This week’s featured book, Stories From 125 Years of Ole Miss Football (Nautilus), takes the reader back to a time before party decks, charging stations and “gameday enhancements.” The stories in the book, edited by bestselling author Neil White, cover 1893-2017 and are for anyone who enjoys a good sports story along with a little life thrown in. The early chapters make one yearn for college football “unplugged;” no replay review, no TV timeouts, no chatter bug talking suits or cluttery graphics.
The players were named Bruiser, Buster and Jake back then and the coaches wore suits and hats. The fans were people like Blind Jim Ivy, a blind man who sold peanuts at the games. He married the also blind Rosa Sanders in a ceremony on the Ole Miss campus. The book reproduces a local 1915 news item that stated “love is indeed blind.”
Or this: In 1926 Tad Smith played football without a helmet but with his ears taped back for aerodynamics.
The first bowl game for the Ole Miss Rebels, as this richly researched book describes, was an invitation to the 1922 Bacardi Bowl in Havana, Cuba on Christmas Day. The team played the Cuban Athletic Club in front of 5,000 partisans. Team captain Calvin Barbour remembers that every long gain by the Rebels was called back by the refs, including all three touchdowns. The Cubans won 14-0.
This was the beginning of NFL officiating as we know it.
The book includes indexes with all-time lists: Best Wins, Worst Losses, etc. Enough here to keep rec room discussions or barroom bets busy. The book is page after page of fascinating stories of heroics and heartbreak; hilarity and history. For football fans or those with a life.
We’ll top off all the gridiron giddiness with our musical guests, jam band guitarist-songwriter George McConnell and the sweet three-part harmonies of The Chadwick Band. And, as always, our house band, the Yalobushwhackers, will be along to convert fourth and long.
Come see us or tune in. Get yer rahs rahs out!
— Jim Dees
Join us for The Thacker Mountain Radio Hour Thursday, Sept. 26 at 6 pm at Off Square Books (129 Courthouse Square, Oxford, MS 38655). FREE admission.
Guests: Southern rock guitarist George McConnell with author/editor Neil White (“125 Years of Ole Miss Football”) and acoustic trio, the Chadwick Band.
Hosts: Jim Dees and our house band, the Yalobushwhackers
Radio: WUMS 92.1 FM (Oxford)