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Ole Miss book good for fans, alumni

Published: Saturday, January 2, 2010 
Jim Fraiser Book Review

A wise old Southern sage one opined that you can't go home, but if home is where the heart is, especially if you're carrying a camera with you while you're there, you can certainly bring "home" with you wherever you go.

William H. Morris Jr., the founder and president of the insurance marketing firm the William Morris Group PA, turned amateur photographer extraordinaire, left his heart at Ole Miss when he graduated in the mid­1960's, but kept his camera handy while matriculating there and whenever he returned to the campus after graduation.

The result is "Ole Miss at Oxford. A Part of Our Heart and Soul," a photographic reminisce of Mississippi's flagship university through the last fifty years.

Robert C. Khayat, arguably Mississippi's finest university president/chancellor during the past century, notes in his brief foreword that Morris has captured the "beautiful scenes, warm transgenerational friendships, the excitement of athletics and the extraordinary phenomenon of picnics in the Grove" that define Ole Miss to many of that university's most ardent fans and supporters.

I couldn't have expressed it better.

And while the photos of downtown Oxford, the antebellum campus, people meandering through the Grove, and action shots of various Rebels scoring in Vaught-Hemmingway Stadium will please many alumni, Morris added a welcome dimension by depicting university life as it has evolved through the past five decades. 

One section displays the Grove's many faces, including the time when cars inhabited it on football weekends, the earlier era before cars or tents were allowed, and its present incarnation in which tents dominate and throngs of fans young and old giddily trod its oak-lined sidewalks and lush green spaces renewing acquaintances and planning another victory over LSU and other SEC rivals.

Generations of Mannings grace these pages, as do renowned celebrities, powerful politicians in the make and hundreds of regular folks who return to Ole Miss in the spring, summer, fall and winter to relive their glory days and hope for the national championship in baseball or football that eluded them during their tenure.

Oxford's square, replete with nationally renowned restaurants and book store are duly represented, as are the myriad of lovely red brick, white-columned buildings, antebellum and

post bellum alike, that have made this university one of America's most lovely repositories of academia.

If your idea of a coffee table book is limited to that of a tome with award-wining professional photography accompanied by text offering stunning insights about the history I architecture and culture of a place, this is surely not the book for you. 

However, if you seek a satisfying pictorial reminiscence about the university you recall with a glow in your heart and a sparkle in your eye, and would appreciate a workmanlike photo album with which to better explain your collegiate experiences to your children, visitors from up North or those folks from rival schools who think they attended a historic and pulchritudinous university, William H. Morris's Ole Miss at Oxford is certainly the book for you.

Jim Fraiser, a Greenwood native, is a federal administrative law judge in Tupelo, and the author of 12 books

Copyright © 2010 - Greenwood Commonwealth

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