Thursday, July 7, 2022

The General’s Collection: Ole Miss-LSU Chess Set and ‘The Hate State Table’

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Ole Miss vs. LSU Chess set owned by “The General,” Jim Stephens

This is the second in a series on the extensive Ole Miss memorabilia collection owned by Jim (The General) Stephens here in Oxford. The General actually started collecting in 1981 and now possesses some 1800 pieces of Ole Miss treasures. About 870 of these were acquired through eBay, but who’s counting?

Included in this vast collection are 86 yearbooks, the oldest reading 1919. I was curious about the Ole Miss of 96 years ago and asked the General to review the book for me. There were 375 students that year. The senior class had 40 of which 13 were young ladies.

The freshman class had 210. There were numerous clubs and societies in 1919, but no sororities. The football team reflected 24 members. The year prior (the yearbook was always a year behind) the team went 2-2, losing to A&M (State, which was known as the Farmers, twice.) Mercy!

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Painted memorabilia, keepsakes and books

Returning to the artifacts, we are going to focus on two. The first being the Ole Miss-LSU chess set that the General obtained for about $600. The set was made by Clay Canvas here in Oxford and is the second one that was constructed out of ceramic. All pieces are hand painted in traditional colors. The names of the players were taken from the Team of the Century.

All pawns are in a three-point stance. The rooks or castles reflect a football on top of a pedestal. The knights are officials and the bishops are coaches. The General selected Coaches Vaught and Brewer to represent the Rebs. The king is a quarterback and the queen is a cheerleader. The General named the queen Mary Ann Mobley, fitting for what made our image of having such beautiful co-eds. He chose Archie for the signal caller. LSU is displayed in yellow helmets, Ole Miss in blue.

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The “Hate State” table with items from past Egg Bowls and notable games.

The next item of interest is “The Hate State Table” which the General tells us that any Rebel home is incomplete without one. The table features a Tiffany lamp; four Ole Miss- State programs from 1923, 1942, 1948; and 1949 and 10 “Hate State” buttons. In addition, there are seven Ole Miss-State figurines.

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SEC-inspired Tiffany lamp with iconic team mascots

The General’s favorite is named “The Choice” which depicts a young boy sitting between an Ole Miss cheerleader and a cheerleader from State. He is kissing the one from Ole Miss while the State cheerleader observes with a puzzled look.

The General is currently gearing up for another memorable Ole Miss season. For all of us, let’s hope it is memorable and come Thanksgiving weekend, let’s hope the Ole Miss cheerleaders are kissing the Egg Bowl trophy as it returns to the Grove!


Steve Vassallo

Steve Vassallo is a HottyToddy.com contributor. Steve writes on Ole Miss athletics, Oxford business, politics and other subjects. He is an Ole Miss grad and former radio announcer for the basketball team. Currently, Steve is a highly successful leader in the real estate business who lives in Oxford with his wife Rosie. You can contact Steve at sovassallo@gmail.com or call him at 985-852-7745.

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