Mitchell and Jolly discover shared history at the 77 Grill in Davis


Murray State College alumnus Howard Mitchell and Murray State College Board of Regents’ chair Steven Jolly have a lot in common.  They both enjoy stopping by the 77 Grill in Davis for coffee and conversation, but that’s about all they knew of one another until Mitchell noticed the Murray State College cap on Jolly’s head and started asking questions.

Come to find out, they both attended Murray State College and lived in the Haskell Lucas Hall dorm.   Yes, 30 years apart, but still the same dormitory and the same types of memories. Mitchell graduated from Murray State College in 1949, and Jolly followed in 1979.   

More than 70 years after graduation, at close to 91 years’ old, Mitchell still has vivid memories of time spent as a student in Stonewall and at Murray State.

Before he arrived at Murray, Mitchell was a standout basketball player for Stonewall High School, averaging 10-18 points per game.  He played all through high school in the #66 jersey and recalls the 1940s as a very different time.

“Gasoline wasn’t available like it is today and not approved for “unnecessary” travel.  I remember once when the team was scheduled to play in Tishomingo.  It was a haul from Stonewall and we weren’t sure how we’d get there.  Our coach met us at school in a cattle truck and loaded us up for the trip to Tish.  I can’t remember thinking it was unusual,” recalled Mitchell.

“It was better than when coach drove us all to Miami, Okla. in his own car – the whole team – and his car wasn’t that big!  We just did what we had to do because we wanted to play,” said Mitchell.

Another of Mitchell’s memories involves a basketball game in which most of the team fouled out during an important game.

“We were playing a really tough game and there were so many fouls.  We were down to three or four players left on the court when the referee pulled our coach aside.  All of the sudden, our coach was on the court lining up with us.  The ref had said if we wanted to finish the game, coach would have to play.  I can’t imagine that happening now,” said Mitchell.

When Mitchell was given a choice of jersey numbers at Murray, he chose #66 which had served him well in high school.  He lettered in athletics both years at Murray and had two letter jackets.  He modeled


Mitchell/Jolly at MSC                                                                                                                                           

one (it still fits) recently at the 77 Grill and reports that the other was lost to a college coed who promised to return it, but never did.

When Mitchell and Jolly first sat down to talk, they bonded over shared memories of Murray State, but quickly realized the connection went much deeper.  Mitchell, who was drafted into the U.S. Army during the Korean War, serving in Germany and Russia, remembered a friend named Dub from the military whose last name was also Jolly.

Turns out that Glenn “Dub” Jolly, who was in the 4th Division for Basic Training at Ft. Riley, Kansas with Mitchell, was the uncle of Steven Jolly.  Small world, big shared memories.

Another discovery made over coffee was the fact that Jolly, now manager of the Arbuckle Master Conservancy District, worked during the 1980s in an oilfield just a quarter mile from the Mobil gas plant where Mitchell was employed for almost 40 years. Smaller world, even more memories to share.

These days, when Mitchell’s wife drops him off at the Grill most mornings, he is usually sporting the MSC cap that was a gift from Jolly. The two men talk politics and life’s work, but their favorite subject is the trip down memory lane to Murray State College.  Jolly’s memories may be more recent, but he is quick to laugh at Mitchell’s stories of simpler times when coaches lived downstairs and pounded on radiators to quiet down students in the long-gone Haskell Lucas Hall.

These two friends, who bonded over an alma mater first and much more later, share a rich history that might never have been explored had it not been for the 77 Grill and a simple blue cap on Jolly’s head.

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