Libby snoring

Libby snoring

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Old Oxford Municipal Airport and Airport Grocery

 I ran across a WPA properties listing on the MDAH Historic Resources Inventory months ago, which listed the (old) Oxford Airport, and a description of the work as "original building."  I had naively assumed it was the airport near the university, and went out one day to locate the "original building" only to find nothing that remotely resembled anything built in the 1930s.  While working on research today, I just typed old municipal airport Oxford Mississippi into Google, and what popped up?  Paul Freeman's great site Abandoned and Little Known Airfields: Northwestern Mississippi.  That is more information about the old Municipal Airport constructed by the Works Progress Administration (and its current use) than I have been able to find searching for weeks and weeks.  According to Mr. Freeman, the hangar was remodeled in 2011 by adding new siding and raising the roof.  The building in the left foreground would most likely be that original hangar, based on the pre-2011 photographs provided on the website.

Do you know how many times I have driven past this location (south of Oxford on Highway 7, just past the 9W cutoff toward Water Valley) in the years from 2003-2011?  Me neither, but there I was driving past history with no idea what I was seeing.
 The windsock remains at one of the sites of a former runway.  Freeman indicates the first reference to the airfield was in the 1937 Airport Directory, which also described construction of a new runway in progress.  The 1967 Minute Book No. 23, City of Oxford City Council meetings minutes recorded that the city owned the old airport property on Murray Creek (p. 195) which runs behind this view of the airfield site, along the tree line visible.  Freeman reported the old airport closed sometime between 1965-82, for unknown reasons.  The minutes would support at least prior to 1967.
 Freeman also mentioned the Airport Grocery across the highway.  Because there is no other building directly across the road from the site that could be a structure that old, I concluded that the old "Mary's Grocery" which was still operational for a while after we moved here in 2003 is the old Airport Grocery.
 Remember when service racks were located outside, next door to a "filling station?"  We even spotted one that is still operational in Van Buren, Arkansas a few years ago, outside and next to an old Shell station.
Does anyone else remember Marilyn Chambers, the mother pictured on the box of Ivory Snow?  If you do, you'll know why I asked the question using this photograph.  Shhh....it dates us.

6 comments:

Beth said...

I know that we flew into Oxford in the summer of 1967. If I remember correctly it was on Southern Airways (a little prop plane, maybe a DC-3?) and I'm pretty sure it was into this airport. The location sounds about right. I seem to remember that it closed a few years later.

Suzassippi said...

Thanks for the corroborating of the timeline! Where was the departure?

nmisscommenter said...

The airport in this post was always a grass strip. While it was still in use for years after the opening of the Oxford - University airport in its present location, it was not used much. The Oxford - University airport in use by September of 1962, which I am sure of because that is where the US Airborne units flew in at the time of the Meredith crisis. I have a vivid recollection of going to the airport and seeing the planes, wingtip to wingtip, the length of the runway. I am sure any commercial flights were coming into Oxford at that airport then and thereafter, and remember going to meet a Southern DC-3 (which seemed big to me at the time!) there when a relative flew in.

The grocery you id'd is the old airport grocery. The airport is also closely associated with the flying experience of William Faulkner and his brother Dean, who died in an airplane accident in the late 30s. In Dean's daughter's memoir, she describes having heard her mother talk of hearing Dean, returning from Memphis, fly over their house in town as a signal to go down to the airport to get him.

I remember the old airport building, and am unsure when it was demolished. I'm guessing possibly as late as the 80s. The windsock you saw is because radio control airplane hobbyists use a part of the strip for flying model planes.

Beth said...

I had the year and the airline correct, but I was in the wrong place!

Suzassippi said...

I did read on Paul Freeman's website about the model airplane use of the field. I thought it might also be used a landing strip for private planes, but apparently not. Back when I used to fly small planes, the last grass strip we landed on was a small private strip in Elbert, Texas, which was owned by a family member. I thought my grandmother had told them we were flying in, but turns out she had not. Before we even taxied to a stop, my cousin was over there to find out who was landing on his strip. :) We flew into a lot of grass and gravel runways, but that was back in my former life!

Suzassippi said...

I did read on Paul Freeman's website about the model airplane use of the field. I thought it might also be used a landing strip for private planes, but apparently not. Back when I used to fly small planes, the last grass strip we landed on was a small private strip in Elbert, Texas, which was owned by a family member. I thought my grandmother had told them we were flying in, but turns out she had not. Before we even taxied to a stop, my cousin was over there to find out who was landing on his strip. :) We flew into a lot of grass and gravel runways, but that was back in my former life!