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Fred's Views

What's in a Namesake?

Every once in a while something comes along that sort of blows my mind. A few weeks ago, I got an e-mail proposing a link between my "" site and "" site. Now, a couple of years ago, I used one of those Internet e-mail search sites to see how many other "Fred Oldfields" are out there. I found a few. One in the States, one in Africa somewhere and a couple more. I've always thought that my last name was fairly unusual and, as first names go, so is my first name. Put them together and, well there can't be all that many, can there? Maybe there can.

On a similar note, they say that everyone has a double, somewhere. I had numerous people say that they've seen my double just a few miles from here. If you saw what I really look like, you'd find that hard to believe, but, who knows.

Anyway, back to my story. I finally got around to doing something about the e-mail. (Before I did anything, I wanted to check out the site and I also wanted to be in a position to follow up immediately, if changes were going to be made. If you look to the left, you'll see I have included the link.) It turns out the "other" Fred Oldfield is a very well respected painter who specializes in the cowboys of the old west. I read a little of his biography and was slightly surprised by some of the things I discovered.

Painter Fred was born in 1918, just about the same time as my mother, in Washington State. I had an uncle Fred (yes, Oldfield) who moved from Canada to Washington State. He would have been at least ten years older than painter Fred. Painter Fred's wife, Alice, died just recently. My mother's name is Alice. Okay, that's all the similarities that I discovered, but it's hard to write them off as mere coincidences.

Painter Fred moved to Alaska where he painted on 9" x 9" discarded tiles that his landlady sold for $10 each in 1941. Then the war broke out. On the ship to Europe, he painted on anything he could find, including leather jackets. After the war, he discovered his true love - painting the cowboys of the old west.

He has won numerous awards, yet, until I received this e-mail, I never knew he existed.

What I've given you is just a few short snippets I picked up from one page of his site. I hope you'll take the time to give it a real look over. I think you will be pleased. I've got a few photographs by Fred Oldfield (me), but no paintings. I'd love to have one, and I didn't check out what prints were available, but I noticed that one that was specially done for the center was being made available as a limited print - but only to members of the center who contributed $1,000 (US) or more. A bit too steep for me.

I've got a few cousins who live in the area, and there's another enclave of Oldfields, no relation that I know of, who live about twenty miles from here. I even had one Oldfield in my class. His name was David, the same as my son. That was a little disconcerting. And he was, as far as I know, no relation either. I am related, through my grandmother, to a famous local hero: Billy Green. During the War of 1812-14, the nasty Americans (sorry about that), were marching from Niagara to Burlington, hoping to surprise a British encampment there. Billy Green learned that the Americans were camped at Stoney Creek and high-tailed it to Burlington to warn the British. They quickly marched to Stoney Creek, surprised and defeated the American troops. The first weekend in June has been a celebration of this event in Stoney Creek since the sixties (1960s). The war itself, was pretty much a draw with both sides claiming victory. The Americans' greatest victory came in New Orleans, about two weeks after the war was officially over (but before word of the treaty - signed in Europe - reached the new world). Both the U.S. and what would become Canada probably gained some measure of self-confidence. The Americans stood up, once again, to Britain, a super power, while the Canadians (with a little help from their friends) thwarted the American ambitions. They held at bay a super power in the making. But Billy is the only truly notable celebrity in my family tree that I am aware of.

There have not been, to my knowledge, a lot of notable Oldfields. When I was a kid, people were always asking me if I was related to Barney Oldfield, the famous race-car driver from the very dawn of racing. Usually, they were asking as a joke, of course. I quickly learned that Barney was a famous racer, but it wasn't until the Internet that I discovered how innovative and revolutionary he was. He was not just a great early racer, he was essentially the first racer, and a super star. Beyond Barney, there was a Mike Oldfield, a rocker in the '70s, I believe. And I think I've noticed another Oldfield in movie credits once in a while. Beyond that, and a few roads usually spelled "Ofield", that's about it for significant Oldfields. Until now. Now there is one more truly significant Oldfield. And his name is Fred, Unfortunately, it's not me. (It's not I, either.)

Copyright © 2002 by Fred Oldfield. All rights reserved.

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