Reflections………………………………..travel with Gary

 

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As you make your turn onto Lamar Street you are taken back by a large, three story white building designed in traditional antebellum architecture. In the foreground a confederate officer stands on a twenty foot pedestal. Atop the building an American flag flows with a gentle breeze. Immediately beneath the flag a second flag with the bars of the confederacy in the upper left corner quietly speaks to the subconscious….”welcome to Oxford, Mississippi.”

It only takes a few minutes and you are enthralled by the “Square” surrounded by stores reminiscent of  ‘days gone by.’ However, unlike many southern towns with similar town squares Oxford is vibrant and the stores flourish with people walking to-and-fro to the many classic shops. The stores present somewhat of a novel appearance with their second floor balconies.

Immediately I began the process of establishing priorities. First on the agenda was the ‘Ya Yas’ frozen yogurt shop. Second on the list was a stately three story book store that offered literally thousands of books and autographed pictures. The heroes of the store were  William Faulkner, John Grisham and the Manning family. I later learned, after spending considerable time in the store surrounded by ample places to sit and read and have a cup of your favorite drink, i.e. coffee, latte, etc.. this was no ordinary book store. It was a place to meet, greet, and have a delightful time in the midst of great reading and pictorial events.

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inside Ole Miss football stadium

Immediately adjacent to the downtown square is the University of Mississippi, known widely as “Ole Miss.”  There was an ambience at Ole Miss that was immediately detectable. Walking in the midst of the large trees and a campus that was pristine in its appearance were students who readily greeted you, making my walk very pleasurable. Common interests had me taking a brief tour of the student center, the George Peabody Psychology building and, of course, the Athletic center where I walked out to the center of the football field and stood in awe…….I could almost hear the crowd cheering.

Like many of the old southern towns where the residential area is contiguous to the downtown area, Oxford is blessed with beautiful homes that remain in outstanding condition, and a walking tour of the area is a special treat.oxford mississippi

After visiting the home of Pulitzer Prize winning author, William Faulkner,  we spent the majority of our time seeing the local area and eating great cuisine.   We concluded our trip with a visit to Holly Springs.

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Christ Episcopal Church–Holly Springs, Ms

June and I had read the Jan Karon Mitford Series and the story of Father Tim and his pilgrimage and life at Christ Episcopal Church. Initially we thought it was fictional but to our delight the church and the parsonage were a reality.  One additional treat with our visit to Holly Springs was an original apothecary (drug store) dating back to 1859 complete with soda foundation and all the trimmings.

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Look closely, the cat became my fateful companion.

The best for last.  When June and I started planning this trip we wanted something unique and out of the ordinary as the crown jewel.  We found it at a farm just outside of Oxford. Located on 50 acres of farm land  a couple had relocated a log cabin dating back to the 1800’s.  The owner had been an antique dealer and furnished the log cabin with authentic Amish furniture.  A large fire place was the center of the big room with an upstairs loft.  Our hostess, who lived in the ‘home place’,  provided us with a gourmet breakfast delivered to our cabin each morning, which was  much to my delight.  God is good!!

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Reflections………………..”to thine own self be true”

gary's blog pictureNeither Mr. Harvey nor Mrs. West could motivate me to appreciate Shakespearean literature.  The concepts did not come immediately. Additionally, for this small-town southern boy the language was not in keeping with the local culture.  It was by grace I survived and managed to meet the unit requirements to graduate from high school. You can imagine my dismay when given the course of study for a freshman in college. There in bold print were listed the two semester requirements for World and English Literature. Dr. Root, try as he may to convince me of the necessity to master the reading and memorization process, like my two previous teachers, failed in this endeavor.

Some years later, as part of my graduate studies, I was assigned an internship at Oregon School for Visually Handicapped. Miss Molly, my supervising teacher, informed me we were going to take the high school students to a Shakespearean Festival and I should be prepared to discuss Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’ with the students assigned to me (God works in mysterious ways). My immediate response was to ‘get out’ of this assignment as graciously as possible. My efforts were to no avail. The only course of action was to ‘hit the books.’

With determination I was not going let the students I was responsible for down. In the process I learned a ‘life’ lesson from Shakespeare that lives with me today. “To thine own self be true” is Polonius’s last piece of advice to his son Laertes. As Polonius sees it, borrowing money, loaning money, carousing with women of dubious character, and other intemperate pursuits are “false” to the self. By false Polonius seems to mean ‘disadvantageous’ or ‘detrimental’ to your image; by true he means loyal to your own best interests.

We are far enough after the New Year to begin to determine the direction of our new year’s resolution: “I am going to lose weight,” “I am not going to increase my credit card debt,” “I am going to enroll in a Bible study,” “I am going to walk a mile every day,” and the list goes on. —–“by true he means loyal to your own best interests.”

                                                                     Polonius:

This above all: to thine own self be true,

And it must follow, as the night the day,

Thou canst not then be false to any man.

 

Cheers!!

 

 

 

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