Aberdeen -- Columbus -- Amory May 7, 2009

How about a day-trip to the cities of Aberdeen, Columbus, Amory?

We took the old Highway 45 route into Aberdeen – driving by Ernie’s, a hamburger joint that used to have the best frozen custard in the world. Memories...always tied to good food and good friends.

One of the first signs that caught our attention was on a little shop called Monogram Magic. Monogramming...something that we both love to do. It looked like a neat place to get some gifts, and, boy, we weren’t disappointed! The store was crowded with baby gifts, little girls’ dresses, shoes, purses, jewelry, and things to monogram.

August of 1929 postcard of Commerce Street in Aberdeen -- costs a penny to mail it!

Aberdeen has beautiful tree-lined streets and some of the prettiest antebellum houses in the state.The downtown area still needs some spit and polish, but we drove around a while and then went on to Columbus, home to Mississippi University for Women. What a beautiful place and campus! Susan was a student there for the first two years of college - back when the place was known as MSCW.

Susan – I’ll take us on this little jaunt down memory lane. There is a new – very pretty – entrance to the ‘W’ now. At least, I don’t remember there having been one before. I hadn’t been back in at least 15 years, and the last time I was there, I was struck by how gorgeous it was. In fact, I was stunned by what a beautiful campus it was. I was stunned this time too, but this time it was because it looked so different.

Most all of the dorms that I remember from forty years ago are still there – Fant, for instance. It’s looking old, but doesn’t seem to be in bad condition. The old sophomore dorms over by the former dining hall (Shattuck Hall) are empty and in poor shape – Shattuck’s empty too. The two sophomore dorms were among the newer dorms when I was there, and it seems odd that Fant – which was ancient even when I was there – is still used, and not the two high rises. The old house on campus – possibly the president’s house? – is deserted as well and that really is a shame – it’s gorgeous and should be saved. Apparently, there was a tornado that touched down on campus a few years back, and it did a good bit of damage. They’ve done some nice landscaping, but it’s obviously new and doesn't have that old- growth look that made the campus look so elegant.

We ate at the Goose, the college’s snack bar, because the cafeteria was closed. Anyway, the Goose has changed very little since I first saw it on a Girl Scout trip in 1960 – it has been expanded a bit, but the general layout and the mailboxes are the same. After lunch, we headed toward the back of campus to see the Magnolia, the private dorm. It was fairly new when I was there, and was the lap of luxury. The lap of luxury is gone. I don’t know why, but there’s not a brick left. They’ve built some new dorms at the back of campus – nondescript high rises. They’ve also built new facades on some buildings that are too modern for what used to be a stately old campus. The whole campus seems to be fenced in, and I get the feeling it’s a security fence rather than a decorative one. Marian may have thought it was beautiful, having never seen it before, and maybe I would too if I had never been there, but for me it was kind of a depressing experience.
Downtown Columbus is beautiful, beautiful, beautiful – I give it 4 stars. The buildings have been updated with bright paint, awnings, and ironwork. Boutiques, clothing stores, a cafe, a coffee shop, and a consignment shop – just to name a few places to shop/see downtown. I think Columbus has done it right on their downtown revitalization plan.

Going west from Columbus we took Highway 82 to Highway 45 Alternate to an interesting-looking antique shop just north of the Egypt community. (This is one of those places that I have always wanted to stop when Barry and I return from the coast, but testosterone doesn't stop for shopping.) This store has a beautiful building with many, many antiques, but, they close a bit early (4:00) and we felt rushed to complete our “tour” before the doors closed behind us.

Hey, we still had some daylight left, and, so on to Amory! I remembered a previous trip to Amory to visit a garden full of irises…and we spent quite a bit of time driving through the residential area looking for the house. Although we never found the house, we certainly didn't waste our time – honestly – this town is beautiful! The homes – while they are not antebellum – have been lovingly restored, and the gardens are beautiful! Also, we found the old depot and an interesting log cabin that both had already closed for the day.

Hunger and lack of daylight made us give up on the iris-yard, but not on Amory....so, we drove through the downtown area looking for dinner. The young lady we asked highly recommended the Wilson's Family Restaurant – she may have been a relative, but heck, she knew her country food!

The restaurant was pretty empty when we went in, but, the aroma of home cooking was enough to make us realize that this place was for us. There was a buffet of chopped steak, gravy, green beans, salad, cornbread – food was just like Grandma used to cook. The atmosphere was welcoming and down home. (They host a music and singing program on Thursday nights – and, by the time we left, we could tell that it was very well attended.)

I asked the waitress what they added to the ground beef to make the chopped steak taste so good? She got the sweet lady who did the cooking to come out to talk to us. She said that the steak had no fillers, nothing was added except fresh ground beef (they grind it themselves fresh everyday)...she packed the beef tightly and grilled the steaks before they added them to the pan of gravy. One more hint was – don't turn the steaks too much and don't press down on the cooking patties. I've tried her “recipe” but the secret must be in the fresh meat – or it could be the years of experience.

For desert they offered homemade peach cobbler on the buffet and the cook sent us out some of her special chocolate cobbler. Wow!

We got back to Tupelo around 7:30 – and went for a 3 mile walk.

One major note: Amory is somewhere that we have to re-visit. There are many, many things that we have missed and, heck, Wilson's Family Restaurant serves home cooking almost every night.


  1. Up until a few years ago, Fant was being used as the girls' dorm for MSMS. It seems as though Peyton (which was the boys' dorm) was abandoned by the MSMS folks after one of the hurricanes. I don't think they had the funds to repair it at that time, so they moved back to one of dorms near the 'gravel pit'. The girls have since followed suit. That doesn't explain WHY the W is still using Fant, but last I'd heard the MSMS folks were planning to move back to Fant and Peyton at some point.

  2. Funny, I found this blog some three years later trying to find out what happened and why Magnolia Dorm was torn down. It was such a nice dorm back in the late 60s. Still wish I knew why it was torn down.

    I graduated from the "W" in 1968. It was a beautiful campus then, and two weeks ago it still was. I don't know what you found depressing, because I left there feeling really good seeing the new buildings mixed in with the older ones. I lived in Fant as a Freshman, one of the sophomore dorms, and then moved to the back of the campus to Jones and another dorm my junior and senior years. What struck me most about the campus was it looked smaller to me then it did when I was 18. I am now 65. I didn't remember Fant being so close to the "Goose."

    Depressing no. I could never say that about the "W." I have too many wonderful memories and friends from there to ever say anything but good things about it. I saw the students walking around campus, and it made me feel very good about my old school. And finally since you obviously don't know, most smaller schools have fences around them now for safety reasons. This a sign of the times we live in today compared to when I was there in the 60s.

  3. Hi. So sorry this was the only W post you saw - but rest assured we have been back and realize all is well. I started the W in '68, so we just missed each other, but we saw the same lovely campus. I didn't go back for some 20 years, but when I did I was stunned by how gorgeous the campus was. It looked like an ivy league college. I think that's why it struck me so hard in '09 - while Marian thought it was nice, I knew what it "should" have looked like. It was a mess in '09. A total mess of abandoned buildings, little landscaping, and just generally poor upkeep. I think there had been a tornado a few months before (or something, I'm not sure as I don't live in MS anymore and can't keep up), and the damage on top of what were apparently some really lean financial years was heartbreaking. I just couldn't believe it. It disturbed me so much that we went back in December 2011 and I hope you'll read that post. It was such a relief to see that the prettiest campus in the state (okay, just my opinion, but I really think it is) is still alive and well. Thanks for reading, Susan

  4. B,
    I also never found out what happened to the Mag, although I have asked quite a few people. I got to live there in summer school and it was a real treat. In my regular school years I lived in The Club and Taylor and loved both of them too.