As an oil barons great-granddaughter, I will tell you about being a little girl raised in the oil field business. My Great-grandfather Buster Eskridge was an oil tycoon in Tulsa Oklahoma. He was Black Dutch, English, Cherokee, and Irish descent. He had smooth flowing black hair and a businessman persona. This ancient English surname of ESKRIDGE is of the locational group of surnames meaning ‘one who came from ASKRIGG’ in the North Riding of Yorkshire. The name was originally rendered in the Old English form AESRIC, literally meaning the dweller near the stream. The earliest of the name on record appears to be ASCRIC (without surname) who was recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086, and ASKRIC (without surname) was recorded in Yorkshire in 1218. My Great-Grandma Betty did an Ancestry background on the name Eskridge several years before my Great Grandfather passed and it linked back to George Washington! I wish I had a copy of THAT!
In 1937 towards the end of the Great Depression my great-grandmother left my great-grandfather for another man, and he had to raise four small children alone. My grandmother Mary, whom raised me, remembers her mother leaving (I have a 1920’s picture of her somewhere), and the pain and torture that she felt having to be the oldest of four and helping raise her siblings Sue,Charolette (spelled correctly), and Jerry. Buster, my great- grandfather remarried a wonderful woman by the name of Betty. Betty was a wonderful stepmother to the four amazing children, the best great grandma in the world and together they had one more child, Johnny and then the oil business started booming.
My great-grandfather owned 37 oil wells and life was good. Our Thanksgivings and Christmas’s were always special, with homemade noodles, and a table FULL of good food, long afternoon walks, and football at the end of the day.I remember every year he would get a brand new Lincoln town car with all leather interior because he had to have the best of the best. Every month each one of his children would receive a check and it was a blessing to our lives. He paid over $20,000 to have my teeth fixed because I was born with either bad genetics or my young 14 year old mom’s drug habit. I had several surgeries, braces, headgear, jaw devices, and he sent me to the best in Tulsa. In fact my Orthodontist was rated 5th in the Nation by USA Today. (I forgot his name- oops) When I was a little girl I remember sitting on my great-grandfather’s lap under a white tent next to the oil wells, waiting for the big explosion of oil. This is before EPS or Environmental Protection Services stopped letting oil wells boom into the air.
Sitting under that tent, on my great Grandpas lap was the best. I remember his breath smelling like pure Vodka as we watched oil explode into mid air. My great Grandpa was my best friend. He loved me so much and I knew I was his favorite. Every Friday night we would go to Jamils steakhouse, which was always known as a police/mafia hangout. Very famous people, big star athletes, and politicians ate dinner there. I still remember our special waiter who just retired last year at age 94, he would bring my great-grandfather the best steak cuts and spoil us with rich Lebanese food.
One of my fondest memories of being in the oil circle was getting dressed up super pretty in my dress and my rabbit fur coat to go have dinner at the Petroleum Club in downtown Tulsa. I was raised on fine dining there once a month and sweet jazz, along with sweet laughter from my great great-Grandfather. I always felt special because I had a grandparent that people catered to and because I was his little princess, I was treated the same. You could only eat dinner at the Petroleum Club if you were loaded in oil money. It was an elite club of men and women that was closed off to the rest of the world.
My great Grandfather ended up loosing everything in the fall of the oil crisis in 1984. Oil stocks were plummeting and oil wells were drying up. Our livelihood stolen in a matter of 2 years not soon after, my favorite man passed away after a successful lung removal, when cancer invaded his other lung. I remember sitting in the back of a limo at his funeral procession of hundreds of cars following, proud to be his great-granddaughter and grateful for his legacy in my life.
After his death, we were stricken with poverty, because there was no more oil money. My Great-grandfathers sickness took it all. Cancer is the devil. I had never really experienced poverty until I was about 12-14.I remember Government cheese, butter, and milk. No more getting everything I wanted at Dillard’s from my favorite Great-Aunt Charolette. I was too embarrassed to even walk into Walmart let alone buy clothes there, I was a spoiled brat. I would cry so hard over a Guess jean jacket or a pair of Reebok’s, but somehow always managed to get them. Part of me still feels bad for being a brat. My grandmother Mary, my great-grandfather’s oldest daughter, who was raising me, had to take on roles with the sheriff’s office in order for us to survive, and I always wanted what everyone else had…. Enough for today…. More story tomorrow….