The evening of Friday, May 3rd, 50th class reunion attendees were hosted at a reception held in the lovely Oxford home of Al and Jan Povall. It was a thoroughly enjoyable event. Some in attendance recalled that Al was the cheerleader who dared to carry an Ole Miss sign on the Tigah Stadium field, which stated words to the effect of, “We’re Nbr 1, Second to None!” Unfortunately that 1963 evening, Ole Miss came up on the short end of a 10-7 score. And, Al was attacked by a large segment of Tigah fans. They had won the game but were still angry about Al and his pennant.
Saturday, on the double-decker tour bus, we visited some of the facilities and buildings on the Ole Miss campus, including the new basketball practice court, the Haley Barbour Center For Manufacturing Excellence, and the beautiful Lyceum building. Great briefings were received at each of the facilities.
Afterward, returnees entered the M Club building, where they were fed and received interesting talks from soon-to-retire Dr. Andrew Mullins and the new Ole Miss Athletic Director, Ross Bjork. In this attendee’s opinion, Ole Miss will sorely miss the leadership of Dr. Mullins, but we are blessed to have Ross as the Athletic Director. He is full of the vitality, enthusiasm, and never-say-die spirit that resided so strongly on the Ole Miss campus during the 1960s.
Jake Gibbs and Glynn Griffing were in attendance at the luncheon with their friend and fellow football great, Kenny Dill.
The wife of former football coaching great, Wobble Davis, rose and related a touching story about her late but sorely missed husband. Making the story even more interesting was the fact that Jake Gibbs earlier had confessed that he and most of the players he knew from Ole Miss were terrified of Coach Davis, then as well as now.
However, Ms. Sara, Wobble’s wife, recounted a tender side of the coach. He had a cherished lettered sweater that he kept in a closet. One day, without saying a word, he entered the closet, removed the sweater, and left with it. Many years later, at Coach Davis’s funeral, the recipient of the lettered sweater stepped forward and identified himself to Mrs. Davis. He had been on the Ole Miss team for four years and never played a down on the football field with the varsity. For his dedication, Coach Davis had awarded him with the lettered sweater. That revelation brought forth misty eyes.
Jake also told a story about the Vicksburg Greenie great Richard Price. It seems Richard liked a cigarette smoke now and then. Coach Davis was bound and determined to catch and break Richard from the habit. However, Richard, known by friends as “Possum”, was slick about when and where he puffed on the nicotine stick. Finally, Coach Wobble sought out help in the form of Hall-of-Famer Coach Bruiser Kinard.
“Coach,” he said. “I’ve been trying to catch Possum smoking, but thus far, I’ve failed. Would you help me catch him?”
“What are you going to do when you catch him?” Kinard responded.
“I don’t know,” Wobble replied.
“Then,” Bruiser stated, “Don’t catch him.”
Blunted in his efforts, Coach Wobble finally confronted Coach Johnny Vaught with the problem. So, reluctantly, Coach Vaught put out the word that he wanted to speak with Richard. I say reluctantly because former Lt. Governor Brad Dye confided that Coach Johnny Vaught loved Richard as if he were his own son. I think the ending of this story confirms that statement.
“Richard,” Coach greeted him after the young man had entered the office.
“I understand that you have been smoking. Do you smoke, Richard?”
“Well,” Richard hesitantly replied, while looking down and shuffling a foot. He suspected the ol’ man knew something, and would not tolerate a lie.
“Yes, sir, after supper, I get a craving for a smoke. And I have one or two.”
“Well, now, Richard,” Coach Vaught advised, as he walked from behind his desk and put his arm around the young man, “I want you to cut back a little on your smoking.”
“Yes, sir, Coach,” Richard acknowledged, I’ll do that.”
Kenny Dill’s first wife, Kitty, whom he dearly loved, passed away in 1990. Without prior notification, a former team mate, Glynn Griffing, who, along with Jim Weatherly, quarterbacked the 1963 Ole Miss national championship team, joined Kenny during his wife’s last hours on earth.
“It meant so much,” Kenny said, “to have Glenn with me during that very difficult time.”
Kenny refers to times such as this as the “rippling effect” one acquires from Ole Miss. He spoke about several other stories reaffirming the Ole Miss rippling effect. “One,” he says, “looks after the needs of fellow Ole Miss grads. You help them and they help you, or others.”
That is the rippling effect that has been experienced by him and fellow Ole Miss folks.
Regarding Coach Wobble, Kenny wrote statements that I share verbatim:
“I still have a vivid memory of meeting freshman football Coach Davis. I recognized [right] off the bat that if you planned to play varsity football at Ole Miss, you had to go through Coach Wobble. It was his way or the highway. Ole Miss signed 50 freshman football players in those days, and we didn’t realize that Wobble was the mine field you had to navigate through to survive.
“Miller Hall was the new athletic dorm, and Coach Wobble and Ms. Sara were our daddy and mother in the dorm. I got the unlucky draw of getting the room directly above their bedroom on the second floor by the stairway.
“We had to be in the room at 10:30 during the fall season. One night. I got into a nervous twitter and started bouncing a golf ball over their bedroom, and we heard Coach Wobble almost knock the door off the hinges coming up to our floor.
“We got quiet to see who he was going after. The next thing we knew, he was standing in our room and yelled, ‘Who’s bouncing that blankety-blank golf ball?’ He was standing between me and the door and I couldn’t run, and I couldn’t make the ball disappear. Wobble told me what the punishment would be if I ever bounced the ball over their bedroom again. Since that night over 50 years ago, I haven’t forgot what he told me, and I don’t play golf today. Wobble was about tough love, and he always kept up with us after college. And when we were facing health issues or death in our family, he called or showed up at your door to let you know that he was hurting too.”
That evening, class returnees enjoyed food, drink, and many more stories, interrupted only by dances to the music of a good band.
1. William (Bill) Morris. Book author:Ole Miss at Oxford (A Part of our Heart & Soul)
2. Kenny Dill & Steve Mistimes
3. Double-decker tour guide
4. Kenny Dill & wife Anna
5. Kay Mistilis, husband Steve, and Ann Jackson Gatwood
6. Brad Dye & Olen Akers
7. Jake Gibbs
8. Carl & Nancy Parker Ford
9. Steve & Kay Mistilis with Guy Hovis
10. Edward & Mary Eidt
11. Susan Sadler Hayman & Friend
12. Mary Pat Coley Custer, Bobby & Jane Pope Black
13. Jeff & Robbie Lindsey Troyka
14. Mary Pat Coley Custer & Kay Mistilis
15. Sis Hovis, Olen & Jan Akers
16. Meredith & J.D. May, Ann Jackson Gatwood
17. Dr. Joseph McFadden, Dr. Jim & Mary Sharp Lickfold Rayner
18. Happy Campers
19. Susan Sadler Hayman & Guy Hovis
20. Bobby & Jane Pope Black
21. Jeff & Robbie Lindsey Troyka, Al & Jan Povall
22. Al & Jan Povall
23. Howard & Mary Thetford Peck
24. Dr. Joseph McFadden & Margaret Countiss Harbison
25. Bill Baker & Wife
26. Barbara & Kay Howard
27. Margaret Countiss Harbison
28. Anna & Kenny Dill
29. Donna Bailey Dye & Patricia Dees Gilbert
30. Donna Bailey & Brad Dye
31. Bill Morris & Al Povall
32. Camille & Bill Morris
33. Meredith & J. D. May
34. Carl & Nancy Parker Ford
35. Larry Eubank & Carl Ford
36. Margaret Countiss Harbison & Sis Hovis