Jan and Lamar Waddell are two of the most extraordinary individuals you will ever encounter. It was this writer’s lucky “dog” day when my path crossed that of the Tupelo tandem. The couple met literally speaking because of “puppy love” (in the truest sense) and following that doggone day in 1977, they have never parted.
Vassallo: Alright guys, don’t keep our readers in suspense. What’s the story behind the puppy thing?
Jan: I found a stray right before exams and asked an acquaintance to watch the pooch while I was being tested. My good fortune was that he failed to watch closely. Lamar heard the crying in his next-door dorm room and the rest is history. That first night after Lamar rescued the pup, we talked on the phone all night as more exams awaited in the morning after.
Vassallo: I guess the moral of that story is “who let the dogs out?”
Only kidding, tell us about your Ole Miss fandom history.
Lamar: We have not missed a game (home or away) in 12 years. Jan’s first game was thanks to her father (an AA running back at Delta State) who brought her to see Archie play in 1970. My dad, likewise, got me hooked. It sounds strange to think we are now approaching the half-century mark in following our Rebels.
Vassallo: You two have developed quite a reputation for your tailgating extravaganza “The Real Thing.”
Jan: What started about 2007 has definitely evolved into a production. We are set up each home game before dawn. Nine couples now anchor the group as we have hosted as many as 150 at some games. Routinely, we will have 50 or so with us for any given game.
Vassallo: Wow! If I’m starved, point me there. Do you have any superstitions involving Ole Miss football that you would care to share?
Lamar: At every home game, we always pop a bottle of champagne.
Once the cork launches, we chant “And so it begins.” We also feature a special drink “Yellow Bird” which goes down most smoothly.
Vassallo: (I asked for the bird’s ingredients, however, Lamar said there were so many, he would have to email the answer.) Let’s shift the focus to the season fast approaching. Your thoughts?
Jan: After attending another Ladies Forum, I can truthfully predict that we will be better than expectations. These players have a lot of heart and there will definitely be a win that no one is anticipating.
Vassallo: (If only that could be Bama) You two have visited all of the road stops so which one is your most favorite and why?
Lamar: (With zero hesitation) LSU! It’s like entering a different country. We love the Cajun food and get set up so early, the enemy takes us in. We always get right in the midst of the Tiger faithful.
Vassallo: And the flip side, your least favorite road destination?
Jan and Lamar: Starkville!!
Vassallo: (No surprise there) If you could change just one thing about the Grove, what would that be?
Lamar: Eliminate altogether the commercial venues. This is changing the culture created by the tailgaters who are here exclusively because of our love for OleMiss. These commercial enterprises receive preferential treatment for setting up and detract from the overall atmosphere.
Vassallo: Have a prediction for Texas Tech as in just four short weeks, you will be right there in downtown Houston?
Jan: I’ll yield to Lamar on this one. 35-10 Ole Miss. Our defense is going to be the story of the day! Jan grew up in Cleveland while Lamar hails from Indianola (Sunflower County). The two were destined to meet as they found one another here on campus, thanks to Cupid (disguised as a pup) who was lost but found. The Waddells are optimistic that the Rebs could win every game this year, but at least will be competitive in all. If they are right, 2018 will be a season to remember, Yellow Bird and all.
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 an active Economic Development Consultant working with communities globally who lives in Oxford with his wife Rosie. You can contact Steve at email@example.com or call him at 985-852-7745.