Saturday, October 31, 2020

Oxford's Women on the Move: Riding through Oxford's History

Photo courtesy of Laura Sale.

Very few individuals have experienced Oxford’s history “close up” as has Laura Sale. The equestrian owner of Oak Hill Stables has more stories to share than anyone could imagine including dozens and dozens of encounters with Oxford’s patron saint—William Faulkner. HottyToddy.com’s Steve Vassallo sat down with Sale to discuss her story.
Vassallo: Laura, let’s discuss your youth first off and the interesting journey that brought you here.
Sale: I was born in San Jose, CA while my father (Frank Peddle) was in the Navy. Dad grew up in Philadelphia, PA and was introduced to Ole Miss when he discovered that the University was starting an ROTC program with the Navy. We moved to Oxford when I was two years old and never left.
Vassallo: You even decided to stay here for college.
Sale: Yes I did. My tenure at Ole Miss was an extended one (1972-80) as I was raising a family in addition to obtaining a degree. Later, I received a Masters Degree from Ole Miss in 1988.
Vassallo: Your personal history with William Faulkner is quite a story in itself.
Sale: My very first ride on horseback can be attributed to William Faulkner. While my father was pursuing a Masters degree at the University of Virginia, Mr. Faulkner often rode his horses at a stable in Charlottesville. At about age seven, I began riding there as well. We almost lost William Faulkner to Virginia because of a mutual respect between UVA and the Faulkner family.
Vassallo: One of your lifetime passions has been collecting his works.
Sale: That is correct. I have read considerably about him and the many books and short stories he has authored.
Vassallo: Another passion of yours, Oak Hill Stables, has consumed your life for the previous 42 years in a wonderful way.
Sale: Of the 500 acres we have, 180 are currently leased. Presently, I have 87 horses and have been teaching riding lessons since 1974.
Vassallo: Speaking of teaching, you invested a great deal of time in the schools here in Oxford.
Sale: For thirty years I taught both fourth and fifth graders at Oxford Elementary, Della Davidson and the Oxford Intermediate School. Teaching children has always been a passion of mine and today is more than ever. Our twin girls (now seven) are my highest priority as I want to see Ailie and Katie grow up to become successful young women.

Vassallo: Horses and riding have also been a lifetime passion of yours.
Sale: It began at a very young age and continues non ending. Of my current group, about 20 of them are turning thirty. This takes considerable time involving feeding as horses lose their teeth in their late twenties. This requires feeding them twice a day with food they can easily consume. The younger ones can survive well
in the pasture.
Vassallo: Your love of horses has also transcended into some other areas.
Sale: The 4H clubs have been another interest of mine and remains today. Youngsters starting at age 9 can begin showing animals and learning an array of skills which will benefit them in later life. For example, my oldest daughter, Alice Coleman, was involved in 4H’s public speaking competition. She later received a law degree from Ole Miss. I am active with the Girl Scouts and have been for many years. Today, I am a Girl Scout Leader and this occupies the majority of my spare time away from Oak Hill. I grew up as a Girl Scout which consumed 11 years.
Vassallo: Oak Hill Stables has occasional weddings plus a B&B feature.
Sale: Because we live on the property, we don’t have a great number of weddings each year. The B&B is always booked during football season, graduations and for Double Decker. There are two rooms by the pool. We also rent out a cabin, a bunkhouse, bunkhouse apartment and carriage house. We can host a maximum of 53 individuals at any given time.
Vassallo: Your getaway opportunities often find you in Florida.
Sale: Our vacations are often spent along 30A between Destin and Panama City. Previously, we had a house there and still enjoy returning.
Vassallo: Name any other passions of yours we might have skipped.

Sale: Painting, particularly with oils, is something I very much enjoy. I also host camps starting this time of year for the kids which involves a number of weekend trips. I also host Camp Oak Hill (for girls 7-19) which is a riding camp. In addition, they swim, do arts and crafts, camp out and it varies for the campers between one and five weeks. We have had individuals from seven different countries and throughout the United States. Our day time campers—locals or who have relatives here—come daily from 9-4.
Vassallo: Your bucket list cannot be too lengthy as you have done and accomplished so much already.
Sale: Keeping Oak Hill going as long as I can is first and foremost. And my attendance and involvement with St. Peter’s where I have been a member since childhood is a primary focus of mine.
Vassallo: Having 500 acres this close to the Square is quite unusual and probably attracts a number of critters.
Sale: We have foxes, wild turkeys, deer and coyotes just to name a few of the outside residents.
Vassallo: Very few individuals span a sixty-three year history with Oxford as you have. What do you like most about Oxford?
Sale: Oxford is a Mecca for culture with the University located here. My father donated the Peddle bell tower at Paris Yates Chapel on campus which is very special to me and my family.
Interested parties in Oak Hill Stables’ many offerings can reach Laura at 662-234-8488 or via email at Laura@oakhillstablesbedandbreakfast.com


Steve VassalloSteve 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 an active Economic Development Consultant working with communities globally who lives in Oxford with his wife Rosie. You can contact Steve at sovassallo@gmail.com or call him at 985-852-7745.