In 1946, when The Oxford Eagle’s Phil Mullen took this aerial photograph of the Square and the view looking into the hills north toward the Tallahatchie River, the true life settings of Faulkner’s fictional Jefferson and Yoknapatawpha County were in their prime. World War II was won, and at the decade’s close, Hollywood would come to call for the filming of “Intruder In The Dust.” There were movie stars on the Square! As the next decade dawned, William Faulkner would fly to Stockholm and deliver one of the greatest Nobel Prize acceptance speeches ever given.
Through the 1950s, the town built neighborhoods, businesses and schools. Johnny Vaught vied for New Year’s Day bowls, and New York clamored for more Faulkner.
Miss Mississippi, Miss Tennessee, Miss Missouri and back-to-back Miss Americas Mary Ann Mobley and Lynda Lee Meade strolled the Circle and Square. The victorious veterans were marrying and filling up kindergartens, Sunday schools and little league uniforms. Yet, Oxford remained a black and white movie and society. But, all that was about to change.
The line between the lamented over and the changes lurking in the shadows would soon be starkly drawn.
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, J.R. “Colonel” Cofield, was William Faulkner’s personal photographer and for decades was the Ole Miss yearbook photographer. Cofield attended Ole Miss as well.
Stay tuned for more information on Cofield’s forthcoming book: Oxford, Mississippi ~ The Cofield Collection — a pictorial history book with John’s writing on the history to go along with the photos.
Contact John at Johnbcofield@gmail.com.