Monday, October 6, 2008

Mrs. Mize

If the students at Vanderbilt had a mother protector during our years on campus, it was probably Mrs. Claude Mize, who operated The Southerner Liquor Store at 1610 Church Street near campus. The only other person who would come close would be Mrs. John Rotier, who operated Rotier's Restaurant on Elliston Place.

Both women had special profiles in the CENTENNIAL COMMODORE our senior year.

Here are a few excerpts from the story on Mrs. Mize and the interview it contained:

"Vanderbilt has been very good to me. I depend on the Vanderbilt student. Even when my son went to Alabama to college, he always tried to get me to root for Alabama, but I always root for Vanderbilt...I helped one student pay his tuition and he sent it back to me eight months later."

"I get invited to lots of parties and affairs at Vanderbilt. I did go to one big party and they made me feel better than President Nixon at his re-election. They all yelled: "Hip, hip hooray, hip, hip, hooray, Mrs. Mize."

"Homecoming is usually my best time. I get to see all the old fellows I haven't seen for years. And some of them are the top Nashville people now. You know, celebrities."

"I appreciate the fact that girls are coming in now. They know they're free to come in and that they'll be taken care of just like everyone else. I enjoy this very much."

So 35 years later, what are your memories and stories about Mrs. Mize and The Southerner? Don't worry I am sure the statute of limitations has expired by now. Just click on the comments link below and tell us all about it. :)


Amy said...

I entered Vandy in Fall 1974 and was on staff at WRVU (doing the news) as well as working on the concerts committee. Your site is a GREAT trip down memory lane! We had concert performers who needed their checks cashed for road expenses, and we'd always take them down to the Southerner, where Ms. Mize was always happy to help. I used to do the poster run for the Exit/In and her store was always a stop. She had some pretty flashy diamond rings and was always a lovely and gracious lady.

Anonymous said...

Class of '71 and WRVU and WLAC employee. I just e-mailed a friend about my recollections of the lovely Ms. Mize and her contribution to my dementia:

Lord knows, I've made a few of those in my time! (Letting you get away was one of my bigger ones...)

Another one was in Nashville in 1967. Six of us, all brothers in the hallowed fraternity Beta Theta Pi, Beta Lambda Chapter, were crammed into Brother Russell Jones' Porsche 911 Targa. (Note how the name Jones makes frequent and significant appearances in my existence.) We were on our way to the Southernaire Liquor Store in downtown Nashburg to procure additional adult beverage in the form of a half-gallon of decent bourbon. We were all "In the Shop" as Mike Murphy used to say; the most sober amongst us was Joe Holt, a/k/a "Worm", who was 6'3", 140 lbs. Worm was in a delta stage coma, which meant he was elected to crawl into the store to confront Ms. Mize, the absolutely beautiful Crystal Gayle look-alike proprietress of the Southernaire. (The Divine Ms. M. would sell spirits to anyone who could get close to the counter, kindergartners and imbeciles notwithstanding and welcomed at all times.)

We stuffed a twenty dollar bill into Worm's mouth and sent him off on all fours to score the sour mash. He approached the sales counter, spat the "Jackson" in the direction of Ms. Mize's ample bosom, shouted in a pathetic and plaintiff voice "MORE WHISKEY!", vomited, then passed out cold.

The entity known as the Athens of the South stood silent in her entirety. Birds found surcease in their warbling; little girls auto-strangulated themselves on their jump ropes; little boys ran with scissors and shot themselves in both eyes with B-B guns. Composers wrote happy country songs. The Bible printing presses ground to a screeching, ink-smeared halt. Jesus wept. The third-scale Parthenon suffered a full-scale collapse. Corny Vanderbilt's little institute of higher learning changed its nickname from the Harvard of the South to the University of Phoenix offline. Thus always to commode doors. But I digress...

A toe tag would've come in rather handily for this quadrupedal comatose conundrum! Ms. M., who, for reasons unbeknownst to me held me in some special and ineluctable affection and esteem, stepped out of her viper's den of sin and inebriation and beckoned me, by name, to come thither. Always servile and obeisant, I complied.

I stumbled into the store and was handed an half-gallon of the finest Jack Black, the Elixir of Tennessee and the saviour of all mankind. I received a kiss on the forehead and an invitation to "come back soon, Sugar Pie!" Had I not been so inebriated, Ms. Mize would have had her hands and her glands full at that very moment! Instead, I veered into the parking lot, where Mean Ol' Mr. Gravity ripped the bottle from my hands and shattered it upon hot asphalt, where its contents evaporated and eviscerated the Ozone Layer. (Al Gore was close by, smoking a joint. Really!) I was too drunk to swear, but everyone in the Porsche spewed endless invective in my hapless and shameful direction!

What to do? I speak to you of miracles! Moments later, Ms. Mize dragged Worm by his lengthy and misshapen feet to the car. We crammed him atop the spare tire and probably did permanent neurological damage. Our Lady of Intoxicating Spirits ran into her store, then returned with a gratis bottle o' Jack! Jesu Christo! Madre de Dios! There IS a GOD!

Postscript: Ms. Mize had a loyal base of fifteen fraternities at Vanderbilt, whose average membership was 100 brothers per club. Each individual bought at least a fifth a week. You do the math, but one free bottle of bourbon was mere and insignificant shrinkage! All of us miss her still, and her gorgeous (and very wealthy) daughter. And I got over that hangover...