Friday, February 3, 2023

Cofield on Oxford —The Run of the Place, Part IV

Goodwin & Brown's Commissary, 1880's - Mr. J. B. Brown was a partner in the business in the 1880s. At some point Mr. Brown became sole owner and the business was renamed, J. B. Brown & Sons, and operated here until the 1920s, - Photo from The Cofield Collection
Goodwin & Brown’s Commissary, 1880’s – Mr. J. B. Brown was a partner in the business in the 1880s. At some point Mr. Brown became sole owner and the business was renamed, J. B. Brown & Sons, and operated here until the 1920s, – Photo from The Cofield Collection

So, along with the Neilsons, here came the core of Oxford’s old families.
While Tricia Lee, Ginny and Maggie were cute little girls running around the Square charging penny candy to Billy Ross Brown, in 1970; they could have to J. B. Brown, in 1870. The sisters’ great-grandfather is in that group of Oxford men who helped rebuild the Square’s commerce, thus the town. J. B. Brown & Sons anchored the southeast row of Square businesses well into the 1920’s. And in the next decade, two Oxford icons, Billy Ross and Patricia Brown, were kids running the Square themselves. The brother and sister never left. Like old J. B. before them, they prospered and raised families. And then, in the prime of their lives, they were part of the heart of some of Oxford’s glory years. Our collective memories of their old Ice House and The Warehouse touches several generations and many Ole Miss classes. It’s a heartfelt Oxford memory when you glimpse Father and Mother again.
Postcard - Sardis Reservoir, created by Tichnor Bros. Inc., Boston, Mass., 1930 - 1945 (approximate)
Postcard – Sardis Reservoir, created by Tichnor Bros. Inc., Boston, Mass., 1930 – 1945 (approximate)

Dad yelling for you to get up, but you’d been awake, waiting. Loading up the boat in an early cool mist. Bait, tackle, Mom’s bag of sandwiches, youthful enthusiasm…check! Sardis here we come, let’s go!
No matter the generation, the Square has a feeling all its own, but no more so than at sunrise. So hushed you can hear the rubber meeting the road. Easing the boat down the hill by Neilson’s to the Ice House dock. Jumping out to get the ice chests, one for the fish and one for us. And then our collective memories see the hooks at work and hear the chipper crunching. And working the dock is an Oxford icon for sure, James Barr. But he’s a man you only thought you knew.
 
James Barr, "The Iceman" by Randy Thornton
James Barr, “The Iceman” by Randy Thornton

Courtesy of John Cofield. John Cofield is a hottytoddy.com writer and one of Oxford’s leading folk historians. He is the son of renowned university photographer Jack Cofield. His grandfather, “Col.” J. R. Cofield, was William Faulkner’s personal photographer and for decades was Ole Miss yearbook photographer. Cofield attended Ole Miss as well. Contact John at johnbcofield@gmail.com

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