Our grandfathers knew each other, our fathers knew each other, but as it goes in Oxford, we were more than three grades apart so we were never at the same school at the same time. We had become good Facebook friends but had never met. Now Guytie is in Kansas, but on Friday, November 4, she wasn’t in Kansas anymore!
I can’t thank her enough for meeting me in Oxford at the HottyToddy.com office with some of her daddy’s photo collection. Thanks to Ed Meek for the use of his office and to Allison Buchanan for her time.
Aston Holley is revered in a class with a handful of past personalities that I call, The Men of the Square. Among the good many photos that are now high res scans, two touched my heart. Both have been kept from the light of day and look like they did when Granddad handed them to Aston, all those years ago. First is Aston himself, still in the Cofield’s Studio mat folder. I figure the photograph has never been touched and only viewed a few times. The second photograph is an Oxford treasure as well. Like Aston’s, it is an 8×10 taken with Granddad’s fine portrait camera, the same one Faulkner posed himself in front of. It is “Mac” Reed of Gathright-Reed Drug Store. The photo is wrapped in tissue and in mint condition, and on the back is taped one of The Colonel’s vintage notes about the photograph, signed as always with a bold hand, in red ink, “JRC.”
My appreciation for Guytie Holley Runnels and Sarah Holley Pack and their detailed care of their daddy’s collection is what this search I am on is all about. Oxford is special and no one need forget it. The old Oxford, the now Oxford, the future Oxford. And thanks to Aston’s girls, a more than vital part of the town’s pictorial history is digitally recorded for the future. It is a internet cliché now, but, thanks for sharing.
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.