UA-53645469-1 Memphis Type History: The Podcast

The Forgotten Adventures of Richard Halliburton with R. Scott Williams

October 1, 2017
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In this episode of Memphis Type History: The Podcast, Rebecca sits down with R. Scott Williams to learn all about Richard Halliburton, a famous but forgotten Memphian. Halliburton cuts a fascinating figure in history as an explorer and adventure writer.

 

Scott, COO of the Newseum in Washington, D.C., published The Forgotten Adventures of Richard Halliburton. If the name sounds slightly familiar to you, it's because Halliburton Tower lies on the Rhodes campus, donated by Halliburton's father (along with documents from his life and travels). Fun fact: Halliburton's mother was one of the first psychologists in Memphis!

And now, onto the main event – Richard Halliburton.

“Let those who wish have their respectability. I wanted freedom, freedom to indulge in whatever caprice struck my fancy, freedom to search in the farthermost corners of the earth for the beautiful, the joyous and the romantic.” –Richard Halliburton

At the age of nineteen, Halliburton ran away from his hometown of Memphis to go on adventures. He became an internationally known celebrity and the most famous travel writer in the grand ages for adventure – the Golden Age, the Roaring Twenties, and into the Great Depression. He did everything from climb Mount Olympus to flying all the way to Timbuktu, always looking for the next bigger and more astounding adventure to share with the world.

But wait... how did he fund all this crazy travel? Well, back in the day, people gave lectures about the adventures they went on... and these events funded their subsequent adventures. He would do as many as 50 lectures a month sometimes! Basically he was the Anthony Bourdain before there was such a thing as the Travel Channel. If he lived today, he would be the ultimate travel brand... and Scott even tells us what his TV show would probably be called, but you'll have to listen to this episode to find out more!

Scott shares how Halliburton was a great marketer and could always find the best "hook" for designing adventures. In one instance, he decided to fly to his next adventure. He flew all over the world for 18 months, including into volcanoes! His pilot and he ran into another pilot, Elly Beinhorn, who was also quite adventurous in her own right. Oh, and Scott really thinks this period of Halliburton's life would make a great movie – and there's even a love story that makes that even more intriguing....

One of our favorite things was how tied to Memphis Halliburton was. For example, when Halliburton was but a toddler around 1902, Mary Hutchison, the founder of Hutchison School, started the school in his home, as she was great friends with his parents. "Hutchy," as she was known, was called "Grandmother" by Halliburton, and she's even buried in the family plot. She's credited with really giving him his spirit of adventure.

Unfortunately, Halliburton's last adventure was a bit too ill-conceived and he perished in a typhoon while sailing the seas in a Chinese junk. The original plan was for him to sail the junk from Hong Kong to San Francisco and appear just in time for the opening day of the World's Fair. However, he disappeared at sea at the age of 39... just two years after another famous adventurer, Amelia Earhart.

We hope finding out more about this amazing Memphian will revive an interest in writings and life's work of adventuring around the world. 

For full show notes go to memphistypehistory.com/halliburton

 

Dining 1: Anderton’s & The Four Way

September 24, 2017
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In this episode of Memphis Type History: The Podcast, Caitlin and Rebecca tell each other about a restaurant from Memphis history. Caitlin starts us off with some old timey vocabulary before diving into Anderton's (get it??) Rebecca follows up with charming stories of The Four Way, which is so near and dear to our hearts.

Herbert Anderton learned how to cook on a Texas Army base before bringing his skills to downtown Memphis.

In 1945, Anderton's Restaurant and Oyster Bar opened at 51 Madison to immediate success. In 1956, Anderton's East opened up in the former Gilmore Seafood Restaurant at 1901 Madison as a second location. There was also a third location around 1965 in Whitehaven, across from Graceland. Then it and the original downtown location closed, and Anderton's East became the only one – and this is the one that most people have such fond memories of... due in part to its amazing piratey, nautical-themed interior.

In the restaurant’s first ten years, it served over six million oysters to more than two million diners. On their 10-year anniversary, they baked a cake to serve 2,500 customers so that anyone who came in on that day could enjoy a slice. If you have a photo or memory of this event, please get in touch with us. We need to hear more about this event!

Anderton's closed in 2005 and was demolished in 2009 BUT the décor lives on at The Cove on Broad Avenue.

The Four Way makes a strong appearance in our book, and we were thrilled to revisit it for this week's podcast episode. It's located in Soulsville, one of the most historic neighborhoods in Memphis.

It began as a small pool hall where you could also get basics like a hotdog, a sandwich, or a beer. In 1946, Clint and Irene Cleaves took out a loan on their house to purchase the building. Their restaurant had an upscale feel with white tablecloths and snazzy servers. They added a private dining room in the back complete with a doorbell and required staff approval before entry.

The Four Way was one of the few places in Memphis that white and black people ate at together. Martin Luther King, Jr., was a regular, as were many famous Stax recording artists. And, of course, Elvis also dined there.

The restaurant closed in 1996 due to Mrs. Cleaves' declining health. Willie Earl Bates purchased it when it went up for auction in 2001. He remodeled it and expanded dining space by removing the pool tables and adding an upstairs dining room for groups. But he did keep the menu as close to the original Cleaves' version as possible, even having cooks help with taste-testing to make sure the food remained "rightly seasoned."

Today you can still find amazing soul food at The Four Way, as it carries on even after Mr. Bates' passing in 2016.

For full show notes, go to memphistypehistory.com/dining1

Earnestine and Hazel’s

September 17, 2017
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In this episode of Memphis Type History: The Podcast, Rebecca and Caitlin visit Memphis' favorite historical dive bar, Earnestine and Hazel's. They pull up a stool and hear what soul burger cooker and bartender Clarence has to tell about E&H. They also take a tour of the bar and then wrap up by dancing the morning away with sounds of a haunted jukebox.

Earnestine & Hazel's began it's life as a church in the late 1800s.

However, the building at 351 South Main Street in downtown Memphis then became a dry goods store. And then it was a pharmacy owned by Abe Plough of Coppertone fame. He became a multi-millionaire so he sold the business to the two sisters who ran a hair salon upstairs (while also living there): Earnestine Mitchell and Hazel Jones.

Upstairs the hair salon remained, with additional rooms being rented out to ladies of the night. The downstairs flipped over to a jazz night club run by Earnestine's husband, Sunbeam. He was a local music producer and promoted, and had opened Club Paradise over near Stax Records – so he knew a lot of famous musicians – and they would often come down to his wife's café for general frolicking late into the night. Ray Charles was apparently a regular.

But by the end of the '70s, Stax was gone and with it, Club Paradise. The whole brothel aspect limited the café's customer base. By the '90s, Earnestine and Hazel were looking for a way out.

As a ten-year-old, Russell George competed in the James Brown Dance Contest at the Mid-South Coliseum. Brown himself awarded this only white boy in the competition first prize. Five years later, George was running an illegal bar out of his apartment called Jefferson in the Rear. As a young man, he played a part in making Murphy’s Oyster Bar happen and became The Memphis Icebreaks' band manage (and also was one of their dancers).  In 1992, he bought the brothel, invented the Soul Burger, and the rest, shall we say, is Memphis dive bar history.

Russell George tragically died in 2013 of a self-inflicted gunshot wound after battling cancer and depression. At 62, he was the thirteenth person to move into the next world at E&H.

His Soul Burger has fed the souls of so many throughout the years, and Clarence continues to serve them up from the same griddle Earnestine and Hazel used back in the combo café/brothel days. On a hot day in June, Rebecca and Caitlin sat down to chat with Clarence about the history of E&H. 

You can follow along with the full show notes at memphistypehistory.com/eh

Graffiti 101 with Nosey42

September 10, 2017
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In this episode of Memphis Type History: The Podcast, Rebecca sits on her front porch with graffiti artist Brandon Marshall sipping on mojitos while he takes us all the way back to the beginning of his art form and its manifestations in our beloved Memphis. Do you know the difference between graffiti and a mural? Sit up straight, class is in session. 

Forgive the ambient noise, we actually did record on my front porch and so you hear the crickets outside and the occasional car or plane passing by.

This whole conversation was framed by Rebecca's questions and lack of knowledge on the subject, so they started at the beginning. How did graffiti start? While the exact city is somewhat unclear, the big northeastern cities are definitely all a part of the roots of graffiti. New York, DC, Philadelphia, all had very active scenes in the seventies. At its core, graffiti started as kids just wanting to leave something behind. So they would tag their name on subways, alleys, wherever they could. Then, it escalated. With everyone tagging their name, it became really important to set yourself apart. How do you do that? Two ways—location and artistry. You wanted to make it stood out by putting your tag someplace really visually accessible to lots of people. You also wanted to make sure you added some flare to that tag so people realized it was you as they saw it in more and more high-profile places. A couple of other things worth noting: named derived first the the city street number and your crew name. Crews are basically people teaming up and they share a piece of your tag name. So Nosey42 is Brandon's nickname and his crew, 42. What is a crew and how do you get into one? How many does Memphis have? Hear more about that in our conversation on the podcast.

Even though, we are talking about something that is done mostly illegally, it turns out there is a bit of a code or an etiquette. If you cover someone else's tag it has to follow one basic guidelines: it has to make the work objectively better. There's more to it than that, but basically that's what it comes down to. There have been fights over this and maybe even worse. Brandon also told us about some of his experiences dealing with instances of people breaking the graffiti code.

Brandon tells us that when being considered, a crew will take note of the quality of an artist's work and the quantity. Just like he mentioned in the history, they want to have artists whose work can be seen in the most high profile places, and is at a high level. This lead us into a discussion about the place of murals and where he saw them in the landscape of the art community in the world broadly but also specifically in Memphis. He was quoted in a previous article speaking the appeal of popular art like murals. In other words, he loves art that anyone can see and enjoy, and see meaning in. He even went so far as to say the truest form of graffiti, tagging your name on a wall, is really the most boiled down, pure, honest, form of art. All you need is a name and spray can to do it and even less to appreciate it of what it is. That's why we love talking about graffiti, because at our core, we're about type being used in Memphis.

So what does Brandon think about the prevalence of murals on walls across Memphis, even in some of the newest, hippest, developments in the city? As you might expect, he has mixed feelings.

For full show notes go to memphistypehistory.com/graffiti

Bonus Episode: Riding Elephants

September 6, 2017
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Tune in to Memphis Type History's very first Speakpipe message sent by Lisa Bryant from Little Rock, Arkansas. Hear a particular memory she has of the no longer existing Raleigh Springs Mall.

Lustron Homes of Memphis

August 27, 2017
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In this episode of Memphis Type History: The Podcast, Caitlin tells Rebecca all about the engineering and architectural marvel that was the Lustron home. Three of these rare postwar gems can be found in Memphis.

 

Carl Strandlund invented the Lustron home to answer the need for affordable housing for soldiers returning from World War II. The plan was that the government would provide the steel and Strandlund would combat the housing shortage with these highly unique, prefabricated, enamel-coated, modular steel homes.

In 1946, he demonstrated the prototype which he claimed was fireproof (because steel), and also could do not rust or be damaged termites or rats and such. It could also stand up to water and sun damage of all kinds. Finally, homeowners would never have to paint it, replace the roof, or do anything more than grab a hose when it was time to clean it. In 1947, his manufacturing company was ready to do business, armed with the first ever venture capital loan from the U.S. government.

These homes that could "defy weather, wear, and time" were designed for the modern family, with ads claiming a "new and richer experience for the entire family." At $8,500–$9,500, the pricing came in at 25% less than the market average (although prices went up by 1949 to $10,500). There were three models to choose from and each came with two- and three-bedroom options. The most popular selection was the 1,021 square foot, two bedroom Westchester Deluxe.

Unlike the current models of prefabricated homes one purchased from Alladin, Gordon-Van Tine, Montgomery Ward, or Sears at this time, Lustron homes were delivered as engineering marvels complete with a new kind of steel framing system of vertical steel studs and roof-ceiling trusses that the interior and exterior panels were then attached to... and the interior came ready to assemble as well, with all counter tops, pocket doors, and many pieces of furniture built into the design for space-saving. Customers had the option add-on of a combination clothes- and dish-washer made by Thor.

The manufacturing system was also a marvel – of the assembly line kind. The Ohio-based factory featured eight miles of conveyor belts, eleven 180-foot enameling furnaces, and up to 1,000 bathtubs could be made in one day, each in a single draw from the press. The finished pieces were all modular, so once the custom-designed trucks arrived on site, the 33,000 individual parts could be built into a house within three days.

You might be wondering why, with all of these benefits to their name, Lustron homes are such rare historical and architectural gems. Due to lots of governement bureucracy adn soem sneaky stuff (check out the links roundup at the end of this post if you want all the gory details), the Lustron factory just never produced at capacity. Rather than the 15,000 homes they were projected to make in 1947 and the 30,000 that were planned in 1948, only 2,498 were ever made at all – and Memphis got four of them!

Only about 2,000 still exist in the U.S., and most have been modified (somewhat extensively, in many cases). The original owners of the Memphis Lustron homes would have ordered them at the Mid-South Fair. As far as we know, three are still in the city and we discuss them on the show.

For full show notes go to memphistypehistory.com/lustron

At the Drive-In

August 20, 2017
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In this episode of Memphis Type History: The Podcast, you’ll find out how the drive-in movie theater started, hear Rebecca’s sister tell her childhood memories of the drive in, and answer the question that has been the source of many contentious debates in Memphis for years: which side of the highway was the Summer Avenue Drive in originally located?

Richard Hollingshead starts the Drive-In, of course, for his mom. As a sales manager for his father’s company, Whiz Auto Products, Hollingshead understood the automobile and society’s love for cars. He also understood some people, like his mom, had a hard time finding a comfortable seat in the town’s lavish theater. Thus, he worked on an idea to create a movie watching experience in the comfort of your own car. Mounting a 1928 Kodak projector on the hood of his car, tying sheets to trees, and with his radio, he practiced his clever project in his own driveway. In May of 1933 he received a patent for his concept and opened the first Drive-In Theater on Tuesday, June 6 of the same year in Pennsauken, New Jersey. 

At some point between the late 1950s to early 60s around 4,000 Drive-In theaters existed across the country. One of the largest was in Copiague, New York which provided space for 2,500 parked cars, a kid’s playground and a full service restaurant. Apparently, there were several factors in the decline of the drive-in. First, the widespread adoption of daylight savings made it difficult for the movies to start at a reasonable hour. Secondly, the oil crisis in the seventies made people more unlike to do anything in the car if they could avoid it. Still, drive-ins have managed to survive into the current era but there are fewer than 500 in existence today.

GROWING UP AT THE DRIVE-IN

Rebecca's sister actually has some vivid memories of going to the movie theater, especially the drive in where we grew up in South Texas. The whole experience of bringing food, packing into the car, seeing some new and exciting film, was an escape from what could sometimes feel like an otherwise dull and restricting working class lifestyle. It should be noted in the podcast Rebecca's sister says she was born in 1979 which is true even though she tries to sound more like 79 years old to make the memory more genuine. Plus they sound almost exactly alike so hopefully this helps distinguish them.

THE SUMMER AVENUE DRIVE IN GREAT DEBATE

That brings us to the Summer Avenue Drive-In. If you talk to many Memphians, especially those that have lived here for a long time, you’ll run into questions about what side of the highway it was on originally: west or east? It turns out that’s a trick question because it was neither on the east or west side of the highway because at the time there was no highway!

The current drive-in did move into its current location, across the highway to the west after the construction of the highway in 1966. The original drive-in was said to have the largest marquee sign in the South and the second largest car capacity at more than 600. 

We also learned the founder of Holiday Inn, Kemmons Wilson, was one of the original owners of the movie theater and he intended for there to be a skating rink directly in front of the screen. In addition, the original theater offered services many of us would love to have access to, especially moms, like warming a bottle of milk for a baby! Although the skating rink may or may not have actually ever been used and several of the other big ideas for the theater were never realized, it was still very popular and entertained crowds for many years. It did close and was eventually demolished before the new Summer Drive-In opened in 1966.

Caitlin and Rebecca went to see a movie at the current Summer Drive-In several years ago. You’ll have to listen to the podcast to get the whole story, though. You’ll also hear about someone who may be living in an apartment above the concession stand.

The Summer Drive-In now remains a popular spot for families, teenagers, and just about anyone who loves movies in Memphis. You can listen to the movie audio through a radio station that tunes in once you drive onto the lot and the sign is characterized by vintage sculptures and a classic Beetle car above the marquee.

For full show notes, visit memphistypehistory.com/drivein

 

Graceland Too: The Place We Regret Not Visiting

August 13, 2017
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In this episode of Memphis Type History: The Podcast, Rebecca and Caitlin have a treat for all the Elvis fans out there celebrating this week. They talk about Graceland Too, the offbeat museum of Elvis memorabilia you can't visit anymore because of its closing in tragic circumstances. But you can hear all about it from from people who did see it firsthand on Memphis Type History: The Podcast.

Graceland Too is no longer open to the public. However, memories of the eccentric owner of the Elvis memorabilia museum are still spoken of with fondness. Paul MacLeod drove into Holly Springs, Mississippi, in the 1980s dressed like Elvis and in a pink Cadillac. He took up residence in the small town and soon his reputation as an Elvis fan garnered him visitors of his own. He loved Elvis so much his entire home was filled with rare and strange memorabilia. He said to have even named is son Elvis Aaron Presley McLeod. So where did the name come from?

The house itself was just as eccentric as the man who ran it. There was memorabilia covering every wall of the house. It changed colors regularly according to various themes: Blue for Blue Hawaii, Pink for the Cadillac, and Gray for Jailhouse Rock, among others. Unfortunately Paul McLeod was found dead suddenly on his porch in the front of his house from a health issues. Two days earlier he had shot and killed a man at his front door. Although MacLeod was not convicted with anything, people claim the stress of the situation caused his death. The death was sudden and just as suddenly his home and belongings were auctioned off. Rebecca only even experienced any of it at an exhibit at Crosstown Arts which is why she looked for people who could help fill in memories with their firsthand accounts.

The first person interviewed is Darrin Devault. He went to the museum the first time with a friend who was always looking for the opportunity to take good photos. Only box fans cooled the house in the sweltering July heat. Darrin described the house as being at one time a "stately home." At the time of their visit it was painted in the blue.

After that, it was painted "Pepto Bismo Pink. Darrin went to McLeod's funeral. They let everyone at the funeral back to the house for the final tour. Darrin talks about Paul's "photographic memory" and his "wall of fans" for people visited consistently over the years including the Elvis garment you had to wear for your "wall of fans" photo to be displayed in the home. You'll have to listen to the podcast to get the details, though.

Second, we hear from Aimee who was a lifetime member. She took one of those middle-of-the-night visits that were apparently very popular among college students. It was the mid-nineties. Upon arriving she was taken aback by the number of items and its location just off a main city street. She also talks about how it was a much different experience in the middle of the night than during the day. Aimee took the trip when she was relatively new to Memphis and was very curious about the Elvis culture that exists. She describes it as a place you had to see to believe and describes McLeod as every bit of what you hear about when people describe him.

Rebecca also talked to Emily Van Gilder and her boyfriend Evan Daws. Evan was actually a lifetime member and has his picture on that "wall of fans" you read about earlier and is the owner of several Lifetime Member cards. Evan talks about his many adventures at Graceland Too, and shares what he'd have kept if he could have anything from the collection. Emily had her own unique experience there. Listen to the podcast to get all those details.

For full show notes go to memphistypehistory.com/gracelandtoo

Maywood Beach

August 6, 2017
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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 memphistypehistory.com/maywood

Bonus Episode: Goat on Parade

August 4, 2017
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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!