Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Today, July 6th, is my father, Bernard B. Boyd's birthday. He would have been 100 years old.

Dad was born in Washington, D.C. to Edgar and Nellie (Pritchard) Boyd. They lived in the John Jay apartments on East Capitol Street, three blocks from the capitol building. He had one brother, Rheymond, and two sisters, Eleanor and Marye. When he was a boy, his best friend was Henry Camper. Henry was to one day become my father's brother-in-law, when he married Marye.

My father would spend summers at Aunt Louie's farm near Linden, Virginia in the Blue Ridge Mountains. He loved that region, and the nearby Shenandoah Valley. He would also spend time with family in Front Royal. As fond as he was of the Blue Ridge area, he had developed "wanderlust," and was always curious to discover what was over that ridge on the horizon. In a few years he would head west, but at the age of 18 his desire to travel would first lead him to hitch-hike to New York, where he joined the Merchant Marine. He sent a telegram to his father with the message: "PLEASE WIRE ME TWENTY DOLLARS. I AM GOING TO EUROPE." His father responded: "HERE IS A HUNDRED DOLLARS. GO AROUND THE WORLD."

During the Great Depression, Dad set off across the country, finding odd jobs along the way. The journey took him to Montana, where he worked on a ranch, then to Oregon, and finally down the Pacific coast to Los Angeles, California. His Aunt Edda owned an apartment building on 37th Place, across from the University of Southern California. He lived there and found work doing roofing and siding.

When the United States entered World War 2, Dad was drafted into the Army. He was assigned to the 6th Armored Division at Fort Knox, Ky. Soon, the division was sent to Louisiana for training, and that is where Bernard Boyd met Effie Droddy (my mother). After the 6th went to California for more training, he sent for her. She took a train to Los Angeles, and they were married in January of 1943.

The  next day after returning from their  honeymoon in Oakland, (Yes, Oakland) the 6th Armored shipped out for England. His bride got a job as a teller at Security First National Bank. On July 18 and 19th, 1944, the 6th Armored Division landed on Utah beach in Normandy, six weeks after the D-Day invasion of Europe. Among the notable operations that they participated in was the Battle of the Bulge and the liberation of  the Buchenwald concentration camp .

 After Dad returned from the war, he bought a fishing boat, the Bonnie Margaret, and became a commercial fisherman. He operated out of San Pedro. Eventually, he saw the need to be closer to his family (by then, my brother Keith and I had been born). He sold the boat, got his contractors license, and established his own roofing business (like his father before him). In 1955 our family (which now included my sister Carol) moved to Anaheim. There was a construction boom in Orange County and we needed to live closer to where Dad's work was.

After many years in construction, Dad decided to go into the R.V. business. He bought Bush Buggy Center, a dune buggy shop in Garden Grove, and re-named it Boyd's Buggy Center. The shop was very popular with off-road enthusiasts. After my mother's death, and then his having heart surgery, Dad closed the Buggy shop and retired at the age of 76. His quintuple bypass, and later surgery for an aortic aneurysm , only slowed him down temporarily. He remained strong and active, even flying back to North Carolina to visit his sister Eleanor, until just before he died at the age of 83.

This has only been a brief snapshot of some of the events of my Father's life. Later, I may write something about my personal memories of him and times we shared.

Bernard Blair Boyd was baptised on Palm Sunday, 1921, at St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Washington D.C.


Joel the Immerser said...

Thank you for sharing. Family history - long ago or not-so-long ago - is neat. Just this week I've found out a ton about my ancestors.

God bless!

Persis said...

Thanks for sharing about your dad, Craig.

Meghan Smith said...

I love stories like this. Happy birthday to your father!

Michael Wright said...

Interesting look. Thanks for sharing the story.

Eddie Eddings said...

Craig, looking forward to more of your family history. Nicely done.