There really is a lot to see and do in Memphis but like in most cities, except maybe New York, San Francisco and Chicago, you will hear “We are 10 years behind times” and “Culterally we stink” and yet they have the Brooks Museum, the largest and oldest fine arts collection in Tennessee, The Pink Palace, where you can explore the culture and history of the city and State not to forget the Piggly Wiggly stores in the ‘house, that Clarence Saunders owned, Theatre Memphis, Circuit Playhouse/Playhouse On The Square, Overton Park, University of Memphis, concerts in Overton Park , a Symphoney Orchestra , the Dixon Gallery and public gardens , a refurbished Orpheum theatre presenting Broadway touring companies and concerts–the list goes on and on but I want to talk about a few of the places I mentioned.

I saw Gig Young at the University of Memphis in “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” which is  long show in 4 acts. Sadly Young was deep into his alcoholism and near the end of his life and the play never seemed to end. By the last act there were only a half a dozen of us left in the theatre. On another note there was a restaurant nearby, a student hangout, that served the best Southern food, especially breakfasts, in the city.

There really weren’t any expectations on my part regarding theatre in Memphis but I was certainly surprised. Remember this was the buckle on the belt of the bible belt but the Circuit Playhouse and Playhouse on the Square were doing “The Boys In The Band” and the “Rocky Horror Show” in the early 1970s and doing good productions of them while Theatre Memphis mostly did musicals, past and present.

There was, of course, THE Peabody Hotel ducks! At 11 AM they were brought down from the rooftop by elevator to the lobby where a red carpet is laid out and the ducks march to the fountain in the middle of the lobby to a Sousa March and then at 5 PM they march back to the elevator. I don’t know which is more amazing (or funnier) than the people who line up on both sides of the carpet, ooooh and ahhh and take pictures or the ducks marching. A sight to be seen!

There was the mid-South Fair which made Memphis seem ike a small town but on the other hand they had the Memphis in May Carnival with crewes on barges and boats among the bluffs along the Mississippi which gave it a big city atmosphere. In the mid to late 70s they saluted a different country  every year and the leading store, Goldsmith’s, would redo their whole place in that countries goods.

Then there was Overton Park. It was, appoxiamately, in the middle of the city between Poplar Avenue on the south and Summer Avenue. The first time I heard of the park was reading about it in Damon’s Guide which listed it as a outdoor cruising spot in Memphis. I’ll get back to that when I talk about the gay life in Memphis and there was a lot of it–a lot more than I expected. There was a zoo in the park but I must admit I never went to it though I understand it has really grown in the years after I left. They had a concert shell at the west end of the park near one of the entrances.

Every time I write something I think of a dozen other things and this series is turning out to be way longer than I expected it to be but hang in  as there are a few payoffs.


Posted July 25, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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