Football Weekend

Posted on October 17, 2012 by Dr. Jerry Rankin in Down Home in Mississippi

The last thing Bobbye would have ever wanted for her birthday last Saturday was to go to a football game. It is not that she doesn’t care for watching an occasional game on television, but as a birthday gift it would be appreciated about as much as receiving a new vacuum cleaner for a present. However, when she found that her great-niece, Betsy, was in the homecoming court at Ole Miss you would have thought football was the passion of her life.

It was a gorgeous, crisp fall day as we headed up Interstate 55 toward Oxford. Game day traffic picked up as we turned off on highway 7 north of Grenada. Things were fine through Coffeeville, but after passing Water Valley the two-lane highway became a creeping single file.

Parking was the next challenge as we circulated throughout the side streets of town, passing the iconic courthouse in the square and William Faulkner’s house in the process. After finding a spot about a mile from the stadium we were surprised to run into Macy, Betsy’s older sister, in the parade of fans making their way to the stadium. A recent Ole Miss graduate, she had just dropped off her family and was able to lead us to where they were to convene.

This was at Betsy’s sorority tent in The Grove where tailgating was in full swing. Ole Miss has been recognized as one of the most beautiful campuses in America and the “The Grove” is a prominent feature of that assessment. Tailgating is there is renown, but fortunately, due to the early kickoff at 11:00 am, sobriety was probably higher than usual.

By halftime the temperature had soared to 84, but tolerating rowdy fans and the discomfort of backless benches was offset by an exciting game. We remembered to bring binoculars so we could actually see Betsy as she emerged in the middle of the field representing the junior class. She is the daughter of Rhonda, the oldest daughter of  Bobbye’s sister Bettye.

The whole extended family was there, and most of the third quarter was spent  celebrating the occasion beneath the stands. The ballgame was peripheral to most of them, but we joined others in documenting the occasion by getting our photo with Macy and Betsy. But for me, the rare occasion of attending a bigtime ballgame was the highlight. It was especially gratifying to see Ole Miss defeat Auburn 41-20, winning its first SEC game in two years.

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