Mississippi State is currently in the center of a college controversy regarding noise makers at football games. Many Bulldog fans have protested the ban of cow bells at State games, a device officials say interferes with too much with the game.
There’s one dedicated family of Bulldog fans in Clay County that won’t mind the NCAA’s ban.
Lisa Rhea, her husband Roger and her two children, Brittany and Roger Jr. enjoy the peaceful life. They like the laid back tranquility of the country, and it is on the family’s 1280 acre Red Oaks Farms that the Rhea’s have chosen the spot of their Mississippi State fan bus.
While many fans like to take their fan vehicles up to Davis Wade Stadium and tailgate before football games, the Rhea clan prefers the serenity of a clear lake, surrounded by the sounds of nature.
“We’re not real ritzy folks,” Lisa Rhea said, as she gave a tour of the recently renovated bus on Wednesday morning. “We’re down home and laid back.”
The old West Point school district bus was gifted to the Rhea’s about a year ago.
“We were going to scrap it,” Rhea said, “but we decided to take it and form it into this.”
Rhea says that she recalls the bus being driven when she was a child, and the name of its driver, Mary Ward, is still etched into the dash board behind where the steering wheel once jutted out.
What used to be the mode of transportation for many West Point children for the round-trip from home to school is now the site of rest and relaxation for whoever enjoys getting away from city sounds for a few hours.
Over the last five months, the family has worked to get the bus ready for the Fall football season. Everything about the bus reflects the Rhea’s undying love for Mississippi State athletics. Along with that, it is a reflection of the family’s adoration of antiques and rustic furniture.
Brittany, a senior at Hebron Christian School, is credited with the idea of redoing the old transit mobile.
“My daughter told us to take the wheels off and do it up a little,” Rhea said. “We said, since we’re Bulldog fans, let’s do it up Bulldog style.”
As loyal as they are to MSU, the Rhea’s are just as dedicated to keeping as much of the modern world out of their lives. The maroon and white paint, coupled with the small radio playing classic country music, are as modern as things get in this country fan bus.
“I told them that we should come up with something rustic and down home,” Rhea said.
Roger Jr., a second grade student at Churchill School, has also helped in the bus’ renovation.
Nothing inside the bus is randomly laid about. Each piece of rustic history, right down to the smallest drawing, is carefully placed.
Instead of rows of seats, a painting of West Point’s Smith Street, a drawing done by Columbus native Meg Powell, is propped up against the right wall of the bus. Further down, an old milk churner stands up next to the card table.
Mississippi State clocks and banners hang on the wall above the windows. One antique clock is made completely from Bois d’arc tree.
Below the feet lays the old floor of bus number six that Rhea says will soon be wood.
“We’ve got the wood cut for this already,” she said, adding that all of the wood was cut from their land, in their own saw mill. “My husband and I have been married for 30 years, and there’s nothing that he can’t do with wood.”
On Wednesday morning, the bus’ loan radio was still blaring from the previous night, when Rhea said that the kids were down there kicking back. Though the family is busy with school and farming during most weekdays, the bus provides a good weekend getaway, just a couple of miles from the family home.
“We’re down here most every weekend,” Rhea said. “We have it set up where you can camp, fish or grill out.”
Directly beside the bus is recently tilled ground, done by Lisa Rhea herself. She says that when the Spring comes around, it will be transformed into a flower garden.
She also said that the family is going to add another bus to the set up very soon. She says she hoping to fill it with more antiques.
“It’s amazing how much room is one of these things, when you take out the seats and the steering wheel,” Rhea said.
With only the faintest roar of a lone car on Rock Road, the Rhea’s won’t have any problem with noise makers when it comes to Mississippi State football this season.