From 1951 to 1956, Floyd Boes was my step-father.
Mom was on her third marriage. Now I have to thank my father for being Mom’s second husband because I would not be here otherwise.
Long story short. I blame religion for what happened and I thank God for what happened. I’ve never looked at the two subjects as being synonymous.
Long before my father Howard came into the picture my Mom met Floyd, who was Catholic. Mom was Mormon as was my grandmother who lived with us. This complicated things but there was one other problem. Floyd was madly in love with my Mother. Mom loved Floyd, he was her best friend but she wasn’t romantically in love with him.
Now Floyd was a handsome man and a good talker. Back then, a successful used car salesmen had to be a good talker. His sales pitch to Mom was, “Katherine, I know you’re not in love with me but I have enough love for the both of us.”
Floyd finally convinced my Mom to marry him at a Catholic church in Santa Barbara. Guess who was in the back seat of the car on the drive up. Once my grandmother saw the church, she refused to go in. She didn’t want her daughter to marry out of her faith. So Mom and Floyd got married., then several days later, much to my grandmother’s relief and misguided prayers, Mom and Floyd had the marriage annulled.
Mom went back to work in film at Universal and doing public relations work for Bill Lear who at the time was developing and selling wire recorders.
Lear had contacted James Lansing because he needed a horn-based loudspeaker designed for his wire recorder console. Lansing sent my father out to see exactly what Lear wanted. Mom happened to be at the company office that day. It was love at first sight for both. Dad was a eloquent charmer, highly educated, had taught at UCLA for a time. He was living back east so most of their courtship was through correspondence, “love letters.” Keep in mind, Floyd was still Mom’s best friend in spite of the annulment and it must have been very hard on him.
Well those love letters worked. They set a date and were married. Dad was agnostic but to make Grandma happy, he had converted to Mormonism for the ceremony. His business partners jokingly said, “you’re marring two fine girls!”
Did I mention, he didn’t like the idea of my grandmother living with them (much to her surprise). Grandma had to go. Mom said, “Nope, she stays or I go!” Dad, who was then traveling back and forth on business, acquiesced but my grandmother knew she was on his shortlist.
Their marriage lasted long enough for Mom to become pregnant with me. During the nine months of her pregnancy, the relationship quickly fell apart. But… there was always Floyd to commiserate with. He never stopped loving her. He was always there for her.
My father wasn’t around when I was born. He had moved back east and wanted Mom to have me there. She insisted on being in LA at Cedars of Lebanon Hospital with her own doctor. There’s more to the drama than this, but the point is Floyd was always there.
After the divorce, Mom felt I needed a father figure in my life and my grandmother had come to the conclusion that marrying Floyd wasn’t such a bad idea after all!
I have vivid memories of my step-father. He loved me like I was his own child. I remember Christmas with him and remember him taking me to the park in Toluca Lake to feed the ducks. I can still hear his voice in my head.
Then we all moved to Granada Hills from North Hollywood. Shortly after that, Floyd moved from the main house into our guesthouse. Next thing I knew Mom told me that he was in the hospital over on Balboa near Ventura Blvd. I wanted to visit my step-dad (did I say yet how much I loved this man). The hospital at that time wouldn’t allow children into the rooms but he was in a room by the parking lot and so I would go and wave to him in the window. I could see him in the hospital bed waving back at me with a smile on his face.
One day Mom came up to me and said, “Dad has gone to Indiana to be with his family to get rest.”
Maybe I wasn’t the sharpest kid on the block or she was a very convincing actress (which she was) but I believed her story. I’d ask her every week, “is he coming back soon?” Months went by and then Mom finally told me the truth. “Richie, Dad is never coming home. He’s in Heaven now.”
I found out that Floyd had a coronary thrombosis and passed away in that hospital. Professor Giles, my piano teacher who loved me, felt it would be too much for me to handle at that age. He felt it would be better to break the news to me very slowly. I so disagree but that situation was beyond my control and who knows?
Over the course of the years that passed, I met my real father. We connected at different times in my life and I discovered that he too loved me in his own way.
But I still hear Floyd’s voice as clear as yesterday in my head.