Elzie Floyd-A Man I Wish I had Met but I Feel I Have always Known

Elzie Floyd Blind but Now Can See

Like lots of folks these days, I have a Facebook account and nearly everyday I check my page and view the daily posts. The pros and cons of this social venue have been debated and it is my opinion FB is not all bad and can be used in a constructive way. For me personally, it allows me to share information (sometimes too much information I' m told) with my family and friends. Like any other form of communication on social blogs, the content must be taken in the context written and the intent, which is sometimes difficult to ascertain, are paramount for the writer and those who may read. God forbid we would ever be offensive or stoop so low as to use this venue to vent frustrations and emotions that are negative.

As a self published author who has written many stories and tales which I have included in several books about the people and place I knew as a boy, I often receive questions from others. Did you know this person or do you know anything about an event of local interest? I try to answer all questions if within my knowledge base and those I don't know answers, I will do my best to find an answer for their question.

In our county we have been blessed by those who have gone before that have written much local history recording for posterity the history and people that shaped us. Two of these special people loved by everyone were (1) Mrs Louise Howe Bailey, a writer for our local newspaper in her column "Across the Ridges and author of several other books which she compiled during her lifetime and (2) Mr. Frank L. Fitzsimmons, who wrote in three volumes of local history, stories and tales that are included in his books From the Banks of the Oklawaha, Vloume I,II,and III. The writings of both are works of literature that are loved my the people in our county and are available in most book stores.

Both Mrs. Bailey and Mr. Fitzsimmons included stories in their work about the founders and early settlers in our county. On a personal note, our family genealogy in this country dates to the Revolutionary War era and we are descendants that now boast a proud heritage. Our genealogy society has worked hard also to preserve much of the family histories. Some writers have also included in their work stories about some people who may not have been so well known except in this geographical area but nevertheless distinct individuals who were loved by all who were privileged to have known them. This article is about one such man whose disability,blindness, did not prevent him from living a full life and contributing much to th enjoyment of those who knew him. Elzie Floyd was his name and his life touched many in this part of the world.

Elzie Flyod was blind. I do not know if he was born with the disablement of blindness or became blind early in his childhood but since my youth I have heard stories about this extraordinary man. Last week one of my FB friends ask me if I knew any stories about Elzie. This lead me to begin a search. I ask some of my older friends if they knew or remembered Elzie. One friend, Reverend Harold McKinnish, a Baptist minister countenance lit up immediately. A huge smile enveloped his aged lips when I mentioned his name. "Oh yes, I know many stories about Elzie Floyd. As a young minister who jumped at every opportunity to preach, I would get Elzie to go with me to Greenville, SC when I would be preaching at tent meetings. In those days, we stayed overnight in the tents and would sleep on cots. Vandalism was common in those days and staying in the tent helped to curb any fowl intentions by those who might want to pilfer or damage or otherwise disrupt the tent meetings."

"Elzie played almost any musical instrument including guitar, mandolin, and the accordion. He had a tin cup and would play outside the mills near Greenville, South Carolina, a textile town, for change as workers changed shifts" My friend added,"When Elzie went to the bank he would count the money he had taken in and could tell the denomination on paper money by the feel of it. It took him a few minutes but he always was able to determine the differences between a $5, $10, or $20 dollar bill." "double check my count", he would tell the bank teller but his count was always correct.

Elzie had a keen sense of direction even when riding in an automobile and could tell within a short distance of where he wanted to be let out of the vehicle to get on a familiar trail through the woodlands to his mountain cabin. The stories abound as to the skills he possessed and in the words of Mrs. Louise Howe Bailey who wrote a column,"Across the Ridges" for our local newspaper,"The stories are unbelievable but the eye witness accounts cannot be denied" He knew all the names of local landmarks and was able to cook and take care of himself as anyone with sight.I have bee told Elzie worn a house key around his neck and when he would walk he always twirled the key. Sometimes boys would lie down in his path and amazingly he would stop or go around them.

Elzie's musical abilities were his most notable trait and he was locally known far and wide for his musical accomplishments. He could repair and tune pianos and one of my friends recounts how he had gone with his dad to Elzie's home one Saturday. When they arrived at his home they found Elzie had taken a piano completely apart and was in the process of repairing it to be used later in a small church.

Elzie owned a pistol and his marksmanship was verified by a close friend who explained how he would set up his targets and always was able to hit the target. He told someone he once encountered a rattlesnake whole walking the trial to his cabin. "I stopped and waited for the rascal to move on but if I had had my pistol, I'd a killed it." Little doubt remains in my mind that he would have done just that. Elzie carried a key on a string which he would twirl as he walked. Sometimes young boys would lie in the road where he would be walking and twirling his key. He never ever stepped on one of them but detoured around them.

Amazing Grace, the blessed old song written by John Newton says it best when talking about the life of Elzie Floyd. "Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now I'm found. Twas blind but now I see. His memory lives on in those of us who have heard the tales and stories of one of Henderson County North Carolina's most notable men who was a legend in his own time.

Please read the link I have posted from our local newspaper and written by Mrs.Louise Howe Bailey about this man who lived a great life and whose influence may never fully be known or how he was able to accomplish all that he did, understood. As the parent of a visually impaired son, the story of Elzie Floyd has been an inspiration.

Elzie played mandolin on this 1927 record.

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