Mississippi living gets into your bones

Published 9:23 am Wednesday, September 13, 2023

By Les Ferguson, Jr.

My family moved to Vicksburg when I was 12. It was initially a temporary move for ministry that ultimately became Mississippi permanent. 

Dad was born and raised in the Delta – and like the rest of the state, this area has more than its fair share of colorful names. How about Booger Den and Possum Holler?

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Dad had always wanted his kids to be blessed with a Mississippi heritage. And it has been a blessing. Except for six years in Uncle Sam’s Navy, my entire adult life has been in our oft maligned, but beautiful state. 

When I finished my enlistment, I moved back to Vicksburg. Three years later the ministry took me to Laurel and three years after that to Gulfport. 

I spent 14 years on the coast. I relished the rhythms of a laid-back coastal vibe. 

Wade fishing for speckled trout and net casting for mullet (colloquially known as Biloxi Bacon) was loads of fun. Mississippi coastal living was a jewel. 

Unfortunately, Hurricane Katrina was a fly in the ointment, and our family tragedy certainly took the shine off. 

From Gulfport, I moved back to Vicksburg and then an unexpected return to ministry saw us move to Madison. 

And for the last four years, we have lived here in Lafayette County. While I understand that old-time Oxford residents would see us as newcomers, we’ve tried to match the rhythms of this fair city.  

Shortly after our arrival, a friend endeavored to introduce me to old Oxford. I ate at Handy Andy’s, the Beacon, and Pizza Den. 

In time, I saw the locks on the fence at the airport overlook. I’ve been to Rowan Oak. One of these days I’m going to find my way to Faulkner’s grave. 

One can’t mention all those different places and not include the Square. If I had to do it all over again, I’d move to Oxford for the Square alone. Such a gem we get to enjoy.

And then there’s Ole Miss. As a lifelong State fan, I didn’t quite know what to expect living in the heart of Hotty Toddy land. At one point I laughingly said I was a missionary to a foreign country. 

Now I have kids who’ve graduated from both schools. And thanks to Rebel Rags, there is probably more Ole Miss gear in my closet than anything with State on it. 

For my State friends, don’t worry, I still turn the channel when it’s time for State to play. 

Hail State and Fins Up! It doesn’t get any better than this. 

In writing a love letter to Oxford and Lafayette County, I must include my church family who has embraced us, loved us, and cheered us on.

As for my family, we are at home. Kids may move away. Life will most certainly change. But this place? It gets into your bones. 

If you’ve always lived here, learn to see this unique place with new and grateful eyes. 

If you are new here, as a relative newcomer myself, allow me the privilege of saying “Welcome Home.”

Come see me – whether at work or home, there’s always coffee to be had and words to encourage. 

“A house is built by wisdom, and it is established by understanding; by knowledge the rooms are filled with every precious and beautiful treasure.” Proverbs‬ 24‬:3‬-4‬ CSB‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Les Ferguson, Jr., is minister at the Oxford Church of Christ. Write to him at lfergusonjr@gmail.com