Spending the night at the gas pump

One More Time — Comment and Observation — By Joe Lee III

     A few Saturdays ago, the Boss of the House and I spent the night in the Gulf Service Station on the corner of University and Lamar in Oxford.
     I dare say she was more impressed than she would have been if I had told a half-century ago as I was pumping gas into a green and white ‘59 Chevy in that very location, “Stick with me Babe, and someday you’ll get to spend the night right on this corner!”
     To declare things were different back then would be an understatement. Ole Miss co-eds could not wear shorts on campus. Even a majorette could not walk to band practice in her uniform. The BOH had to wear a trench coat cover when walking from her dorm to Rebelette practice.      Ironically, those same majorettes could wear the same uniform on the field in front of thousands and on national television.
     Female students had to be in their dorm room at 10:30 on week nights. They could stay out until midnight on Saturday night. Virtually all students were required to live on campus; frequently three living in a dilapidated old room designed for two. Air conditioning? Not on your life. If someone had suggested a co-ed dorm, he would have been laughed out of town.
     Things are different at Ole Miss now.
     Things are different in Oxford, too. Back then your dining choices were the Cream Cup, the Beacon, the Mansion, the Ole Miss Drive-In, Mistilis’, and — of course — Kiamie’s.
     Kiamie’s was just about the only thing you saw when you left town on two-lane Highway 6 headed to Batesville. I remember the chili.
     There was a small “meat and three” eatery downtown labeled “Dirty Charlie’s” by the students. It wasn’t dirty, and I don’t think the owners name was Charlie, but the home cooking was good.
Motels were limited. You could spend the night at the Ole Miss Motel, the Mansel Motel, or the Alumni House.
     On game day, if you had a motor home, you could in the grove, and park it next to a tree to tailgate.
     The Gulf Service Station on the corner of University and Lamar had one major problem. If you pulled in headed west you could never get a full tank, due to the steep incline.
     It’s all changed now. The Gulf station is now the Chancellor’s House hotel — a five star hotel about as nice as any in which we have stayed. It is amazing what the architect accomplished on such a small footprint. The place has a comfortable patio on which to watch the early morning Oxford activity (or write columns for newspapers). There’s a relaxing library complete with overstuffed chairs and a roaring fireplace. A big bar with ample television. A fine dining room. A rooftop bar for private parties. Underground parking topped with 13 suites and 18 rooms ranging from 500 to 1,000 square feet. Did I mention the place is elegant?
     Our room was extremely nice, and reminded us of the Fairmont at the Vancouver, BC, airport. It was almost identical in layout.
     The place is not cheap, but if you go on a non-football weekend, as did we, it can run about $220 plus tax.
     Oxford is better on a non-football weekend, any way. You can actually get around.
     The staff at the Chancellor’s House is top notch.
     You won’t go hungry in Oxford. Today there must be 100 eateries, maybe 150. The Chancellor’s House alone boasts six separate dining and beverage areas, including a full-service restaurant, a great bar, a library, and a tearoom.
     You can still eat at the Beacon, but the Cream Cup, the Mansion, Mistilis’, Dirty Charlie’s, the Ole Miss Drive-in and Kiamie’s are just fond memories.
     Another fond memory is the Ole Miss Rebels. They were national champions back then.