by Tom Givens
I became an Ole Miss fan back in 1955 when Ole Miss beat the mighty University of Maryland Terrapins in Vaught-Hemingway stadium with Jimmy Lear, quarterback from Indianola, Mississippi, at the helm. From then on, I made the drive to Lafayette County on many a weekend.
Going over to Ole Miss football games meant driving in on Highway 6, turning on Jackson Avenue, going by Kiamie’s to Sorority Row, turning right and parking in the Grove or nearby. Never went downtown. Who would want to? God, those Grove parties were something to behold.
A lawyer friend of mine from Jackson, James Becker, did the Grove routine right. He always set up a table with a fancy tablecloth and silver candelabras, and there would be all kinds of folks there. Thad Cochran, now U. S. Senator Cochran, Becker’s law partner then, would be present, along with author Willie Morris, who was a great one with whom to hoist a few.
The Grove is still there, and as an Alabama fan once said, “This has got to be the greatest tailgate party in the South.”
Everybody loves to come to the Grove. This is not just any old picnic.
Well, as I said before, my knowledge of Oxford had pretty generally been confined to Jackson Avenue, Sorority Row, and the Grove. But about 11 years ago, when things started picking up in Oxford, one of the local lawyers would come to the Grove and pick up several of us and give us a tour of Oxford. He showed us the new subdivisions going up and also drove us through beautiful, old Oxford. This was an eye-opener. The town was lovely. Professionals were coming and refurbishing the older homes on Lamar and Jackson close to the Square--spending tons of money, even back then.
Now people are moving to Oxford from everywhere, building homes, including yours truly.
I bought a townhouse on College Hill Road, also called Old Sardis Road (and back in the days of parking, the "Hard Road.") There were too many students there, so we sold the College Hill townhouse and built a home in "St. Charles Place" on South Lamar, close to the hospital in a really nice area.
Now get this, when we built our home in April 2003, there were mostly empty lots there, only a few homes. Now (fall, 2003) the subdivision is complete. It's amazing.
There is a subdivision west of town, across from John Grisham's home, called "Wellsgate.” This subdivision has homes springing up, selling from $200,000 up to $500,000, not sitting empty long.
My builder was contacted by a man from Florida who wanted to build a home like one he had seen there in Florida. He flew my builder down to look at the house and draw up plans. The home is being built between Oxford and Batesville at a cost of around $1,500,000. Nice second home or retirement spot, you think?
And buyers can forget about buying a home or property close to the Square. I asked my realtor, “Who are these people, and where are they coming from?" She told me, believe it or not, most of them don't even live there. Oxford is hot, and these folks are investing or planning for future retirement, as this beautiful town has been considered for some time to be one of the best spots in the nation for retirees.
I can understand why people would want to live in Oxford, Mississippi. There are not many places exactly like it.
The Square does it all. Located on one corner is the famous bookstore ( Square Books ) where John Grisham hangs out, and close by are great places to wine and dine, like the Downtown Grill, City Grocery, and Proud Larry's. There’s even a Doe's Eat Place. Attractive shops offer everything from the latest fashions to fine art, and quaint condos with balconies line the upper floors of many of the buildings.
Oxford is sophisticated but laid back. Home of William Faulkner and many other literary figures, the town has cultural offerings that are outstanding. The University always has something going on. And let’s not forget the excitement of top notch athletics . . . and the Grove during football season.
I cannot wait to retire and hang my hat there.
Judge Thomas Givens, native of the Mississippi Delta, now lives in Tennessee. Write him by clicking here: Delta Judge.
Want to read more of Tom’s USADS memoirs?
Front Porches, Dirt Roads, and Wild Dogs
Whiskey, Chickens, and Cherry Bombs
Thinking About The Good Ol’ Days
And for more (LOTS more!), please check the USADS article archives.
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