Day trip to Booker and Phillips like old times

Published 1:34 pm Wednesday, January 24, 2024

 By Harold Brummett

Denmark Star Route

A trip long planned was unexpectedly postponed so I took advantage of the open date to make another trip long discussed, but not taken.

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I called a couple of old friends late the night before to see if the short notice would be agreeable to leave the next morning for Holly Springs.The first leg was to the original Phillips Grocery restaurant located next to the railroad depot. The second stop was to Booker Hardware store.

The journey to Holly Springs passed as we talked of things old men speak about. I pointed out the store Betty Davis had moved out of the woods to the highway.

Waterford turn off was identified by one of the guys and he reminisced about the farm his family owned there years ago. We drove through the town that General Grant called to pretty to burn arriving at the railroad depot.

The historical sign there spoke of General Van Dorn’s raid on the supply warehouses and federal garrison located at the depot. The sign failed to mention the delay the raid caused in implementing Grant’s general order 11 expelling Jews from his military district. The depot is wonderful in its architecture and seethed with possibility of renewal and reuse for Holly Springs. According to the sign, the building was remodeled in 1886 to include 20 bedrooms and 125-seat dining room. The building is handsome and little imagination needed to picture a steam engine with travelers boarding passenger cars to Oxford and Water Valley.

We walked across the street to eat at Phillips Grocery. Founded in 1940 in a building predating the restaurant by decades, time slows as you walk through the door. The only thing lacking was a hand painted sign on the window advertising fried green tomatoes. The interior, lined with memorabilia from ages ago, was entertaining as we waited on our hamburgers, sandwiches and fries.

The fare reminded me of Winters restaurant on the Oxford square decades ago in my childhood. Perhaps the seasoning of good food and good friends brought back the memories.

The party moved then to the courthouse square and Booker Hardware. I enjoy this hardware store because I can walk into it and be transported back to Metts Hardware, Shaw and Sneed Hardware on the Oxford Square.

The hardwood floor is uneven and polished with a hundred years of foot traffic. The smell of paint, oil and turpentine greets you on entering.  Shelves are lined and packed with all the paraphernalia, equipment, and tools needed to make a house, barn or business work.

I came for the Case® knives. I carry a Case®, my father carried a Case®, and my uncle carried a Case®. The most comprehensive selection of Case® knives I know of resides inside the doors of Booker Hardware. My son had lost his Case® to the TSA when he inadvertently forgot to remove it from his pocket. A replacement was needed. While terrorists may use box cutters it is my belief that any man that carries a Case® pocket knife is morally incapable of using it to harm someone.

Lastly, we stopped at the Library as one of the guys great grandfather had been a legislator from Marshall County. The Library had microfiche copies of the old newspaper so he could research what his ancestor had been doing.

The return to Oxford was uneventful aside from the arguing we engaged in.  What we argued about is lost to me now, but the matter was important in the moment and enjoyable in the jousting.