BY SARAH CAMPBELL
’Twas the night before syllabus, when all through Ole Miss not a Rebel was stirring, not even a fish; The branches hung low from the oaks in the Grove With hopes that its students would be back in droves; The frat boys were nestled all snug in their beds; While visions of beauty queens danced in their heads; And daddy with bourbon, and I with my tea, Had just settled our brains for a nightly reprieve, When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter, I sprang from my seat to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash, Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the autumn below, Gave a shadow reflection to objects in tow, When what to my wondering eyes did appear, But an SEC football team chanting their cheers, With a little old colonel so lively and quick, I knew in a moment this must be a trick. More rapid than eagles his players they came, And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name: “Run, Bridges! Run, Treadwell! Run Shephard and Hampton!
Go, Elston! Go, Johnson! Go, Kincade and Walton!
To the top of the stairs! to the top of the wall!
Now step it up! step it up! step it up tall!”
As leaves that before the wild hurricane fly, When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky; So up to the bleachers the athletes they flew With their hearts full of hope, and that southern pride, too— And then, in a twinkling, I heard by the gate The tapping and tightening of tailgate tent stakes.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around, Down the drive Rebel Black Bear arrived with a bound.
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot, And his face seemed to say for us all to stay put; A bundle of poms he had flung on his back, And he looked like a pedler just opening his pack.
His eyes—how they twinkled! his dimples, how charming!
His cheeks were like pine straw, his nose so disarming!
His sly little mouth was drawn up like a bow, And the fuzz on his chin was as black as a crow; The foam finger prop he held high in the air, And let go of the poms, “Catch one now if you dare!”
He gave a great speech to embolden our souls That woke us all up like a 50-yard field goal.
He was loyal and true, colonel’s partner in crime And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of the time; A wink of his eye and a twist of his head Soon gave me to know it was past time for bed; He spoke many words, but when it got late, He motioned goodnight to me and my mate, And after the yell, his throat all but parched, He gave me a nod; up Lamar street he marched; He caught up to the boys, to his team gave a whistle, And away they all ran like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight— “Hotty Toddy to all, and to all a good night!”
(Sarah Campbell is an adjunct instructor at the University of Mississippi School of Education and a virtual school coordinator for Oxford High School.)