I would always think of Memphis as a town when in reality it is a city which in the 1970s had a population of around 600,000 people. The reason for that was after I had been in Tennessee for a few weeks I was coming across the bridge over the Mississippi river from West Memphis, Arkansas, after doing a meeting and decided to stop at the Peabody hotel for a drink and some cruising. The next morning, the very next morning, the manager saw me getting into my car and said to me, “I heard you had a good time at the Peabody last night. Don’t forget this isn’t New York, it is a small town and people talk!”

Just a few months later–and don’t forget Martin Luther King was assisinated in 1968 and this was a year and a couple of months later–I was taking a trip into Mississippi when someone said to me, “You’re a Jew, You’re a Yankee and you are Gay–well, at least you aren’t a Black.” (Though it was another word she used!)  I learned that in Memphis, “We don’t talk behind their backs like you New Yorkers do–‘they’ know where we stand.” I’m glad to say that by the time I left Memphis that attitude had changed quite a bit though there were some still fighting the Civil War and slavery!

That was the bad and I would rather talk about all the good and fun you can have in Memphis. I don’t remember the name of the place but it was a bar with lockers where you could keep your bottles of booze because, when I first moved there, Memphis was a dry city–you couldn’t order alcohol is a restaurant but you could bring your own. Luckily it was just a year or two before the laws were changed. Not being able to drive with an open alcohol container lead to many people getting drunk and loud in restaurants.

Talking about restaurants Memphis had a slew of good to great ones. The best of all was Pappy’s Lobster Shack in Overton Square–and it was a shack. Just like no two plates matched neither did wallpapers, tiles on the floor and ceiling and everything was rickety BUT they served the best Pompano en Pappillote and steamed Finn ‘N Haddie. There was Justine’s, the world famous 5 star restaurant, serving French food by Black waiters with white gloves (remember the time period) in a plantation type home. Also, and similar but serving more American food, the Four Flames.  Everyone took out of towners to The Rendevouz downtown for BBQ but I much preferred Corky’s. I don’t remember the name of the motel out east past Germantown but they had a catfish restaurant that served the best catfish I ever remember eating. And then for romance, seeing Memphis at its best and some good prime ribs, there was the revolving restaurant on the top of theUPbankbuilding on Poplar Avenue. I remember Johnny and I being there the night Nixon resigned and left the White House.

Last, but not least, there were two Italian restaurants in Memphis. One was Gristanti’s taht had been there a long time and John had come to WW and, if I remember correctly, lost 100 pounds, and put WW recipes on his menu. Then there was Palazino’s that was less than 5 minutes from where I lived and opened after I had moved to Chatham Village. I loved that place as it was comfortable, had good food and, yes, they knew who I was and treated me special!

I really am trying to cut back on these posts but there is so much to talk about when it comes to Memphis as a city so I’ll do one more blog taking you for a tour in the 1970s  when it was known as “The Gateway To The South”—mmmmm–and now I live in Gateway in Fort Lauderdale!!!


   I dislike this quoteMississippi begins in a lobby of a Memphis , Tennessee hotel and extends south to the Gulf of Mexico

William Faulkner quotes (American short-story Writer and Novelist , Nobel Prize for Literature in 1949, 18971962 )


Posted July 23, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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