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The blog of Vance Lauderdale

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Fa-Mo Pickles! Yum! Made in Memphis, Too!

Posted By on Wed, Oct 28, 2009 at 10:13 PM


As a Lauderdale, I'm familiar with most products made in Memphis, but this was a new one.

Fa-Mo Pickles! Is that short for "Famous" I wonder? And what, I also wonder, makes them so damn great? After all, they're not just good pickles. They are "The South's Most Delicious Product" and man, that's really saying something.

And are pickles really "made" in Memphis?

Yet another curious advertisement found in an old school yearbook, in this case, the 1927 Lantern of The Hutchison School.

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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Hinton's ARMORED Ambulances

Posted By on Sun, Oct 25, 2009 at 9:45 PM

I know that when I suffer from leprosy, lunacy, gout, the shivers, the shuffles, and the loss of my immortal soul — among other almost daily afflictions — I really won't feel comfortable being rushed to the hospital unless I am in the protection of an ARMORED ambulance. After all, you just don't know what kind of hooligans and assassins may be lying in wait, just waiting to cause you harm when you are at your most helpless.

That, I think, seems to be the logic behind a series of ads that J.T. Hinton & Sons began to run in the mid-1920s. The interesting advertisement shown here, in fact, was published in the 1927 edition of The Lantern, the yearbook of The Hutchison School, which seems a rather strange place to put it. Not exactly the demographic for ambulances, is it?

Now first of all, J.T. Hinton & Sons was mainly a FUNERAL HOME, and I've complained before about what I consider a conflict of interest. Would it really be in their best interest, I have fretted, for the ambulance drivers to deliver you to the hospital safely — and therefore lose a perfectly good, perfectly DEAD funeral home customer?

But I digress. Hinton, competing with many other ambulance and funeral companies in Memphis, hit upon a rather unique marketing plan. As the ad says, they already operate "The World's Finest and Safest Ambulances." Not just in Memphis, mind you, but IN THE ENTIRE WORLD.

And now, they provide you with "the first and ONLY Armored Ambulance in the World."

Continue reading »

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Elizabeth Messick and Messick High School

Posted By on Tue, Oct 20, 2009 at 11:40 AM

This is a depressing scene, isn't it, showing the demolition of once-proud Messick High School. I wonder what happened to that big block of stone? It would have looked very fine in the Lauderdale Mansion courtyard, even all chipped up.

One of the oldest — if not the oldest — schools built in Shelby County (the folks at Central and Tech will argue forever about that honor), Messick first held classes back in 1909. Over the years, the mighty Panthers trounced teams throughout the city, and kids came to regard the old red-brick building at the corner of Spottswood and Greer as a home away from home. But the buildings decayed, the school district changed, and in the early 1980s the condemned buildings fell to the bulldozer. Although some of the campus sites remain, it's not a typical high school anymore. These days the city school system calls it the Memphis Adult Education Center, and you can enroll for vo-tech courses and also earn a GED, among other things.

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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Not the Best Name for a Taxi Company

Posted By on Sun, Oct 18, 2009 at 10:26 PM

Look, I'd be the first to admit I don't know much about marketing. If I did, the various Lauderdale industries would still be thriving, and I wouldn't be forced to stay up past my bedtime on a Sunday night, scribbling this column or blog or whatchamacallit to eke out a pitiful existence.

But — I don't care if you did get stuck with the awkward phone number 666 (back in the days when phone numbers here were apparently just three digits).

It's just not a good idea, if you ask me, to name your taxi company after the Mark of the Beast.

Or any company, for that matter.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Susie DeShazo and the DeShazo College of Music

Posted By on Mon, Oct 12, 2009 at 3:03 PM

When I was a little Vance, I was forced to take piano lessons from the cruel woman shown here, and whenever I hit the wrong note, she would SLAM the piano lid down on my fingers, until I cried and cried and ...

Wait, I have the wrong person. That dreadful experience happened when I was taking trombone lessons. And the teacher didn't use a piano lid, he used a sledge hammer. And now he is in prison.

So just let me start over. The woman pictured here was Susie DeShazo, one of the best and most talented piano teachers this city ever had. Countless musicians were influenced by her music school, which she opened in 1925 with her sister, Jenny, at 1264 Linden, just across the street from Central High School.

Miss Susie, as everyone called her, was the youngest in the family and probably the most musically gifted. An old Memphis Press-Scimitar article noted that she was "born with that sense of absolute pitch, which enabled her to recognize and produce any tone correctly."

Just as I myself was able to do on my harmonica!

A talented violinist at a very early age, she turned to the piano when she "rebelled against the squeaky sounds produced on the violin by beginners" and very quickly became "one of the South's most outstanding artists." One reviewer commented that "she possesses a superb technique. Her playing is characterized by great tonal beauty and a warmth of style that make her programs never-to-be-forgotten events."

Much like my harmonica and oboe recitals at the Lauderdale Mansion!

Continue reading »

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Thursday, October 8, 2009

Monte's Drive-In on Summer

Posted By on Thu, Oct 8, 2009 at 11:24 AM

Everyone who remembers Monte's — a popular hangout on Summer — may get confused when they see old photos of the building, because there were actually two Monte's.

The original (shown here) was a tiny, 28-seat drive-in, which opened in 1937 at 3053 Summer, just across the streem from Leahy's Tourist Court (now Trailer Park). Then, in the early 1970s, a second and much larger Monte's — this one with 250 seats, a private dining room, and even an outdoor garden, opened farther east, at the corner of Summer and Isabel.

Both eateries, as you probably gathered, were owned and operated by a fellow named Monte Robinson. He got his start in the restaurant business by buying and operating the old Skillet Restaurant across the street from The Peabody. It was slow-going at first, but he made a success of it, and even purchased two other Skillet restaurant, one near the Hotel Claridge, another close to the Hotel Gayoso, along with the old Shanty Cafe on Court Square.

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Monday, October 5, 2009

The REAL Vance Lauderdale — At Last!

Posted By on Mon, Oct 5, 2009 at 2:51 PM

Oh, what an awful day!

There I was, trying to toast some crumbs of stale bread for my supper. The rat-chewed wiring shorted out, and — once again — the west wing of the Mansion went up in flames. The firemen arrived in the nick of time to quench the blaze. But in a panic I ran outside without my shirt on, and those damn paparazzi who hang out at the gates caught me like THIS.

I really must cut down on those bowls of Lucky Charms.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Does Anyone Remember This TV Show?

Posted By on Thu, Oct 1, 2009 at 3:22 PM

Jeanna Hartzog has written me from Silver Creek, Mississippi, inquiring about a local TV show that she and her sister appeared on in the early 1960s. I immediately thought she was talking about "Dance Party" hosted by Wink Martindale, or the later "Talent Party" hosted by George Klein, but apparently not. Does anyone have any other suggestions?

Here's the letter:

I hope someone there can help me by providing some information.

My parents moved to Memphis in 1957 and I was born there in 1959. Around 1962, I only know at three years old, my sister and I appeared on a local children’s show. We were the featured quests, coming out of the audience to do the new dance, The Twist.

I began to think about this when my sister died several years ago. My parents can no longer remember the station or the name of the show. They mistakenly thought Wink Martindale was the host, but a very nice email from him said that was not so.

Do you have any knowledge of this show, the station, or the host? I know there are certainly people in the Memphis community who would have this knowledge, but I don’t know how to find them. I have made phone calls and wrote a columnist with no success.

Thank you for your time.
Jeanna McManus Hartzog
P.O. Box 124
Silver Creek, Mississippi 39663

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