Old times there are not forgotten, only updated
By By Buddy Bynum / editor
June 29, 2003
Having just returned from a rejuvenating sojourn to my college stomping grounds that would be The University of Mississippi in Oxford I can now state for the record: It's time for Col. Rebel to go.
And it has nothing to do with race.
The cartoon character of an old Southern gentleman leaning on a cane, whether wearing a Delta planter's hat or a football helmet, never did much for me. With or without Col. Rebel, I couldn't have cheered any harder for the team. I couldn't have discovered a greater treasure than my days on campus. I couldn't have enjoyed the company of the wonderful people I met at Ole Miss any more than I have over the intervening years.
And, frankly, I've never been able to understand even in the gentile South why Ole Miss used a weak-looking athletic symbol that came from a cartoonist's pen. Okay, maybe I do.
My only problem, a tiny little thing, is the timing of Col. Rebel's banishment. Could it be that we'll lose Col. Rebel, Strom Thurmond and Chip Pickering all at the same time?
Are the stars misaligned? Or is all this another sign that Mississippi and America have changed.
For a more sobering look at the decision Pickering faces, see the editorial in the left column of this page.
As for Col. Rebel, his time has gone.
Sen. Strom Thurmond, the South Carolina Republican and longest serving member of the Senate who died Thursday night at age 100, also faced changing times.
As I wrote in an editorial in Saturday's paper, his record in public life was a reflection of the times in which he lived. In a century of life, one should expect changes and Thurmond while he never reinvented himself into what his political critics may have wanted always stood firm for a set of principles.
And yet, he was able to change, as the editorial said, "Just as the nation shed many of its worst racial practices, so did he alter his views, one signal of that being his support for black judicial nominees when that was still rare among Southern senators."
In short, he quit fighting the wrong fight on the political front, just as Ole Miss is doing on the educational front.
Now, on to a completely different subject.
The other week I was writing about hopes and dreams that the old Threefoot Building in Meridian would be restored. Plans are under way to do that.
I mentioned that my family dentist, Dr. Winter W. Dawson, had his offices there. A few days later I heard from his widow, Helen Dawson, and put her letter in the paper.
Today, I am happy to say I have also heard from Dr. Dawson's son, Thomas W. Dawson, assistant U.S. Attorney and senior litigation counsel for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi.
That's also in Oxford.
He graciously wrote that my piece had brought back familiar memories of a man with a kind and gentle nature who went out of his way to calm the fears of children and adults who had to visit his office.
Mr. Dawson also provided background on his father which I did not know, and I am grateful to him for the following:
What a touching rest-of-the-story. Thank you, Mr. Dawson.