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

Photo 1
Sardis Reservoir Spillway, 1940’s Postcard

The Tallahatchie seemed to be everywhere.
Looking out the backseat window, we crossed it a million times going up Old 7 to Memphis. And you had to cross it twice as much to get into New Albany. Of Chickasaw lore and country music legend, somewhere along her Delta route, Billy Joe McAllister was more than likely thrown off a bridge. She’s twisted, muddy, ugly and hard.
But, at the Spillway, she is a queen on her throne. Jumping out and running down to the rocks has awed many a Lafayette County kid, at the raw power, the realized danger of her majesty. The roar at the bottom, the billowing spray, the old Sardis veterans giving the nod to Dad and his sons. Later, pulling away with the morning’s catch and evening’s dinner, Jack winks and we grin as he announces a stop at The Dam Store. The winding road back to the highway is a driver’s deliberation and kid’s delight. The day’s fishing is officially a rear view when you turn left on Old 6 and head east to town. Familiar county roads, hills, fence lines and creek bottoms pass by, until that last big valley.
Photo 2
Mississippi Governor William Waller: AP

Waller hollow has been theirs for generations. Many a tough Waller boy has hunted and fished in, and walked out of, that valley, heading for the future. Bill Waller strode all the way to Jackson. To us kids, Governor William Waller was larger than life. But years later, when Oxford held its special day for him and he saw Dad on the Square and yelled, “Jack!,” I knew that the Governor and I were both just Oxford boys. It always took me aback just a little, just for a second, when Grandpop called Faulkner…”Bill.” But when Dad yelled back, “Bill!,” I was taken in with the knowledge that there was indeed something special about being an Oxford, Mississippi boy.
Special was the feeling of those easings up the hill to our Park Drive, Oxford, Mississippi home. Jumping out to get the ice chests, one to show off the fish and one for our dessert. And our childhoods smell Mom’s fresh cut peaches, and hear that Barr ice, the only that would do, crunching with turns of the old handle. Skinning the cats and cleaning the crops, grease pops and Dad’s nod to fetch the corn-mealed catch. A Momma’s smile at a fed family. Daddy’s twinkling at Mom and a child’s secure grin at the pleasure of home-spun ice cream…and memories.
Photo 3
Jack and Martha Glenn Cofield

Courtesy of John Cofield, 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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