Arlon and Ouida Cox recently had a rare public showing of their extensive collection of pottery in a restored historic home in Fulton out east of Tupelo, in the home called The Cedars, also known as the Gates-Gaither house.
Arlon and Ouida have been working on their collection for about 15 years. And they are pretty specific about the type pottery they collect.
“Primarily from South Itawamba County and North Monroe County. A little of it was made maybe in the late 1800s most of it from 1900 up to 1950 or something of that nature,” said Arlon.
Arlon had Ouida have learned a great deal about North East Mississippi Pottery. For instance, why so much of it was made there.
“The availability of clay," added Arlong. "There was clay in this part of the country.”
Back a hundred years ago it was a pretty extensive industry, too. Lots of people and families made a living making pottery.
“It was made to be used. But they were also making art at the same time," said Arlon. "And we enjoy the art aspect of it and history.”
Since it WAS made to be used, it is rather hard to find because a lot of it was broken in daily ware. Ouida says she has had to be especially protective of their collection.
"We try to not break them and kept our grand children out of them when they was little," said Ouida. "They didn’t bother them.”
Here’s a unique piece for you. Made in Smithville in 1917. And etched in the glaze is an order to Sears and Roebuck for a watch and a watchband.
Arlon and Ouida get to do this hobby together. And it’s the prospect of what they may find tomorrow that keeps them going.
“Some of this stuff is extremely hard to locate and find," said Arlon. "And you can find it and the family may not sell it. You never know when you’re going to find something, you know.”
That’s pretty much the same attitude that keeps me on the road all the time. You never know WHAT you’re going to run across next.