Friday, January 16, 2015

Oxford, Mississippi...Sweet, Southern Charm


What do you think of when you think of Oxford, Mississippi? If you imagine sweet tea and even sweeter accents, the University of Mississippi and the Grove, William Faulkner and John Grisham, you would be right on track. Recently two of my friends, Kathy, Missy and I, along with our soon to be graduating high school seniors, Anna, Jake and Rob, had the opportunity to visit the campus of Ole Miss and take a tour of the college and the town of Oxford. What can I say? We loved it! 

We started our orientation in the chapel. It was a perfect way to begin our tour.

The campus is lovely, with buildings dating back to the first year the school opened in 1848. The Lyceum is the center of the campus now, as it was in the very beginning. It is also the iconic symbol for the university. The clock at the top of the building was a gift from the class of 1927. 






In 1889, Ventress Hall was constructed. This Victorian Romanescue structure, complete with turrets, was originally the library for the university. Later it housed the law school and now it is home to the college of liberal arts. All appropriate, since there is a large L in the stone arch over the main doorway.


Everywhere you looked, all over the campus, there were beautiful and historic elements, including this Confederate soldier statue and the Phi Mu fountain.




The Grove is the legendary heart of the University of Mississippi campus. Tailgating in the Grove consistently ranks as one of the best tailgating experiences in the country.



When we visited, the students had just voted for Mister and Miss Ole Miss. We aren't sure who won, but we voted for Rob!


The first night we were in Oxford, we could not wait to visit Oxford's famous town square. Since our hometown of Scottsboro, Alabama also has a town square and is currently on the brink of a revival of sorts, we were anxious to see what the town of Oxford had done with their square and, perhaps, to bring home some ideas. The first thing we noticed was that tiny white lights were strung on every single building, even the buildings on the outlying streets leading away from the square. It made the whole downtown area look as if it were cared for. It also tied all the buildings together, making all the pieces a part of the whole. Other lights were strategically placed to highlight the architecture of the buildings. Altogether the lighting helped to created quite a beautiful scene. Just like the courthouse in our hometown, the historic Lafayette County Courthouse, built in 1872, sits prominently in the middle, surrounded by a grassy lawn.  Shops of all kinds line the square, from one of the most famous independent book stores, Square Books, to art galleries and gift shops, and the oldest department store in the south, Neilson's, which opened in 1839. 


We loved this red British phone booth that sits on the square near the Courthouse and City Hall.


Of course you know this just had to happen!


The beautifully arched City Hall, erected in 1885, sported bright white lights, too.


No visit to Oxford's square is complete without getting a picture taken with Oxford's most beloved citizen, William Faulkner.


Our thoughts finally turned to food and the fact that we had not had any in a while, so we strolled down one of the side streets off the square and found a happy little pizzeria named, Soulshine. 



We had to wait a bit, but not too long. Soulshine is one large space and it was filled to capacity with tables full of chattering college students. The tables were crammed close together and the waitstaff was bustling. 



Checking out the Soulshine menu with my friend, Kathy.


We started with this wonderful plate of hummus served with pita wedges for dipping. This was my favorite thing and I could have made a meal out of just this one dish. Missy, Anna and I loved this hummus. Rob liked it, but Jake and Kathy were having no part of it. You know I always have to have one picky friend in tow and Kathy ranks right up there with the pickiest of all my friends!


Jake, being Jake!


We studied our menus. There were lots of choices, from sandwiches and salads to pizzas and calzones. All in all, we ended up with four pizzas and two sandwiches. Everyone but Kathy and me got pizzas. I can't remember exactly which pizzas they all ordered, but the menu had a funky, hipster, Mellow Mushroom feel with cool sounding names like, The Magic Mushroom, the Rainbow Warrior and CCR.  I do remember that Jake ordered his pizza with nothing but cheese and pepperoni. I think the one below with shrimp, called Sleeps with Fishes, was Rob's. All the pizzas looked wonderful.



Look at the size of Jake's pizza!






The sandwich I ordered was called the Gobbler, which was supposed to be a turkey and cheese sandwich, but I had them leave cheese off of it so it was pretty straightforward, nothing too exciting. It was so late by the time we were eating, that I knew I would regret eating anything heavy and spicy.



Kathy had a little bit more to her sandwich, the Country Club, which came with ham, turkey, bacon, cheddar and swiss. Both sandwiches were served with a pickle spear and chips.
Soulshine is the perfect college hangout. It was fun and noisy. Our group loved their huge pizzas. I would like to go back and try one of the pizzas next time. Our story does not end here. Next time we will tell you about another, very different Oxford dining experience. In the meantime, Three Friends and a Fork and this crazy, traveling group give Soulshine Pizza Factory 3 groovy Yums UP!



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Richi Reynolds
Richi Reynolds

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