Oaklawn Manor in Franklin is the epitome of gracious living. The antebellum home is nestled on the banks of the Bayou Teche, while surrounded by majestic oaks and magnolias dripping with Spanish moss. It belongs to the 49th governor of Louisiana, Mike Foster, and his charming wife, Alice. The visit was a morning of Southern hospitality at its finest, relaxed and easy conversation about life after the governor's mansion.
"I enjoy life, which I always have," said former Gov. Mike Foster. "I have more time to hunt, more time to fish, more time to do what I like to do. I still fly airplanes, still fly helicopters. My law firm in Baton Rouge kept after me to help them with some government work, sort of, said no. Finally broke down and said if it's not more than a couple of days a week, I'll do it."
"It's so good to be here, not in a fish bowl all the time," Alice Foster added. "So, I enjoy what I want to do now. I still have my fingers into some of my projects; You Are Sunshine and Keep Louisiana Beautiful."
The time passed quickly as the conversation turned to family. The governor's grandfather was also the state's 31st governor and the couple has nine grandchildren, aged 4 to 26. There was time for a walk into the Audubon room to see an extraordinary collection of life-like bird carvings. All 91 were done by Houma native, Don Gomez. The governor even traded one of his motorcycles for a magnificent bald eagle.
But for Mrs. Foster, it's the sight beyond the back door that she treasures. Darrel Paul is their congenial tour guide. Mary Edwards has been Mrs. Foster's proclaimed "right hand" for the past 25 years. And then, there is the newest member of the family, a handsome Italian Mastiff named Governor General. Because he turns 80 this summer, many may wonder if the former governor still rides motorcycles.
"She talked me into getting another motorcycle. She said when are we going to ride motorcycles? I said, 'My knee hurts too much to ride my old motorcycle," he explained. "It's called a Spider. It's a trike, but it's a reversible trike (with) two wheels in the front, one wheel in the back, but it's got a reverse so you don't have to use your knees and that's what's out there right now."
"He's hoping you'll take a ride around the house 'cause Angela Hill did, from New Orleans, so you've got to get on that bike and have your pictures taken," Alice Foster added.