There's a restaurant called Ajax Diner which I also skipped out on. It's where Rebecca works and by the time I was interested in going there, I was more interested in other things. I hear it's "soul food" which usually translates to "instant death" for people who are very sensitive to spice, so it's likely I didn't miss much.
I watched an obligatory football (Ole Miss vs. someone-or-other) game. We were at the grocery store right beforehand which was decked out reminding everyone of the game. In addition, as the game was starting, they put the radio on over the PA. I met Rebecca's boss there and one of the first things he said was "The game's starting in five minutes! What are you doing here?"
Yep! This is the South!
Rebecca introduced me to pepper jelly & cream cheese on crackers. I will take that as the biggest thing I got out of Oxford.
For various reasons, Rebecca wasn't able to be a very good hostess, so I allowed myself to be led into the idea of blowing town. Rented a car (a Dodge Magnum -- one of the nicer cars I've rented as it happens)
Immediately after getting the car, I started orienting myself. Highway MS-7 seemed like an interesting road to me, so I continued down it a ways. During this drive, I became the master of a one-handed photographing technique which served me very well.
This is remarkably typical for the roads around there. I can even tell I was going South on MS-7 because of the kudzu on the right hand side. Very pretty, very long stretches between anything of import. That was one of the interesting differences I saw that would characterize the South.
Coffeeville -- it says so on the water tower!
Coffeeville's a teensy grease spot on the map, but it's one of the more significant points on MS-7. The town was pretty much dead:
Obviously, the high street. Nothing much to speak of.
I wanted to stop off and walk around a while, but it became clear that there really was nothing to see there, even though it was around 4pm on a Wednesday. Anyway, I realized this after I had disturbed this poor dog which was sleeping in the parking space I was aiming for.
It barked in annoyance and walked around in the nearby gravel lot
which had an honest-to-god package store!
I'd heard of these when I was in Rhode Island a few years back. Basically, "package store" became a euphemism for "liquor store" during the Prohibition era -- which was unfortunate at the time because we needed boxes. Coffeeville looked like things hadn't changed much since then, so I guess it's not really much of a surprise to find it here.
I drove South until I hit the I-55. I figured I should get a taste of local color, so I started fishing around the radio dial for talk radio. One show was a minister giving advice to people. Another was a panel of three Republicans talking about the health care bill. One complaint I remember was that it allowed for a medical facility to be set up on school grounds. This led them to the conclusion that the bill was going to be used to put Planned Parenthood at every elementary school so they could teach your kids about abortion.
and then decided to turn around...
On the way South, I noticed a sign on the opposite side of the road and resolved to check it out on the way back.
This one, in particular, was at the start of a road that promised a lake. I figured it'd be worth a look, but honestly, the lake was pretty pathetic -- not even worth a picture.
I eventually returned that evening and spoke for a bit with Rebecca's roommate about New Orleans -- she used to live there. She mentioned a couple of places to go and where the Katrina damage was the worst. I did some quick research on the net and got to bed quickly, resolving to set out early the next morning.