The making of a Southern writer: Boyds early life
By Pam Horne, Managing Editor
Luke Boyd is one of those longtime Franklin residents you hope you get the chance to meet over a cup of coffee, a piece of pie or a hot meal at the restaurant of his choice.
He is a connoisseur of great food, but more importantly he is a fine storyteller.
Luke Boyd, author, retired educator and Franklin resident, graduated from high school in 1950 before attending the University of Mississippi. Submitted
Rather than attempt to retell the yarns he so eloquently and hilariously shares in his writing, the Herald wishes to introduce you to a man whose talent as an educator and writer is deeply embedded in his youth and early career.
His love of world history is only surpassed by his dry wit. No one would describe Boyd as a curmudgeon, but he certainly doesn’t suffer fools.
Boyd’s smooth and eloquent columns have graced the Herald’s editorial page for several years.
Folks come away from Luke’s writing, searching for a box of Kleenex or a friend to share the levity of his words.
In good times and bad, Luke Boyd just seems to know what to say and how to say it. In the South, we refer to those men as gentlemen.
Last week, the Herald highlighted his early years as a boy growing up in the Delta region of Mississippi.
Boyd’s teaching and writing career was profoundly shaped, not just by his rural youth, but also by the work he did to gain a college education.
Without the assistance of a work scholarship, college would not have happened.
Imagine the myriad of students who might not have received the tutelage of Dr. Boyd had he not agreed to accept the humble post of equipment manager.
Back in 1950 when he graduated from high school in Batesville, Mississippi there were not many options for a young man of limited means.
So when Mr. Carrier, his father’s boss, suggested young Luke take the job of equipment manager for the University of Mississippi’s Rebel football team in exchange for a college education, Luke did not hesitate. He loved to learn.
“By accident, I decided on a career in education. I enjoyed athletics and decided I wanted to be a coach. I didn’t have any direction, but I joined the R.O.T.C.”
“I had to schedule my classes from 8 a.m. until noon and be at the field house by 1 p.m. My scholarship paid for my room, board and books. I ate my meals at the training table in a separate cafeteria.”
“During football season it was after dark before we got through. We were gone every weekend. We went to Memphis, Washington, and even Philadelphia. We’d pack out on Thursdays if the game was on Saturday. I missed Friday classes because we were traveling. Some teachers didn’t like it. I just studied a good bit.”
“We would return on Sunday. Then I had to unpack and, get the uniforms to the laundry. There were three equipment managers. We’d carry between fifty and sixty players to a game. On Monday, we had to get the clean stuff in the lockers.
“When I got out of high school the Korean War started the next month in June of 1950. If you were in R.O.T.C., and had good grades, they would not draft you out of college. So you kept your grades up. I graduated in January 1955 and had a two-year Army commitment. I went to Fort Knox in Kentucky. After Basic Officer’s Training, Sara and I got married. I served with the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment. I got out of the Army in April 1957 and started looking for a teaching job.’
“We had gone to stay with Sara’s parents in North Mississippi. I heard from Webb School in Bell Buckle, Tennessee. Since I could not leave the YMCA camp I was running that summer at Pickwick Landing (to interview in Bell Buckle), I took that job site unseen. We moved there and lived in a dormitory. I ran the dormitory and the dining hall and coached all sports. I worked seven days a week.”
“We thought we were happy and we were.”
Luke and Sara eventually had two children. After earning his master’s degree from Middle Tennessee State University, Luke moved his family to Knoxville so he could pursue a doctorate in English History.
Tennessee has been home since they first moved to Bell Buckle, and Luke has maintained his allegiance to his adopted state ever since.
With the success of his first book, Coon Dogs and Outhouses, came a second volume by the same name. All three titles are full of the wit and wisdom one would expect from a Southern fellow with a heart for people, especially those that display idiosyncratic behavior from time to time.
In his third work, he has compiled his observations of Franklin, the setting for some characters many readers will recognize.
(Editor’s note: This is the second in a two-part piece about the life of Franklin author and scholar Lucas G. Boyd, Jr. His third book Coon Dogs and Outhouses, Vol. III is available at Landmark Booksellers, where he will appear on Oct. 26 from 3 to 5 p.m.)
Posted on: 10/25/2013