Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Dog Fountain at Rhodes College

Posted By on Tue, May 25, 2010 at 3:08 PM

Not many people — and it seems not even many Rhodes College students — are aware that a rather remarkable tribute to man's best friend can be found on that campus.

Just east of the Bryant Campus Life Center, close to the soccer fields, is a nice stone drinking fountain, with a bronze plaque on it, dedicated to a dog.

The main inscription reads:
Given in Memory of Cujo 1983-1993
"Man's Best Friend"
Dr. David P. Granoff '80.

A smaller inscription gives a touching account of the dog's last moments:
I held you gently in my arms, and you left knowing with the last breath you drew, your fate was ever safest in my hands.

The voices in the wind will take you home again. The journey on has just begun my friend.

And when I leave this earth, you will be out there waiting ... My True Companion.

I don't know Dr. Granoff, or where he may be these days, but I think it's a wonderful tribute to a beloved pet. Cujo lived only 10 years, it seems, but I'd say he was a mighty lucky dog to have a man like Granoff as an owner.



Monday, May 17, 2010

Where Is This Factory?

Posted By on Mon, May 17, 2010 at 9:10 PM

I was rooting around at an estate sale recently and bought a box of 35mm Kodachrome slides. Most of the images are of somebody's family — except for this one.

Judging from the cars, it was taken in the 1950s. The water tower says VO ... but that's about all I can make out on it. Notice that one of the train cars says "Soo Line" and I'm not even sure they serve this region, though freight trains can be made up of cars from all over.

So: Where is (or was) this place, and what did they make there?

Does anybody recognize it?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A New Website for Berl "Mr. Music" Olswanger

Posted By on Wed, May 12, 2010 at 10:11 PM

Newspaper ad from 1963
  • Newspaper ad from 1963
I've written before about Berl Olswanger — "Mr. Music of Memphis" — not only on this blog, but in my regular "Ask Vance" column in Memphis magazine.

He was a remarkably talented fellow: music store owner, teacher, author, composer, pianist, bandleader, and all-around entertainer. In fact, he did so much over the course of his career that it's really hard to convey the entire range of his talents in just a few pages.

I know that countless biographers will face a similar challenge when they write about me someday.

Well, now there's a website where you can learn more about the man and his music. Anna Olswanger, Berl's daughter, has put together BerlOlswanger.com, and it's one heckuva job. Not only does it contain a detailed timeline of her father's life, but — best of all — she has compiled audio files of most of his music AND several television appearances, which are absolutely fascinating.

Go here to see what I mean, and have a great time there. I did.

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Monday, May 10, 2010

Yet Another Mysterious Sign

Posted By on Mon, May 10, 2010 at 10:56 PM

Most of you know that I've always been mystified and amused by these generic "international" signs — usually composed of standardized images that warn people not to touch things, or lift heavy objects, or otherwise do something dangerous or foolish.

But the other day, I was slumped in the back seat of the Daimler-Benz, as the chauffeur took it through a car wash. Peering out the window, through the suds, I noticed this nice little green sign inset into the brick wall.

The more I gazed at it, the more confused I became. What, exactly, is it telling me to do? It is mounted at eye level, so that people in cars can see it, but the car wash was basically an open structure, with no doors at either end, or even inside. Yet this fellow, lacking hands and feet, seems to be dashing towards a door with a handle.

He's also running in the opposite direction my car was pointing, which — at first — made me think we had driven the wrong way into the car wash. It's happened before, believe me.

My next thought was that he was making a desperate attempt to reach a bathroom in time. We can all relate to that experience. But why do the car wash patrons need to know of his plight? Or is it telling ME to hop out of the car, dodge the deadly arms of the washing apparatus, and — for reasons not at all clear — make a run for it?

I just don't know what it means, and I've been fretting about it every since. Can anyone make any sense of it?

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Drink "Electrified" Water!

Posted By on Sat, May 8, 2010 at 8:25 PM

Electrified Water?
  • Electrified Water?
I seem to have an obsession for odd products and their advertisements. While poring over a 1924 musical program presented by Christian Brothers College, I came across this short and to-the-point ad for an unusual product called "Electrified Water."

Around this time, people were falling for all kinds of "quack" cures — including "radium" baths, of all things — so this fits right in.

Considering that it is delivered to your home, you have to wonder just how long the electrical effects lasted. Curious, isn't it, that the name of the company isn't even mentioned ... but whatever it was, it's long gone. In case you're wondering, 1122 Union is almost exactly where that street crosses over I-240 in Midtown, so any businesses that stood along that stretch were demolished some 40 years ago.

And it's only appropriate, I suppose, that this company's phone number had a "Hemlock" exchange — hemlock being a rather deadly poison, you see. Drink up!


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Visit LAKELAND on the next "Southern Routes"

Posted By on Tue, May 4, 2010 at 9:18 PM

In the late 1950s, a fellow named Louis Garner visited Ruby Falls, near Chattanooga, and came back to Memphis convinced that he could build an entertainment complex so vast that it would gain fame as “The Disneyland of the Mid-South."

So Garner bought 1,200 acres along Canada Road, just north of the new I-40 expressway, built a massive dam, dug artesian wells, and in no time at all had the largest lake in Shelby County. Seeing as he had a nice lake and plenty of land, he called his new venture Lakeland, and then proceeded to piece together what he would describe as “The World’s Largest Playground.” He brought in a skyride from the 1958 Brussels World's Fair, an old timey steam railroad called the "Huff n Puff," and lots of midway-type rides and games. Then he added a racetrack, dance pavilion, and all sorts of other entertainment — some of it rather bizarre.

Lakeland opened to the public on June 1, 1961, and it was quite a place — for a while. But there's really not a trace of it today — except for the lake, of course, and patches of the old racetrack in the woods.

What happened to Lakeland? You can hear the whole amazing story on the next episode of the WKNO series "Southern Routes." It airs Thursday, May 6 at 8 p.m., repeating on Saturday, May 8 at 2:30 p.m.; and Sunday, May 9 at 12 noon. It also airs on WKNO-2 on Saturday, May 8 at 9 p.m.

Don't miss it, or you will have to sit quietly in the corner at the next party, when everybody you know is chatting about the marvels and mysteries of Lakeland, and you won't have a single thing to say.

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