by Mary A. Scobey
Well, okay. Yaknapatawpha was what William Faulkner called it, but we all know he was talking about Lafayette County, Mississippi.
I was born in Lafayette County, Mississippi but my father, being a man afflicted with wanderlust, always grew restless and we moved about quite a bit. It was twenty years before I returned to the county of my birth. At that time Dad purchased the old Hedleston place, “Sunset Hill,” built in 1842 and located about six miles northwest of Oxford in the little community of College Hill. When we first drove up the curving driveway to the beautiful Greek Revival cottage sitting in the midst of 740 rolling acres, it was love at first sight. This time Mother and I were eager to move again. “Yes, yes,” we said, “please buy it.” And so he did. Thus began a new era in my life on this lovely, old plantation.
House of many dreams
It looks out over the whispering tree-tops
And faces the setting sun
We soon settled into life in the small community – attending church at the old College Hill Presbyterian Church at the edge of our property; my dad and brother overseeing the tenant farmers who worked the land; Mother taking care of the household while I enjoyed teaching a youth group at the church, playing tennis with friends from the university on week-ends, riding my Tennessee Walking Horse and taking classes at “Ole Miss.” It was almost like Tara revisited. I’m sure I fancied myself as some sort of modern-day Scarlett O’Hara, but if so, regretfully, Rhett never made his appearance. Heaven knows, no one was more enthralled with “Gone With the Wind” than I was when it came out in 1939. I must have seen the movie and read the book a dozen times!
To this day there are conflicting opinions as to where William Faulkner and Estelle Oldham Franklin were married. It is known that they came to Sunset Hill to ask Dr. David Hedleston, a Presbyterian minister and university professor, to marry them, but while one faction insists that they walked over to College Hill Church where Dr. Hedleston performed the ceremony, there are members of the Hedleston family who say the ceremony was performed in front of the mantelpiece in the front parlor of Sunset Hill. It was an intriguing thought to think of the couple saying their vows in front of our fireplace, so I prefer to stick with that version.
At last the film was ready for showing and the World Premiere was held in Oxford at the Lyric Theatre on October 11, 1949. It was a spectacular event with many of the stars present and even the famous author was prevailed on (reluctantly) to attend. It was also with reluctance that William Faulkner agreed to fly to Stockholm in 1950 with his daughter, Jill, to accept the Nobel Prize for literature. Although I had read many of Faulkner’s books, it was only after reading his acceptance speech that I came to realize what a genius I had rubbed elbows with. This speech concluded with the now famous quote: “I decline to accept the end of man…I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail.” And so he will!
It was about this time that I completed my Master’s Degree in French and English at Ole Miss and the “spirit of wanderlust” overcame my father again. No amount of pleading and tears deterred him, and he sold Sunset Hill. Even though more than fifty years have passed, my reoccurring dream is that I am back at Sunset Hill walking among the flowering shrubs on the spacious lawn. The scent of jasmine twined around a steel pole by the capped-over cistern fills the air…and the world is full of promise and wonder.
Writing short stories and poems has always been a favorite pastime of Mary's. She wrote her first poem at the age of eleven, got it published and has been "hooked" ever since. She currently has a book of her father's World War I memoirs titled French Memoirs - World War I for sale on the shelves of Square Books in Oxford and Davis-Kidd Booksellers in Memphis.
I Remember Guy Bush
Les Pommes A Paris
Paul Rainey ~ A Legendary Figure
Out Of My Element
Love At Last
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