Growing Up in Oxford

A little over 15 years ago, my family packed up their Lincoln Town car, stuck us in the back and moved 45 miles from Tupelo, Mississippi, to Oxford. I still can picture what it looked like when my dad pulled the U-Haul shut as my favorite bunnies were suffocating in the hot, close compartment.

When arriving in Oxford, I remember walking into the classroom at the local private school and all the girls rolling their eyes because adding a 13th student was not a very desirable situation. And might I add, at lunch on the first day, I tested the theory that aluminum foil did not belong in the microwave. The next thing I knew, one of my fellow classmates had retrieved the fiery ball, thrown it on the ground and continued to pound my ham and cheese sandwich under his sneaker. I must say, moving to Oxford in grade school is not the easiest thing I have ever done. It took a little while for the other kids to warm up to me, but after that, I was in the clear.

Years ago, Oxford was a place with less Mexican restaurants and more parking. The idea of riding around the square a thousand times just to find a parking spot was unheard of. We only rode around 99 times because 100 times around the Oxford Square was said to be illegal…I still wonder if that is true.

We rode bikes most everyday and ate at Smitty’s, more times than not, dressed in our pajamas. For those of you that do not remember Smitty’s, it was breakfast and plate lunch place that use to be in the building where 208 is. On any day, you could enter and receive a warm smile and a welcome from Ms. Smith, who sat behind the bar on her stool guarding the cash register. Although these were my most fond taste bud memories, I must say that few things could beat a pre-made chicken salad sandwich at James Food Center. Years ago, James Food Center was a grocery store, not a gas station, that was located across from what is now, another condominium. We would ride our bikes to James, get a snack and wave at the people sitting outside the small Mississippi jailhouse that was nicely placed next the grocery. Most of the time, we would then go to the Holiday Inn and borrow their pool. Yes, Oxford once had a grocery store and a jailhouse on the square.

I can remember my mom being upset when we moved here because there was simply nothing to do. You could go to the movies or go out to eat…and of course, there is always a bar open, only if you make it out before 12 a.m. Some time ago, I saw two of my friends get creamed by cars as we unknowingly rode wherever we pleased but never on the sidewalk unless you wanted to get yelled at by the police. We hid our bikes in the trees behind my house where they were never touched and stayed until the kudzu grew over them. The last time I pulled it out of the tangled vines, my knees hit the handlebars with every pedal.

We thought we were the only people that lived in Oxford town and at the time, it sure seemed like it. Now it is clear that we are not the only ones living here…this little town is full of businesses, condos, fiestas and less parking. Newcomers are flocking to the artsy, Mississippi town because of the same reasons that I have not been able to leave.

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  1. years from now we’ll be writing this same piece, recalling the times when we sat on my back porch which will someday be replaced by a law firm or condo. take your pick.

    i loved it, boo.

  2. 100 times around the Square – not illegal. But, may be dizzying and is certainly expensive these days. I’d save my gas money for a 208 Burger!

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