The New York Times published this article about the tailgating spectacle that is the Grove on Ole Miss football weekends. I have always been more interested in the football than that scene, even when the team is not good, but it is familiar to me.

‚ÄúPlus you start thinking of the political influence here. Homecoming of last year, Senators Lott and Cochran were both here, and Governor Barbour. It’s pretty powerful.”

I remember meeting Trent Lott in the Grove back in 1988 during his first Senate campaign. We shook hands, and I got a bumper sticker. He won over McCombite Wayne Dowdy. Back then, Dowdy supporters cut up Trent Lott bumper stickers and stuck the pieces back together to read “Not Lott.” Lott won anyway. He used to sit just a little down and over from us at the games. I saw him last year in Square Books with John McCain, who was signing books.

My favorite memory from when they used to let cars in the Grove is Monkey Business. At least, I think that was its name. I remember seeing an art car at one game that was a big Sedan DeVille, or maybe a Fleetwood Brougham, with dayglo paintings of monkeys, trees and bananas all over it along with a few bunches of bananas on strings hanging from it. I remember being excited when I saw the same car again at the end of a PBS show on art cars. Through the magic of the intarwebs, I found that the movie must have been Wild Wheels. I wrote filmmaker Harrod Blank asking about the car.

I believe that the article is misleading on one point. The rioting in 1962 centered around the Lyceum, the oldest building at Ole Miss. It faces the Circle, but not the Grove. Considering that thousands of people converged on campus, however, I am sure that the Grove was involved. I heard that in one of the worst battles, somebody climbed up on the Confederate monument at the entrance to the Circle and acted as general directing the rioters. From one account (PDF HTML) I read, I figured out that it must have been Edwin Walker, who seems to have been quite an unusual person who also played a big role in the Central High riots on the other side.

Update October 1: Harrod Blank wrote me back. The car was called monkeyshines. It was repainted several years ago. He remembered it well because it was made by his mother and her girlfriend. I found this article about it. The photograph, disappointingly, is black and white.

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Michael M. on September 30th 2006 in General

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States.