Saturday, December 10, 2022

Ole Miss Tailgating Traditions: The Cossar Family Tent

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The Tailgating Traditions of the Cossar Family Tent!
An Interview With Pepper Cossar by
Enjoy the fifth in our series of Tailgating Traditions articles sponsored by Ole Miss Tailgating where you can even order Raising Cane’s® and Chick-fil-A® for your Grove Tent! (Click the Ole Miss Tailgating logo below to see the menu and order!)

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The Cossar Family Pepper, your family has been tailgating for a long time, tell us about the history?

Pepper Cossar: The Cossar Family Tradition of tailgating began long before I came along. It is my understanding that my grandfather, George Payne Cossar, Sr., initially got season tickets for football games shortly after World War II.  He was actually a cheerleader when the team was called the Mississippi Flood.

My earliest memory of tailgating was in the late 60’s behind the Sigma Nu Fraternity House. That was literally “tailgating” as we would bring chicken from Charleston and just hover around the trunk of the car when it was time to eat.  I was 5 or 6 and can remember my brother (George Cossar III) and me playing football and doing our best imitations of Archie Manning and Floyd Franks.

The next place we tailgated was in the parking lot of the Field House. That was great because the football players would walk right past us. I remember that they looked like giants.

After they put a parking lot where the old baseball field was located, we moved to that location.  That is when we first started setting up a tent.  Our spot was exactly where they later put the Rebel shop. When they built the Rebel Shop, we were moved to the best spot that we could imagine which was within 10 yards of the elevator on the home (west) side of the stadium. (There is a good story about that move and how my grandfather negotiated it.) We stayed there until they built the Pavilion, and we moved to the parking lot immediately north of the Football Stadium. Once again, construction caused us to move to our current location. What year did your tailgating experience begin?

Pepper Cossar: I can remember tailgating as early as 1968.  My family was tailgating long before that. Who are the regular participants in the Cossar family tent?

Pepper Cossar: My mother and father (George and Louanne Cossar), my brother and his family (George, Betty, Mary Chandler, Chip, Eliza), my wife and family (Angela, Pepper, Jr., Jessica, Colton, and AnnaLee — children ranging from ages of 26-8 years old!), my sister and her family (Anne Love Perry, Joe Perry, Kristen), my Uncles Bill and John Cossar. Where is the location of your tent, and how did you select it?

Pepper Cossar: The current location is right in front of the Athletic offices…just North of the stadium.  It was selected because it was right in front of our parking spots and had a space to put up a couple of tents….and was in close proximity to the stadium, which is needed because of the short walk to the stadium for my parents. What is your history with Ole Miss (in general) as well as the other principals?

Pepper Cossar: My grandfather was a cheerleader for Ole Miss as was my Uncle John Cossar. Graduates of Ole Miss include my grandfather, grandmother, Mom, Dad, two Great Uncles, three Uncles and their wives, brother, sister, cousins. I graduated undergrad as well as law school from Ole Miss as did my father and grandfather. What is the game-day menu, typically at the Cossar tent?

Pepper Cossar: It varies…but usually includes chicken, sandwiches, numerous dips, numerous desserts. Sometimes we will smoke a Boston Butt. We limit it to what can fit on two tables. Morning games will usually include an area to  prepare bloody Marys. Have y’all ever had any celebrities or well-known athletes come by? Would you mind naming a few for our readers?

Pepper Cossar: Sure…number one athlete and celebrity would include Archie stopping by every now and then when were at the location next to the elevator. Tom Lester of Green Acres would stop by when he came to the games. Former Miss Mississippi/Miss America Mary Ann Mobley would come by. Dexter would stop by when he would return for games when his professional team was not playing. Tom Brokaw took a liking to my two uncles, twins John and Bill Cossar, and stopped by on occasion.  Some Governors over the years as well as U.S. Congressmen, Senators and an Ambassador. Describe the most humorous incident that comes to mind?

Pepper Cossar: Once when Dexter stopped by he took a picture with my father. In the picture, their hands were touching…..Dad said that it looked like they were going steady!

Another time was my brother-in-law, Joe Perry and I were sitting around after a particularly good Ole Miss win…right outside of the stadium where the Pavilion is now located….enjoying the win and the beverages that were available, listening to listening to Elvis sing The Trilogy over and over…because you just can’t hear that too much! On this particular occasion, our families did not join us for the game….At some point in time we noticed that there was not a single soul around! The TV crew had packed up and left, and every single person was out of the lot…. except us.  So what did we do?….we stayed for a couple more hours!  You just can’t beat a beautiful day after a Rebel win. What about any other memorable moment?

Pepper Cossar: Most memorable moment on campus…Beating Alabama 2 years ago …..

Most memorable moments off campus…Cotton Bowl trips to Dallas, Sugar Bowl trip to New Orleans, road-trip to play Wyoming. Your permanent residence (and the other regulars) is where?

Pepper Cossar: My parents and Bill Cossar reside in Charleston, MS. My brother and his family live in Senatobia and my family lives in Madison, MS. Do any of you have second homes in Oxford?

Pepper Cossar: Yes, my wife and I have a condo in Oxford as does Bill Cossar. The condos serve as great locations for family gatherings on football weekends as well as a great place to spend the weekend anytime of the year when we want to come to “God’s Country.” Your view on the rules and regulations for setting up
tents on Game Day?

Pepper Cossar: I wish they would let people reserves places all day long in the Grove until it is time to put up tents.  This was a great way for the college kids to make some extra money by sitting in the Grove for 4 or 5 hours….thus resulting in someone else giving your kids money on the weekend! If Ole Miss were to change anything about the tailgating experience, what would you recommend?

Pepper Cossar: The setting up experience can be … stressful… at times How early in the week do you start preparing for the Saturday event?

Pepper Cossar: We pretty much do the same thing every weekend…so there is not a whole lot of prep work.  Around Wednesday we will start calling and texting regarding the menu and the time of everyone’s arrival. How do you divide the duties among the participants?

Pepper Cossar: Normally my immediate family will set up the tents tables and chairs on Friday evening. This will include my wife and daughter, AnnaLee. AnnaLee started helping at around age 6. Other times  other family members will assist on Friday evening.

On Saturday, we all show up at about the  same time and all pitch in. What is your zenith enjoyment from all of this work?

Pepper Cossar: No doubt…being with family and good friends who stop by before and after the game.

AnnaLee (8), Pepper and Angela Cossar
Louanne Cossar, Angela Cossar, Anne Cossar Perry and George Cossar Jr, at the tent in front of the stadium.
Louanne Cossar, Pepper Cossar, Joe Perry, George Cossar, III and George Cossar Jr. at the tent in front of the stadium.
George Cossar, Jr. and two granddaughters, Mary Chandler and Jessica.

Week 1: Ole Miss Tailgating Traditions: The Looser Family 

Week 2: Ole Miss Tailgating Traditions: “The Real Thing” Tent

Week 3: Ole Miss Tailgating Traditions: The “Zebra Tent”

Week 4: Ole Miss Tailgating Traditions: Jim’s Place In The Grove

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