PUTTING THE FOOTE TO IT 

An icon says Yes to the new library; No to the new arena-to-be.

Memphis literary icon Shelby Foote gave his blessing to the new library Friday night, then added a few tart words about another building project. Foote, who turns 85 Saturday, spoke for about ten minutes to over 100 people in the history room on the fourth floor of the new $80 million library as part of the week-long dedication of the facility. The use of libraries, he said, “is what separates us from the lower animals.” The novelist and Civil War historian said former Mayor “Boss” Crump was a big fan of libraries too, but didn’t believe in putting books in them. Foote grew up in Greenville but wrote all three volumes of his three-volume Civil War history while living in different parts of Memphis. In his characteristic gruff voice, Foote noted that Memphis is preparing to build a $250 million basketball arena “for ten seven-foot college dropouts.” He said he would have liked it better if the city had spent $250 million on the library and $80 million on the basketball arena. The crowd cheered loudly.

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