Phone booth inspires in Oxford

Published 6:00 am Sunday, March 27, 2016

As the city of Oxford prepares for the upcoming Double Decker Arts Festival, an event with a British-inspired theme, that will be held April 22-23, it’s time to revisit another British-themed Oxford icon — the red telephone booth on the Square in front of City Hall.

The town of Oxford was named after Oxford, England, so it’s only fitting that it has a double-decker bus and a red phone booth.

According to a previous Oxford EAGLE article, Oxford resident John Valentine originally purchased the red phone booth while he was serving as a U.S. Air Force colonel in Oxford, England. He shipped it back to Mississippi, and it was donated to the city.

Oxford Building and Grounds Superintendent Billy Lamb said the booth was added to the Oxford Square on Aug. 30, 1995.

According to worldlibrary.org, the red telephone kiosk, or public telephone, was a familiar sight on the streets of the U.K. “The color red was chosen to make it easy to spot,” the article reads.

The first red telephone kiosk was introduced in 1920.

Today, you’ll find Oxford’s red telephone booth listed on geocashing websites.

Photos of it are popularly pinned on Pinterest, and it is a favorite of photographers.

Michele McCormic Photography features a picture of the booth and describes it as a “British-style old fashioned phone booth on Oxford Square that is a little-used, but functional.”

A business called Crooked Letter Photography also features pictures of the red phone booth.

The blog “Three Friends and a Fork” recently published pictures of the writer’s visit to Oxford and pictures of the red phone booth.

Erin Briscoe, owner of Olive Juice Gifts at 305 S. Lamar Blvd., sold a number of Oxford-themed ornaments at Christmastime, including one of a double-decker bus and a red phone booth.

The phone booth also  has served as an inspiration to local artists. The seller MementoDesign on Etsy created an original woodcut print of the red phone booth.

“I drew this woodcut while in Oxford, Mississippi,” she wrote. “There is a wonderful old phone booth on the Square, and I was inspired by the color, scenery and vintage quality to the Square.”

About LaReeca Rucker

LaReeca Rucker is a writer, reporter and adjunct journalism instructor at the University of Mississippi's Meek School of Journalism and New Media.

A veteran journalist with more than 20 years of experience, she spent a decade at the Gannett-owned Clarion-Ledger - Mississippi's largest daily newspaper - covering stories about crime, city government, civil rights, social justice, religion, art, culture and entertainment for the paper's print and web editions. She was also a USA Today contributor.

This year, she received a first place award from the Mississippi Press Association for “Best In-Depth Investigative Reporting.” The story written in 2014 for The Oxford Eagle chronicles the life of a young mother with two sons who have epilepsy, and details how she is patiently hoping legalized cannabis oil experimentation will lead to a cure for their disorder.

Her website is www.lareecarucker.com.

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