Of course, we had our own Olympic-sized pool at the Mansion, but sometimes we hopped in the gleaming new Hispano-Suiza (shown here) and journeyed down "old" Highway 78, to spend the day at "The Beach Within Reach." I so clearly remember the gleaming white sand, the ice-cold water, and the adoring crowds that would surround our car as soon as we pulled up, hoping we would toss baskets of money their way.
As you can see, the Lauderdales were actually allowed to park on the beach itself, so we wouldn't have to push our way through the regular folks to get to our reserved spot.
I can't believe that woman in the foreground had the nerve to actually touch the Lauderdale limo, leaving her smeary fingerprints all over our chrome bumper! And look at the bold fellow in the back (a possible assassin, no doubt) reaching through the back window! It's a good thing the chauffeur didn't see these ruffians, or they would've been tossed into jail.
Oh, such happy, happy times!
Boy, was I wrong. My pal Jeff Crook ventured down Old Highway 78 this weekend, and found the place, just about at the Mississippi state line. This is how it looks today. Pretty depressing.
Here's what Jeff had to say:
Hi Vance. I think I found Beal's Dixie Kream. I"ve attached the photo.
The place is in Mineral Wells, next door to an establishment that used to be called John's Creek Cafe. The cafe's sign has been painted over white, but there are some neon beer signs in the window and a sign on the door that says "No one under 21 allowed." Sounds like a charming place to see some genuine local color, but I had the wife and kids in the car, so I just took a photo of the wreck next door.
The building now appears to be owned by a concrete company whose fence runs all the way up to the walls, and maybe through them. I didn't open the door. It had a padlock, which looked broken. Maybe somebody broke in to set the fire.
Thanks for your hard work, Jeff. I always like it when readers do all my work for me.
PHOTO BY JEFF CROOK
I didn't find any Lauderdales among the students, but one thing I did notice was an ad in the back of all the yearbooks, for an establishment called Beal's Dixie Kream. Yes, that's right — it (and the owner's name) was spelled Beal — without the "e." Sometimes the ads spelled the name of the place "Cream" but the neon sign out front says "Kream."
The owner, as you can see, was Mrs. Hazel Beal. No mention of a Mr. Beal, so I wonder if she was a widow? Divorced? None of my damn business? (choose one)
The yearbooks spanned 1960 to 1967, and one thing that caught my eye was how the brick exterior changed over the years. In a 1961 ad, it was apparently a solid color, but in later ads it clearly had a checkerboard pattern. What's curious is that by 1967, the walls were back to being one color. Too bad the ads were in black-and-white, so I don't know what color(s) the place was painted. I bet it was quite festive, and since it appeared in every yearbook, THE place to go on Friday and Saturday nights in Olive Branch.
Like most ice-cream joints, Beal's offered milkshakes and a variety of sandwiches. But it also provided customers with "Memphis telephones" so they could "Talk While You Eat." In fact, look at the 1966 advertisement, and there's the phone booth, right in front.
The ads say Beal's Dixie Kream was located on Highway 78 at the Tennessee/Mississippi state line. I haven't driven out Lamar in a while (probably ever since Maywood closed), so does anyone know what happened to this cute little place, and what's there now?
Here are some other views of it, taken from the old yearbooks:
Now that the weather is nice, it’s time to get outside and do some exploring. I’m not talking about ME; I’m saying that’s something YOU should do. And there’s no better (or nicer) place to start than by crawling underneath all those lovely magnolia trees in Chickasaw Gardens.
What are we — I mean, you — looking for around all those trees? Remnants of the little copper plaques stuck in the ground that identified the various people who were included in the Magnolia Tribute Circle. And when the Chickasaw Gardens security patrol asks what the heckfire you are doing, just tell them Vance sent you. They will laugh and laugh as they haul you off to jail.
Seriously, though: All those grand magnolias were planted in the 1930s around Chickasaw Gardens Lake, and the adjacent roads, once a part of Clarence Saunders’ famed Pink Palace estate. In 1931, Mrs. E.G. Willingham, chairman of the City Beautiful Commission, came up with the idea for the Magnolia Tribute Circle. Each year, four or five trees would be dedicated to prominent Memphians whose names were submitted to a secret committee who “selects those deemed worthy,” according to an article in The Commercial Appeal. This was a tough crowd, it seems. No selections were made in 1939 “because the committee felt nominees did not meet the requirements of outstanding public and community service without remuneration.” No doubt this explains why there is no marker devoted to the Lauderdales. An outrage, to be sure. But those who did meet such high standards over the years included Commercial Appeal editor J.P. Mooney, Temple Israel Rabbi Harry Ettelson, civic leader Mrs. Brinkley Snowden, philanthropist Abe Goodman, and Mrs. E.G. Willingman herself — “done as a surprise to her, and over her protests,” according to one newspaper story. Oh sure, I bet.
The Lauderdale Library recently made an interesting purchase — some pages torn from an old scrapbook that contained eight photographs showing Broadway Street in West Memphis, Arkansas, as it appeared in 1932. It’s really a fascinating glimpse at a bygone age. Broadway, as you might expect, has changed quite a lot in 75 years.
Look carefully (you may have to squint at the images below — I’ve posted them as large as I can), and you’ll see a service station with globe-topped pumps and a sign offering gasoline at 16 cents a gallon, a billboard for Fortune’s Ice Cream, lots of horse- and mule-drawn carts, and such long-gone establishments as the tiny Bell Cafe, West Memphis Cleaners, West Memphis Meat Market, and the Martin Drug Store.