Friday, March 27, 2015


Floy Whitten is the town’s other writer for the county paper; her Floy’s Flittings has its own little lattice-roses-bordered corner on the inside back page, and her regularly-printed poetry rhymes “hand” with “time” and the meter changes line to line, stanza to stanza. She leans toward flowers and trees and old times, and mostly Christian topics.   Her late husband, Frank, was the Farm Agent for the county, driving from farm to farm every day, and buried in piles of mysterious paperwork of numbers and bushels and bales and acres  at the office.   He was one of six brothers in a big, laughing, gathering family, who all took Miss Floy right to their hearts the minute she said “I Do.”    And his several Aunts treated her like a daughter all their days.  Miss Floy's own daughter is Amanda Bridger, the young woman who caters parties around Paxton.

Miss Floy is newly retired from the county Welfare Department, where she worked for thirty-something years. She’s still known as the “spare-made” lady amongst the clients who came into the office, in contrast to the abundantly-contoured Mrs. Waddell who lives way out in the country over at Expedia.

Miss Floy wears her hip-length silvering hair in a beautiful upsweep reminiscent of a Gibson Girl, the soft roundness of it like a shining brioche, and the effect completed by the little round bun atop. When she works in her garden, it’s as if a beautifully-coifed woman from the Gay Nineties has suddenly donned saggy-butt jeans and an old shirt, picked up a hoe, and landed for a time amongst the bean-rows, with the sun glinting from that glorious hair.

She calls people for news from their section of the county, and will sit there with the phone tucked aside her cheek, writing down the names and places they’ve been. And if there’s been a party---she’ll put down every detail, including tablecloths and menu and the honorees’ attire. If they haven’t been anywhere special or if they’ve just had their in-laws over for supper, she’s happy to jot down the recipes for the pot roast and Bundt cake, and print that---sitting there as serious as Scripture, getting every word, every step, taking down Cream a’ Mushroom like it’s foie gras, and asking “Now do you cream the Parkay first?”

Miss Floy will also shell your beans and peas and pick out your pecans; she keeps her flour and sugar and coffee and other dry goods in a Camistry Set on her red-formica counter.   And one of the prize wedding presents for any Paxton bride is a set of Miss Floy's crochet-edged pillow-slips, with the variegated edgings and little patterns stitched around the edge with a stencil-foot on her Singer.

She has a happy little dog named Sarge, taken in a year ago when her sister at Moon Lake fell heir to her elderly neighbor's three Pee-kanese. The old lady hadn't been able to care for the dogs very well in her last days, and the two females cost Sis ninety dollars apiece at the vet just to have that long, clotty hair got back in order. Miss Floy took one look at that miserable, tangled mass of long blonde hair on the little boy dog and had him clipped, high and tight. Even his long flowing ears are squared off at the bottom like the little Dutch-Boy on the paint can, and his muscular little body, clipped close to show his stance, looks so much more like Pug than Peke, it led to her nephew's calling him a Puke. He doesn't seem to mind, and seems to REALLY like his haircut.

And Miss Floy also writes little vignettes of local interest for the REA newsletter, published every month by the Power Company, and has quite a following amongst the rural set. Her piece on the Civil War autograph book, amazingly carried by Mr. Morris Steele's great-grandfather from his injury at Shiloh all the way through incarceration at Ft. Warren, collecting autographs and messages on every page, from Generals to guards to doctors to fellow prisoners, was picked up by the Commercial Appeal and printed almost word-for-word, though they DID send their own photographer to make the pictures.

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