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Betty Stone: Road trip


Betty Stone



Back when we went to the "picture show" for our movies, we saw newsreels that ended with "Time Marches On." Today time does not march; it stampedes. I did not realize it had been so long since I had tried to get around the Ole Miss campus until I went there recently. Like Mississippi State University, it has changed dramatically. We recognized a few landmarks, of course, but we could not find half of what we wanted. 


I was on a girl trip with Beth Sims, Barbara Yarborough and Bettye Jane Kerby. Beth, who was driving, graduated from Ole Miss. That helped only a little. Many new buildings hid our landmarks. Some of the things we looked for we never found. 


Part of the trouble was the traffic. We were there on an ordinary day; there was no big campus attraction. Yet drivers scrambled for a place in the traffic lines. I shudder to think of what it is like on a game day, something I have not experienced in far too long. 


We had gone to Oxford to see "Beauty and the Beast" at the gorgeous Ford Theater. The play was excellent, well worth any difficulties we encountered. The lighting, designed by Natasha Katz, was especially spectacular. 


We were late getting our tickets, so we sat on the very back row of the peanut gallery and were glad to be there. We were high enough to feel a little vertigo when we looked down. I am not acrophobic, but I held tight to the chair backs. Our neighborhood was interesting, though. It amused me to see that during intermission everyone else on our row whipped out their cell phones and began texting. Brave new world. 




Anybody open? 


Any time you put females "of a certain age" in a car, you get the potential for an adventure. We were keyed up for it. We would get to the hotel, check in, then check out some of the cute restaurants and shops around the square. Then we would head for the theater. But first we would go to a little shoe store in Tupelo that carried hard-to-find sizes. We stayed there an hour and a half! Late having lunch, we ended up at a truck stop that served nothing but chicken, apparently 106 different ways. We had to spread paper out to serve as our plates. So much for the cute little restaurant. 


Then, when we got to Oxford, we went out in the country to see some people who were restoring an old cabin for a vacation spot. Most women love to see a transformation in progress. The trouble is we got lost. We cruised up and down the highway, then rambled over country roads until we felt deep in Snopes territory. Seeing the house and visiting the attractive owners was fun, however; but maybe, just maybe, we stayed a bit long, because the thin winter sunlight was fading fast by the time we checked into the motel.  


There was absolutely nothing to eat at the hotel, not even a snack from a vending machine. There was no time both to change clothes and eat dinner before the show. Never mind, we would just have a leisurely dinner after the theater. 


Yeah. Sure. Why did we not realize that the cute little restaurants around the Oxford square closed early? Night life continued, of course. We were, after all, in a college town. Hoards of students roamed the streets and crowded into bars, but they were not eating. No one was eating at that hour. Obviously we were not either. 


We ventured beyond the square. Far beyond. Out of Oxford, in fact. There was no restaurant open anywhere. We called out to our driver, "Hey, there was a Sonic back there with two cars! Maybe it's open." 


"Is that a Burger King lit up?" 


"Stop! Stop! There's a McDonald's!" 


We hit pay dirt at McDonald's, drove through for a pick-up, and carried our precious midnight supper back to the motel. It was no cute little restaurant, but we scarfed those burgers down. Hunger makes anything delicious. 


We were still running late on the way home the next day, but by then we were smart enough to call ahead and verify that The Ritz restaurant in West Point would serve us lunch. We were learning. We were survivors. 


Betty Boyls Stone is a freelance writer, who grew up in Columbus.


Betty Boyls Stone is a freelance writer, who grew up in Columbus.


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