November 13, 2016 8:26:10 AM
I tried to go to a football game at Ole Miss recently; and, let me tell you, it ain't what it used to be. Admittedly, years have passed since Doug and I went tailgating at Oxford. In those days all we had to do was tolerate the traffic-slowed procession from here to there or spend the night conveniently at the Alumni House which, to say the least, is no longer located as it used to be. We could just walk out of the Alumni House where our station wagon would be parked somewhere conveniently, let down the tailgate, and let the good times roll.
The circle and The Grove would be visible, and simply sauntering around a bit took us to the picnics of friends and them to ours. Grass was visible and still green. Some flashy fans might have their candelabra even in the daylight, but cars were still parked willy-nilly in The Grove and maybe in the circle, too. And we thought that was crowded!
Years passed, and I went back after a long absence to the Auburn game recently. You would not know the place.
Red tents covered nearly every inch of space. Every bit of ground was claimed.
No longer were there little spaces to saunter around. The Auburn men in the family had a hard time getting to their alma mater's tent. There was a sea of red tents, corners almost holding hands. We met a couple of fellows from California who said they had always heard about Ole Miss and just on a whim stopped to look at it. They were goggle-eyed and nearly speechless.
Frances Borland graciously invited us to participate from her tent, and we shall be forever grateful. I mean you have got to be early even to get close to the game. It seems regular fans now take turns beings hosts. I don't see how any of the hosts get to the game itself. In our little group of four, Jay and John went to the game. I doubt if I ever could have made it. Diana had planned to stay with her old mother and had rented an apartment for us.
Well, we had a house, not an apartment, but it was so far out in the woods, it was spooky. Still, we thought we were lucky. We could watch in comfort. Duh. Our house had Direct TV and did not carry the game. Diana was livid. I was just grateful for the comfort. I knew I had got too old to go to the game, which now seemed 50 miles away, but I, too, was too naive to think we'd be completely cut off.
I think nowadays the university should offer courses in how to attend a football game. They should give credit for it, too!
I cannot say how touched I was by my children and grandchildren trying to give this old fan another football weekend. Although it may have been unlike any game any of us has ever attended or is ever likely to again, they have lettered in Valor.
Betty Stone is a freelance writer who grew up in and lives in Columbus.
Betty Boyls Stone is a freelance writer, who grew up in Columbus.