Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Cofield on Oxford – Something for Everybody

Photo courtesy John Morgan
Photo courtesy John Morgan

Yes sir, for me on this search for Oxford’s pictorial history, it just doesn’t get much better than this. This shot has a little something for every-Oxford-body, and then some.

First it has in it the reason the photo ever came my way. The Hole-In-The-Wall record store has come up in several threads lately and folks have asked about a possible photograph. So after the third or fourth time, I contacted Oxford alderman John Morgan. And let me say this about John: our grandfathers were close friends and the same exact age to the month, both being born in January 1900, known at the time as “New Century Babies.” They would walk the Square together giving pep talks to fellow business owners during The Great Depression. And while the two generations to follow in each family have all been Oxford friends, it is both our grandfather’s devotion to and passion for Oxford’s pictorial history that has created our enjoyable current online correspondences. John is a treasure trove of Oxford photographs from the 1930s through about 1970, our grandfathers’ years. Many are near works of folk art with explanations about the people and events, and paper-backed frames with hand-written notes and autographs, but that makes them impossible to flat scan. I don’t bother John a whole lot because like all the Morgans before him, he’s plenty busy following in their footsteps there on the Square. But when I emailed about the Hole-In-The-Wall and got back, “Hang on, got something I’ll get back to you with,” I figured it was going to be good. I didn’t know it would be a pure Oxford Classic.

So here we go, a little something for everyone. First, it’s taken on the Square. The Hole-In-The-Wall record store is now Faulkner Alley. It was the shortcut to the Square which Billy Falkner, and all the South Lamar and South 11th Street kids, used, and still do. It also once housed the Oxford Police Department, before finally being opened back up after the record store. Dentist Leslie Tubb and Dr. A. H. Little both doctored a multitude of locals and each had offices above the Square, as the sign indicates. Then you have the reason the photo was taken. Standing in front of their stories, the best shot I’ve ever seen of the father and son together, town icons, both characters in their own right, Ira L. “Shine” and Ed Morgan. The theme of the photo is strong Southern Americana family. I’d like to imagine that Santa is Nina Goolsby. And whether or not it is or I’ll just never know, the photograph brings no other Oxford Saint Nick to mind, and so she lives on here, whether in fact or fond memory. The priceless Christmastime expression on the little girl’s face is Rockwell material. She is in good hands with the Harvey sisters by her side, Miss Emily and Miss Cora Bell. And next, the two ladies on the right were, to me, obviously a mother and grandmother. The smiles say so and if you think on it for a minute you can see yours standing in their place. I found out I was right on both accounts. It is a mother and daughter and my own loving matching pair smiled that way at my Santa pictures, yours did too.

How do I know those ladies names? Well, I know they are Ms. Bailey, the grandmother, and Ms. Shepherd, the daughter. And that’s their little boy. But he’s not a little boy anymore, no sir. John Morgan had a name written on the back of the photo, Mark Shepard. I Googled around for awhile and then smiled at the only Mark in Mississippi that came close. The last name was spelled different but I made the phone call anyway. And then I got an email address, then I emailed this Mark Shepherd and he responded shortly thereafter:

“Thank you for sending this. I have that photo and it’s wonderful. The lady on far right was my grandmother, Etoy Collins Bailey, and that’s my mother, Anita Bailey Shepherd, standing next to her. You may know my uncle, longtime Batesville attorney Collins Bailey. Again, thank you for this memory and I’m glad I could help with your search.”
–Sheriff Mark Shepherd, Pike County, Mississippi

John Morgan, thanks for this Oxford memory and for helping with the search our grandfathers started so long ago.


JohnCofield

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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