UA-53645469-1 Memphis Type History: The Podcast

Maywood Beach

August 6, 2017

In this episode of Memphis Type History: The Podcast, Caitlin tells Rebecca all about a magical place of summer fun in Memphis: Maywood Beach, aka the "beach within reach."


Maurice and Mae Woodson opened Maywood Beach (named after Mae, of course) on July, 4, 1931 at Lake Shahkoka in Olive Branch, MS. A team of mules dug out the lake bed, which was filled with water from an underground artesian water basin.

They trucked in tons and tons of white sand from Destin, FL. Finally, slides and other fun additions over time like picnic tables, barbecue pits, pavilions, a bowling alley, playgrounds, a snack bar, and a tearoom created a full-on beach and a waterpark on the Woodsons' 400 acres.

Commercials for Coppertone, hat contests, and concerts by Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Johnny Cash (to name a few) quickly ensued. Oh, and yes, there's yet another Elvis connection in this episode!

But then Caitlin has to break the bad news to Rebecca... In 2003, the grounds closed in order to create a planned subdivision and gated retirement community. Then they call Caitlin's mom on Skype to ask her why she never took Caitlin to Maywood when she had the chance.

For full show notes go to

Bonus Episode: Goat on Parade

August 4, 2017

Buckle up for a bonus episode! First, listen to Episode 8: Beer-Drinking Goats at Silky O'Sullivan's. Then come back and enjoy this fun little bonus show!

Bonus Episode: Runaway Goat

August 4, 2017

Buckle up for a bonus episode! First, listen to Episode 8: Beer-Drinking Goats at Silky O'Sullivan's. Then come back and enjoy this fun little bonus show!

Malls of Memphis

July 30, 2017

In this episode of Memphis Type History: The Podcast, Caitlin and Rebecca talk about the history of a few malls in Memphis, how they started and what they've become. They also include some hopeful future news. 

They talk about the history of malls generally, but also specifically how Memphis malls illustrate the rise and apparent current fall of the mall as an architectural construct in cities across the country.

They talk about where the oldest mall in the history of the world resides. Of course, it would be the motherland of architecture, none other than Italy. It's also an example of a galleria being in contrast to a mall because it makes use of a glass enclosed promenade. It's called Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.

First up, the Hickory Ridge Mall, which came about in the heyday of indoor mall popularity: the eighties.

Rebecca took her family to visit the what was once one of Memphis' most popular attractions. It's the same place Caitlin's grandmother used to take her to shop at the oh so bougie Goldsmith's department store (Caitlin really just wanted to go to Wet Seal, though). In any case, Rebecca was particularly impressed by the still operating, double-decker carousel.

Unfortunately, the food court promised a lot but didn't seem to have much going on. The mall is now mostly space used by service providers to the now recessed community of Hickory Hill—a nonprofit pharmacy for low-income customers, tax prep services, the school district had a registration office, after school programs, etc. It's really amazing that it is still running at all given the fates of the next two malls and Hickory Ridge got hit by a tornado in 2008.

You can see another perspective from someone who grew up at the Hickory Ridge Mall and recently went back to visit from Michael Butler at his blog

Next stop on my tour was the Raleigh Springs Mall—the second mall of Memphis.

Rebecca couldn't go inside because the Raleigh Springs Mall had been scheduled for demolition. It opened in the seventies and was on the forefront of a new phenomenon at the time: movie theaters inside malls. It's something we all associate completely with malls now but in the seventies it was a brand new idea and the Raleigh Springs mall was one of the first.

The Raleigh Springs Mall closed in 2011 and despite efforts to try and use it a new town centre concept to provide community services with a police precinct, library, job training center, etc. the build was demolish in 2017. Despite all of this, when Rebecca drove around the neighborhood, she was really impressed with the homes and surrounding neighborhood. It reminded her of the small Texas town where she grew up.

Then maybe the most tragic tale of them all:

The Mall of Memphis (aka The Mall of Murder)

The Mall of Memphis stormed the Mid-South as the premier marketplace and arrived with much fanfare. It boasted 1.2 million square feet of retail space including an ice skating rink, food court, a fancy ribbon-cutting, indoor concerts, and basically all the things you saw in the movies in the eighties that wished were happening at your childhood mall. Caitlin knows firsthand. She grew up visiting and remembers it being the place with all the cutting-edge stores especially one favorite (admit it, you loved it as a teenager, too) Spencer Gifts.

The mall developed a reputation for being unsafe. After hearing so many people refer to the mall by that reputation even now, many years after its closing, Rebecca looked into some research about exactly where the reputation came from. Rhodes College did a study about the subject comparing the Mall of Memphis to several others: Oak Court, Southland, and Hickory Ridge in regard to several specific areas of comparative data: location, demographics and, competition.

The big takeaways for me were the following:

  1. Media coverage played a really significant role in the name "Mall of Murder" sticking and by extension the reputation
  2. Other malls actually had a higher number of crimes per capita (Oak Court) and property crime rates (Hickory Ridge). Note: Rebecca states that Oak Court had higher violent crimes but it was actually property crimes as well as crimes per capita.
  3. There was a dramatic demographic shift from 1990 to 2000 in which the percentage of white residents nearby dropped precipitously. It's also worth noting that this shift didn't just occur in a racial binary (black/white). There was also a significant increase in new hispanic residents to area surrounding the mall of Memphis.
  4. The businesses in the Mall of Memphis were almost entirely geared toward "blue collar" shoppers as opposed to shoppers looking for "luxury" brands

For full show notes, go to


Hotel Pontotoc and The Peabody

July 23, 2017

In this episode of Memphis Type History: The Podcast, we tell each other the history behind a favorite historical Memphis hotel. Rebecca dives right into how the Peabody Hotel came to be, while Caitlin shares about the lesser known Hotel Pontotoc.

The very first Peabody Hotel opened in 1869 at the corner of Main and Monroe at a cost of $60,000. Rates were $4 a night and included a meal in the first class dining room. Rebecca talks about the origin of the famous Peabody ducks and how they got tamed by the Ringling Brothers' circus animal trainer... who then became the first Duckmaster!

The current Peabody is a beautiful relic of historic architecture in Memphis... and many celebrities have stayed there (like Michael Jackson, for starters). The ducks stay in their duck palace up on the roof.

The Pontotoc Hotel is a European-style hotel constructed of rusticated concrete block, located at 69 Pontotoc in downtown Memphis. Unlike the swankier Peabody, the Pontotoc catered to railway and riverboat travelers... but there were Turkish baths available just to keep things classy. And just in case you're not sure how a Turkish bath works, Caitlin happily gives you her first-hand account! By the 1920's, though, the Pontotoc was one of Memphis' most well-known (and most elegant) brothels.

Later on a Greek family owned the establishment and Caitlin talks about the wine they made and the famous vaudeville performers and artists who stayed at the Pontotoc. We try to dispel yet another ghost story and tell you how the Pontotoc survived some wild years as a nightclub known as The Cellar. Caitlin wraps up by announcing who owns the Pontotoc now, the ways they support downtown Memphis, and their famous Halloween parties.

For full show notes go to

Beer-Drinking Goats at Silky O’Sullivan’s

July 16, 2017

In this episode of Memphis Type History: The Podcast, Rebecca tells Caitlin why there are goats on Beale Street and how they've been known to drink beer. Silky O'Sullivan's features dueling pianos and an outdoor patio with two wonderful female goats.

Joellyn Sullivan joins on this episode to tell us the story of this famous Beale Street Irish pub. Her late husband Thomas Daniel Sullivan, got the nickname "Silky's" from a racehorse. He used the name when he first opened a bar on Overton Square... and then added an "O" to the Beale Street location in Irish naming tradition because it was the "son of" his first bar! It was one of the first places opened when Beale Street was getting revitalized.

Joellyn tells us where the goats actually came from... which involves a famous Irish festival with a goat king and everything. But the journey to have these fun drinking partners on Beale was full of the best kind of Memphis drama like goat switcheroos and a Peabody ducks appearance...

We learn about Maynard the one-horned goat that brought the Grizzlies good luck. Joellyn shares the secret of how Memphis barbecue got to Ireland, Estonia, Sweden, Bangkok, Jamaica, the Bahamas, and Cuba (we're sure they're all extremely thankful).

Our very heartfelt thanks goes out to Joellyn Sullivan for making this episode possible.

Lastly, if you think you know what's inside a Diver, let us know! You can contribute to our Diver fund at

For full show notes, visit

Get to Know Us: Q&A with Caitlin and Rebecca

July 9, 2017

In this episode, Caitlin and Rebecca ask each other questions about all sorts of random stuff. We learn how we got to Memphis and how one of us ended up in Shanghai. You'll find out what our alternate careers might be and who Rebecca would want as her first guest if she had a talk show. 

For full show notes go to

The Truth Behind Voodoo Village

July 2, 2017

In this episode of Memphis Type History: The Podcast, Caitlin tells Rebecca the truth (or as much as she can uncover) about one of Memphis' most famous "haunted" locations: Voodoo Village. Voodoo Village has truly become its own urban legend. So in this episode, they hope to dispel some of the rumor and lore and tell you what exactly is behind those locked gates.

There are many stories of people having spooky encounters at Voodoo Village. But the reality behind this family compound filled with strange buildings and unusual art is actually more fascinating to us than the legend of it all.

First, let’s set the record straight on what Voodoo Village is. The actual name for the place is St. Paul's Holiness Temple. Washington "Doc" Harris, a self-ordained Baptist minister from central Mississippi, built the temple there and lived on the land with his family. The colorfully painted shotgun houses are surrounded by roughly 1,500 pieces of mysterious sculptures and surreal machines made out of painted wood.

We discuss the misunderstood relationship between the temple and voodoo, how a lot of what goes on in the compound is typical of African American vernacular worship in the Deep South, and how masonic symbols play their own interesting role in the story. We wrap up with how you might have interacted with a resident of Voodoo Village without even realizing it!

For full show notes go to

Mid-Century Architecture in Memphis with Aften Locken

June 25, 2017

In this episode of Memphis Type History: The Podcast, Caitlin talks to Aften Locken, the face behind one of her favorite Memphis Instagram feeds – @midcenturymemphis.

Aften takes us back to the ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s – very important in understanding mid-century modern architecture. Then, she schools us on how to recognize key aspects of these structures… Here’s a hint: Does it look like it’s from The Jetsons? It’s probably mid-mod!

Some of her favorites in Memphis from each decade include many of our favorite barbecue joints, the Lorraine Motel, the Memphis College of Art, the Memphis airport, the Cossitt Library, Regions Bank on Lamar Ave, and Visible Music College in downtown Memphis.

Aften also regales us with a story of jukebox distributors Sammons-Pennington located at 440 Madison Avenue (now home to Holiday Flowers’ events location).

Finally, we wrap up with tips for becoming architectural explorers in Memphis. The full “Day of Mid-Mod in Memphis” itinerary can be found on Patreon at (become a patron for access!)

For full show notes go to

Buried in Elmwood

June 18, 2017

In this episode of Memphis Type History: The Podcast, we both tell each other a few select stories about being buried in Elmwood Cemetery. First, we learn that Elmwood is the oldest nonprofit in Tennessee. Then Rebecca shares how the cemetery got its name even though it didn't have any elms. I school you on the history of mourning (Queen Victoria is involved) and why Elmwood feels like a beautiful park where you want to spend time. Finally, hear about some people (and one surprising non-person) buried in Elmwood cemetery.

The Civil War doubled the size of Elmwood Cemetery. The six cases of Yellow Fever that occurred in Memphis required mass burials in Elmwood. The 1878 epidemic was the worst one with 17,000 people contracting the disease... and overall the entire sickness led to the creation of the No Man's Land monument.

Rebecca tells the story of the cemetery superintendent's daughter, Gracie, who became know as the Graveyard Girl. But she waits until the end of the episode to tell us all about Rufus the Dog... I dig right in (get it?) with the story of Annie Cook, aka the Madame with a Heart of Gold, aka the Mary Magdalene of Memphis. The upscale bordello owner figures prominently in the Elmwood story and, of course, has everything to do with the Yellow Fever (as does most of Memphis history, it seems).

Finally, we wrap up with an Elvis connection and that story Rebecca's been dangling in front of our ears for the entire show.

For full show notes go to

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