In Celebration of MHS Class of 1958

In Celebration of MHS Class of 1958

A Tribute and Celebration

We were the class of 1958, members of the Greatest Generation as well as children of the Greatest Generation. Born in 1940, we are also called members of the Traditional Generation.

Our childhood, post World War II, "was the best of times . . . it was the age of wisdom . . . it was the epoch of belief . . .it was the season of Light . . . it was the spring of hope . . . we had everything before us . . .we were all going direct to Heaven . . . ." (A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens.) At least, that's the way I felt about it. We were truly blessed.

- Ouida Tomlinson -

This blog is a place for 1958 graduates of Meridian, Mississippi, High School to stay in touch, post their news, items of interest and photographs.

CLASS OF 1958 MEMORIES (Click to read all posts relating to sports, honors, graduation and other memories of our class in 1957-58.)




Wednesday, November 18, 2009

I'll Be Home Again

I was born in Oxford, MS, in 1940, and named Ouida Landreth. I began kindergarten in 1945. It was located near St. Peter’s Episcopal Church but on the opposite side of the street. I began first grade at Oxford Elementary School, across the street from St. Peter’s. It was torn down to build a new federal building many years later. I attended the First Baptist Church in the church building that few will remember. It was torn down in the 50’s and was on Van Buren Avenue, across the street from the present church. As I recalled the new building was dedicated in about 1950 or 1951, and I was the first one baptized there. (In my 50’s I converted to the Roman Catholic Church.)

I went to school with David Blaylock (father owned Blaylock’s Drug Store where Square Books is now), Brenda New (a year younger, father owned New’s Drug Store), Roslyn Neilson (a year younger, father owned Neilson’s Dept. Store), Margaret Gathright (father was an owner of Gathright-Reed), Virginia Lamb (mother owned dry cleaners which was near Leslie Drug Store), Carolyn Bickerstaff (daughter of Dr. Bickerstaff who taught in the Math Dept. at Ole Miss and Mrs. Bickerstaff who taught English), and Betty Jo Hilbun (whose father had a business called Huggins & Hilbun). I also went to school with Carolyn King, Jean Johnson and Betty Francis Wilson.  (Carolyn, Jean and I moved away and so did not finish high school in Oxford.)  There were so many others I could tell about as everyone knew everyone in this small town.

I went to the movies at the only two places in town – the Lyric Theatre and Ritz. The Lyric is where the world premier showing of "Intruder in the Dust," was held in 1949. It was based on Faulkner's novel and filmed in Oxford. The Oxford I grew up in and remember best is Faulkner’s Oxford, and I often saw him around the square. In fact, the Oxford I visualize is mainly found in the book, William Faulkner, The Cofield Collection, published in the 70’s. For example, I remember where the First National Bank was in the 40’s on the square but have no idea what is there now.

At one time my family lived next door to the Pettis family (Pettis Cigar, I think, on Jackson Ave.). I believe the address was 510 or 512 University Avenue, next door to the Mary Buie Museum. Every Easter I was always given an Easter chicken or a duck. They usually went to live on my grandparents’ farm, but one remained in town with us. He liked to chase girls up and down University Avenue and also liked to go strolling to the square. One of the taxi drivers always brought him home. Such was the wonder and joy of living in this small town.

My dad and mom rented the downstairs apartment to Bo Bowen, an Ole Miss football player and his wife. They had a baby son who also played football for Ole Miss later. Johnny Vaught arrived at Ole Miss in the 40’s, and I grew up always assuming that Ole Miss would win every game. I went to games with my parents, and Vaught was one of their friends. His farm was located near family property on Highway 6 West. I understand he lived there until his death.

One of the things I have always loved about Oxford has been stories about some of the folks. Motee Daniels, for example, was one of the local characters. The first time I saw him was at an Ole Miss football game in the 40’s. He worked for Jack Daniels at the time, so my dad said. He was decked out in a colorful outfit, drinking Jack Daniels from an animal flask with the opening in a rear location. Later, in the 60’s, I met him in the attorney’s office where I worked on the square. Motee visited almost daily and entertained me with funny stories about his adventures, none of which I can remember.

For all you Oxford lovers, my childhood friends and I could walk around the square with you and tell you many stories about what used to be. Before I leave this earth, I’ll be home again. You betcha.

(Dear Class, this was written for other purposes, and I need a web place to park it to share with some others. In any event, I hope you enjoy.)

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