I am Tom Freeland, a lawyer in Oxford, Mississippi. The picture in the header is my law office. I'm on Twitter as NMissC

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Did the Square Have Two Way Traffic, Part 3: Some Dates of Changes on the Square, from parking meters to parking islands

These are pulled from the minutes of the Board of Aldermen of the City of Oxford, which are available online and can be searched pdf-by-pdf, which takes a while.

  • 1940   There’s a cryptic entry on the minutes:  A motion was made that the City Engineer be “instructed to have removed from the streets, the ‘mushrooms’ located on North Lamar Ave. and entrance to the Square, and the one leaving the square and entering Jackson Ave.”  Mushrooms?  Anyone have an idea what that is about?
  • 1949   Parking meters put on the Square and two blocks off in each direction.
  • 1950   Stop signs were placed at the entrance of the Square on North and South Lamar.
  • 1962   The police station was moved from the Square (where Faulkner alley is now) to the “old fire station” behind the (now demolished) City Hall.  Shortly after, it was leased to Mrs. Morgan to open the Hole in the Wall Record Store.
  • 1964   Farmers are prohibited from selling produce on the Square.
  • 1971    Mrs. Morgan gives up her lease and the alley between Gathright Reed (Old Venice) and Shine Morgan’s store (Southside Gallery) was opened.
  • 1973   Van Buren was made one way– you could no longer go on or off the Square from either side on Van Buren.
  • 1974   The City put the parking islands on the Square and the old multi-lane circus of driving on the Square ended.

I could find no clue about when Jackson Avenue was made one way.  And what of two-way traffic on the Square other than the two-way feeder roads coming in from the East and West?  There’s this, which may be an answer:

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Here’s what that says:  That a motion was made that “ordered that the recommendation of the City Engineer in regard to making certain streets one-way streets and that routing all traffic around the square to the right be put into effect.”  It’s dated June 9, 1947.  I’ve been told that the city experimented with more than one change on this.  Was this the final one? Or was there a later one?  I don’t know.




On the Square in Oxford.  Part of a continuing series of signs posts.

Did the Square have two-way traffic, part two: a 1933 photograph shows it

This is a photo I found the other day (and that Observer linked in a comment).  It’s taken from the balcony on what was then, I think, a dry goods store (it certainly was a dry goods store in the late-50s early 60s, where I was hoping mom would pick Red Goose shoes for the present you got with it. Hopes were often dashed) and what is now the balcony of the First National Bank.  In the picture below, I got as close as I could to the same angle.

Note on about the vertical line of the golden mean at the middle horizontally:  A car coming toward you.  As in, coming the wrong way across the Square.  The car parked in the middle of the photograph appears to have arrived at its space headed in the other (now-required) direction.

Here’s my attempt to repeat the shot to show that the car in motion is definitely going the wrong way around.

Square today from balcony cropped

The 1933 photograph (two years after the setting of the ending of The Sound and the Fury).  is interesting for another reason– the huge crowd.  I’m moderately sure I know the story and am trying to confirm it (or confirm one of the two versions I’ve heard) about which more later.

So, the question is when two-way traffic ended in the Square.  I’m confident I remember it, and my mother remembers driving in two-way traffic after arriving in Oxford in the Summer of 1956.  On Facebook, there’s at least one person older than me and another (who arrived in 1966) who claim there was never two-way traffic on the Square.

Did the Square have 2 way traffic, part one: The end of The Sound and the Fury Says Yes

In the end of  The Sound and the Fury, Faulkner describes two-way traffic on the Square.  There’s a huge debate occurring on Facebook about whether the Square ever had 2 way traffic.  As I noted, if it did not, the ending of The Sound and the Fury makes no sense.

To set this up:  Luster, a young black family servant, was getting to drive a wagon onto the Square.  The horse Queenie was pulling the wagon, and riding as a passenger was Benjy Compson, who is commonly described as retarded, and who seems to me clearly autistic.  Things like his demands for order are a part of that, and descriptions of the child who was the basis for Benjy reinforce my conviction that he’s autistic.

They are headed up what would be South Lamar  toward the Square; at a hardware store on the Square (which has to be about where Met’s Hardware was, now Hinton and Hinton’s men’s shop), Benjy’s brother Jason works.  Jason is one of the great jerks in literature, the villain of the book, and totally put-upon by dealing with his various relatives.

Luster has the option of turning either way on the Square, but picks the way that outrages Benjy’s sense of order.  Starting as they leave the Compson house:

“Hum up dar!” Luster said.  He flapped the lines again.  With subterranean rumblings Queenie jogged slowly up the drive and turned into the street, where Luster exhorted her into a gait resembling a prolonged and suspended fall in a forward direction.

Ben quit whimpering.  He sat in the middle of the seat, holding the repaired flower upright in his fist, his eyes serene and ineffable.  Directly before him Luster’s bullet head turned backward continually until the house pulled from view, then he pulled to the side of the street and while Ben watched him he descended and broke a switch from the hedge.  Queenie lowered her head and fell to cropping the grass until Luster mounted and hauled her head up and harried her head up and harried her into motion again, then he squared his elbows and with the switch and the reins held high he assumed a swaggering attitude out of all proportion with the sedate clopping of Queenie’s hooves and the organlike basso of her internal accompaniment.  Motors passed them, and pedestrians; once a group of half grown negroes;

“Dar Luster. Whar you gwine, Luster? To de boneyard?”

“Hi,” Luster said, “Aint de same boneyard y’all headed fer. Hum up, elefump.”

They approached the square, where the Confederate soldier gazed with  empty eyes beneath his marble hand into wind and weather.  Luster took still another notch in himself and gave the impervious Queenie a cut with the switch, casting his glance about the square.  ”Dar’s Mr Jason’s car,” he said then he spied another group of negroes.  ”Les show them niggers how quality does, Benjy,” he said, “Whut you say?”  He looked back.  Ben sat, holding the flower in his fist, his gaze empty and untroubled.  Luster hit Queenie again and swung her to the left at the monument.

For an instant Ben sat in utter hiatus.  Then he bellowed.  Bellow upon bellow, his voice mounted, with scarce interval for breath.  There was more the astonishment in it, it was horror; shock; agony eyeless, tongueless; just sound, and Luster’s eyes back-rolling for a white instance.  ”Gret God,” he said, “Hush! Hush! Gret God!”  He whirled against and struck Queenie with the switch.  It broke and he cast it away and with Ben’s voice mounting toward its unbelievable crescendo Luster caught up the end of the reins and leaned forward as Jason came jumping across the square and onto the step.

With a backhanded blow he hurled Luster aside and caught the reins and sawed Queenie about and doubled the reins back and slashed her across the hips.  He cut her again and again, into a plunging gallop, while Ben’s hoarse agony roared about them, and swung about to the right of the monument.  Then he struck Luster over the head with his fist.

“Dont you know any better than to take him to the left?” he said.  He reached back and struck Ben, breaking the flower stalk again.  ”Shut up!” he said, “Shut up!” He jerked Queenie back and jumped down.  ”Get to hell home with him.  If you ever cross that gate with him again, I’ll kill you!”

“Yes suh!” Luster said.  He took the reins and hit Queenie with the end of them.  ”Git up!  Git up, dar! Benjy, fer God’s sake!”

Benjy’s voice roared and roared.  Queenie moved again, her feat began to clop-clop steadily again, and at once Ben hushed.  Luster looked quickly back over his shoulder, then he drove on.  The broken flower drooped over Ben’s fist and his eyes were empty and blue and serene again as cornice and facade flowed smoothly once more from left to right, post and tree, window and doorway, and signboard, each in its ordered place.

In my opinion, one of the great closing lines in fiction.  And, if there was not two-way traffic on the Square, this really does not make sense.  Luster had the option of going either way, but took the one that offended Benjy’s sense of propriety.


Fascinating British Pathe’ video from the Meredith crisis, with interesting stuff in town and on campus

British Pathe’ has put an enormous amount of their material on Youtube just now.  I searched for Mississippi, and one of the first hits was two films about the Meredith crisis.  First is this one, about the moment the riots occurred, with interesting video from the town and campus, plus the moment of crisis at the intersection by the University Museum.

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Then there’s this, of Meredith the beginning to attend classes.  Very interesting in itself, plus some nice shots of the campus.

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Today’s Special is…


From the market by Mr, Chen’s in Jackson, Mississippi.

The Black Confederate in an incident

There’s been an incident involving the black confederate and the police. It is not clear what happened, although reports are he hit someone. This has been corrected because he apparently left without being arrested.

Folks who have been around Oxford ten years or so may recall the black confederate, Anthony Hervey, who began his career marching around town with stars and bars and a confederate kepi, and later decided to take up residence at the confederate statute on the Square with signs with slogans like “White Guilt=Genocide” and others making claims that affirmative action was destroying the black race.

When there were busy weekends in town, he loved the attention.  I avoided getting anywhere near it, and so don’t really have any notion what sort of interactions went on.

Well, today, the interaction apparently involved the black confederate decking someone (a knockout punch)

Like General Mills on Facebook, waive your right to sue!

Seriously, that’s what the New York Times is reporting:

General Mills, the maker of cereals like Cheerios and Chex as well as brands like Bisquick and Betty Crocker, has quietly added language to its website to alert consumers that they give up their right to sue the company if they download coupons, “join” it in online communities like Facebook, enter a company-sponsored sweepstakes or contest or interact with it in a variety of other ways.

They’re also saying that they’ve changed their “privacy policy” and that the mere purchase of their products is an agreement to mandatory arbitration.

One again, users will be frustrated by the lack of a “don’t like” button on Facebook.

I wonder how much the Cochran people are paying for this advertising

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I heard it through YallPolitics on Facebook, which pretty much would explain whose interest is served by advancing this. But, still, it really kinda almost sorta makes one want to go out and vote for the incumbent.

Although I’m pretty sure that if I go to my precinct and vote in a Republican primary I will get the stink-eye from the Republican poll workers.

Bobby DeLaughter: “I didn’t do nearly everything that they thought I did.”

Megan West at WAPT TV in Jackson got an interesting interview with Bobby Delaughter, apparently on the occasion of his Amazon-only new novel.

“I said then, and will always say it because it’s the truth, I didn’t do nearly everything that they thought I did. But I was stupid. I admit that,” DeLaughter told 16 WAPT’s Megan West.

DeLaughter pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, but he maintains he never took a bribe.

“I can’t believe that I was so stupid to have confided in someone things that I shouldn’t have, but did because we were so close,” DeLaughter said.

Peters told prosecutors he got $1 million to influence DeLaughter. Back then, Peters avoided jail by turning on his friend and becoming a federal witness.

“Have you talked to him since all of this?” West asked.

“No,” DeLaughter said. “I don’t have any plans of rekindling any communication there.”

The interview talks about life in New Orleans, and about his new book– he says, “I hope the scare the dickens out of people.”  It’s an “erotic thriller” about “a serial killer obsessed with sex. DeLaughter drew on many of his own experiences….”

No doubt it will scare people.

h/t Jane Tucker for the heads up about the interview.