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The blog of Vance Lauderdale

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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Pancho's in the 1950s

Posted By on Tue, Apr 27, 2010 at 10:36 PM

Panchos on South Bellevue
  • Pancho's on South Bellevue
My pal Bonnie Kourvelas recently sent me two wonderful images (originally Kodachrome color slides taken by her parents, Jerry and Edna Daws) showing the exterior and interior of the old Pancho's Mexican Restaurant that was located on South Bellevue. That's the Daws family in the pictures, but don't ask me to identify all of them. It was a private affair, and I wasn't invited.

To tell you the truth (as I am prone to do, from time to time, mainly when I am drunk), I wasn't familiar with this location. I knew Panchos' had (and still has) a restaurant on the outskirts of West Memphis, and I knew there was also a branch at Union and McLean, and later at Poplar and White Station.

But sure enough, from about 1959 until about 1972 (those dates are guesses, based on city directory listings, which are not complete, for some reason), Pancho's was located at 1670 South Bellevue, just across the street from the entrance to Forest Hill Cemetery. That building is gone now, so I'm glad to see these photos. I especially like the wonderful mural, and the terrific neon sign. And I'd certainly like to have some of those fine cars out front. And below is a shot of the interior. It's rather dark, and I certainly don't know WHAT the photographer was aiming at, but you can get a sense of the "authentic" Mexican clutter inside.

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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Krack Drugs — The Name Says It All

Posted By on Sun, Apr 18, 2010 at 11:19 PM

I found this ad in the back of a 1924 musical program being presented by Christian Brothers College.

Perhaps if I bought my crack cocaine from licensed pharmacists like this one, I wouldn't suffer so many ill effects afterwards.

It's hard to say, really.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Ella Carver — 73-Year-Old Fire Diver!

Posted By on Tue, Apr 13, 2010 at 10:31 AM

Ella Carver in 1961
  • Ella Carver in 1961
Memphis has always attracted our share of unusual entertainers. Some of them are born here, and some come from other places. But few have such a distinctive specialty as Ella Carver, the "World-Famous Fire Diver," who performed here several times in the early 1960s, at Lakeland and the Mid-South Fair.

Judging from old newspaper articles that I discovered, Ella clambered to the top of a 90-foot platform wearing a special bathing suit. She somehow set herself ON FIRE, then leaped from the tower and splashed into a shallow pool below, which was also ON FIRE.

Ella, who called Miami home when she wasn't on the road, traveled the country in an old truck (shown below) with brightly painted signs on the side that proclaimed that she was "the only high swan diver in the world 'on fire into fire.'" Another sign said that her diving act is "the one that never fails the public."

And what makes this even more amazing? Ella was doing this act when she was 73 years old!

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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Roller Skating on WKNO's "Southern Routes"!

Posted By on Tue, Apr 6, 2010 at 12:10 AM

Mr. Lauderdale with his bicycle skates
  • Mr. Lauderdale with his "bicycle" skates
On the April edition of WKNO's fine program, Southern Routes, I journey back to the glory days of Skateland, Skatehaven, Rainbow Lake, and many of the other roller-skating palaces that were hugely popular with Memphians in the early to mid-1900s.

Not to give too much away, but back in those days, there was a whole lot more to roller-skating than just strapping on some skates and rolling around a wooden track. Rinks put on pageants, plays, races — even full-scale weddings. And skating wasn't just for ma, pa, teens, and the little kiddies. They made special skates for dogs, monkeys, and even BEARS.

The show will even feature rare photos of me (such as the one here), taken in my younger days, when I was a veritable Flash at rinks around the Mid-South. Why, it took servants almost a day just to polish all the trophies I earned. Or were those bowling trophies? I can't remember, since the Lauderdales were pretty much good at everything.

Tune into Southern Routes or you'll be very sorry (and so will I). The show will air Thursday, April 8th at 8 p.m., and then it will repeat on Saturday, April 10 at 2:30 p.m., and again on Sunday, April 11 at 12 noon. It also airs on WKNO-2 Saturday, April 10 at 9 p.m., so I really don't want to hear any pitiful excuses about, "Uh, I missed it."

And I'll be quite candid with you. Either watch the show, and admire the hard work done by my WKNO pals Kip Cole and Bonnie Kourvelas, or face the dire prospect of being cut out of my will. It's that simple.

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