Page 9 - Rockford Living Magazine 2020
P. 9

 at church, at Rotary, and a handful of other venues where fact and opinion are often wont to intermingle, if not outright clash.
Ask him about where he was born and raised, and you’ll get an answer that begins with “New Ulm, Minnesota” but then somehow morphs into a history lesson about Hermann the Cheruscan, a.k.a. “Hermann the German,” a warrior credited with defeating the Roman army at the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest.
In other words, if you plan to have a conver- sation with Floyd, hang on, and hang in there. “Maybe the best storyteller ever,” opines Neil Blakeslee, who typically has coffee daily
with Floyd, and counts him as a best friend.
A former mayor and long-time supporter of Rockford, Blakeslee practiced law nearly four decades before retiring recently. He still volunteers in many capacities, and though he and Floyd don’t see eye-to-eye on everything, they have a mutual respect for another that
transcends politics and more.
“He’s a loyal Republican for sure,” says
Blakeslee, “but a moderate who sees and hears things with exceptional clarity. Others might not consider other points of view so openly, but Floyd is a good listener, and he has compas- sion. He doesn’t tolerate meanness in any way. And he never has spite for anyone or anything.”
But Floyd is opinionated, and not shy about sharing his views, which can arguably — and unintentionally — offend. During a recent conversation, for instance, he referred to a major Michigan university as a “cesspool of liberalism.” Given a chance to expand on that, he retreated some, allowing that “they offer excellent subjects.” Still, he cast it as breeding ground where they advocate for “ultra-liberal teaching that permeates everything.”
Some of his early business practices raised ire as well. For years, The Melting Pot (the name of the business before it was dubbed Herman’s Boy) refused to accept credit cards when virtually all around it were, insisting on checks or cash only. Son Jeff recalls his father refusing a credit card from a shopper who hailed from Chicago, inviting the customer instead to mail him a check after returning to Illinois. They did.
Among Herman’s Boy’s food offerings, they also resisted providing flavored coffee and cream cheese for their famous bagels. They finally caved in on both after grousing from customers reached a fever pitch. The Melting Pot was still hand-recording all its transactions until 1999 or so, when the business finally bought into computers, easily more than a decade after most others had joined the digital bandwagon.
For Floyd’s ostensible stubbornness, how-
ever, those who know him best say he’s a force that you want on your side, and for all the right reasons.
“Hard-working, honest and dedi- cated to the town,” says Candy Lan- cioni, who owns Aunt Candy’s Toy Company, housed in the downtown Rockford building that formerly hosted Floyd’s original Melting Pot on Courtland Street. “I know he can be boisterous and talks a lot, but he has a heart of gold, and he’s just really a good person.”
“A very good-hearted and com- passionate man,” offers Kimberly Smith, who has owned and oper- ated Kimberly’s Boutique in down- town Rockford for 27 years. “His love for Rockford has always shone. And he doesn’t even live here; think about that.”
Indeed, Floyd lives in near-
by Grand Rapids, in a home he
designed and still occupies with
wife Sharon. They have four grown children, all of whom are involved in the business and work long hours on site — Jeff, Doug, Bryan and Heidi.
They were raised in like manner as Floyd — with expectations they work hard and honor family, God and country. Floyd himself was born during the winter of 1938, “where I con- sider it a blessing to have grown up poor.” His father barely finished the 6th grade, and held jobs that provided food and shelter but not many frills.
Floyd earned his first dollar mowing lawns and shoveling snow, and at age 12 went to work
Top: Floyd’s original Melting Pot bakery & deli in downtown Rockford (current location of Aunt Candy’s Toy Company).
Above: Article on The Melting Pot that appeared in the Grand Rapids Press (date unknown).
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