Friday, January 22nd

When Morgantown Dan and the Florida Sleaze both suggested visiting towns in Mississippi which were not only on the same roadway but only 70 miles apart, I decided to changed my planned routed and head west on Rt 6 out of Tupelo. My first stop would be Oxford, (suggested by Dan) home to Old Miss and so much more. I would then move down the road to Clarksdale which the Sleaze had described as "very funky and home of the blues".

I left Tupelo around 10:30. It was a balmy 52 degrees with few sprinkles which did not last. I drove south on Rt 145 and it was not long before I realized I must have missed Rt 6 west. I decided to stop and ask for direction so I pulled into the Tupelo Lee Humane Society. At the same time my "Check Engine" light came on. Great.

I found one of the staff and between drags on her cigarette she told me how to find Rt 6. Turns out the intersection is not marked on Rt 145 and that was the reason I missed it.
After about 3 miles I pulled onto Rt 6. I fretted about the engine light being on, but I knew there were dozens of things which could have tripped it and, at this time, there was nothing I could do about it.

Rt 6 is a divided, 4 lane highway which goes through a gently rolling terrain of woods and farm fields. There was very little traffic going either direction and I had to wonder if this was typical. If so, how could the expense of such a road be justified? I remembered driving a similar road down south near Homochitto National Forest. It four lanes, and divided and there was construction going on to "4 lane" the sections of roadway which were still two lanes. Perhaps these were just more misguided economic development efforts spearheaded by local Chambers of Commerce. But, I digress...

At about 11:30 I exited off 6 and onto South Lamar Blvd and in just the space of a few heartbeats I was in a snarled, cluster-f*ck of traffic. For a moment I thought I had been magically transported back to Morgantown. I inched may way down Lamar, passing many stately and well kept homes along the way. I crossed over University Avenue and into downtown proper. As I looked around at all the beautifully restored building and faux warehouse condos I though to myself "There is a LOT of money in this town".

I passed by the Square and saw the bookstore Dan had mentioned, jogged off then back on Lamar and found a place to park in a two hour free parking zone.
Now the hotel hunt begins.

Click on the photos below for a larger image.

  Click for larger image

A knew a town like this would have some type of visitors center. But, where? I decided to see if anyone at City Hall (above photo) could tell me. Well, it turns out City Hall is the visitors center. But I saw no one behind the counter to help me out. I stepped into a side office and rang the bell which was on the desk. A lady appeared from around the corner and I told her I was a first time visitor and needed help finding and "economy hotel". She made a face and said she didn't know much about hotels and the person who was in charge of tourism had not showed up yet. But she did rattle of a list of the usual chain places which I knew would be more than I wanted to pay. I decided to try elsewhere.

  Click for larger image

I departed City Hall and strolled by the Lafayette County Courthouse and down Lamar toward Square Books,the shop Dan had mentioned. On the way I was nearly run over by a young blond bimbo in an SUV yakking on her cell phone. I guess she didn't realize what the stripes on the street were for.

I walked and was asked by a pleasant 20 something if I needed any help. I said "Yes, but not with books". He smiled and said "Okaaay". I then explained I was looking for and "El Cheapo" motel, preferably downtown. He thought for a minute and while his brained churned the other clerk said "Comfort Inn, out by Rt 6". I nixed that and then Clerk number one said: "The Old Miss Motel - it's 30 bucks or something. It's just a few blocks way." This sounded too good to be true.

I said my thanks and then headed out in search of the Old Miss.

  Click for larger image

This is "High Cotton", one of the Luxury Condos I saw on my search for the motel. Unit #6 is currently listed for a mere $460,565.00
I walked down Lamar and made a left onto University and in no time I saw an oldish sign marking the motel. What I saw was nothing fancy, but it looked promising.

  Click for larger image

I walked into the office. Nobody home. I rang the bell - several times. No one appeared. I looked outside and scanned the courtyard for any signs of life. All I saw were a bunch of empty rooms with doors hanging wide open. But, at one far corner, I spotted a cleaning cart. I walked down and peeked through a beaten and partially shattered wooden doorway. There I saw what was the laundry room and leaning against a washer, reading something, what a youngish looking East Indian in old coveralls. I asked him if anyone was working at the office. He looked puzzled and said "No one is there?" I told him no one showed up when I rang the bell. He walked out of the laundry room and gestured for me to follow him. Of course, as soon as we stepped into the office a woman appeared out of nowhere. He smiled and headed back out the door. I asked the young woman, who looked quite pregnant, about room rates - $45 for a single. Not the "30 bucks" the book clerk had suggested, but it would certainly do.

I signed in and went to the room to check it out. The room, although a bit beat up, looked fine. There was a desk and roller chair, dresser, TV, micro and fridge and one of those beds that would sleep three. Directly over that bed was a fist sized hole in the plaster. This got my wheels turning. The bathroom was spartan, but serviceable. The toilet paper was placed on the tank just past the place where the holder had been torn off the wall. The shower was clean with newish looking fixtures.
This would do just fine. Time to retrieve the Barge and get unloaded.

  Click for larger image

The water tower was to be a good landmark for me as I walked around and tried to keep my bearings.

After experiencing the crush of traffic through the tiny downtown I decided to try to find a back street route to my car which would be a bit easier on my nerves. I found a rather circuitous route back to my car via 15th, Jackson and Monroe Streets and was able to remember the route back - a small miracle.

I got unpacked, and fired up the laptop so I could check the signal. It was weak, but stable and I immediately set about the task of answering my email.

Ok, enough of the is 'puter stuff. Time to hit the street.

I decided to head out to Rowan Oak, William Faulkner's former home. This would also take me back past the nice old houses had seem on my drive down Lamar Blvd.

  Click for larger image

Here are a series of photos of some of the houses I saw while strolling down Lamar towards Old Taylor. I don't know anything about architecture so it will be up to you to determine what style and period the houses are in.

  Click for larger image

There were many fine old Southern Magnolias some of the yards.

  Click for larger image

Wouldn't it be nice to see this type of marker in every town? In my home town of Morgantown it seems every time I take a walk there is another big tree missing.

Click for larger image Click for larger image Click for larger image

There were many areas adjacent to the yards which were covered by Willow Oak (Quercus phellos) leaves.

  Click for larger image   Click for larger image

I would love to have seen the inside of this old behemoth!

  Click for larger image

This funky little place stood out from the crowd.

  Click for larger image

The hodge podge mosaic of patches were made of various materials.

  Click for larger image

I found myself wondering whether these patched were designed in, or added. This one actually used old pieces of wood. Very odd.

  Click for larger image   Click for larger image   Click for larger image

I walked down Old Taylor Road to Rowan Oak. Dan had suggested stopping here and I am glad he did. Otherwise, I probably never would have seen the place.

Rowan Oak, also known as William Faulkner House, is William Faulkner's former home in Oxford, Mississippi. It is a primitive Greek Revival house built in the 1840s by Robert Sheegog. Faulkner purchased the house when it was in disrepair in the 1930s and did much of the renovations himself. Other renovations were done in the 1950s. The house sits on 4 landscaped and twenty nine acres of largely wooded property known as Bailey's Woods.

One of its more famous features is the outline of Faulkner's Pulitzer-prize winning novel A Fable, penciled in graphite and red on the plaster wall of his study. Though the "rowan oak" is a mythical tree, the grounds and surrounding woods of Rowan Oak contain hundreds of species of native Mississippi plants, most of which date back to antebellum times. The alley of cedars that lines the driveway was common in the 1800s. The studs of the house are 4"x4" square cypress; they were hand-hewn. Faulkner drew much inspiration for his treatment of multi-layered Time from Rowan Oak, where past and future seemed to inhabit the present.

Source: WikiPedia

  Click for larger image

A pea gravel path took me to the front entrance.

  Click for larger image

Until now, I never realized Juniper trees reached this height and girth.

  Click for larger image

At the base of an old oak tree I spotted and old friend - the Little Grey Polypody (Polypodium polypodioides).

  Click for larger image

Also known as the "Resurrection fern". It gets its name because it can survive long periods of drought by curling up its fronds and appearing desiccated, grey-brown and dead.

  Click for larger image

The underside of the leaf, or "frond" as it is called in fern world, show the brown dots or sori, which contain the spores.

  Click for larger image

When I entered I was greeted by a young lady who welcomed me and gave a brochure to "help my find my way through the house". I gave here my five dollars and signed the register.

Faulkner was employed as a scriptwriter for several Hollywood studios, and for periods of varying length, in 1932-33, 1935-37, 1942-45, 1951, and 1953-4. Above is a photo of the typewriter he used while in Hollywood.

  Click for larger image

This document explains how the typewriter made it's way back to Rowan Oak.

  Click for larger image

Th library at Rowan Oak. The portrait of Faulkner was painted by Maud Butler Faulkner, Faulkner's mother.

William Faulkner

William Faulkner (September 25, 1897 Ė July 6, 1962) was a Nobel Prize-winning American author. One of the most influential writers of the 20th century, his reputation is based on his novels, novellas and short stories. He was also a published poet and an occasional screenwriter.

Most of Faulkner's works are set in his native state of Mississippi. He is considered one of the most important Southern writers along with Mark Twain, Robert Penn Warren, Flannery O'Connor, Truman Capote, Eudora Welty, and Tennessee Williams.

While his work was published regularly starting in the mid 1920s, Faulkner was relatively unknown before receiving the 1949 Nobel Prize in Literature. Since then, he has often been cited as one of the most important writers in the history of American literature.

Source: WikiPedia

  Click for larger image

The dining room.

  Click for larger image

A folding, wooden baby's high chair.

  Click for larger image

Faulkner's study.

  Click for larger image

He wrote notes on the walls for " A Fable" and " Tomorrow" .

  Click for larger image

Faulkner's study showing his work desk.

  Click for larger image

 

  Click for larger image

Two of the giant junipers in the grounds of Rowan Oak.

  Click for larger image

The surficial roots and dense shade from the Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora) preventing anything but moss from growing within the drip line.

Southern MagnoliaSouthern Magnolia Flower. Source: WikiPedia

  Click for larger image

The spent leaves and seed pods of the Souther Magnolia.

  Click for larger image

What a great "hide-out" for a child to play in.

p>   Click for larger image

The leave are giant!

  Click for larger image

Underside if the leaf showing the reticulate venation.

  Click for larger image

Had I not overheard the gal at the house mention this trail to another visitor, I would no have known about it.
There are 24 acres at Rowan Oak and 20 of them remain woodlands to this day.

  Click for larger image

A series of board walks get you up and over some of the we spots.

  Click for larger image

This must be an old juniper stump. But why was it cut?

  Click for larger image

 

  Click for larger image

A fallen Sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua) leaf impaled on a "Gum Ball" which is a seed pod.

  Click for larger image

This new bridge crossed a creek which had steep banks and muddy water.

  Click for larger image

I followed the trail up the hill and into the open where I spotted this clump of "Pubic Grass". I never learned the Latin binomial for it.

  Click for larger image

Not having any idea where the train went I was quite surprised by what I saw. Unbeknownst to me the trail eventually let to the backside of the University of Mississippi Museum.

  Click for larger image

This sculpture was in a median in the parking are of the Museum.

  Click for larger image

 

  Click for larger image

Both this tree and museum were delightfully serendipitous events for me.

  Click for larger image

This ancient Osage Orange (Maclura pomifera) is the state champion in Mississippi. The circumference is nearly 16', the crown, nearly 50' and the height is 70'

And now for something really different - for me anyway.

  Click for larger image

I walked into the entrance of the museum not know what to expect. I was greeted and welcomed in and given a map of the galleries. I was told the "Haney Exhibit" was in back. I had no idea what the guy was talking about but I decided to have a look around.

Pictured above is "Mello Jello". Check out Lou's blog. WOW!

  Click for larger image

This one is entitled Athletic Aesthetic.

At first I mistook this for a photograph. Amazing!

  Click for larger image

"Keep it Classy"

I was not sure what to make of this one.
I consider myself are deprived - by choice. But I think it is time to change that after having seen the works of Haney and all the other cool art. Very stimulating, to say the the least.

Lou Haney was born in Decatur, Alabama. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Art with a Studio Concentration, cum laude from Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee. In 2000, Lou was employed at St. Patrickís Parish School in Cooma, Australia as a Visual Arts Teacher. She was also the Director of the Young Artistís Program at Watkins College of Art and Design in Nashville, Tennessee.

Ms. Haney graduated with her Masterís of Fine Art degree in Painting from Claremont Graduate University in Claremont, California. She was awarded the Presidentís Award in May of 2003. More recently, Ms. Haney was presented with the Merit Award at the Red Clay Survey, A Triennial Exhibition at the Huntsville (AL) Museum of Art. In addition, Lou has had solo exhibitions in California, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Virginia. She was employed as Assistant Professor of Art and chair of the Art and Design department at Tusculum College in Greeneville, Tennessee from 2004- 2007. Ms Haney joins the University of Mississippi as an Assistant Professor of Art and Foundations Coordinator.

Source: University of Mississippi Department of Art

  Click for larger image

Now for something really weird.

Sulton Rogers says he carves his dreams. If that is the case he must have constantly reoccurring nightmares.

Be sure to check out the WikiPedia link to see more examples of his work.

Sulton Rogers (1922ĖApril 5, 2003) was a Mississippi folk artist who spent most of his life in Syracuse, New York working at a chemical plant. He moved back to Oxford, Mississippi in 1995 and lived there until he died.

Rogers referred to his carvings as "haints" and primarily carved humans with oversized features. The oversized features included multiple eyes, animals coming out of body parts, and extra breasts.[1] He would also carve multiple related carvings known as "haint houses".[2] These pieces sometimes included dollhouses that would be filled with the human carvings. While he normally carved people, he would also carve animals

.

Source: WikiPedia

  Click for larger image

 

  Click for larger image

 

I also saw some works by Glenray Tutor, a marble bust of Satyr dated 200 BC, works by Russell Chatham, J.P. Donleavy, Man Ray, as well as Georgia O'Keefe, Mexican Dressed Fleas, Edward Marshall Boehm porcelain figures of birds, as well as all manner of Old Miss paraphernalia.

  Click for larger image

The new and old wings of the Museum

  Click for larger image

The old wing of the Museum.

After my mind expanding experience at the museum I walked up to the Old Miss Campus in search of The Grove.

  Click for larger image

The formal entrance to the Campus

  Click for larger image

There has got to be a story behind this.

  Click for larger image

This is The Grove, 10 acres of mature trees.. I hope to return when the leaves are on and I can fully enjoy each tree.

"It's unusual for a university to be blessed with the amount of green space we enjoy, and it really sets the mood of this campus. Any gathering place needs to be treasured. Stewardship of the Grove is not solely the responsibility of the university, but of all who love and use it."
- Chancellor Robert Kyat

  Click for larger image

On my way back to campus I noticed these sculptures talking to each other. Meanwhile, the student talks to his cell phone.

  Click for larger image

Plaque for the above sculpture.

  Click for larger image

The Gertrude Castellow Ford Center was the location for the 2008 Presidential Debate. "Yes, we can!"

  Click for larger image

 

  Click for larger image

A few doors up from the hotel is the Powerhouse Community Arts Center. It is located in this vintage 1928 brick and stone warehouse structure that once housed the Oxford Electric company.

  Click for larger image

The pumps looked like industrial art to me.

  Click for larger image

 

  Click for larger image

 

  Click for larger image

From this point of view the pumped looked a bull dog.

Well, that was a busy afternoon. Thanks, Dan!

Back to TOP