Popular Posts

Thursday, July 5, 2012


Treasures can be many things and the definition of a treasure varies from the eyes of the beholder. My brothers found two family treasures a few weeks ago, that had not been forgotten….only the memories we shared over the years of these items and the question and mystery “what happened to them?” I feel honored that they let me have these “family treasures” and I will cherish them always and not let them slip from our view again.
They found these treasures while cleaning out an old shed located at mother’s house. This shed had 45 + years of piled up junk that has been locked up and decaying. About 15 years ago I opened that ole’ shed and it looked like a trash dump. There was no way you could sort through things and make out what they were. Seemed like it was a place of things that were important years gone by…just thrown in there to rot and “yes” it looked like a pile of rot.
When my brothers finally found the key to open this shed, a mother raccoon greeted them with a growl and a warning that this was her home. Her babies were only a few days old and had not opened their eyes yet. The plan that day was to just open the shed and see what work was ahead. They had a mess in there and knew that this was a mess for the trash. It would be a few weeks before they tackled this job and it took them several appointments to finally get it cleaned out. When they returned to cleaned it out…. Mother raccoon moved her babies elsewhere (thank-goodness!).
These treasures were on the bottom of the pile and found on the final day of completing the job. My brother Jamey called me of their find and informed me I could have them if I wanted them. Both brothers did not want the items and thought they would look nice in our outdoor living space called “The Chicken Coop.” “Oh My!” I was so excited they found them.
The first item was a sign my parents had made at the Louisiana State Fair in the mid-60’s.  We always went to that fair…every year and my parents loved the fair. The “sign” was the “naming” of our week-end camp that we traveled to every week-end. I can still remember my parents discussing the well thought out name for our camp and also the message that they wanted to relay to all who came for a visit. “The Lazy J’s”…… we were all J names…John, Jan, Johnny, Julie and Jamey. Our camp was located about 45 min. drive from our home on the Louisiana-Texas border; Lake Monterey a private lake with a few camps located in the deep woods that very few folks knew about. It was a few miles down a sandy, dusty road…no phones… no nothing… just pure woodsy and untouched  territory that gave you a sense of a pioneer. We did have modern conveniences such as electricity, A/C, heat, and a bathroom…. but other than that we were in the woods…overlooking a beautiful lake, great fishing, hunting and my childhood playground had no boundaries. My time as a child on Lake Monterey was filled with being independent to all the elements and surroundings it offered in a safe environment that is very hard to find in today’s world. I explored those vast woods, swam from one end of the lake to the other. Never saw a sole as we kids trampled through the woods and built forts out of our imagination and lived each moment as if we were the only ones in our little world.  
The camp became a place for many family and friends to come out and visit. Wonderful memories made there with “many” who came to enjoy our special place….but some came with their troubles (few) and the sign was not only a way to let folks know the name of the place…but a message to all who came. The sign read; “THE LAZY J’S CAMP  LEAVE YOUR TROUBLES AT HOME.’’  I don’t think the sign made a difference in those who continued to bring their troubles to our hide-out…but was happy to know the rule of our camp was to “leave your troubles at home.” What a treasure to find that sign and it still be in good condition. This “sign” is such a wonderful spark that lights many memories for me. In a sense it takes me “home” to my childhood playground and I am a child again.
In the 80’s I painted a picture for my mother and wrote a poem about this special place. It was a time in my life I needed that place again to be present and knew it could never be. I truly believe that painting my childhood playground brought a healing in my life and a step forward in letting go of moving forward into the adulthood I was now a part of. I guess as I look back to that special place it was grand… but so short lived. I will always cherish and remember those memories we shared as a family and a time we had our daddy in our lives. It would be only a few years after we sold the camp that he got sick and died.
As the time has passed
The past has not been erased
The years of childhood so embedded in place
And as time has gone by, not one memory has gone to waste
It seems there has not been any space in time
In which my mind can't still trace
It was yesterday the smell of spring and "Oh" how the birds did sing
On my childhood playground, I can still hear the sounds-so dear and very precious of my past.

Notice in painting..we had a cable with a rope swing (loved swinging and droping off into the lake) and a tree that had a platform built into it. We could dive out of that tree for hours and see who could do the biggest "Geronimo!" The lake dropped off fast and was a good 30 feet deep a few feet from the shore. Near our barge was a petrified tree..."yes" petrified... and went from our shore..maybe 20 feet. It rested on the lake bottom and we would balance ourself and walk on it until it was over our head. As you followed it into the deep it no longer rested on the bottom..but was suspended and we could swim under it.. A natural God designed monkey bar and balancing beam it was. So much fun!
Camp Sign now hanging safely in the Chicken Coop.

Me, Mother, Jamey, Daddy, Rickey (sitting on car) and Rives standing by the sign that hung on a pinetree as you entered the driveway.
This brings me to the second treasure they found. Our daddy was so full of life and loved it to his fullness. He was involved in everything and still found the time every week-end to escape to the lake to fish and the woods to hunt. After selling the camp he bought a houseboat on Caddo Lake and our week-end adventures continued. It was during this time that he decided to run for “Police Jury” for Caddo Parish. Really don’t remember all the details…but do remember him wanting to use this position to help improve situations concerning Caddo Lake and other lakes in our Parish. As the campaign progressed many of his followers wanting him to drop out of the Police Jury race and run for LA State Rep., thinking he could get more accomplished for the lakes in Caddo Parish. Voting was going to take place in February and it was the season of fall when he did decide maybe to change direction to run for State Rep. It was during this time of decision making that he noticed that something was wrong with his health. It all came together before Thanksgiving concerning his suspicions that he was sick and was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  His first surgery was before Christmas and the realization that he needed to drop out of politics soon followed. He lived to see another Christmas and went to be with the Lord the following spring. The ambulance that was called to take him to his final hospital stay… picked him up on Caddo Lake. He had been fishing all week-end and doing what he loved.  Well…guess what survived the shed all these years? A campaign poster from that history in our lives, that brings back memories of long ago. We have through the years remembered and thought of these items from time to time… never dreaming relics were left behind.  My crafty husband built a frame for the “Campaign Poster” and covered it with Plexiglas to preserve it for the next generation. Don’t know if they will appreciate it as much as I do and hope it will not get lost again…same goes with the Camp Sign. They are both now hanging in the Chicken Coop and what joy to see them again.
Poster framed and now rest in the 'Chicken Coop."
Found this campaign flyer in my mother's paperwork. The one and only one...left after all these years.

My question to you as you read this writing from the heart. What is your definition of a “Treasure?” Sometimes, in life treasures have no value at all except to the “one” who has the memories hidden in the object.  To them it is worth all the gold and silver this ole’ world contains. The sign and poster give me the sense that daddy and mother are looking down from heaven and humming the song “Thanks for the Memories” and I am saying “yes” thanks for all the wonderful memories… Good and bad… they are what made me…. to whom I am today… and I will always be grateful.

1 comment:

  1. The Bible says it best, "where our treasure is, our heart is".
    Whatever we hold so dear in our hearts is our treasure.
    This is interesting Julie. The memories of our departed loved ones should never be ignored.