mr. Boyd’s deep and abiding respect for law and its servants. Many times Mr. Boyd was generous with widows and families of police officers killed in the line of duty.
Mr. Boyd was something that a lot of people probably didn’t really know, because he was quiet and kept to himself, mostly. Mr. Boyd was a lot of fun and good company.
We made trips to dentist and doctor’s appointments. My husband would go along in the beginning. He would drive, with me and Mr. Boyd trying to out-talk each other all the way to and from Jacksonville. Soon Sandy decided Mr. Boyd and I could do just fine on our own. So, here began many of Lynda and “The Boyd’s” most excellent adventures to Jacksonville. It was Krystal Burger on Edgewood, European Street Café in San Marco, Dreamette Ice Cream on Edgewood, S & S Cafeteria on Blanding Blvd and Krispy Kreme Donuts (his first) on Blanding Blvd. We even made a couple of forays to see Irene Robinson Caudle. Sandy and I had earlier on dragged him along (I think against his will) when we popped into a couple of antique shops.
Rather than sit in the car Mr. Boyd opted to accompany me into Herschell Animal Clinic with cat in tow, to be spayed. The ever curious Boyd, not wanting to sit in the waiting area either, went through the entire process with me and met Dr. Plant. This was his first trip to a veterinary clinic. We always had a good time and some of the real good times we had were when we visited and dined with his sister Annie Lou Boyd Bertine.
On Sunday May 25, after Lois Mays and I attended service at Bethel United Methodist Church, (1873) I went to visit Mr. Boyd. I was on my way to the Pineview Cemetery and wondered if he wanted to go along. He did. We visited his parents, R.A. and Annie Lou Boyd, Sr., his sister, Marie and his brother in law Mr. Bertine. We stopped by Richard Mays, then on to William Marshall Olliff and Josephine Proctor Olliff’s grave site. Then we just wandered all around visiting many others.
There was one occasion I recall, we probably needed a chaperone or seeing eye K-9. It was on one of our very last adventures. After Mr. Boyd’s appointment with the doctor, I needed to make a quick duck into Dillard’s to find a new tie for my husband. Mr. Boyd insisted on going into Dillard’s with me. I was a little concerned and distracted that day which may have led to our faux-pas. In we went to Dillard’s up the escalator, got the tie, down the escalator, out the door, where is the car? After walking here and walking there we soon realized that we had made our exit from a door opposite from which we entered. I wanted to scout the area, retrieve the car and pick him up. Mr. Boyd would have no part of it, saying that I should not walk about the parking lot alone.
I tried to remind him of my twenty-plus years in law enforcement, to no avail. I believe we walked full circle of Dillard’s before I felt we were near the original entrance. I pushed the horn button on my keyless entry system. Beep, Beep, Beep, Beep, we found the car. Mr. Boyd said “How did you do that?” “Oh, that’s right, you drive a 1950 Chevrolet, Mr. Boyd, we could have found that one easy,” I said.
Ever mindful of safety Mr. Boyd did not want me to eat while driving. Rain was beginning to come down, so we sat in the Krispy Kreme parking lot trying to devour two donuts each while yakking ninety to nothing. This was our last trip. We had, probably, our most profound conversation on the way back to Folkston. We talked about prayer, “The Lord” as Mr. Boyd put it and almost as if he had a premonition, we talked about Rev. Alice Chancey for about twenty minutes. Mr. Boyd asked if I knew M.J. had died and so on, he expressed a great respect for Miss Alice and women in general who held jobs once open only to men. Lois Mays was one of his favorites.
Mr. Boyd was a good listener as well as a good talker. All the way home we talked and listened and talked some more, seems like this time there was more listening on my part, for a change. As usual he called me opinionated, he also called me an angel. I nearly “drove it off in the ditch” as Dr. Phil says. No one else had ever call ME that.
In a world where true friends are hard to come by Mr. Boyd was my friend, he and the sound of his screen door closing will be sorely missed by me and Sandy.