Sunday, May 16, 2021

Gamebirds: Reynolds' Never-Ending Love for Oxford

GameBirds
HottyToddy.com’s Gamebirds are an on-going seasonal series on dedicated Rebel fans who bought a second home in Oxford and travel to any lengths for their Rebel sports teams. Today’s spotlight falls on Bruce Reynolds, a Rebel fan who held season tickets since 1975.

Trenia and Bruce Reynolds at an Ole Miss game this season.
Trenia and Bruce Reynolds at an Ole Miss game this season.

“Sorry to be so late in getting back with you.” Reynolds said before beginning the interview last week, “I went to the LSU game on a last second whim and didn’t get back to Jackson until early Sunday morning–still paying the price and trying to catch up.”
Bruce Reynolds is a Clinton native who has retired from his position as a contractor and consultant for Delta Regional Authority. He and his wife, Trenia, are both University of Mississippi graduates from the mid-70’s by their estimate.
“In the old days we would take our van to Oxford after work on Fridays and park in the Grove. There was a tree in the Grove that had electricity running to it and we would hook up our compact TV and a light and were good to go.” Reynolds said, “On game day we would just walk to the game from our van and enjoy the peace and tranquility of the Grove as there were few others who availed themselves to this sanctuary.”
In later years everyone started parking in the Grove and they were no longer able to stay overnight. Also the birth of their daughter, Moni Reynolds Simpson who is an University of Mississippi graduate and full time resident in Oxford, changed their tailgating ways in 1982. They then drove to Oxford and back on Saturdays while leaving Moni with Miss Lennette, “a gracious woman of color who provided loving care for Moni.” Reynolds said that as Moni grew she began attending games with them and is now a life-long Rebel.
When their daughter attended University of Mississippi the Reynolds tried to find a place to stay at in Oxford but they couldn’t afford the chain hotels that required a contract to stay on football weekends. The Reynolds did enjoy their stay at the Johnson Motel in those days.
Reynolds recounted the memories of Johnson Motel: “We found the Johnson Motel which was, shall we say, maybe not up to the standards of the Hiltons. But we got a good rate, a place to stay and a big color TV that worked most of the time. We got to know the owners of the place and would bring them back leftovers from the Grove and they took good care of us and gave us the same unit each game weekend.”
The Johnson Motel is now Comfort Inn on W. Jackson Avenue right by Abner’s. The Reynolds found their second home in Oxford at the Cedar Ridge Apartments, just off the west end of the campus. Reynolds said he was driving around 12 years ago when he noticed the Cedar Ridge apartments were converting to condos.
“I immediately stopped ant talked to the developer and put a contract for our place that same weekend.” Reynolds said, “He was new to the Oxford market and didn’t realize the value of the units.”
He purchased both sides of a duplex and had them completely stripped down to the studs. His wife picked out all the colors, appliances and wallpaper and anything their second home needed. The place may be small but it has a spacious deck wrapping the house on its side from front to back. The surrounding hickory trees make the complex “like the Neshoba County Fair on weekends,” Reynolds said.
“There are only a couple of students who live in the complex as most of the folks purchased their units for sports weekends.” Reynolds said, “On game weekends it’s a nonstop party.”
Between football, baseball and basketball and the Square the Reynolds spend almost as much time in Oxford as they do in Clinton. Also visiting their Moni and her husband Stuart Simpson gives them more reason to head “north towards home.”
“We love our trips to Oxford and any stress we have slowly diminishes as we head closer up I-55 to our Camelot.” Reynolds said, “We are in town so much that we consider First Presbyterian Church our ‘other’ church home.”
The Reynolds love their place in Oxford, even beyond the sports. To them they have the Square, music, Faulkner and all the other quaint trappings that bring people from all over to Oxford. They also love Groving with their four tents, copious food and hospitality complete with tall tales of Ole Miss games gone by.
Bruce Reynolds departed this advice: “Enjoy your time in Gods’ country – you will never graduate Ole Miss or Oxford.”
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Callie Daniels is the staff reporter for HottyToddy.com. She can be reached at callie.daniels@hottytoddy.com.

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