Local’s story to be highlighted at High Horse Gallery

Published 5:03 pm Friday, June 19, 2015

The memoirs of a Butler County citizen who was always a “little larger than life” will be celebrated next Thursday at 5 p.m. at Greenville’s High Horse Gallery.

The late Norman Floyd McGowin Jr., longtime manager of the lumber company founded by his grandfather, penned the book, “Forest and the Trees: A Memoir of a Man, a Family and a Company” in hopes that his grandson, Peter, and other young people” might better understand what is different and what is the same with regard to the past.”

“Mr. Floyd,” as many throughout the county knew him, speaks in unvarnished, and at times, salty language of the life he led.

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Many local readers will particularly enjoy his memories of a childhood growing up in the company town of Chapman in the 1930s.

He recalls with mixed feelings his youth at two different prep schools, moving on to happier times as a jazz-loving Yale student romancing his future wife, Rosa, a southern belle from Kentucky.

Mr. Floyd also details his stateside U.S. Marine Corps training and service, along with his overseas deployment and discovery of Korean culture.

He and his family eventually returned to Butler County, where he worked his way up from the sales department to manager.

Mr. Floyd details W.T. Smith’s many changes, including an International Woodworkers of America strike and the eventual sale of it to Union Camp in 1966.

We also learn much about his almost life-long love of flying, how he became a pilot while still in his teens, and went on to be awarded Master Pilot status in 2009 by the FAA after a half-century of flying.

He was also inducted into the Alabama Aviation Hall of Fame in 1997.

In his postscript to the book, Mr. Floyd’s son, Norman, a local surgeon, recalls his dad as “a force to be reckoned with” and “definitely a unique individual,” adding,“[My father] died before this book could be published, but I think it gives the reader a sense of the fascinating character he was and the times in which he lived.”

Copies of “Forest and the Trees,” published by New South, will be available for purchase at the gallery Thursday night.