Our Oldham family was by no means well off in the early 1950’s. Of course my two brothers and me never knew that. We thought we were just right. The only thing I can remember that would indicate otherwise was when Dad said something I have never forgotten. “These rich folks that live in $20, 0000 homes have it made.” Why I remember that, I don’t know. I guess it was the first indication that I was born into a poor family in south Louisiana.

Even still, I did not understand the implications of these words, at the time, and continued playing with my friends. I loved the era and the upbringing in which I grew up. Living a life of understanding black-eyed peas, fried SPAM, and cornbread was good for me, I still find them delicious. However, it was these years of innocence that I now look back upon as an adult and appreciate the very few real vacations that we took as a family.

Dad worked full time for the NATB (National Automobile Theft Bureau) as a Louisiana State Trooper. He took a second job pastoring the small Church of God in Tickfaw, Louisiana. Mom worked as a bookkeeper. With these three incomes we were able to enjoy vacation moments that were short and adventurous. Sometimes we went fishing at Old River or False River on the western side of the Mississippi River. These used to be a part of Old Man River until he changed course and cut them off, making nice fishing lakes. Otherwise, if we weren’t fishing in someone’s pond, or the creek bottom, we were swimming in one of them—if we could shoo the snakes away.

Andy, Bill, and Meriam Oldham June 1955

Andy, Bill, and Meriam Oldham
                                    June 1955

Yet the spontaneous outings Dad created were the ones I am most fond of. The one captured in this photo is just one of many such impromptu adventures. We were driving through the country roads of south Louisiana when Dad saw a Forestry Fire Tower and pulled in the driveway. As usual Mom said, “What are you doing Edward?” My older brother Bill and I stood to attention when we heard the answer.

“I’ll be right back.”

In a few minutes Dad waved goodbye to the Forest Ranger and returned to the car.

“Come on boy’s, we’re climbing to the top.”

Bill and I hopped out of the car and raced to the bottom of the stairs. The walk was exciting at first, but it did not take long for a four and six year old to tire out. Dad snapped this photo while we were resting. After catching our breath we climbed to the top and looked in every direction, over thousands of acres of trees.

Even though I was a month from turning five, I have never forgotten this small memory. A smile calms my grin each time I see a fire tower.



  1. What a beautiful memory. Your mom is dressed like mine used to dress :). My first vacation memory is when I was 3 3/4 (in 1959) and we drove from Michigan to New Orleans. I have some vivid and specific (and wonderful) memories about New Orleans and the Mississippi.

      • I know. It’s been fun scanning family photos to my computer in preparation for a family history book I want to write. I have about 200 photos to go. My Dad loved slide film, ugh😊 so after I finish the photos I’ll be starting on digitalizing them. He had hundreds!!! I can’t wait to see the memories triggered by those 😃

      • Yes, the slides are more difficult. My dad gave me the ones that belonged to my grandfather, but they were mostly from their travels, and I don’t know that I am going to do anything with them. I still have so many photos to go!

  2. Wow..how nice!! Some of my older siblings, as I am #13, we’re born in the 40’s and 50’s and share stories of when they were young and how much fun and simple times they were. They were migrant workers and I love to hear the adventures they had.

    • Thank you Andi. Don’t forget to write these family stories down and pass them on for future generations. I’d like to see some of them on your blog sometimes😃

      • I never thought to as they aren’t my memories..I know one of my older siblings has written them down, so I will ask her to shoot me a few to post…she’s the best storyteller. Thank you Andy!!

      • Great! You need them for you kids too! They may not be “your” stories but they are family stories and are important to knowing where your family came from and the struggles they lived through. The stories are your families bones! Hope you’ll get them!

      • You’re right!! I’m sending her a message now…unfortunately my own stories were about living in a neighborhood full of gang violence, which then they also grew up in too. Not so happy and adventurous, however memorable yet scary at times.

      • You stories are as important as any others. Begin writing those too! It will not only remind you of your hard work at providing for your family, but help you heal those hurts too. You grandchildren will appreciate what you have accomplished for them😃

      • You’re right!! I should as I do have one granddaughter, who’s 3. My son, her father, writes also..I’m going to tell him to write down his stories too to share with her and his grandchildren. Thanks Andy!!!

      • That’s a wonderful idea. I hope you son will do so. Encourage him to become the family historian. I wish my brothers and kids would get interested. I guess, as they say, there is one who is keeper of the bones. I’m excited for you Andi. Once you start this you will get excited about finding out as much as you can. Talk to all relatives about things they remember too.

      • I actually did send out questionnaires to all my siblings 2 years ago in hopes to get back some good stuff but they’re very guarded..holding on to their hurts, guarding them with their life, instead of letting go and letting God…not all are saved or believe so it’s hard for them. But I will continue to pray for them and continue to try. Thank you for this Andy! I’m sure God used you just now. I love it!!

  3. Thanks for this great family story, Andy. The little things always meant a lot in my family, too. When they were unexpected or unplanned (like your story above), that made them even more memorable.

  4. Such sweet memories. When we have no idea what we’re missing or choose to focus on the good, life is good no matter what our circumstances. So much of life is a matter of our outlook. You remember these parts of life that were financially rough from the perspective of a child who was loved and cared for by great parents.

    • Thank you Joanna! When we love and miss those that were so significant in our lives these memories bring a brief joy to our hearts! Thank you for commenting😃

  5. Loved that photo from your past and what a great story too. I too can remember climbing a fire tower as a kid in the Allegheny National Forest here where my folks had a ‘camp.’ I think the simple (and inexpensive or free) things we do make the best memories!

  6. What a great memory! And how awesome that your dad was able to capture that kind of adventure! It’s a rare spirit that can do that, in my opinion. Those spur-of-the-moment great ideas are hard to come by these days. 🙂

    I think your mom was pretty stylish, too. 🙂

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