We had a pretty sound night’s sleep at the Vista Inn last night and woke early as planned. We decided to postpone breakfast and get on the road. Our planned route to Atlanta will make a stop in Oxford, MS to visit our Alma Mater – The University of Mississippi (Ole Miss). I am really excited since I have not returned in almost 30 years. Rich has been back once during a Great Earlham Road Trip with Janel, but he is excited for me to see the campus and town.
We took Hwy 7 from Memphis through Holly Springs and it brought back many memories of driving back and forth to Evansville from school. I was enchanted by all the Kudzu along the way – I had forgotten how pervasive it is.
After going through Abbeville, we finally arrive on the outskirts of Oxford. Things have changed so much that it was difficult to get oriented. Where is the Jitney Jungle (the black grocery store) and the Piggly Wiggly (the white grocery store)?? Looks like they both have been replaced by Kroger.
We continue of Lamar Avenue to the Oxford Square. It is as cute as I remember, but there are many more shops and restaurants. The courthouse looks as lovely as ever. I am disappointed to see that one of my favorite little cafes – Smitty’s – is no longer there. It has been replaced by townhomes. It is a little sad to see all the new buildings, but Rich and I agree that they really do look nice. We see Neilson’s department store on the square and remember that it is the first (an probably only) place that would give Rich a credit card. He still owns the down vest he purchased there!
We keep going and the road becomes even more familiar. There she is – Ole Miss.
We quickly find “Twin Towers” dormitory where Rich once lived (and where, on occasion, I would sneak inside). Dorms were strictly gender-specific and had limited “visiting hours” for the opposite sex. I don’t know what the rules are here today – probably a little less buttoned-up. We drove around the perimeter of campus and came upon the new HUGE football stadium. It is clear to see where the $ are at the university.
I was very surprised to see all the new buildings and ongoing construction. I thought that the new buildings on campus were built very nicely to blend in with the really old buildings. Campus looks stunning. We parked and walked through the Grove and in front of the Lyceum – always an impressive site.
Of course, we had to make our way to my old dorm(s) – Barnard/Isom/Sommerville. They are some of the oldest buildings on canmpus and are no longer dormitories. They now house the theatre program and ROTC. We went in the front entrance of Isom and found where I used to work in the office there. Then, guided by instinct, we made our way to the back stairs of the dorm. I can remember vividly all the “moments” that Rich and I spent here outside this dorm exit. This was where Rich would bring me home after we had been out together. I remember we could hardly tear ourselves away from each other to say goodbye.
From the dorm we made the short walk to Meek Hall – used to be the Music Building (now is Fine Arts). We stood outside and picked out the window of the Music Theory room where we first met over 30 years ago! We made our way into Meek and immediately knew what we had to do. We ascended the stairs and stood staring directly at Room 214 – the Music Theory Room. We found a student and asked them to take our picture. Then we proceeded to tell them the story of how I sat behind Rich in Music Theory 101 in that very classroom (at 8:00am.) Since the class was so early in the morning, we hadn’t really even notice each other before until. . . one day I picked up my pencil and ran it up the back of the neck in front of me and heard this soft voice say “oooh.” 30 years later we are married with children.
Our wandering took us through the Student Union – post office boxes are still there. A trip through the Bookstore and then back out through the Grove to Carrier Hall – the Engineering School where Rich clocked many hours. They are doing some kind of major work on the Engineering School and it looks like they are expanding a lot.
We were starving by this time, but knew we had one last haunt to find. We headed out College Hill road to try to find our house that we lived in when we were first married. The road has changed so much – there are some really nice homes there now (ours was a little shack ($100/month rent!). We found the spot where our house “was” but it is no longer there. Kind of sad.
Back to the Square for lunch at Rooster’s House of Blues (new place). We sat at the window and watched people passing by while we wondered if we knew any of them. This was a great trip down memory lane. However, it is getting late and we are going to make it to Atlanta tonight and stay with one of our friends there (Jack Tassos). We need to be making some tracks.
The drive to Atlanta is uneventful (thankfully) and we find Jack’s home in Lawrenceville, GA without any trouble. We pull in around 9pm since we lost an hour due to the time change. Jack and Fran’s home (Fran is out of town) is wonderful. It is set back in the woods and the sounds of the night creatures permeate the air when we open the car doors.
Jack has been remodeling the house for a while now and he gives us a tour. The place is fantastic – very modern and “artsy.” They have done a remarkable job of planning and decorating. We didn’t take any pics tonight, but will do so tomorrow.
We sit and chat and eat pizza while discussing next summer’s “Bike Across America” trip. Rich and Jack have a lot of planning to do. . .
We have a tee time in the morning and are looking forward to golfing in Georgia with Jack. It is really nice to be able to stay here for more than one night and to be in a house instead of a hotel!
Even though our ride to Atlanta got us in quite late and we were tired it was so worth it to make a stop in Oxford. I wouldn’t trade a single minute of this day.