I grew up in Oxford during the late ‘60s and worked construction during the summer. One day I was working with Mr. Al, one of the carpenters, and we were headed to the lumber company to pick up supplies. The errand took us through the town square where he stopped his truck in the middle of the street and pointed to the side of one of the buildings. He asked me if I’d ever seen the deer head in the window. He told me that his granddaddy showed it to him when he was a boy. Mr. Al wasn’t a spring chicken when he pointed the deer head out to me and I’m guessing his granddaddy showed it to him in the 1920s or ‘30s.
Later in life, when I was learning about photography, I took this image for two reasons. 1) Mr. Al had pointed it out to me almost 20 years earlier and, 2) my Daddy drank coffee there every morning with his buddies. Smitty’s Restaurant had long had a reputation for having the best breakfast and plate lunch anywhere. As luck would have it the building was renovated two weeks after I took the photograph and the Smitty’s sign and deer head were torn down. This image is a favorite print at arts & craft shows, especially the ones in Oxford. I can’t tell you how many former Ole Miss students comment on the photography and how much they loved to eat at Smitty’s. Some even comment to their spouse, “John, do you have any idea how many times we ate breakfast there dressed in the same clothes we had on when you picked me up the night before?”
— Oxford native Joe Mac Hudspeth, Jr. is a wildlife photographer. He lives in Brandon, Mississippi.