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1964 photo of downtown Oklahoma City at Christmas brings back memories

Oklahoma City man's widow recalls him turning downtown Christmas lights on and off every night during the season for years.
BY LILLIE-BETH BRINKMAN lbrinkman@opubco.com Modified: December 24, 2010 at 9:26 am •  Published: December 24, 2010
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When Barbara Campbell opened The Oklahoman this week and saw a photo of downtown Oklahoma City during Christmas 1964, it felt like a Christmas card from her husband, who died in January.


“I just appreciate it so much,” she said of the photo that was in Mary Phillips' Archivist column Tuesday. “It's just one of those tender mercies that God sends us.”

Her husband, Ezra Campbell, hung those lights from 1949 until the mid-1960s, Barbara Campbell said.

They were married in 1951, and she remembered being irritated as a newlywed because he had to go downtown every night about 8 p.m. to turn on the lights and then at midnight to turn them off, one lamp post at a time.

Campbell would go with her husband and sit in the truck, and when the wind blew or the ice broke the decorations, his job was even harder.

“It was quite an undertaking,” Campbell said.

“As a young bride, I thought that was awful.”

Campbell said the city of Oklahoma City at the time contracted with Porter's Flower Shop, owned by her sister-in-law and brother-in-law, to do the decorations.

Ezra Campbell had just returned from Korea after serving in the U.S. Army and went to work for Porter's.

The city's Christmas decorating job fell to him.

Seeing the photo from the archives moved Campbell to call the newspaper and share her story.

“You have no idea how it hit me,” she said.

She said she called her children and “told them their daddy sent them a Christmas card.”