This is a part of the ongoing series on Rebels who are willing to travel great lengths and/or even have a second home in Oxford for their Rebels.
Frances Permenter Smith has been an Ole Miss fan since she was about seven years old. Her oldest sister, then a sophomore at University of Mississippi, became a cheerleader her junior and senior year in 1960 to 1961, the years Ole Miss was first in the nation. Her love for football was born from her love for her sister when she spent time at the football game looking for her on the sidelines.
“Our father played college ball, was the captain of his team and coached high school – and had four daughters!” Smith said, “So we spent Saturdays listening or watching games with him wen they were on TV, which was rare. (H)e taught us to love all sports and to really understand what is going on during a game.”
Smith and her sisters: Amy McMahan, Suzanne Hickox and Walterine Odom, were all on the Ole Miss campus from 1959 to 1974 without a break. They were all Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority sisters too. Walterine Odom and Amy McMahan were cheerleaders but Odom was the Miss Ole Miss with Archie Manning as Colonel Rebel in 1971. With a rich history as Rebels the sisters would then attend as many Ole Miss games as they could; even Smith and her husband bought a condo to stay in for the home game weekends.
Smith may be a Madison resident but her second home in Oxford is furnished in a way that the only things Smith has to pack are a couple outfits. She likes to start off her game weekends on Thursdays to have time to settle in and see her friends before the festivities begin.
The second home is a small house in Eagle Pointe that she calls the “Game Central” for her family. Her family decided on a single-family housing with a fenced yard for their pups to play in. They later added a screened porch to enjoy outside without the nuisance of bugs. Smith said that house has had as many as 17 relatives dining there the Friday evening before the home game against the Longhorns in 2011.
Her preparation for game weekends are “pretty much down to a science now.” She ensures she has the right color clothes, checks with tent mates on menu and reads up on the opposing team.
“We fix our Grove food, have dinner with nieces and nephews who live (in Oxford).” Smith said, “We usually get to the tent about six hours prior to game time. We visit a few friends’ tents but mostly enjoy being outside.” They enjoy meeting first-timers in the Grove. After tailgating she then gets to the stadium about 45 minutes before the kickoff. The Sunday post-game the family then has Sunday brunch before heading home.
“I love the beauty of both, the pride people have in the city, our campus and our reputation.” Smith said, “I love that there are good restaurants and fun activities in a small town with the sophistication of the city and university. I can feel the family atmosphere – it’s so much fun to walk down a beach in an Ole Miss t-shirt and hear a Hotty Toddy thrown my way! You truly never graduate.”
The family dedication doesn’t end in Oxford however. They have traveled to Birmingham and Nashville for the Compass and Music Bowl games in the past two years. They even traveled to Austin for the Ole Miss – Longhorns match-up in 2012.
Smith’s most memorable game she attended outside of Oxford was the LSU game in Baton Rouge on Nov. 4, 1972. LSU quarterback Bert Jones threw two passes in the final four seconds, the last to Brad Davis for a 10 yard touchdown as the time expired. The second pass was accomplished because the refs put the four seconds back on the clock to give Jones one more shot at the end zone. Rust Jackson’s point after touchdown left the Rebels singing the “Four Seconds Blues.” The time keeper was fired the next week.
“We were totally shocked at the end and I was almost hit in the head by a flying liquor bottle someone hurled down into the crowd.” Smith said, “The entire aftermath was pretty scary.” Billboards were erected along the Louisiana – Mississippi state line saying “You are now entering Louisiana. Set your watch back four seconds.”
Their dedication began at football but it goes on to basketball and baseball. Smith attended a few basketball games, but she drove to Omaha for the baseball tournament with her brother-in-law, two of her nephews and her sister.
Smith, now retired as of last December, has more time to visit Oxford outside of the games. “We love the Ford Center – just saw Hal Holbrook’s Mark Twain and have tickets for Kenny Loggins. I always had work conflict for Double Decker but I hope to go next spring.”
Callie Daniels is a staff reporter and photographer for HottyToddy.com. For comments, criticism and/or compliments her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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