Look Around Mississippi: Oktoc Community Club - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Oktoc 07/17/07

Look Around Mississippi: Oktoc Community Club

In a little area called Oktoc, near Starkville, they've never gotten away from the basics of community -- they have the oldest community club in the state. They've met every month for over 980 months. And if you don't have a calculator handy, that puts it back to 1927. And right now, they're stronger than ever.

You can't get roots that run much deeper than those of the Oktoc community in Oktibbeha County. The name itself is Native American, meaning "prairie." The abundance of dairies in the area attests to the topography being more open than forested.

And Robinson Road runs right through it, one of the oldest roads in the state. It was established as a military route between Columbus and Jackson before the 1820s. At the corner of Oktoc Road and Robinson Road is the Oktoc Community Center. Meeting in an old school house and an old church house joined together better than 70 years ago.

Fred Blocker was one of the charter members of the Oktoc Community Club. He says, "The purpose of it is a social club. Have a good time and draw the people closer together. Back in the early days it was sponsored and pushed by the extension department, the county agent. They made about five or six clubs around the county."

They had speakers every month that brought a wealth of information from outside. William Self says he saw his first movie at the community club. And he says it has kept the community glued together: "One farmer would get behind, or that farmer would be ill, and other farmers would come and get the crops in and take care of that farmer in that time of stress."

It was the automobile that started a decline of the club decades ago, along with a decline in the little churches and the one room school house. But the club always met, never missing a month in all those years since March of 1927. But now, it's the automobile that's brought the club back to life.

Now, it's more than just the people within a mile or so who attend. And with folks moving out of the cities and into the country for a simpler life, the popularity of the Oktoc Community Club rivals the old days once again. The Community Club brought awareness of the world to Oktoc. And is now bringing Oktoc to the awareness of more and more people in northeast Mississippi.

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