Sunday, February 5, 2023

Cofield on Oxford: The Run of The Place, Part XII

Jack and Willie would go through the Warehouse kitchen and dining room and end up at the bar. There was usually someone there prepping for dinner and the bar crowd.

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The Warehouse Restaurant – Left to right: L. W. Thomas, Charles & Cornelia Henry, Frances Kopp, Willie Morris, Stacy Doolittle, Martha Cofield (hidden) and Jack Cofield / Photo by Mike Floyd

But ‘no help’ never got in the way of two tall scotch and waters at 2 in the afternoon! At first, Mom thought it was cool that the guys were visiting. And let me say that Glenn and I knew all along that when she got the skinny on this little tea party, that we would make sure we were somewhere else. Because Mom created the line…”Did you know about this!” And she knew if I was lying, she always knew.
But…when it happened I was there. She went over to ask Dad something and smelled it. She’d thought there was ice tea in the ice tea glasses. Mom wasn’t a lady to freak out and make a show but she damn sure wasn’t having them drinking liquor at 3 p.m., midweek. I saw her through the Warehouse window wagging her finger and wearing them out. She walked off, wheeled around and went back to dish out more. They just had their heads down. I couldn’t believe it.
When she came back in I was like…Mom you can’t talk to Willie Morris like that! Mom said she didn’t care who they thought they were, that this was ending right now, and did I know anything about this? “No, I did not!”, I said over my should as I left wondering where brother was.
 
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The Country Village Mall, Feb. 17th, 1986 – Ole Miss annual

This should be the end of the story, but no. Dad and Willie weren’t to be underestimated. So from that point on, on those afternoons when Mr. Morris strolled in, they sat at a table by the windows and drank tall glasses of real iced tea. Mom would taste it. She was satisfied. But all the while the waiters were putting the Scotch & waters on the men’s bathroom lavatory. Everyone was happy, back when The Warehouse was in its hayday.
But this happiness, more so than most, was fleeting and fled with the wind. And though I wish to flee on my bike, the smoke clears from my eyes, and the years, as brother tells me to ‘come on’ and we climb through the fireman-chopped hole there on the little side street. The harsh light of day, and life, shines blindingly where it is not welcomed, into my father’s roofless charred-black dark room. It had never been so dark.
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James Barr standing on the dock at the Ice House – Image Courtesy of Wesley Jones

Turning to go, postponing the comfort of riding the Square, the energy of the mind and legs both long for an easier remembrance and ride. Backpedaling and coasting by the Ice House, Billy Ross Brown and Ben Pettis shake hands on the dock, as James Barr chips away. Picking up speed with a hard-leaning left, I see the back of Hoka and hear the sounds of those Oxford glory years.
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The Hoka Theater and Cafe’ sign.

No forced opening necessary, the theater’s moans of mischief mingle with the giggles of Ole Miss guys and gals. Ron “Ronzo” Shapiro smiles the smile of an outsider who tasted, and created, a southern hospitality, and dishes, that bore him to local iconship and the trappings of a living southern legend.
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Ron “Ronzo” Shapiro

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