Jimmy Ogle Tours


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Previous Talks And Tours From Days Gone By
(Which means these have already happened, in the past,
they are not current tours unless listed on the MAIN page.)



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6:30 P.M.            WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 8


Our annual history awards dinner will have several features including the recognition of the Ed Williams History Teacher of the Year Award, recognition of the winners of the West Tennessee History Day District Contest held at the University of Memphis, and maybe a few other surprises.

Tickets are $25.00 per person, which includes the dinner and we need your check and reservations by Friday, July 27.  Please make the check payable to Shelby County Historical Commission and mail to:
                                                History Awards Dinner
 c/o Jimmy Ogle
                                                4349 Sequoia Road
    Memphis, TN   38117

In 2018, some of the history organizations presenting their annual awards will be the West Tennessee Historical Society, Davies Manor Association, Descendants of Early Settlers of Shelby and Adjoining Counties, United Daughters of the War of 1812, Historic Archives of Rosemark & Environs, West Tennessee Military Vehicle Collectors Club, Sons of Confederate Veterans, United Daughters of the Confederacy, Daughters of the American Revolution, Shelby County Historical Commission, and more.

The 8th Annual Shelby County History Awards Dinner was held on Wednesday, August 8 at Hillwood Hall in Davies Manor. 137 Shelby Countians of all ages and sized were present while 26 awards were presented from twelve different history affinity groups. Mayor and Mrs. Luttrell were presented a Shelby County history quilt made by the Davies Manor and Boll Weevils Quilt Guilds. One of the students honored from Tennessee History Day was Muadeth Malley of Pleasant View School, and he also won the national competition of National History Day in Baltimore. Jim Cole received the 7th Annual Ellen Davies-Rodgers Awards for his contributions to the Shelby County Historical Commission. Andre Clarke of Pleasant View School received the 6th Annual Ed Williams History Teacher of the Year Award.
A good time was had by all . . .

More pictures available, courtesy of Kevin Quinn.

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Judge D'Army Bailey Courthouse Tours

  Now that Jimmy O is back in Downtown daily thanks to the new job as Community Engagement Manager with the Riverfront Development Corporation, he will be able to resume a tour of the Courthouse on either the third or fourth Thursday of each month. Courthouse Tours are free, handicapped accessible, cameras are allowed for these tours (special exemption) and we assemble at 12:00 noon on the southwest steps of the Courthouse (Second/Adams).

  Highlights of the tour of Memphis & Shelby County's grandest public building (which opened in 1910) include (exterior) the six marble statues, web scenes in pediments depicting six aspects of law; (interior) the Grand South Hallway & Museum, six display cases of Courthouse, archives, seven different kinds of marble, Cuban mahogany wood, pedestal & bust of Andrew Jackson (dating back to 1835), historic cuspidor; visits to the Antique Courtroom and Shelby County Law Library; and numerous stories about the people, events and history of the courts of Shelby County, dating back almost 200 years.

September 13  - 12:00 noon

October 20  - 12:00 noon

Created by John Blount, this slideshow
will give you a glimpse inside the
Shelby County Courthouse tour.


Many thanks to the Memphis Bar Association for authorizing and approving these tours, plus enhancing the visitors experience;
to the Shelby County government administration for allowing the tours in such a significant building with important daily operations;
and to the judges, clerks and staff working in the Shelby County Courthouse on a daily basis for their tolerance and patience of this "invasion" of their working spaces.

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Old Forest Trail Hike in Overton Park

Believe it or not, one of the best times to visit the Old Forest is in the Winter, when all the leaves have fallen and one can actually see "through" the upper canopy for several hundred yards.  At this time, one can really see how tall some of the trees tower.  The forest floor become somewhat barren and a Winter stage of life takes place.  Even the poison ivy takes a nap (not really, it just discolors!).

10:00 a.m. Every Second Saturday & Last Sunday of Each Month

Saturday  –  August 11, September 8, October 13 

Sunday  –  August 27, September 24, October 29

Assemble at the Lick Creek Bridge, just south of the Rainbow Lake parking lot
or just east of the # 2 tee of the historic Overton Park Golf Course, on Old Forest Lane, of course!
This 90-minute hike is different every time it is taken, as the Old Forest has a new story to unveil every day . . .



In honor of the 40th anniversary of the Citizens to Preserve Overton Park v. Volpe
U.S. Supreme Court decision, we've reproduced a vintage CPOP shirt from the 1970s.

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Thanks to the great people at Bluff City Sports
for spiffing up the original design for us!

We will mail you this fabulous shirt as a thank-you gift when you donate $15 or more to Citizens to Preserve Overton Park.
You can fill out the
handy form on our website to donate securely online with your credit card or Paypal account.

If you would rather pick up your shirt in person and/or pay by check,
please email us at
overtonparkforever@gmail.com to make arrangements.

Many thanks to citizens George Cates and Gary Shorb, Senator Beverly Marrero, Representative Jeanne Richardson, Councilperson Jim Strickland and Governor Bill Haslam for The Old Forest of Overton Park the 82nd State Natural Area in the State of Tennessee this Summer. Also, stay tuned for updates about the formation of the Overton Park Conservancy to protect and upgrade Memphis' greatest park.

Speak Up for Overton Park, visit www.overtonparkforever.org.

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"Ogle In October" Walking Tours

Back by popular demand, five walking tours in Downtown Memphis
that are open to the public, strolling the sidewalks of Downtown Memphis.
Featured in the month of October...

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Elmwood Cemetery Tours

Save The Date - Saturday, June 16 - Two Tours at Elmwood Cemetery: Jimmy Ogle will give two separate (90-minute) walking tours of Elmwood Cemetery. At 10:30 a.m., we will step off from the Lord's Chapel and head south to the Grovesnor Monument (used as background in the movie "The Firm"), circling back to the Phillips Cottage. After a lunch break, we will step off at 1:00 p.m. from the Phillips Cottage and head east to No Mans Land (Yellow Fever) and the Civil War sections, and more - again circling back towards the Phillips Cottage. Due to the popularity of the "south section tour" (sold out for the past three years), we have added a second "east section tour" (for those repeaters to get some new ground covered). The cost for each tour is $20.00 each with registration through the Elmwood office (901-774-3212 or online at elmwoodcemetery.org/events). "Elmwood Cemetery is the ultimate history book of Memphis!"

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The 7th Annual Great November 6th, 1934 Street Tour @ 6:06 p.m.

It happens only once a year and always on November 6, no matter what day (or evening) of the week the date falls on. This year, the tour will step off at 6:06 p.m. on Monday, November 6 from Elvis Presley Plaza, located on the south side of Beale Street between South Main and South Second Streets (across from the Hard Rock Cafe). We will follow the route of the "Spine of Downtown" to Court Square on what should be a very delightful (and crisp) Autumn evening!!

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"Talk About It Tuesday" in February at Withers Collection, 333 Beale Street

  Dr. Ernest Withers became a very good friend to me while I was Director of the Memphis Rock 'n' Soul Museum in the early 2000s. The Withers Collection Museum & Gallery MLK50 will be sponsoring several free programs in February during Black History Month under the theme of "Untold Stories of 1968". Each Tuesday evening at 7:00 p.m., I am honored to help lead discussions with citizens that their experiences and memories surround the Spring of 1968 in Memphis, and the Civil Rights Movement. Focus of four special exhibits each week will be:

February 1-7: Larry Payne
February 8-14: Coretta Scott King
February 15-21: Maxine Smith
February 22-28: Ralph Abernathy

  Other events at the Withers Collection during the month are:

Workshop Wednesdays (11:30am-12:30pm) - research and licensing resources; photography tips; oral history basics; managing personal archives

Thursdays (7:00-9:00pm) - '68 Mixer ("60 jams featuring music from the "60s and optional 1960s attire)

Fridays, February 9, 16 (8:00pm) & 23 (6:00pm) - Visual Artists Display and Music & Spoken Word

Saturdays (12:00 noon-4:00pm) - "History Hunt Saturday" - find 1968 images in the gallery!

Sundays (2:00-4:00pm) - "Say That Sunday" - Record your untold 1968 story for the Withers Archives.

Withers Collections, 333 Beale Street * witherscollection.com * 901-523-2344

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It's nice to be on a cover of a local publication like MEMPHIS PARENT, but it is super nice to also be the Centerfold. Now, photographer Bryan Rollins really has his work cut out for him.

What a pleasure and honor to be asked by Michelle McKissack, Editor of MEMPHIS PARENT, to lead a walking tour of the core and riverfront of Downtown Memphis, as a feature story. I was to lead several youngsters on a tour from Court Square to behind the University of Memphis Law School (seeing the riverfront features), down Cotton Row and back up Main Street. A special stop at The Peanut Shoppe is always a highlight of this tour, with the proprietor, Rida, being full of surprises.

Michelle and I hope that other parents will bring their children into Downtown Memphis to experience the history and wonders of it all.

Thank you, Michelle.

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  Jimmy O will be taking a few months off this Summer from Talks & Tours. The free monthly tour of the Judge D'Army Bailey Courthouse will continue through the Summer at 12:00 noon on third Thursdays (June 15, July 20 and August 17). Speaking engagements that are not already scheduled will resume beginning January 1, 2018.

Contact: info@jimmyogle.com for scheduling.

  Daily tours of the Historic Peabody Hotel will be offered at 11:30 a.m. on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays. The cost is $10 and reservations may be made by calling 901-529-4000, or at the Concierge Desk in the Lobby of the Peabody Hotel. On those same five days, come enjoy the daily marches of the World Famous Peabody Ducks at 11:00 am. and 5:00 p.m.

Thank you for your support of Jimmy Ogle Talks & Tours for the past ten years.


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Carousel Opening

  In 2014, the Children's Museum of Memphis led the charge to restore the 1909 Dentzel Grand Carousel which was once housed at the former Libertyland Park (which closed in 2005).  After years of planning, construction, restoration and fund raising, the Memphis Grand Carousel Pavilion & Ballroom will open on Saturday, December 2 at 10:00 a.m.  (Jimmy O will be present that day to tell stories about Libertyland, Mid-South Fair and the Fairgrounds -  so bring your memories!). Please join the CMOM staff and other Memphians during the Winter for some indoor family fun. The Children's Museum is located at 2559 Central Avenue & Hollywood; 901-458-2678; memphisgrandcarousel.org or cmom.com).

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After a schedule adjustment at The Peabody, Tuesdays are once again the lunch hour for the 45-minute, 4-block-long walking TUESDAY TOURS, stepping off at 11:45 a.m. at these dates and locations:

October 3 - The Great Union Avenue Manhole Cover & History Tour (Cotton Museum)

October 10 - Pinch District (Westy's, 346 North Main)

October 17 - South Front Street (Hotel Chisca)

October 24 - BB King Blvd (Sterick Building)

October 31 - Court Square & Surroundings (Hebe Fountain)


Now for the "and more" . . .

11th Annual Elmwood Costume Twilight Tour: 3:30-7:00 p.m. (line closes at 5:30 p.m.), Saturday, October 14. Admission is $20 and participants must register with Elmwood by calling 774-3212 or online at elmwoodcemetery.org. Jimmy O will portray Edward Pembroke, the first Duckmaster at The Peabody Hotel. Coming from the circus and being a bus driver, becoming a Bellman in 1940 lead to a (twice) daily tradition that draws over 250,000 visitors to the Lobby annually to watch the Ducks march. Mr. Pembroke plied his trade for 50 years!

Unveiling of the Dionicio Rodriguez Statue at Memorial Park Cemetery, 5668 Poplar Avenue: 1:00p.m. on Wednesday, October 18. The sculptor of the Crystal Shrine Grotto will be honored with a statue on the grounds. Jimmy O will pull the veil! For more information, contact Phillip Hamilton at 901-767-8930 or 901-268-7602. FREE and open to the public.


Dedication of Wolf River Greenway: 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, October 21
at Confluence Park on the north end of Mud Island.
The western terminus of the 23-mile section of the Wolf River Greenway will dedicated as a part of a five year program to connect to Shelby Farms Park and other trails there and beyond. Jimmy O will give FREE 45-minute walking tours of this section from the north end of Greenbelt Park to Second Street, stepping off after the ribbon cutting ceremonies at 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.


Save these dates in Early November : 21st Annual Davies Manor Quilt & Fiber Arts Show on November 3-4-5
(daviesmanorplantation.org.) and the November 6th, 1934 Street Tour at 6:06 p.m. on Monday, November 6 (meet at Elvis Presley Plaza on Beale Street).

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7th Annual Shelby County History Awards Dinner A Success!

On Wednesday, August 2, 122 folks from 14 different historical organizations in Shelby County distributed 25 awards in Hillwood Hall at Davis Manor Plantation. Highlights of the evening included hearing from Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell, the revival of the Shelby County Historical Commission's Books Awards and the presentation of awards to student winners from the Tennessee History Day competition last February at The University of Memphis. The photos may be found at Flickr.com/thenthere.

Many thanks to Carolyn Monfort (catering), Dr. Rob Williams (photography), John Rainey (books Awards certificate design) and the many members of the Shelby County Historical Commission who volunteering their time to organize and coordinate various aspects of the Awards Dinner. The 8th Annual Awards Dinner will be Wednesday, August 1 - tell a friend . . .

(Special thanks to Dr. Rob Williams for sharing his wonderful pictures.)

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Jimmy Ogle Tour of Elmwood on Saturday, September 16 - 1:00 p.m.

For the third consecutive year, Jimmy O will give a 90-minute walking tour of a portion of Elmwood Cemetery. Elmwood is 80 acres and has 75,000 residents, so that would be a lot for anybody to cover on foot in one afternoon. Cost of the tour is $20 and participants must register with Elmwood by calling 774-3212 or online at elmwoodcemetery.org. The tour will step off from Lord's Chapel and head south through the Evergreen section to Lenow Circle and then the Turley section, back to Samuel Phillips Cottage. Some of the "residents" to be spoken of are E.H.Crump, Judge Odell Horton, Maxine & Vasco Smith, Edward Pembroke, Ernest Withers, Lloyd
Binford, Geraldus Buntyn, Benjamin Hooks, John Reid McClanahan and Capt. James Lee.

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Being Duckmaster at The Peabody Hotel on Fridays through Tuesdays has made the weekly FREE walking tours in Downtown shift to Thursday with the first tour of the 2017 Spring Season being Thursday, April 20. Being the third Thursday of the month, the traditional tour of the D'Army Bailey Courthouse will be this year's opener, assembling at 12:00 noon on the southwest Courthouse steps, Adams & Second. This Spring Season's NEW tour will be B.B. King Boulevard on Thursday, May 4, assembling at the Sterick Building (Madison Avenue & B.B. King Blvd) and heading south to the intersection of "King & King" just past FedExForum.


Below are the dates, times and assembly locations for THURSDAY TOURS:

April 20 (12:00 noon) - D'Army Bailey Courthouse
(Second & Adams)

April 27 (11:45 a.m.) - The Great Union Avenue Manhole Cover & History Tour
(Cotton Museum, Union & Front)

May 4 (11:45 a.m.) - B.B. King Boulevard
(Sterick Building, Madison & B.B. King Blvd.)

May 11 (11:45 a.m.) - Pinch District
(Westy's, 346 North Main & Jackson)

May 18 (12:00 noon) - D'Army Bailey Courthouse
(Second & Adams)

May 25 (11:45 a.m.) - South Front Street
(Orpheum Theatre, South Main & Beale Street)

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Summer of 2016 Review


  As of Thursday, September 22, Fall has Fell! For some reason, I had a premonition that change was "in the air" this Summer. Becoming the 6th ever Duckmaster at The Peabody Hotel on September 21 (the last day of Summer), proved me right. The Summer of 2016 was indeed a Summer of Fun.

  The third weekend of July was spent in Shreveport, Louisiana being the Cruise Director on the MEMPHIS QUEEN III for ten cruises in two days as a celebration of the 175th Anniversary of the Morris-Dixon Pharmaceutical Company. Learning the history of the Red River and enjoying the spirit and food of the people of the Shreveport - Bossier City area was indeed a thrill. It reminded me of the "good ol' days" of the 1990s when we took the Memphis Queen Line boats to New Madrid and Helena for weekends of fun.

  In August, I was presented the 2016 Leadership In Historic Preservation Award from Historic Archives of Rosemark and Environs (H.A.R.E.) at the 6th Annual Shelby County History Awards Dinner at Davies Manor.
What an honor from this distinguished group!

  Labor Day weekend was spent at King Jerry Lawler's Club on Beale Street with its Grand Opening. A wrestling ring out on Beale Street for the first time in history; Starship inside playing "We Built This City On Rock 'n' Roll; Flick and Scott Farkus from the movie "The Christmas Story" signing autographs (on a triple-dog-dare!); Bill Dundee, Koko B Ware, Jerry Calhoun, Dave Brown and Lawler won his match after he pulled his strap!

  The first TUESDAY TOUR of September was Jefferson Avenue and highlighting that "Memphis changed the way the world shopped for groceries with the opening of the first self-service grocery store at 79 Jefferson Avenue - Piggly Wiggly by Clarence Saunders. The tour was on the 100th anniversary of September 6, 1916 - which was also noted by a story in the Wall Street Journal and did receive front page coverage ABOVE THE FOLD in The Commercial Appeal on September 7.

  On Tuesday, September 13, the Friends of Levitt Pavilion Memphis Inc and the Shelby County Historical Commission gathered at the Levitt Shell to unveil a historical marker on the 80th anniversary of the opening of the Overton Park Shell in 1936. Levitt Shell now offers fifty free concerts a year and has become one of the leading cultural centers in Memphis. Congratulations!

On Friday, September 16, I was once again afforded the opportunity to speak to the Friday Assembly in the Hyde Chapel at Memphis University School (M.U.S.), my alma mater (Class of '70). While there, I was able to view the Class of 1970 framed picture on one of the hallway walls, and I was able to view the Buzzard Patch that was on my letter jacket, still hanging in the former office of Coach Jerry Peters!

  On Tuesday, September 20, the Great Union Avenue Manhole Cover & History Tour began with two more inductees into the Pink Slat Awards Hall of Fame. Alisa Bradley and Trey Giuntini of Mud Island River Park were bestowed the honor for their 20+ years each of dedication to the Mississippi River Museum, Mississippi River Walk and all things Mud Island. Of course, the several changing exhibits that I was able to curate in the Museum Changing Exhibit Gallery would not have happened without their support and guidance.

  On Sunday, September 25, the fourth season (and last season) of BRIDGE WALKS on the Memphis & Arkansas Bridge (southernmost) was concluded. During these four years, over 2,000 participants have enjoyed these "preview tours" for the future Big River Crossing on the Harahan Bridge (northernmost). Big River Crossing and Big River Trail (Arkansas) open on Saturday, October 22. With the advent of the millions of dollars spent on this new dedicated pedestrian and bicycle only pathway over the Mississippi River (100 feet high) and a host of publicity and civic efforts, I feel my "Mission Accomplished" and others will provide interpretive services on the new project. Go to bigrivercrossing.com for all of the wonderful things that are planned . . .

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The Art of Manhole Covers Getting Big City Acclaim!


  As you may recall, last May I had a visit in Downtown from Russell Muits of Philadelphia, as he was traveling through the South making rubbings of Manhole Covers from various cities (Charlotte. Atlanta, Birmingham, Jackson, New Orleans, Memphis, Nashville, etc.). Low and behold, two stories appeared recently in major northeastern cities (New York City and Philadelphia). A special shout out and thank you to our friend in NYC, Alan Grossman of MEMPHIS MAP FOR ELVIS FANS, for forwarded articles.

  Russell enjoyed rubbing one of the Steamboat covers on Main Street in front of the Kress Building and 110-year-old Memphis Telephone Company cover in the alley intersection of Park Lane and Center Lane (next to the Falls Building). Don't miss the Great Union Avenue Manhole Cover & History Tour at 11:45 a.m. on Tuesday, September 20 (we assemble at the Cotton Museum (Front & Union). See you there . . .

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Top 15 Highlights of 2015


The Memphis 13 History Markers

On October 3, 1961, thirteen brave “pint-size pioneers” (first graders that came to be known as The Memphis 13) entered four elementary schools in the Memphis City Schools system, thus beginning the desegregation of the largest public school system in the State of Tennessee. 54 years later on October 3, 2015, the Shelby County Historical Commission honored the Memphis 13 that day by placing historical markers at Bruce, Rozelle, Springdale and Gordon Elementary Schools. Historical Commission member, Dr. LaSimba Gray, Pastor of New Sardis Baptist Church, was the instrumental leader of the effort to recognize the students, organize meaningful dedication ceremonies at each school, lead a Police escorted motorcade (Corvette Club) and gather funding for the markers.


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Sultana Commemorative Weekend & Cruises

On April 27, 1865, the Sultana loaded with more 2,300 passengers (six times its legal limit and mostly released Union POW’s) exploded about seven miles north of Memphis sending more than 1,700 people to their death in the Mississippi River – the largest maritime disaster in the history of America. 150 years later, 99 descendants of Sultana victims and survivors gathered in Marion, Arkansas and Memphis to commemorate and memorialize the sesquicentennial of this horrendous event. Two cruises were coordinated from the Historic Cobblestone Wharf in Memphis (the same cobblestones that the Sultana departed on its fateful journey in 1865) upriver to as near to the explosion site as possible. The 52nd Regimental String Band played Civil War era music, lectures were delivered by two noted Sultana experts (Gene Salecker and Jerry Potter), a four-musket salute was given, a Civil War era flag was laid to rest in the depths of the river, and each descendant gave the name, rank and regiment of their ancestor, then deposited a red or white rose in the depths. This is the only time in history that such a commemorative cruise recognizing the Sultana Tragedy has ever occurred. It was a very moving cruise for descendants from all over the country.


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Alan Lightman “Screening Room” Interview

The third annual Memphis Jewish Literary and Cultural Arts Festival was sponsored in October by the Memphis Jewish Community Center, and one of the features was former Memphian, Alan Lightman, author of six novels (including the international bestseller Einstein’s Dreams), several essays, and the book Screening Room: Family Pictures. Alan’s grandfather, M.A. Lightman, formed MALCO theatres in 1916 and the family has grown the movie theatre empire to 60+ theatres in seven states. Alan grew up in East Memphis in the same neighborhood as me and attended White Station, but we never met in the 1960s (although we did share memories of the same Sears and Putt-Putt!). Trained as a theoretical physicist, Alan taught at Harvard and at MIT, where he was the first person to receive a dual faculty appointment in science and humanities. Screening Room covers the family saga from the immigration to America in the late 1800s to the present, including the turbulent 1960s in Memphis that include family encounters with Elvis Presley, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and E. H. “Boss” Crump (when Alan left town to go to college) to his return in the 21st century of BBQ, music and Downtown revitalization. Many thanks to Amy Israel of MJCC for asking me to host/emcee the Lightman “conversation” to a packed house at the MALCO Ridgeway Cinema Grill on October 19.


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Wayne Jackson “Memphis Legends” Wine Label

Delta Blues Winery in Lakeland was the setting on August 30 for the introduction for a new wine label honoring the legends of Memphis music. I was ask to represent Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell in reading and presenting a Proclamation to trumpet player Wayne Jackson, one of the two members of the famous Memphis Horns (along with the late Andrew Love, saxophonist), who are credited on more # 1 hits that any other performers in the history of music! Local celebrities David Porter (“Soul Man”) and weatherman Dave Brown also honored Wayne that day. As the label states: “Rising up from the rich Delta soil of the Mighty Mississippi, Memphis is the perfect blend of raw, sophisticated spirit, the authentically southern and soulful charm delivers extraordinary experiences. The music has a sound all of its own. They call it the Delta Blues, Easy, Pure, Unique, and Memorable, just like the Delta Blues Winery”. Many thanks to Sheila & Jim Wilson for their hospitality on dedication day and continuing to support Memphis Music Heritage in a unique way.


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First Pitch at Memphis Redbirds Game

Being Honorary Duckmaster at The Peabody Hotel was a big thrill. Now, on the other corner of Union Avenue and B.B. King Blvd, being selected to throw out the First Pitch at a Memphis Redbirds’ baseball game in AutoZone Park was equally thrilling. I was selected by Diana Threadgill to “represent” the Mississippi River Corridor Tennessee for the promotion that day (September 2). I was also honored to share the mound that day with Memphis’ most famous bat boy, Stan Bronson, who has been recognized by the Guinness Books of World Records for his unmatched career for the University of Memphis baseball team (since the 1960s). Play Ball!


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Memphis Medical Society

I come from a family of doctors and I was so honored to be the keynote speaker at the 138th Annual Meeting and Installation of Officers of the Memphis Medical Society on January 31 in the Ballroom and the Holiday Inn - University of Memphis. My aunt, Dr. Evelyn Ogle, was the first female President of the Society in 1992 and my late stepfather, Dr. Hal P. James, was included in the Recognition of Members deceased in 2014 portion of the service that evening being recognized in the program. It was indeed an honor to stand before several hundred members of Memphis’ most honored profession (Medicine) and speak about its legacy, and to meet old friends of my late father, Dr. L.C. Ogle, Jr., who passed away in 1969.


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Bass Pro Opening Night & In-Room Guide: Memphis History Pages

I have a had a long history with The Pyramid, but I have never been so exhilarated as to be in the Apex on April 29 for the Opening Day of the Bass Pro Pyramid attraction. Words cannot really describe what The Pyramid has been transformed into, but for sure it is a success, with over two million patrons visiting the outdoor hunting, fishing equipment and clothing “experience” in its first seven months of existence. On opening night, I was asked to help coordinate the “message” from the Lookout Club outdoor balconies – identifying what people were seeing in all four directions to the horizon to about twenty miles away, from 280-feet high. But, the real lasting memory for me was being asked to provide a History of Memphis for the 105-room Big Cypress Lodge – a two-page narrative on pages 4-5. Also, meeting the Flying Elvi at the Apex was a thrill; having watch them descend on the masses in the parking lot earlier that evening.


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Lobby Exhibit Series in Shelby County Administration Building

The Vasco E. Smith Administration Building of Shelby County government at 160 North Main Street has recently completed an extensive upgrade. Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell asked me to coordinate his concept of displaying the history of the various communities in Shelby County in the Lobby, focusing on the rural countryside first. Three nice display cases were constructed and on July 8, about 100 folks gathered to open the first exhibit on display from the Historic Archives of Rosemark & Environs (HARE) – and what an exhibit it was! Many thanks to Judge Jon McCalla, Penny Glover and Molly Hampton of HARE for assembling the items for display and setting the standard for all future exhibits to follow. And, on December 21, the Morton Museum of Collierville and Main Street Collierville opened the second exhibit under the supervision of Ashley Carver and Laura Todd, and many thanks to Collierville Mayor Stan Joyner for his kind words at the Opening.


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Shelby County History Awards Dinner

The 5th Annual Shelby County History Awards Dinner was held at Hillwood Hall in Davies Manor on August 5. Despite a fierce, driving rainstorm that afternoon and evening, over 130 folks from a dozen local history organizations attended, along with the First Place students from the Tennessee History Day competition. “50 Years of the Shelby County Historical Commission” was the theme and former Chairmen of the SCHC - Dr. Charles Crawford, Dr. Douglas Cupples, Paul Matthews, Lee Millar, Dr. Curt Fields (current) and myself were the guest speakers. SCHC member, Graydon Swisher, received the Ellen Davies-Rodgers Award for his service to Memphis and Shelby County history during the year, specifically his efforts with the Trails Of Tears Association. Mark Janzsen of First Assembly Christian School received the Ed Williams History Teacher of the Year Award.


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The 10 Hour Tour!

On the 10th Minute of the 10th Hour of the 10th Day of the 10th Month, 62 folks stepped off from
the roof of Beale Street Landing and winded their way through the alleys and bluff, streets and
sidewalks, parks and plazas, and walk bridge of Downtown Memphis and the Memphis
Riverfront on the first-ever “10 Hour Tour”. Fifteen folks joined in along the way, and 22 made
the entire 10 hours (without lunch) – thus receiving their Certificate Of Walking. Many thanks to the Ernest Withers Gallery and the Cotton Museum for providing “comfort stops” along the
way. The next 10 Hour Tour will be at 10:10 a.m. on Saturday, 10/10 in the year 2020! See you
there . . .


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Grizzlies Drive About

On October 9, I loaded up on a bus in the lowest level of FedExForum and provided some commentary for the “new” members of the 2015-16 Memphis Grizzlies. This was the second annual Welcome To Memphis Bus Tour for new Grizzlies team members. We visited the students of STAX and the Soulsville Academy (and were thoroughly entertained), the patients and staff at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, stopped by The Rendezvous where Percy brought some scrumptious goodies up to the bus and then completed the tour with a stop at the National Civil Rights Museum plaza. Eight students from Grizzlies Prep rode the bus and experienced very unusual and unique interaction with NBA players. Just another example as to why the Memphis Grizzlies won the “Beyond Sport” Award for the best community oriented professional sports franchise in the entire world.


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Historic New Daisy Theater Ribbon Cutting

Historic Beale Street welcomed a new tenant (Live Nation) to the Beale Street Entertainment District when a formal ribbon cutting was held on October 5 for the New Daisy Theater. The New Daisy is over 70 years old and has provided a variety of entertainment to millions over the years, the past thirty years being led by Mike Glenn. Mayor AC Wharton, entertainer Paul Thorn, JW Gipson and Steve Adelman of the East Beale Street Development Project participated. But the highlight that day for was being able to talk about Jody Stephens, CEO of Ardent Studios. Jody and I played Junior Baseball together for First Baptist Church. In 1962 at Cherokee Park, Jody was the catcher that caught the only no-hitter I ever pitched in my life (small world!). Jody later was a member of the legendary Memphis band, Big Star (along with two of my fellow MUS students – Andy Hummel and Chris Bell). The balcony at the New Daisy has undergone major renovations, changing the second-level seating area into a VIP experience known as the Big Star Room. Live Nation promotes over 23,000 concerts in 33 countries annually for about 60 million fans! Not bad.


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Beale Street Caravan 20th Anniversary Music Tour

On October 29, I was asked by the good folks at Beale Street Caravan (Kevin Cubbins, Kate Hackett and Ms. Pickles) to conduct a Memphis Music Walking Tour from the new headquarters of Beale Street Caravan at 49 Union Avenue throughout Downtown, Beale Street and ending up at Rum Boogie Café. About 30 folks stepped off at 5:30 p.m. and we talk about music and the Mississippi River and Cotton Row; the Orpheum Theatre; WHBQ at Hotel Chisca; Elvis Presley Plaza, Lansky Brothers; BB King’s Blues Club, Gibson Guitar Factory; made the intersection of “King and King” (BB King and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.), by the old Three Alarm Studio and to the Ernest Withers Gallery. Beale Street Caravan, formed by our late friend Sid Selvidge, is a one hour non-commercial radio series broadcasting live recordings of Memphis music and its derivative forms to an international audience of 2.4 million worldwide weekly listeners on over 400 stations around the globe. I really like the slogan on the new tee shirts for Beale Street Caravan: “I Listen To Memphis”!


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Summer Avenue Merchants Association

While giving a walking tour in Elmwood Cemetery on September 19, I mentioned at the grave site of a Mr. Graham that he was the person that Graham Street and Grahamwood School were named for and that his grave was originally on the school site at Summer & Graham (moved later to Elmwood). Well, Debra Meadows spoke up and said that was with a newly formed group named Summer Avenue Merchants Association ( SAMAMemphis.com) which had formed earlier in the year to protect Summer Avenue and promote its future. Well, I went to the next SAMA meeting, met Meghan Medford (SAMA President) and many others of like minds about Summer Avenue’s value and potential. I grew up in the 1950-60s equi-distant between Laurelwood Shopping Center, Poplar Plaza, High Point Terrace and Summer Center –riding my bicycle to my favorite spots like Poplar Tunes, the Peanut Shoppe, McDonald’s, TG&Y, Stamm’s, Parks Belk and Mark Twain Cafeteria – all on Summer Avenue in one area (basically the Summer Center Shopping Center at Summer & Waring). What memories! It will delight to share the awesome history of Summer Avenue in 2016 with you as we all bond together to make a brighter future in the six-mile stretch from East Parkway to the Wolf River.


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Memphis Music Hall of Fame Opening

On August 21, the Memphis Music Hall of Fame (MMHF) opened at 126 Beale Street on the second floor above the Hard Rock Café and Lansky Brothers. MMHF now has four classes of inductees of incredible names (too many to mention here), with about another 200 deserving Memphis legends waiting in the wings. The joy for me is that MMHF is spawned from the Smithsonian’s Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum (John Doyle, Pam Hetsel, Josh Swee), of where I was the opening director in the year 2000. Also, I have two objects on loan - WHBQ & Hotel Chisca Sidewalk “Sandwich Board” from the 1950s and a Carl Perkins sign from Three Alarm Studio (1986-87).


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The dedication of the Poplar Tunes Historical Marker during Elvis tribute Week, along with a Historical Marker for Lauderdale Courts (on the same day) with a “Walk In The Footsteps of Elvis Tour” guided by Sue Mack and Mike Freeman, proved to be another great day of Memphis Music Unity for fans all around the world. Most touching was the words spoken from many former employees in attendance at 308 Poplar Avenue, who share in a unique reunion and common bond that Poplar Tunes was a special place in worldwide music history that will never be duplicated!!


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2016 Spring Calendar For FREE Public Tours
“ When I’m 64 . . .”


Sunday, January 17 – 2:00 p.m.
Fairgrounds Walking Tour
Meet at West Side of Mid-South Coliseum

Thursday, January 21 - 12:00 noon
D’Army Bailey Courthouse Tour (cameras allowed!)
Meet at the Southwest Steps, Adams Avenue & Second Street

Thursday, February 18 - 12:00 noon
D’Army Bailey Courthouse Tour (cameras allowed!)
Meet at the Southwest Steps, Adams Avenue & Second Street

Sunday, February 21 – 2:00 p.m.
Fairgrounds Walking Tour
Meet at West Side of Mid-South Coliseum

Sunday, March 13 - 2:00 p.m.
BRIDGE WALK: Memphis & Arkansas Bridge
Meet at Crump Park, Exit 12C on Metal Museum Drive

Thursday, March 17 - 12:00 noon
D’Army Bailey Courthouse Tour (cameras allowed!)
Meet at the Southwest Steps, Adams Avenue & Second Street

Sunday, March 20 – 2:00 p.m.
Fairgrounds Walking Tour
Meet at West Side of Mid-South Coliseum

Sunday, April 3 – 12:00 noon-4:00 p.m.
Shelby County History Festival
Davies Manor Plantation & Hillwood Hall
Historical Displays + Walking Tours of Grounds

Tuesday, April 5 - 11:45 a.m.
TUESDAY TOUR: Union Avenue Manhole Cover & History Tour
Meet at Front Street & Union Avenue (Cotton Museum)

Sunday, April 10 – 2:00 p.m.
RIVERFRONT PARK SERIES:  Chickasaw Heritage Park to Crump Park
Meet at Chickasaw Heritage Park, Exit 12C on Metal Museum Drive

Tuesday, April 12 - 11:45 a.m.
TUESDAY TOUR: Cotton Row Tour
Meet at Front Street & Union Avenue (Cotton Museum)

Thursday, April 14 – 5:30 p.m.
Beale Street Caravan, Memphis Music Tour
Meet at Beale Street Caravan Office, 49 Union Avenue

Sunday, April 17 – 2:00 p.m.
Fairgrounds Walking Tour
Meet at West Side of Mid-South Coliseum

Tuesday, April 19 - 11:45 a.m.
TUESDAY TOUR: Mud Island Walk Bridge Tour
Meet at Mud Island Station, 125 North Front Street

Thursday, April 21 - 12:00 noon
D’Army Bailey Courthouse Tour (cameras allowed!)
Meet at the Southwest Steps, Adams Avenue & Second Street

Saturday, April 23 - 2:00 p.m.
RIVERFRONT PARK SERIES:  Cobblestone Wharf & Sultana
Meet at Foot of Monroe Avenue & Riverside Drive

Sunday, April 24 – 2:00 p.m.
BRIDGE WALK: Memphis & Arkansas Bridge
Meet at Crump Park, Exit 12C on Metal Museum Drive

Tuesday, April 26 - 11:45 a.m.
TUESDAY TOUR:  Cobblestone Wharf & Sultana
Meet at Foot of Monroe Avenue & Riverside Drive

Tuesday, May 3 - 11:45 a.m.
TUESDAY TOUR: Beale Street
Meet at the Orpheum Theatre, Main Street & Beale Street

Tuesday, May 10 - 11:45 a.m.
TUESDAY TOUR: South Main Street
Meet at the Orpheum Theatre, Main Street & Beale Street

Sunday, May 15 - 2:00 p.m.
BRIDGE WALK: Memphis & Arkansas Bridge
Meet at Crump Park, Exit 12C on Metal Museum Drive

Tuesday, May 17 - 11:45 a.m.
TUESDAY TOUR: South Front Street
Meet at Hotel Chisca, South Main Street & Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue

 Thursday, May 19 - 12:00 noon
D’Army Bailey Courthouse Tour (cameras allowed!)
Meet at the Southwest Steps, Adams Avenue & Second Street

Sunday, May 22 – 2:00 p.m.
Fairgrounds Walking Tour
Meet at West Side of Mid-South Coliseum

Tuesday, May 24 - 11:45 a.m.
TUESDAY TOUR: Pinch District
Meet at Westy's, 346 North Main Street (at Jackson Avenue)

Tuesday, May 31 - 11:45 a.m.
TUESDAY TOUR: Beale Street Landing
Meet at 251 Riverside Drive

Tuesday, June 7 - 11:45 a.m.
TUESDAY TOUR: River Bluff Walk (Butler Park to Vance Park)
Meet at Butler Park, 499 Tennessee Street

Sunday, June 12 – 2:00 p.m.
Fairgrounds Walking Tour
Meet at West Side of Mid-South Coliseum

Tuesday, June 14 - 11:45 a.m.
TUESDAY TOUR: Adams Avenue
Meet at Quiltsurround, Northeast Corner of Front Street & Adams Avenue

Thursday, June 16 - 12:00 noon
D’Army Bailey Courthouse Tour (cameras allowed!)
Meet at the Southwest Steps, Adams Avenue & Second Street

Tuesday, June 21 - 11:45 a.m.
TUESDAY TOUR: Madison Avenue
Meet at University Of Memphis Law School, Front Street & Madison Avenue

Sunday, June 26 - 2:00 p.m.
BRIDGE WALK: Memphis & Arkansas Bridge
Meet at Crump Park, Exit 12C on Metal Museum Drive

Tuesday, June 28 - 11:45 a.m.
TUESDAY TOUR: Court Square & Surroundings
Meet at the Hebe Fountain, Court Square

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minifootprintsminifootprints Below is a sample of various past and present tours and presentations.
View this year’s schedule on the
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Beale Street Landing Update



  *** Update 10/1/16 *** Announcing this past quarter that there are two more Cruise Boats coming to Memphis in 2017 is remarkable. In 2017, there will be five Cruise Boats from three companies with the addition of the LOUISIANE of the French America Line and the AMERICAN DUCHESS of the American Queen Steamboat Company. Over one hundred disembarkations & embarkations are expected with about 20,000 passengers coming to Memphis, which is about 36% of the industry cruising the interior American rivers - and a $40 million economic impact for Memphis annually! It has been a joy to "birth" this industry from the drought years of 2008-2011 when there were NO Cruise Boats on the Mississippi River. It has been a joy to greet passengers from all over the world and to work with Captains, Cruise Directors and crews making this experience happen in Memphis. It has been fun seeing how Memphis has learn to support this vessels (motorcoach, taxi, food & beverage purveyors, and all kinds of repair and service providers).

My quote is "There is only one river in American and that's the LOWER MISSISSIPPI RIVER. People come from all over the world to experience Americana, the organic and romanticized Mississippi River - the Mark Twain, St. Louis, Memphis, Delta, New Orleans legs - the Music, Foods, Civil War and Civil Rights stories and experiences". So long Beale Street Landing and the Cruise industry - "thanks for your time this time til next time - so long", as the late Jack Buck would say. I will still be watching you from the Bulletin Board (river gauge reading) on the bluff in Vance Park!

  Beale Street Landing was recently presented an international award for its design by Architizer’s 4th Annual A+Awards! The A+Awards is the largest international awards program focused on promoting and celebrating the best in architecture and products. From 171 design entries from 20 nations and 24 states, the implemented design from was acclaimed as "The Best Marina/Port in the World for 2016"!! Congratulations to all. The design is by RTN Architects of Buenos Aires, Argentina. And, speaking of using this port, three companies have four vessels coming to Memphis this year for 88 disembarkations and embarkation this year, setting a record for Memphis activity. Joining the AMERICAN QUEEN, QUEEN OF THE MISSISSIPPI and the AMERICA will be the LOUISIANE this Autumn. Bloomberg Reports states that there are 55,000 passengers cruising the interior rivers in America this year. In Memphis, we are handling about 20,000 passengers annually now, or about 36% of that industry in America. The popular Twilight Tuesdays have begun at BSL with outdoor movies every Tuesday at sunset (about 8:30 p.m.) on the South Lawn. About 500 people will bring blankets and lawn chairs for FREE movies. Fireworks will again launch over the riverfront on Monday, July 4 at about 9:15 p.m. with the best vantage point being at Beale Street Landing.   ***


  The fifth year of the AMERICAN QUEEN docking in Memphis again began on March 7 & 21. To come view the largest riverboat ever to cruise the Mississippi River, come down to Beale Street Landing, go up on the roof or over the Playground - and bring your camera. This Spring, the AMERICAN QUEEN will be in Memphis on Mondays (April 4 & 18, May 2 (at Greenbelt Park Ramp) & May 23, June 6 & 20, and July 4...

  The recently completed overnight passenger vessel season in 2015 was the biggest and best in n n n BSL history, as almost 14,000 visitors "ported" through the Memphis riverfront this year. The economic impact to the community was nearly $40 million! To coordinate the "land side" of the visits is quite a challenge with motor coaches, taxis, delivery trucks and vans of all kinds entering the service drive and needing immediate attention from sunrise to sunset. Of course, the best cart drivers in Memphis are provided by A & W Maintenance throughout the course of each visit as they some times move over 800 passengers, 1,200 pieces of luggage and up to 2,000 boxes of food & beverage products and dry good supplies (in rain or shine). 2016 is already on line now as being even bigger and better than 2015! The first visit if from the AMERICAN QUEEN on Monday, March 7.

  The Summer of 2015 was the first full Summer for all facets of Beale Street Landing to be totally in operation. The hit of the Summer had to be the Movies on the Lawn every Tuesday night which weekly drew over 500+ visitors. I have turned my attention to something that overlooks Beale Street Landing and began taking care of the Historic Bulletin Board (U.S. army Corps of Engineers) that has proudly stood on the top of the Memphis bluffs for almost 80 years (since 1929, now in Vance Park) informing river pilots and landlubbers alike of the river gauge in Memphis. Now, it is not the depth of the river that is displayed, but simply the relation to river to 184' sea level (a standard determined in 1872). The "R" and the "F" by the number indicates whether the river is Rising or Falling, and the number is changed (on a daily basis) every time the reading changes. Sadly, with all of the modern GPS and computer systems in today's pilot houses, the Bulletin Board is now seldom depended upon. However, other Bulletin Boards still exist and are still in operation along the Mississippi River (Cairo, Illinois, Caruthersville, Missouri and Helena, Arkansas).

  Everything is wide open now! Daily riverboat excursions and weekends of overnight cruise vessels landings; lunch and dinners at Riverfront Bar & Grill (closed Mondays) with special promotions as Daily Happy Hour, Wine Wednesdays, Thursday Night Trivia Challenge and Fridays “Live On The Riverfront” Memphis Music! The south lawn of the green roof top is the site of the “Twilight Tuesday” featuring favorite FREE movies on a 24-foot inflatable screen (8:00 p.m.) like Pirate of The Caribbean (July 7), Star Trek – The Future Begins (July 14), Frozen (July 21) and The Princess Bride (July 28). Island Play with its water features is keeping the kids of the riverfront cool and wet. And, above Island Play under the Magnolia tree is a sample display of the surface and railings of the future Big River Crossing which will open on the Harahan Bridge in late 2016. The Grizzles Riverfit stations and volleyball court have been re-installed in our neighbor to the south, Tom Lee Park. Riverside Drive is now back open to four lanes of vehicles with the bicycle test completed, and there is easy access to the Beale Street Landing parking lot.


  March is the beginning of a new season for Beale Street Landing, the first full season!  Riverfront Bar & Grill will roll out a new menu in March and begin its "long" hours for lunch and dinner; call 901-524-0817 for information.  With Daylight Saving Time returning on March 8, sunsets will return as a feature to the dining experience, along with the Spring temperatures that are right around the corner.  Memphis Riverboats begins its 2015 season on March 1 with the daily 2:30 p.m. Public Sightseeing Cruise aboard the ISLAND QUEEN (memphisriverboats.net).  The AMERICAN QUEEN first visits Memphis on Saturday, March 21 (aqsc.com).  The Riverfront Development Corporation rolls out a new web site in March that will cover all activities of the Memphis riverfront (memphisriverfront.com).


  Riverfront Bar & Grill is now open Tuesdays-Fridays, 11am-9pm with Appetizers, Salads, Sandwiches, Desserts and with the best covered patio in Memphis and most fabulous sunset views. The best views of the July 4th Fireworks were on the terraces and slopes of Beale Street Landing. Island Play with various play and water features has delighted the kids all Summer long. Free Friday Flicks are shown on a 24-foot inflatable screen at the south slope beginning at dusk on Fridays. A recent visit of the NINA and PINTA replicas brought thousands to the docks to view the floating museums. Our neighbors to the east and to the south have been busy this Summer with the additional of the Cycle Track on the southbound lanes of Riverside Drive, slowly down the vehicular speeds along the riverfront, and the Grizzlies RiverFIT Course in Tom Lee Park adding a small soccer field, two sand volleyball courts and six exercise station along the west bank of the park.


 Plans to open Riverfront Bar & Grill in the fourth week of June, have been announced with Beth Bomarito (Napa Cafe, Pete & Sam's) being the restaurant's General Manager. Come visit the 30-foot-long catfish on the Play Area Island with the water features being turned on in June. Expect a big Independence day celebration and fireworks blow-out on Friday, July 4. May highlights included a double rainbow, three boats docked at one time for the first time and parent paparazzi involving the playground catfish! In another development that impacts Beale Street Landing will be the introduction in June of a dedicated Bike Lane on southbound Riverside Drive - stay tuned!


  Phase 4B is Open! Beale Street Landing now connects Tom Lee Park to the famous intersection of the Riverside Drive & Beale Street with some very nice walkways, viewing areas, terraces and a children's play area (come climb the 8-foot-tall and 30-foot-long Catfish). In fact now, one may walk, jog, stroll or bike from Martyrs Park near the lower bridges all the way to The Pyramid along the river's edge, about a four-mile trek. Plans will be announced soon for a June opening of an eatery at BSL and a grand Independence Day Celebration & Riverfront Fireworks Show.


  Memphis Riverboats opens the 2014 "Riverboating Season" in Memphis on Saturday, March 1 with a 2:30 p.m. Public Sightseeing Cruise and a 7:30 p.m. Dinner Cruise. Sightseeing Cruises run daily at 2:30 p.m. on the ISLAND QUEEN until October 31, with an additional 5:00 p.m. on Saturdays & Sunday, May 3 thru August 31. There is a Dinner Cruise each Saturday night in March (thru October 25) with additional Friday Dinner Cruises (May 2 to August 29). Go to www.memphisriverboats.net or call 901-527-BOAT (2628) for schedule, tickets, charter information and reservations. Also, the AMERICAN QUEEN returns on Saturday, March 22 and the QUEEN OF THE MISSISSIPPI returns on Friday, March 28. Both vessels, along with the GRANDE MARINER will make 25 visits to Memphis in 2014. Also, "Save The Date" for a grand celebration of the completion of the final phase of Beale Street Landing - Saturday, April 12.


  The January 2014 update shows a new year, the river rising and all riverboats "laid up" for the Winter months. The final touches are being put on Phase 4B, which are the northern terraces and islands (including a fabulous Play Area for children), and front door to the intersection of Beale Street and Riverside Drive. Two UrbanArt Commission projects on the premises will be competed this Spring - the Art Walk (600-foot, multi-colored paver walkway almost complete) by Gary Moore and the Evan Lewis "Beale Street Landing" structure (which I can not adequately describe this 54-foot tall work of art, so see the attached photo for the scale model). Memphis Riverboats opens its 2014 season on Saturday, March 1 and the AMERICAN QUEEN will return on March 22.


  The construction fencing finally came down on Tuesday, September 24 with the Service Drive gates being added on Wednesday, September 25. The grounds and grass roof will be open from sunrise to sunset during the Autumn months, with visitors being able to walk right up from Tom Lee Park onto the roof deck until dark. Overnight security (Black Lion) has been added the grounds and soon the parking lot will add gates, landscaping and a parking fee machine. Playground infrastructure is being installed in Phase 4B. The AMERICAN QUEEN returns on Monday, October 28.


  Making it through the first Spring and Summer here has been unusual to say the least! Opening on March 1st with snow flurries is not exactly the friendliest way to greet a new riverboat landing. Having a restaurant operator come and go, without actually opening was a major surprise and disappointment. Learning how to work around and with Memphis In May in Tom Lee Park and its domination of the intersection of Beale Street and Riverside Drive was eye-opening, for sure. What a job some of those Memphis In May volunteers and staff do to coordinate all that has to happen in those six weeks, from start to finish. The Summer weather has been mild and there is a new RFP on the streets for a restaurant operator. Phase 4B (terraces, walkways, and play area) is rolling along. The Mississippi River has been behaving for the most part (like the weather), but the driftwood continues to be a nuisance.


  For the Autumn months, look for quite a few rental events at Beale Street Landing, including the Cochon Heritage BBQ on August 30. The QUEEN OF THE MISSISSIPPI returns on September 6-7 and the AMERICAN QUEEN returns on September 13, after both spending the past two months on the Upper Mississippi River and Ohio River; and then several more times later in the year before laying up in January for Winter maintenance. Look for a Grand Opening of all Beale Street Landing facilities in the Spring of 2014!!

  It is another chapter in The Book of Jimmy Ogle, as the phase 1 portion of Beale Street Landing opens on March 1. A new title - General Manager - replaces the old title of Community Engagement Manager, but it is all still Riverfront Development Corporation. The Phase 1 portion includes the grounds, parking lot, grass roof, plazas, dock, helical ramp and the south side of the main building - all open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily. The building will house the offices, ticket counter and gift shop of Memphis Riverboats, the local passenger vessel excursion operator in Memphis since 1955. So, March 1 will be a historic, not only for the facility opening, but also for the first time in 58 years, local excursions will not originate from the historic cobblestone wharf.


  In March, Memphis Riverboats will have a daily 90-minute Sightseeing Cruise at 2:30 p.m. and a 2-hour BBQ Dinner Cruise each Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. (www.memphisriverboats.nets), as well as a few charters during the month. The AMERICAN QUEEN will dock on March 9 and March 24, and the QUEEN OF THE MISSISSIPPI will dock on March 30. Riverboating is back, and Spring Break will be here before you know it!

  Phase 2 will be the opening of the restaurant in the north side of the main building (name to be announced) and will feature a "Memphis Food" menu of BBQ, catfish, shrimp, burgers and more - very popular with locals and tourists alike. Catering functions will also begin in April (Athens Distributing and AutoZone are two booked all ready) in some of the areas of the facility. Then comes Memphis In May, the largest festival of its king in America, in neighboring Tom Lee Park. Ticketed admission will still be continued for Memphis In May events, but Beale Street Landing will continue to be open and free during the month.

  The third phase of 2013 will be considered the Grand Opening once the additional four acres of slopes, terraces, islands and playground on the north side of the building are completed later this year. Safe access to the river's edge will be available in the side of the project. Getting to opening(s) in 2013 has not been easy, and I would like to thank Geoff Wyonzek (Hnedak Bobo Group) for his role as project manager is coordinating all the numerous aspects of construction. Geoff is much appreciated in "Ogle Nation"!


  02/01/13: Phase 4B of Beale Street Landing (BSL) is in the "punch list phase", which means that opening is just around the corner. The Riverfront Development Corporation anticipates that Memphis Riverboats will open its 58th season of sightseeing cruises on the Mississippi River on Friday, March 1 - marking the first time since 1955, the local excursion company will not be boarding from the Historic Cobblestone Wharf. Memphis Riverboats will continue to "fleet" and service its operation at the cobblestone address, but boarding for all cruises (sightseeing, dinner, charters and school groups) will be from Beale Street Landing. The first docking of an out-of-town vessel will be on Saturday, March 9 when the AMERICAN QUEEN will make its first 2013 appearance in Memphis.


  And then, by the middle of April, Riverside Grille and Dockside Bar will open daily restaurant service, lunch and dinner, special events and catered functions - an opportunity for the first time in Memphis history on the banks of the Mississippi River and Memphis riverfront. The grass roof slope and deck will be an instant hit for Memphians and tourists to gather to enjoy the views and vistas of the Delta, sunsets, river traffic, Bridge of Lights and city skyline. Then its April and Spring weather, Memphis In May, the July 4th Celebration and eventually the AutoZone Powerboat Racing Championships in October, and more . . . stay tuned!

  Fast forward to December, 2012 . . . and what a difference a year makes! In a span of 18 months from May, 2011 (+48 feet) to August, 2012 (-9.8 feet), the Memphis riverfront experience nearly a 58-foot fluctuation in level. Construction of the main building in Phase 4A reached about 98% completion by year's end (2012) and the RDC already hosted two AMERICAN QUEEN landings (and a christening ceremony in April), the AutoZone Powerboat Racing Championship in October, two big public parties (Monogram Foods Loves Kids and ArtAFactor in November) and four functions during the holiday season in December. In between there was almost one hundred Hard Hat Tours given of the facility. With the extended record low water this Summer and Autumn, Phase 4B (the additional four acres of land on the north side of the project to Beale Street) was able to give off to a fast start with the lower portion of the terraces and walkway receiving most of the attention.


  As we look to the Spring of 2013, we anticipate the daily dockings for Memphis Riverboats at Beale Street Landing, a milestone marking the first time in 58 years that the local passenger vessel excursions will not embark at the Cobblestone Wharf (which will be receiving a long-needed restoration in 2013) and ushering in a new era of "Riverboating" in Memphis; and we look forward to the opening of the daily restaurant on the river - Riverside Grille & Dockside Bar; and the unparalleled views and vistas from the deck of the grass slope and roof. Hello 2013 . . .


  With Phase 4A construction winding up and over 50 Hard Hat Tours given, with the AutoZone Powerboat Racing Championship run in October, with two successful parties (Monogram Foods Loves Kids "Meat Me In Memphis" and ArtsMemphis "ArtAFactor" on the first weekend in November, with the Corps Dredge Weeks Venture completing its annual low water dredging in the Wolf Harbor - it all adds up to 2013 being an exciting "opening year" for Beale Street Landing. New Year hopes are that the water will return to the Mississippi River and the four overnight vessels - AMERICAN QUEEN, QUEEN OF THE MISSISSIPPI, YORKTOWN & GRAND CARIBE - will enjoy their landings on the new dock at the Foot of Beale & Riverside. Memphis In May (honoring Sweden) will be here before you know it . . .

  New in 2013 and for the first time in its 58-year history of providing local cruises of all kinds, MEMPHIS RIVERBOATS (formerly known as MEMPHIS QUEEN LINE) will begin boarding passengers at Beale Street Landing, rather the historic cobblestone wharf. By the way, a large restoration and interpretive project will begin in 2013 on the Cobblestones, only one year after it received its own recognition on the National Register of Historic Places (thank you Judith Johnson). Riverside Grille & Dockside Bar will open in the Spring, 2013 in the north section and breezeway of Beale Street Landing (BBQ & Catfish and more, casual & comfortable for both tourists & locals). We look forward to greeting many visitors on the Green Grass Roof in 2013 . . .


  Along the riverfront neighborhood in the five-mile stretch between Wolf River and the lower three bridges, Phase 4B construction in Beale Street Landing continues on the additional four acres of park land added into the Foot of Beale/Riverside with sloped terraces and two large island pods for activities and (safe) access to the river's edge for the first time in the City's history. Bass Pro will be completing its retrofit of The Pyramid, and the softening of the city side shore line of the Wolf Harbor from Jefferson Davis Park to the north cove of Island Drive, known as Uptown West, will add greenways, landscaping and better access on former industrial areas. Engineering studies continue in preparation for the opening of the Harahan Greenline over the Mississippi River, connecting West Memphis & Arkansas with Memphis and South Main Street, thus creating a long network of pedestrian and bicycle pathways from the west to the east side of Shelby County (from South Main to Overton Park via Madison or North Parkway, Broad Street, the Greenline, Shelby Farms, Wolf River Greenway through Germantown & Collierville) - what a connection!! The 700+ people participating in the Memphis & Arkansas Bridge Walks of 2012, 100-feet high over the river channel experienced the great views of the river, delta, barge traffic and city skyline - all came away fired up about the opportunity and uniqueness of the future Harahan Greenline. So, stay tuned for 2013 on the Memphis riverfront . . .


  Construction is closing in on Beale Street Landing with the dock anticipated to arrive from Presidents Island in the second week of April. The Steamer AMERICAN QUEEN of the Memphis-based The American Queen Steamboat Company will arrive on April 26 in her inaugural voyage upriver for the Spring, 2012 season. Jimmy O will be aboard the AMERICAN QUEEN, on April 25-26 giving lectures about his favorite topic - Memphis! A series of celebrations, including the christening by Godmother Priscilla Presley, will be scheduled on April 26-27 prior to her departure for Louisville and the Kentucky Derby. Three other overnight passenger vessel excursion operators have scheduled for Beale Street Landing this year - the QUEEN OF THE MISSISSIPPI, GRAND CARIBE and the YORKTOWN. "Riverboating" is alive and well on the Mississippi River again after a four year hiatus.

  The restaurant at Beale Street Landing has been selected - Riverside Grille & Dockside Bar - and it is scheduled to open during the first week of July. The other major daily tenant, local excursion operator of 57 years, Memphis Riverboats (www.memphisriverboats.net), will begin daily docking for all passengers in the month of July, as well. Phase IV-B of the project (the terraces and islands of the northern shore line, from the main building to Beale Street & Riverside Drive, will be bid this Spring with hope of completion in the Autumn, 2013 after two low water seasons on the Mississippi River.


  Over twenty Hard Hat Tours for local community focus groups were conducted in April. Then the annual occupation of Tom Lee Park for the Memphis In May International Festival (www.memphisinmay.org) began with the Beale Street Music Festival (May 4-6), International Barbecue Cooking Contest (May 17-19) and the Sunset Symphony (May 26). Seven days of music, food, sun and tens of thousands of visitors from all over the world - all enjoying the fabulous backdrop of the Mississippi River, river traffic and barge tows, Arkansas Delta and world class sunsets.


  Phase 4-A construction is almost complete. The shell of the building will be completed by October 31, and two large parties will be held on the first weekend of November (Monogram Loves Kids Foundation & the ArtsMemphis "ArtAFACTOR"). Under the green grass roof portion, The restaurant portion will be completed during the Winter months in time for a March 1, 2013 opening of the Riverside Grille & Dockside Bar, and the terminal portion will welcome the 2013 season of the locally owned and operation excursion company - MEMPHIS RIVERBOATS.

  The AutoZone Powerboat Racing Championship will return to the riverfront, after a one-year hiatus, on October 13-14 with viewing areas in Tom Lee Park as well as Beale Street landing (Noon to 5:00 p.m., both days) - with the best views from the green grass roof on top! All activities of the Powerboat Races are FREE.

  During this historic low water phase (second all-time low in recorded history at -9.8 feet) that the Memphis riverfront has experienced in the Summer of 2012, the overnight passenger vessels will continue to dock at the Greenbelt Park Ramp, 1555 Island Drive, until further notice.

Special thanks to Aerial Innovations of Tennessee

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Elmwood Costume Twilight Tour - Saturday, October 24

Straight from the Elmwood Newsletter: “Jimmy Ogle is a Memphian with a mental bank filled with city ephemera. His stories about Elmwood and total recall will amaze you when you join him for Jimmy Ogle's Elmwood, a walking tour of the cemetery. Regarded as one of the most entertaining storytellers in the city, Jimmy weaves a delightful fabric of Memphis history that all will enjoy. Register online or call 901-774-3212. Admission is $15 per person.
Saturday, October 24 – 4:00 p.m. – 10th Annual Costume Twilight Tour

Lloyd Binford will return for another appearance is this popular event. If you have never visited Elmwood, this tour is the best way to get to know the cemetery and the individuals who rest here. Costumed characters portraying a dozen of Elmwood residents will introduce you to the history of Memphis' oldest active cemetery. This all-walking tour will begin at 4:00 p.m. Tour groups will depart from the Cottage every ten minutes and the last tour will begin at 5:30 p.m.
Special Note: The grounds of the cemetery will be CLOSED beginning at noon on Saturday, October 24th. The gates will re-open at 4PM for the Costume Twilight Tour. Tickets purchased in advance are $15.00. Tickets may only be purchased at the gate on the day of the tour and will be $20. Children under 12 will be admitted free. This event takes place rain or shine.
For all events, call Elmwood at 901-774-3212 for directions or go to elmwoodcemetery.org.

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Presented by Jimmy Ogle


The Fairgrounds Walking Tour date for July is Saturday, July 30 (7:00 p.m.). The Coliseum Coalition boys are going to show an outdoor movie ("Memphis Heat" about Memphis wrestling) that evening at dark over on the green grass of former Libertyland - how cool!! Also, another twilight Fairgrounds Walking Tour will be at 7:00 p.m. on Sunday, August 28. FREE, and come share some of your memories . .

  In Memphis, the "Fairgrounds" has been around for a long, long time. In fact there is no one alive that refers to it as its previous name - Montgomery Park. Even with the Mid-South Fair removed for several years now, the cumulative 160+ acre site (with no Fair) and other major tenants still very prominent (Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium & Tiger Lane, the Kroc Center, Children's Museum of Memphis) - is still called "The Fairgrounds" and there has got to be a reason why?!

  Obviously, for the past 100+ years, between the Mid-South Fair, Mid-South Coliseum, Libertyland, Tim McCarver Stadium, seven baseball & softball fields (including the "sunken diamond"), rental buildings such as the Shelby County, Youth, Merchants, Horticulture and Arena Building, National Guard Armory, Memphis Belle B-17, Swimming Pool, Children's Theatre (Quonset hut), Grand Carousel, Zippin Pippin, Tennessee Derby and on and on and on.

  It's big chunk of property in the geographic center of Memphis and carries millions of memories and an infinite load of hope for the future development and use. So, for FREE on one Sunday afternoon per month at 2:00 p.m., beginning on Sunday, January 17, we will assemble at the parking lot of the Mid-South Coliseum and "step off" heading northward up Early Maxwell Boulevard to walk and talk about the former sites and sounds of "The Fairgrounds" and then also begin looking into the future as a community. Come enjoy and share . . .

  Mark your calendar for Sundays - January 17, February 21, March 20, April 17 and May 22 to join a group of Memphians that want to see the best for the Fairgrounds. These Fairgrounds walks are inspired by the Coliseum Coalition, Livable Memphis, Orange Mound Parade and Action Committee, and Friends For The Fairgrounds.

Memphis Fairgrounds circa 1960

Municipal Swimming Pool

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The First-Ever 10-Hour Tour
in Downtown Memphis & the Riverfront
Steps Off at 10:10 a.m. on Saturday, October 10 (10/10)
from Beale Street Landing; Ends at Westy’s!

Remember the “Saturday Super Tours” of about five years ago? Those “3-Hour Tours” that combined various TUESDAY TOUR segments that people could not make during the work week. Well, here is a chance to catch ten different walking tours of Downtown and the Memphis Riverfront –all in one day! So, that’s Saturday, October 10.

The first ever “10-Hour Tour” begins at 10 minutes after 10 o’clock in the morning on the 10th day of the 10th month this year – right in the middle of wonderful Autumn weather. The tour is FREE and will step off from Beale Street Landing, 251 Riverside Drive and end up at Westy’s (346 North Main) in the Pinch District. Parking is free on the cobblestone landing (enter at Monroe Avenue and Riverside Drive).

Participants do not have to walk the entire length of the tour, and may join in or drop out at any time along the way (without hurting my feelings!). Approximately times have been listed below and you may call (901-604-5002) for actual locations and progress:

The route is:

10:10 a.m. Step off from Beale Street Landing, 251 Riverside Drive
North on Riverside Drive to Union Avenue
11:00 a.m. East on Union Avenue to AutoZone Park (11:00 a.m.)
11:15 a.m. South on Fourth Street to Robert Church Park on Beale Street
12:00 p.m. West on Beale Street to South Main Street (Orpheum Theatre corner)
12:45 p.m. South on South Main Street to Butler Avenue
(Civil Rights Museum & Blues Hall of Fame)
1:30 p.m. West on Butler Avenue to Tennessee Street
(by Tennessee Brewery) to Butler Park
1:45 p.m. North from Butler Park along River Bluff Walk to Vance Park (2:15 p.m.)
2:15 p.m. East from Vance Park on Beale Street to Front Street
2:30 p.m. North on Front Street (along Cotton Row) to Mud Island River Park
Front Street Terminal (Adams Avenue)
3:30 p.m. Up to Mud Island Walk Bridge (half way out over Wolf River channel)
4:30 p.m. East on Adams Avenue to Main Street to Court Square
5:00 p.m. North on Second Street to Adams Avenue to Magevney House
5:15 p.m. West on Washington Avenue to Civic Center Plaza
5:30 p.m. North from Civic Center Plaza to Market Park (towards Pinch District)
6:00 p.m. East on Market Street to Third Avenue
6:30 p.m. North on Third Street (by St. Jude) to Overton Avenue
7:00 p.m. West on Overton Avenue to The Pyramid
8:00 p.m. East on Jackson Avenue to Westy's (346 North Main Street)

Bring your walking shoes and listening ears!

Download the tour map in pdf format (812k)

1.   10:10 a.m. Step off from Beale Street Landing, 251 Riverside Drive North on Riverside Drive to Union Avenue

2.   11:00 a.m. East on Union Avenue to AutoZone Park (11:15 a.m.)

3.   11:15 a.m. South on Fourth Street to Robert Church Park on Beale Street

4.   12:00 p.m. West on Beale Street to South Main Street (Orpheum Theatre corner)

5.   12:45 p.m. South on South Main Street to Butler Avenue (Civil Rights Museum & Blues Hall of Fame)

6.   1:30 p.m. West on Butler Avenue to Tennessee Street (by Tennessee Brewery) to Butler Park

7.   1:45 p.m. North from Butler Park along River Bluff Walk to Vance Park (2:15 p.m.)

8.   2:15 p.m. East from Vance Park on Beale Street to Front Street

9.   2:30 p.m. North on Front Street (along Cotton Row) to Mud Island River Park Front Street Terminal (Adams Avenue)

10.   3:30 p.m. Up to Mud Island Walk Bridge (half way out over Wolf River channel)

11.   4:30 p.m. East on Adams Avenue to Main Street to Court Square

12.   5:00 p.m. North on Second Street to Adams to Magevney House

13.   5:15 p.m. West on Washington Avenue to Civic Center Plaza

14.   5:30 p.m. North from Civic Center Plaza to Market Park (towards Pinch District)

15.   6:00 p.m. East on Market Street to Third Avenue

16.   6:30 p.m. North on Third Street (by St. Jude) to Overton Avenue

17.   7:00 p.m. West on Overton Avenue to The Pyramid

18.   8:00 p.m. East on Jackson Avenue to Westy's(346 North Main Street)

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Big River Crossing Opening Set for October 22

The Big River Crossing on the Harahan Bridge is scheduled to be dedicated on Saturday, October 22 in both Martyrs Park and Tom Lee Park, and , of course over the Mississippi River. Stay tuned for these important details about the festivities.

  Since the announcement of Big River Crossing on the Harahan Bridge, over 1,500 folks have come to Crump Park, met under the magnificent Magnolia tree and begun their "preview" journey across the Mississippi River. The set-up "talk under the tree" takes about twenty minutes with information about the bluffs, barges, bridges, earlier settlements in the area, the Mississippi River and safety!

  Progress is being made on the Arkansas side "touch down" of the Harahan Bridge and connections to the levee and West Memphis.

DIRECTIONS: Driving west on Crump Boulevard or north on I-55, take Exit 12C (Metal Museum Drive). Drive under I-55 and the first park on the right is Crump Park (by the super 8 Motel).



Parking attendants will direct you to a good parking spot and watch your car during your visit.

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Historical Markers To Be Dedicated This Summer


The Shelby County Historical Commission is staying busy this Summer with the dedication of three historical markers in August.


Tuesday, August 11 (10am) – Poplar Tunes, 308 Poplar Avenue
Tuesday, August 11 (11am) – Lauderdale Courts, 282 North Third Street
Sunday, August 16 (11am) Oakville MB Church & Cemetery, 3167 Knight Road

A feature of the August 11 dedications during Elvis Tribute Week will include a “Walk in the Footsteps of Elvis”
walking tours (procession) between the two locations, led by Mike Freeman, Sue Mack and Jimmy Ogle.

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There were many highlights in the Year 2014.
Below is a list of Events and Talks & Tours, as well as some photos depicting the activities.




American Studios Historical Marker Dedication
Andrew Jackson 247th Birthday Party, Shelby County Courthouse
Astor Park & Memphis Boat Supply Historical Marker Dedication
Beale Street Landing Grand Opening
Blues Ball 2014
Delta Everything Southern Conference
Elmwood Cemetery Costume Twilight Tour (Peter Lunati)
Frances Wright Historical Marker Dedication
George Kessler Society Birthday Party, Overton Park
“Jimmy Ogle’s Elmwood” Cemetery Walking Tour
NINA & PINTA Replicas, Beale Street Landing
Normal Station Neighborhood Historical Marker Dedication
Peabody Hotel Historic Dinner Series, Chez Philippe “Star Spangled Banner 200th Anniversary”
“Proud Memphis” Exhibit, Mississippi River Museum
R.S. Lewis & Sons Historical Marker Dedication
Shelby County History Awards Dinner
Shelby County History Festival
Trail Of Tears Association, National Park Service Historical Marker Dedication



American Institute of Architects, Memphis Chapter WalkAbout
Brainerd Compressor Conference & DriveAround (2)
Building Owners & Managers Association of Memphis
Christ United Methodist Church Day School & WalkAbout (2)
Christian Brothers University Urban Studies WalkAbout
Citizens University, Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell (2)
Colonial Dames
Coventry School WalkAbout
Daughters of the American Revolution, Watauga Chapter
Davies Manor Teachers Conference
Dixon Gallery & Gardens Munch & Learn
Elmwood Cemetery Lunch & Lecture
Exchange Building (Lee Harris for State Senate Group)
Evangelical Christian School WalkAbout
Food For Thought
Germantown Kiwanis Club
Germantown Presbyterian Church Women’s Club
Germantown United Methodist Church Brown Bag Series
Germantown United Methodist Church XYZ Club DriveAround
Girl Scouts Troop WalkAbout
Grace-St. Luke’s Middle School
Grizzlies Preparatory Academy (5)
Heritage at Irene Woods
ISLAND QUEEN Riverboat Public Commentary (6)
Junior League of Memphis
Karen Hoffman Group WalkAbout
Kathy Thurmond Group DriveAround
Lausanne Collegiate School
Le Bonheur Garden Club
Lee-Jackson-Chalmers Annual Banquet
Linda Roach Group, Bellevue Baptist Church
Lisa Hume Family Tour
Little Garden Club
Madonna Circle
Marine Hospital Open House
Marion Intermediate School
McWherter Senior Citizens Center
Meeman Center For Lifelong Learning, Rhodes College “Memphis History Course”
Memphis & Arkansas Bridge Walks (8)
Memphis Area Geographical Information Council (2)
Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau FAM Tour – Qantas Mega
Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau Staff WalkAbout
Memphis Museum Day (2)
“Memphis The Musical” Cast (London)
Meritan Home & Life Services
Merry Makers, Our Lady of Pertetual; Help Catholic Church
Mid-South Business Travel Association
Mississippi River Commission
Mountain Home Church DriveAround
M.R. Dye Public Library, Horn Lake – 150th Civil War Series
National Association of Catering Executives, Memphis Chapter
National Ornamental Metal Museum Brunch & Learn
New Neighbors Luncheon
Opera Memphis Dinner & A Dialogue
Orgill Brothers Sales Luncheon
Paige Robbins Adult Day Care
Pleasant View School
Plough Employees Retirement Klub (PERK)
Professional Administrative Co-Employers
Raleigh-Egypt Middle School WalkAbout
Ridgeway Baptist Church Golden Agers & DriveAround (2)
Rotary Youth Leadership Awards Conference, District 6800
Second Presbyterian Church Fellows DriveAround
Shelby County Courthouse Monthly Public Tour (12)
Shelby County Schools History teachers In-Service
South Central Historical Archaeological Conference
Southaven Civil War & Military Show
Southern College of Optometry, First-Year Student Orientation
St. Francis Hospital Volunteers
St. George’s Independent School History Day Judging
St. Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral WalkAbout
Streetwise Marketing Group WalkAbout
Tennessee Education Accreditation Council
Tennessee History Day, West Tennessee Regional Judging, University of Memphis
Trail of Tears Association Cruise
TUESDAY TOURS – Spring & Autumn (21)
Tunica Rotary Club
United Daughters of the Confederacy, Forrest Chapter # 1194 WalkAbout
United States Daughters of 1812, Piomingo Chapter
University of Memphis Early Childhood Education Program
University of Memphis Kemmons Wilson School Tourism Class (2)
University of Memphis Mehta University
University of Memphis Study Abroad Program
University of Tennessee Faculty Wives
University of West Florida Downtown WalkAbout
West Tennessee Historical Society “Baseball Memphis” Presentation
Withers Gallery, Museum Talk Series
Woodland Presbyterian School, Pre-School Class
Woody Ray Group WalkAbout & Dinner
Young Professionals Organization (FedEx)

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  Who would have thought that on on May 7 (2008), when the inaugural Great Union Avenue Manhole Cover & History Tour stepped off (on a dare and a bet), that a "tradition" would begin that would honor the unsung elements of the infrastructure of Downtown Memphis - streets, sidewalks and storm drains, parks and plazas, alleys, rooftops and utilities - over 200 tours and counting! Well, TUESDAY TOURS does just that, and more providing all sorts of history and tidbits about the past, present and future of Downtown Memphis.

  The basics of the tours are the same - the assembly time (11:45 a.m.), length of tour (time, 45 minutes during the lunch hour), length of tour (distance, about four blocks), accessibility (on the sidewalks and street surfaces of Downtown Memphis), the phone number (901-604-5002), the cost - FREE and all tours are camera friendly! The only variables each week would be the weather (and it is usually only a strong rain that cancels the tour,) tour name and the assembly point (so see below) . . .


April 7 - The Original Union Avenue Manhole Cover & History Tour [Union & Front]
April 14 - Cotton Row [Union & Front]
April 21 - Mud Island Walk Bridge [125 North Front Street]
April 28 - Cobblestone Wharf & Sultana [Foot of Monroe at Riverside]
May 5 - Beale Street [Main & Beale]
May 19 - South Main Street [Main & Dr. MLK, Jr. Avenue]
May 26 - Pinch District [Main & Jackson]
June 2 -Beale Street Landing [125 Riverside Drive]
June 9 - River Bluff Walk [Butler Park on the South Bluffs, 499 Tennessee Street]
June 16 - Adams Avenue [Front & Adams]
June 23 - Madison Avenue [Front & Madison]
June 30 - Court Square & surroundings [Court Square]
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Breaking News!  Bridge Walk Sets New Tour Record!


 Assembling in Crump Park, an astonishing 87 people showed for the tour!  Thank you, sunshine.  The Great Magnolia provide the setting for the tour orientation with the M & A Bridge and the Mississippi River doing the rest of the job.

  Begun in 2012 as a precursor to the experience of the future Harahan Greenline (now called Big River Crossing), this was the 16th version of the public walk that now has had more than 1,000 participants.  Many participants have not known that there are three bridges in the area and that all three are still very active. Virtually none have known the names or the distinct purposes and characteristics of each bridge.  None know the beauty of Crump Park, the Chinkapin Oaks and three Magnolias.

  Some participants [BW1] walk all the way over to the State of Arkansas (the M & A Bridge is 5,222 feet long), walk under the bridge and return on the north side walkway of the M & A Bridge (a nice two-mile trek).  Less than ten people with "fear of heights" have stopped on the Tennessee side - but five have overcome that fear with me coaching them along to the Tennessee side above the main channel, about one-third the distance.

  The next two Bridge Walks are Sunday, April 12 and May 17 at 2:00 p.m. - Exit 12C westbound on I-55 (Metal Museum Drive).  On Sunday, May 31 the Riverfront Parks Series Tour # 3 will return to the southernmost parks assembling at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, May 31 at Martyrs Park, walking the grounds of WREG-TV (Channel 3), Church Of The River, Rivermont Easement, Ashburn-Coppock Park and the south end of Tom Lee Park.

  Riverfront Park Series # 2 is 2:00 p.m. Sunday, April 26 assembling at the Foot of Monroe focusing on the historic Cobblestone Wharf and the two historic Civil War parks in that area.  April 26, 2015 will commemorate the 150th anniversary of the departure of the SS Sultana, a vessel that sank six hours later, six miles upstream in the wee hours of the morning (April 27) becoming the largest maritime disaster in American history.

TUESDAY TOURS begin at 11:45 a.m. on Tuesday, April 7 with the Great Union Avenue Manhole Cover & History Tour.  Stay tuned . . .

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  The fourth season of free BRIDGE WALKS stepped off at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, March 15. Assembly was at Crump Park (Exit 12C of I-55 West or Crump Blvd), which is Metal Museum Drive, or the last exit before crossing the Mississippi River into Arkansas. Directional attendants and free parking (and security) are available on site. The southernmost bridge of the three lower bridges over the Mississippi River in Memphis is the pathway - the Memphis & Arkansas Bridge (opened in 1949), which is really the only bridge between Vicksburg and St. Louis with a legal sidewalk upon to walk over the river. Other Sunday afternoon dates in 2015 are April 12, May 17, June 21, July 19, September 20, October 18 and November 15.

  The BRIDGE WALK series began in 2012 when plans were announced for the Harahan Greenline on the northernmost of the three lower bridges (Harahan Bridge) were announced. Fast forward to 2015, funding and many approvals have been secured, along with a new name BIG RIVER CROSSING. I called it the power of "2-2-2", as 2 cities, 2 counties and 2 states are cooperating on one big project with the federal government, and very importantly, the Union Pacific Railroad. The two-line railroad portion of the Harahan Bridge opened in 1916, and the automobile decks (cantilevered supports with wooden plank road surfaces overhanging the north and south sides for east and west bound traffic) opened in 1917, across the new "Broadway of America" stretching from San Diego, California to New York City (Highway 70, one of the first paved and signed highways to open across America in the 1920s).

  The Main-to-Main Connection on both sides of the river, connecting Memphis to West Memphis is underway, and the work on the 10-foot-wide pedestrian and bicycle (only) portion of the BIG RIVER CROSSING is scheduled to commence in March, 2015 - with Grand Opening anticipated by the fourth quarter of 2016. On the Arkansas side, connecting from the river bank to the levee (with levee access being granted southward to Helena) and to Broadway Street in West Memphis; on the Tennessee side to the south bluffs, Main Street, leading to North Parkway, Overton Park, Hampline, Shelby Farms Greenline, Wolf River Greenway to Germantown and Collierville - the new pedestrian and bicycle "autobahn" will become a worldwide attraction for bicyclers - just wait and see!

  The "granddaddy" of the three bridges on the south bluffs is the FRISCO BRIDGE, which opened on May 12, 1892, was the third longest steel-span bridge in the world at that time upon opening - quite a engineering marvel. Opened as the GREAT BRIDGE as a single-line railroad bridge with limited access for walkers and wagons when trains were not running, it connected Memphis to the west coast and the Asian markers, while eliminating the need for ferries to get trains across the Mississippi River (five cars at a time taking two days!).

  We will assemble at the big Magnolia tree (the prettiest tree in Downtown Memphis) in the center of Crump Park, just south of the Super 8 Motel. Before or after the Bridge Walk, please visit the National Ornamental Metal Museum or Chickasaw Heritage Park, just around the bend. Photos are from Jane Nichols from a previous Riverfront Park Tour. Note: TUESDAY TOURS begin on April 7 with the Great Union Avenue Manhole Cover & History Tour (11:45 a.m. @ Front & Union).

Special thanks to Jane C. Nichols for her wonderful pictures.

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Southernmost Riverfront Parks Tour Dodges Rains & Winds for Successful Outing


  The Sunday, March 22 RIVERFRONT PARK SERIES 1 Walk dodged off-and-on winds, rains and cool temperatures to have 51 people (and 27 umbrellas) venture the parks and facilities in the southernmost bluffs sector of Riverfront Development Corporation's jurisdiction.  Assembling at the Legacies statue in Chickasaw Heritage Park at 2:00 p.m., the group ventured to the west end of the park allow the walking track to the western ceremonial mound and view over the Mississippi River.

  Too wet to climb to the top of the mound, the next stop was the Metal Museum, and Membership Coordinator (and fellow Shelby County Historical Commission member), Judy Davis (whom you met on Friday).  Judy was most interesting and informative as to the history and activities of the Metal Museum, even giving the walks free passes to return!

  Next, on to the Marine Hospital property and the tour leadership of owner Lauren Crews and the project's Executive Architect, Chooch Pickard.  Probably the highlight of the tour was the owners allowing limited access into the first floor of the Administration Building.  One of the unique views from inside was the west side of the 1885 Nurse's Quarters that had been moved 130 feet east to make way for the 1930s construction of the then modern Marine Hospital buildings. Lauren and Chooch were also very informative about the history of the buildings and about their elaborate future Master Plan for the entire area, including the abandoned Ramada Inn property and TDOT's future I-55 flyover around the area, and roundabout of Riverside Drive and Crump Blvd.

  By this time, it was 3:15 p.m. and the rain was coming down pretty hard, but about 30 folks ventured around with me to Crump Park and the best tree in Downtown Memphis - the Magnolia.  The Magnolia provided a canopy of dryness for us all to continue talking about the area.  What a great tree!

  Among the walkers were a couple whom the husband has lived the first 17 years of his life on DeSoto Avenue in the Ft. Pickering neighborhood (1931-1948), before joining the Air Force.  Anton Mack, new owner of the former 20th Century Fox film distribution building at Second and Vance, brought his 81-year-old father who had been displaced from West Memphis to the Ft. Pickering area by the Flood of 1937!!  Sledge Taylor, who is doing research on Ft. Assumption (1739 in the area) came all the way from Como, Mississippi.

The tour closed at 3:45 p.m. with "no takers" on walking up on the Memphis & Arkansas Bridge in the driving rain. 
A good time was had by all . . .

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Riverfront Parks Walking Tours Return in 2015


There is nothing better to do on a Sunday afternoon in the Spring and Autumn, than to take a walking tour of designated parks along the Memphis riverfront. The first in a series of Riverfront Parks Walking Tours will assemble at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, March 22 at the Legacies Statue on the east side of Chickasaw Heritage Park (Exit 12C of I-55 West or Crump Blvd), which is Metal Museum Drive, or the last exit before crossing the Mississippi River into Arkansas. We will walk to the top of the ceremonial mound on the west end of the park, view out over the bluffs to the Mississippi River as she bends around to the west of Presidents Island; walk the grounds of the National Ornamental Metal Museum; walk the grounds of the Marine Hospital property (led by owner Lauren Crews); then around over to Crump Park (and the fabulous Magnolia tree) and brief walk up to the eastern portion of the Memphis & Arkansas Bridge. These walks last about two hours and are FREE!

Future Riverfront Parks Walking Tours are:

April 26 – Cobblestone Wharf & Sultana
(Meet at the Foot of Monroe & Riverside Drive)
Cobblestone Wharf, Jefferson Davis Park, Confederate Park, Sultana

May 31 – Martyrs Park to Ashburn-Coppock Park
(Meet at Martyrs Park on Channel 3 Drive)
Martyrs Park, Church Of The River, Easement Walkway, Ashburn-Coppock Park

June 28 – Greenbelt Park to Wolf River Harbor
(Meet at Greenbelt Park Southernmost Parking Lot on Island Drive)
Greenbelt Park, Mississippi River, Harbortown District, Wolf River Harbor

September 27 – Mud Island Walk Bridge & River Walk
(Meet at the Mud Island River Park Front Street Station, 125 North Front Street)
Walk the Walk Bridge, Mississippi River Walk Model, City Skyline

October 25 - Beale Street Landing & Tom Lee Park
(Meet at Beale Street Landing, 251 Riverside Drive)
Beale Street Landing (Inside & Out) to Tom Lee Park Sculpture

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Tours and/or Presentations

Public Walking Tours – Begun in 2008 as a part of the Center City Commission’s Downtown Alive program of performing arts at lunch time in various venues in Downtown, Jimmy created two types of walking tours in the Downtown area that he has entitled "Tuesday Tours" and "Saturday Super Tours". These Downtown Walking Tours (generally designed to last 45 minutes and be about four-blocks-long) are FREE and handicapped accessible. Streets and public areas include: Union Avenue, Court Square, Beale Street, Cotton Row, Pinch District, Civic Center Plaza, Adams Avenue, Madison Avenue, Monroe Avenue, South Main Street, Trolley Riverfront Loop, Shelby County Courthouse. Memphis Riverboats, and the Mississippi River from Riverside Drive. The new addition to the menu this Autumn will be the November 6th Street Tour inaugural tour on 11/06/11.
  In the Spring, 2012 (weekends in April & May), an entire new series of Walking Tours will be offered entitled the Riverfront Parks Series, which will include extensive walking tours of: [1] Chickasaw Heritage Park (formerly DeSoto Park) & Crump Park; [2] Martyrs Park & Ashburn-Coppock Park; [3] River Bluff Walkway & Tom Lee Park; [4] Confederate Park, Jefferson Davis Park & Cobblestone Wharf; and, [5] Mississippi Greenbelt Park & Mud Island River Park. These, and other tours, are also publicized on the Downtown Memphis, Commercial Appeal, Memphis Flyer and University of Memphis web sites.

Step-On Guide – Jimmy has served as a Step-On Guide in the Downtown area and Memphis riverfront for motorcoach and tour companies visiting from out-of-town that request the service. A standard-in-the-industry fee is charged for this service.

Private Group Walking Tours – Several school groups and affinity groups have requesting walking tours of certain areas of Downtown or the riverfront.

One-On-One" Tours – Many individuals have requested private tour time. Private tours may be arraigned by contacting Jimmy by phone or email.

Custom Tours – Jimmy has even been given as a "Christmas present" for someone’s parents or grandparents. This tour normally involves a ride around Downtown and the riverfront culminating in a meal or dessert at a Downtown establishment.

Excursions – Jimmy has been known to take a group of history fans on a field trip or meet together to "group up" for an event. Last year, an excursion (via caravan) to the mystical site of the 1865 sinking of Civil War era vessel Sultana, in Crittenden County, Arkansas. Several other interesting stops within the county made the adventure an unusual time for all. In the Autumn of the year, a group assemble in Downtown for lunch, and then walked the Downtown Historic Churches Open House (five churches within five blocks), which is annually scheduled on a Sunday afternoon in October. This year’s excursions will be the Sultana, Downtown Historic Churches Open House and Randolph, Tennessee. Details will be on this web site, now for the Sultana, and in August for the Autumn outings (Downtown Churches and Randolph). Stay tuned.

Old Forest Trail in Overton Park – Although Jimmy is not the leader of this semi-monthly tour (second Saturday and last Sunday of each month), he is glad to participate as a "caboose" for the exquisite tour given by the Citizens To Preserve Overton Park (which he is one of five members, along with Amy Stewart-Banbury, Stacey Greenberg & Roy Barnes) and its leader, Naomi Van Tol. The nature hike changes every time that it is given, as the Old Forest is forever changing on a daily basis. (See below).

Tours for Other Agencies – Whether it is the Cotton Museum at the Memphis Cotton Exchange, the Center For Southern Folklore, Shelby County Courthouse or the Memphis Riverboats company, Jimmy quite often pitches in to be involved in the programming, special events and tours for these and other museums and attractions in Memphis. You’ll never know where Jimmy might pop up talking . . .




Jimmy has somewhat entered the cyber age, and has learned to develop some Presentations in which he "brings the tour to you" or your group. Yes, by the miracle of a laptop, projector and long extension cord, Jimmy is able to provide any group with one of the following topics – or - given adequate time for research and development, a topic of personal preference of your choice.

You provide the screen (or blank wall), the chairs, one electrical outlet and the audience!

Presentations may last from 30 minutes to two hours depending on the nature of material being covered and the parameters of the group’s meeting. Prepared topics are:

"Before There Was ‘Memphis’: 1782-1826"
"Growing Up At The River, Part 1: Memphis in the 19th Century"
"Growing Up At The River, Part 2: Memphis in the 20th Century"
"Memphis & The Civil War"
"Shelby County Courthouse: Inside and Out"
"Historic Memphis To Modern Memphis"
"The Memphis Music Story"
"The Origins & Oddities of the Streets & Bridges of Memphis"
"Gayoso Bayou: Then & Now"
"The Story of the Zippin Pippin"
"Statues & Sculptures, Lobbies & Plazas"
"Memphis Memorials"
"Overton Park"
"University of Memphis: Know Your Neighborhood"
"Cotton & Crypts: Cotton Men Of Elmwood"
"Riverfront Development Corporation"
"Memphis & The Civil Rights Movement"
"The Moving Appeal"
"Memphis & The Great Depression"
"Catching The Big Fish: Memphis' 21st Century Riverfront"

In the past two years, Jimmy has made Presentations to over one hundred different groups, including civic clubs, alumni gatherings, breakfast groups, dinner groups, senior citizens residential facilities, church groups and many affinity groups throughout the Memphis community and the three-state area.

With all due respect to Paladin from the 1950s western "Have Gun, Will Travel",
Jimmy's motto is "Have Mouth, Will Talk"!!

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Jimmy Ogle Appointed Shelby County Historian

November 6, 2011 - Jimmy Ogle, a walking encyclopedia of Memphis history and lore, stands in a flower pot on Main Street while giving a tour along November 6th Street through downtown Memphis. Roughly 120 people strolled with him on the free, three-hour, walking tour that traveled from Beale Street to Shadyac Avenue in the Pinch District.
Photo by Mike Brown


Memphis Commercial Appeal-Mar 24, 2014 - Shelby County Commissioners on Monday selected Jimmy Ogle, chairman of the Shelby County Historical Commission, to serve as the county historian for the next six years.
Ogle, 61, was among three nominated and was head-to-head with 31-year-old Lauren Beaupre, whose youth some commissioners thought would bring a fresh perspective on the position, in the second round of voting.
Beaupre received four votes on the first round, and Ogle received five votes. Charles Crawford, 82, received two votes in the first round. On the second round of voting, Ogle received nine votes and Beaupre received four votes.

Memphis Daily News-Mar 24, 2014 - The Shelby County Commission has appointed Jimmy Ogle, chairman of the Shelby County Historical Commission, as the new county historian. Ogle, who is also general manager of Beale Street Landing and the Riverfront Development Corp., serves a six-year term in the unpaid position.
Ogle was selected Monday, March 24, in a process in which University of Memphis history professor Charles Crawford and Faith Christian Academy teacher Lauren Beaupre, who has also been a fellow at the Tennessee Center for Historic Preservation, were nominated. Ogle, who succeeds the late Ed Williams, is only the third person to hold the position of county historian and the first to serve with a specific term of office.


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*** War of 1812 Update ***

Plaques Attached; Ogle Awarded!

  On February 28, 2011, I received an email from Dottie McCallen, my contact with the Memphis Bar Association for the Shelby County Courthouse Tours. Dottie had been contacted by Bettie Gustafson about a historical War of 1812 marker at the Courthouse and the Andrew Jackson Bust & Pedestal in the South Hallway. She was wanting to host events to commemorate Andrew Jackson's birthday annually (with the return of a wreath laying tradition at the pedestal) and the War of 1812 participants from the "Memphis" area. (I put Memphis in quotation marks, as there was not a Memphis at that time, but many of these War of 1812 participants played a pivotal role later on that decade in the procurement of the lands of West Tennessee and the eventual founding of the town of Memphis in 1819).

  The War of 1812 "Bicentennial Season" began last year and will continue through to 2015.  Two years of planning and fund raising by the local Piomingo Chapter of the United Daughters of 1812 hit a peak on Saturday, October 5 at the Shelby County Courthouse when two plaques were dedicated at a ceremony in the southeast corridor (see program photos).  Flags were presented, pledges and/or salutes to each flag were spoken, speeches were given, songs were sung (including "Yankee Doodle" and "Eight Thousand Redcoats"), and the cake was cut!   Descendants of War of 1812 veterans were chosen to cut the cake - (left to right in photo) Martha Tibbs (Clement McDaniel), Elise George (Isaac Shelby), Becky Muska (George Washington Oldham), and John Walt (Samuel David Walt).

  Andrew Forbess, Boy Scout Troop 66 and William Prince, Boy Scout Troop 60 marched and held the flags into the corridor.  Thirza Sloan led the gathering in the singing of the National Anthem (inspired during the War of 1812 and written by Frances Scott Key). Aline Roberts of the Honorary Tennessee State President, U.S.D. 1812 extended a greeting, Anne, and  Holzemer (Honorary Regent of the River City Chapter of the DAR) led in the recitation of The American's Creed, and Olivia Chandler spoke of  the Purposes of the National Society of U.S.D 1812.

  The unveiling of the Isaac Shelby plaque was made by Elise George (descendant of Isaac Shelby) and Martha Tibbs (descendant of Clement McDaniel).  [By the way Clement McDaniel's name is also on a plaque in the southwest corridor of the Shelby County Courthouse recognizing Veterans of the Revolutionary War that are Interred in Shelby County, place by the Watauga Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution in 1997.  McDaniel's name is the only name on both plaques in the building].

  The unveiling of the War of 1812 Veterans Interred in Shelby County plaque was made by John Walt (Samuel David Walt), Becky Muska (George Washington Oldham) and Martha Tibbs (Clement McDaniel).  Names of all 32 veterans were read as a part of the unveiling.

  Carla Maitland brought an upbeat lilt to the ceremony in a talk about "war songs" like "Yankee Doodle" (which we sang a version of  "1812" lyrics provided by Bettie Gustafson), "Over There" (WW1), Johnny Horton's pop tune of the "Battle of New Orleans", and even placed sheet music on the chairs for "The Way To Avoid War".  Most importantly, we sang our National Anthem, the "Star Spangled Banner" which was inspired by a battle at Ft. McHenry (1813) in the early part of the War of 1812.

  At the close of the ceremony, Olivia Chandler and Bettie Gustafson made a surprise announcement of the Spirit of 1812 Award presentation to Jimmy Ogle for his efforts in supporting the Piomingo Chapter.  The Certificate and Medal is a nationwide recognition given by the National Society of the United Daughters of 1812.  According to Bettie, only thirty such recognitions have been made throughout the country to date, and this was the second in the State of Tennessee.  It was quite an honor to receive such recognition . . . thank you!


In closing, to the tune of Three Blind Mice, please sing along with me . . .

Eight Thousand Redcoats, Eight Thousand Redcoats
ee how they run, See how they run.
They all ran away from the Tennessee guns,
Old Hickory had the battle won!
did you ever see such a sight in your life?
As the Tennessee volunteers, the Tennessee Volunteers!



War of 1812 Veterans & Gen. Isaac Shelby To Be Honored in Historic Shelby County Courthouse
Saturday, October 5 at 2:00 p.m.


  After successfully promoting birthday/anniversary events (on March 15) for Gen. Andrew Jackson over the past two years, the Piomingo Chapter of the United Daughters of 1812 will not host another event at the Shelby County Courthouse on October 5. Chapter member Bettie Gustafson has led a local fund raising effort for the installation of plagues honoring the Veterans of the War of 1812 Interred in Shelby County and for Isaac Shelby (our county's namesake and War of 1812 General).

  As with a plaque placed by the Watauga Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution in the southwest corridor of the Courthouse honoring Revolutionary War Veterans Interred in Shelby County (19), these "1812" plaques will be installed in the southeast corridor. The Piomingo Chapter and the Shelby County Historical Commission have identified 32 veterans buried in various cemeteries in Shelby County.

  Gen. Isaac Shelby, also Governor of Kentucky, was instrumental, along with Gen. Andrew Jackson, in the negotiations with the Chickasaw Nation of all the lands (6.8 million acres) of "West Tennessee" (west of the Tennessee River to the Mississippi River) - now 21 counties of the State of Tennessee in 1818 (Chickasaw Cession). Tennessee became the third state after the original thirteen states to join the Union and the first territory to become a state in 1796. The first 22 years Tennessee was a state, all the land west of the Tennessee River was owned by the Chickasaw Nation. Immediately, Memphis was founded in 1819 on the fourth Chickasaw Bluff in West Tennessee by James Winchester, John Overton and Andrew Jackson. The first Mayor of Memphis, Marcus Winchester, is a War of 1812 veteran interred in Shelby County. These were indeed very formative years for our nation, for the Memphis area and in the careers of Andrew Jackson and Isaac Shelby.

  Gen. Andrew Jackson (co-founder of Memphis in 1819, seventh President of the United States from 1829-1837) rose to national prominence during the War of 1812 period, as well. His marble bust and pedestal already are located in the south hallway "courthouse museum" since 1921 and it commemorates his achievements. The bust is the oldest known bust cast on a sitting President in our nation's history (1835) and was used in the image of the first 4-cent postage stamp in our country!

The dedication ceremony will be 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 5 in the South Hallway of the Shelby County Courthouse, 150 Adams Avenue in Downtown Memphis. Stay tuned...

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Bill Downie & The PROUD MARY Restoration Effort


  A good thing about writing a story on a part of our nation’s history, such as the PROUD MARY, is that someone “out there” might actually read the story, or be touched by it, or even better respond with “the rest of the story” (as Paul Harvey used to say).

  The original PROUD MARY “Detour” appeared on this site on August 25, 2010 and more than two years later, I receive the following email from Jean Downie:

“My name is Jean Downie and my late husband Bill WAS the Proud Mary Restoration. He put a lot of love, labor and money into her restoration and was devastated when she sank into the the Loosachatchie River in December 1988. I would love to see my husbands name associated with your article on the Proud Mary along side of the Restoration Name. He loved that boat. He spend his life as a tug boat captain on the Eastern Seaboard and it was his life's dream to one day find the Proud Mary and restore her. We came from NY State and her history as she started out; taking prisoners to Sing Sing was part of our culture....” Mrs. Jean Downie...


  So, I went back to my file from the Mud Island days on the 1980s, and sure enough, it contained photocopies of letters and newspaper stories – all attributed to the efforts of Bill Downie trying to save and restore the PROUD MARY,

even a copy of a letter than I had sent, as General Manager of Mud Island, to Jean Downie on May 18, 1987 – small world, huh?.

  The Memphis Press-Scimitar in a December 1, 1967 edition displayed a photo of the MARY ELIZABETH on fire within sight of downtown office workers in the Wolf River Harbor. She was shoving an empty grain back up the harbor to Cargill, Inc. when the smoke and fire was noticed coming from the engine room area. Sam Drain, who had been “deckhanding on the Mississippi River for 45 years”, was tying the barge to the dock when he first noticed the flames. The Memphis Fire Department responded with nine pieces of equipment and took almost thirty minutes to dowse the fire. A 10-car Illinois Central train was held up for about an hour as the fire hose was stretch more than 200 feet across the tracks to reach the fire. Capt. John Murphy said that the “major damage was to the cabin and engine room, and that she would be rebuilt for being placed back into service as soon as possible”.

  Another photocopy is a February 14, 1978 story from The Commercial Appeal, the tugboat PROUD MARY was tied to a dock at Murphy Marine Service at President’s Island. John L. Murphy was the owner (since 1973).Murphy said that he believed a deckhand wrote the song in 1961 or 1962, but he could not remember his name. Larry Barber of Murphy Marine said “It can’t push a barge the way a towboat can. The only way to move a barge is to come along side and tie left to it.” The boat was used mostly as a harbor boat in Memphis. Unlike towboats, the MARY ELIZABETH had no tow knees – the large push rods on towboats used to push barges.

  In the file there is a photocopy of a story from an unidentified New Orleans newspaper with a picture of Bill Downie and his stepson, Henry Kenealy. The story covers the plans to make the PROUD MARY “seaworthy” and visit major ports along the Mississippi River, Lake Pontchartrain and the eastern seaboard, using the vessel for a concert stage playing to audiences on beaches and parks. A culminating event would be set for July 4, 1987 in the New York harbor and the PROUD MARY then returning to Memphis to be donated to the Mississippi River Museum on Mud Island for display.

  t that time, making the PROUD MARY, a 74-foot-long & 63-gross-ton vessel, seaworthy again was estimated to be $42,000, which included items such as extensive welding and patching, purchase of a diesel engine, generator, propeller, shaft and other preparations.

  Jean and Bill lived in Punta Gorda, Florida and in 1995, the Charlotte Sun wrote a story about Bill’s dedication, perseverance and efforts on behalf of the PROUD MARY. In the newspaper article, there is a photo of Bill holding the life board from the PROUD MARY. Bill Downie passed away in 2010 at the age of 75.

  Thank you, Jean Downie . . .

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

And, on another update, the Butcher Shop restaurant in Downtown Memphis that had the MARY ELIZABETH painting on display, has closed, to be converted to condos. The Butcher Shop at 107 S. Germantown Parkway in East Memphis near Shelby Farms remains open (901-757-4244, www.thebutchershop.com). Hopefully the portrait will re-surface there or maybe in a nearby museum. Stay tuned . . .

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Ellen Davies Rodgers Award


  At the 3rd Annual Shelby County History Awards Dinner, Shelby County Historian Ed Williams bestowed the Ellen Davies Rodgers Award to Jimmy Ogle as the leading advocate for history over the past year in the Memphis and Shelby County area. Shelby County has had only two Historians and Mrs. Rodgers was the first (1965-1994) and Ed Williams being the second (1994 to present).

Over 140 folks attended the History Dinner at Hillwood Hall at historic Davies Manor Plantation on August 7. Tennessee's Secretary of State gave a very interesting and informative keynote speech, and Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell capped off the evening with some of his closing thoughts about "history".

In between the speeches, recognition was given by several local history organizations to members or individuals for achievements over the past year, and thirteen students that had won categories at the West Tennessee Regional Competition of Tennessee History Day received plaques from the Shelby County Historical Commission.

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Jimmy O To Host Star Spangled Banner Dinner at Peabody Hotel
@ Chez Philippe, July 1, 7:00pm

 Written in 1814 by Francis Scott Key as a poem set to a well-known British drinking song, the Star Spangled
Banner was designated the national anthem in 1931 by an act of Congress.

On the mezzanine level just outside the elevators, the stands a piano once owned by Francis Scott Key!

Four courses, $85* per person, (wine pairing, add $35) valet parking, take home treat. For more information: 901.529.4188.

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Trail Of Tears "Water Route" Marker Unveiling

Memphis And The Trail Of Tears - They Passed This Way

Tuesday, October 7 * 4:00 p.m.

Beale Street Landing


  Update: On Tuesday, October 7, over 100 folks gathered on the banks of the Mississippi River to dedicate a National Park Service, National Trails historical marker commemorating the passage by Memphis of the "Water Route" of the Trail of Tears in 1830s. Troy Wayne Poteete, Justice of the Cherokee Nation Supreme Court; Jack Baker President of the Trail of Tears Association; Aaron Mahr, Director of Long Distance Trails of the National Park Service; and Graydon Swisher, Director of Tennessee Trails Association - all provided comments for the occasion. The NPS marker was also united with an Alexis de Tocqueville marker placed in Tom Lee Park in 1998, which had been off display. The ceremony was followed by a 90-minute cruise aboard the ISLAND QUEEN riverboat. Many thanks to Graydon Swisher of the Shelby County Historical Commission for his hard work in making this dedication happen, as well as the addition of fourteen wayfarer signs along Stage Road for the "Bell Route" (land) of the Trail of Tears.

  The Trail Of Tears Association will be holding a convention in Memphis, October 6-9.  On the program is the unveiling of a marker developed by the National Park Service depicting the "Water Route" that passed along the Memphis riverfront in 1838 as a part of the Trail Of Tears National Historic Trail.   Also at the ceremony, the relocation of the Alexis de Tocqueville marker from Tom Lee Park next to the Water Route marker will take place, on the river bank in the southwest corner of the Beale Street Landing property, with a majestic view of the Mississippi River, sunset and delta.

  The ceremony will be followed by a cruise aboard the ISLAND QUEEN (Tickets available - $15, Graydon Swisher, go2swish@gmail.com), departing at 5:00 p.m.  Troy Poteete, Executive Director of the Trail Of Tears Association and Graydon Swisher of the Tennessee Parks & Greenways Foundation will do the honors for the unveiling and give special commentary aboard the ISLAND QUEEN cruise.

  At a later date, another marker will be unveiled on Front Street near the site of the crossing of the river of the "Land Route" also know as the "Bell Route".  Waymarker signs marking the Bell Route along Stage Road through Shelby County have been placed by the Tennessee Department of Transportation.  Many thanks to the tireless, multi-year efforts by Shelby County Historical Commission member Graydon Swisher, who is also the "Shelby County Expert & Contact" for Randolph Bluff in Tipton County.

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!!!  60 Years Of Jimmy O  !!!
Report Card

As the year 2012 closes, it is time to take a look at the “60 Years Of Jimmy O” Report Card.
My comments will be sprinkled about this section in red .
. .


With all of the centennials (University of Memphis, UT Med), bicentennials (New Madrid Earthquake) and Sesquicentennials (Civil War events over the next three years), why not have a year-long "Sexdecennial Celebration" for Jimmy O. Now, in my best research, and maybe I should have gone to "Ask Vance", I come up with no term for a 60-year anniversary. So I have combined the six-year (sexennial) and the ten-year (decennial) to come up with the hybrid "sexdecennial" (six times ten). In "wedding" terms, it would be the "Diamond" anniversary.

Most of these commemorations begin the year ahead of the actual month/day/date of the actual celebration and include numerous, well-planned events, milestones and activities. On November 14, 2012, Jimmy O turns the big "60". So, beginning one year in advance of that magic date, a series of special talks, tours and activities will be promoted and provided all year long - beginning with the Inaugural November 6th Street Tour on Sunday, November 6th (2011).

Here are the highlights, and be sure to check this web site
for monthly Announcements and program detail updates:

TUESDAY TOURS in November (2011) at 11:45 a.m. on the Downtown streets and alleys:
November 1 - Pinch District (Main/Overton Trolley Station)
November 8 - Civic Center Plaza & Hall of Mayors (Clock Tower @ Trolley Station)
November 15 - Madison Avenue (Madison/Front)
November 22 - Monroe Avenue (Monroe/Front)
November 29 - Union Avenue Manhole Cover & History Tour (Union/Front)

TUESDAY TOURS for both Autumn, Spring and Autumn again remain the mainstay program and “my old favorite”.  Attendance was strong and the weather cooperated on every Tuesday (imagine that).  A walking tour of any block of Downtown or the Riverfront gives one hundred of stories to talk about or features to point out.  TUESDAY TOURS begin in 2013 on May 7 at the new Beale Street Landing facility, 251 Riverside Drive (11:45 a.m.).

Sunday, November 6 @ 2:06 p.m. - The Inaugural November 6th Street Tour, 126 Beale Street (see story on this page).

The Inaugural November 6th Street Tour tripled expectations.  I expected about 35 folks to attend the 90-minute walk on a pleasant November Sunday afternoon, and we started at Elvis Presley Plaza on Beale Street with 114 folks on what was to end being the “Gilligan’s Island” version – a three hour tour!  The limited supply of t-shirts and commemorative label bottled water did not last long, but 85 folks (lasted three hours) and made it around tall buildings and extra blocks, around the Hebe Fountain in Court Square, through the Marriott Hotel lobby and under I-40, through the “Spine of Downtown” to the Pinch District (17 blocks, 27 twists & turns) to Red Fish Gallery and Westy’s Restaurant.

Fourth Thursday of Each Month @ 12:00 noon.
Meet on the Southwest Steps at Adams/Second.
2011 - November 17, December 22
2012 -  May 24, June 28, July 26, August 23,
September 27, October 25 & November 15

The prettiest public building in Memphis is indeed the Shelby County Courthouse, and basically the easiest tour to give, inside and out.  The building sells (and tells) itself.  The marble and mahogany wood in the South Hallway along with the six display cases, old benches, historic cuspidor and Andrew Jackson bust & pedestal make the tour pop on its own.  Then add the Antique Court Room and the Law Library, and on good weather days, the exterior statues and pediments – every tours is a home run.  Many thanks to the Shelby County Sheriff’s Department and the on-duty guards for their understanding and cooperation with the tours and groups.  The monthly tour still is the one time that a person is allowed to bring a camera into the Courthouse.

During the Spring, 2012, be looking for:

* Spring Season TUESDAY TOURS on the Downtown streets and alleys, parks and plazas beginning on April 3 and continuing through May 29.

* The RIVERFRONT PARK TOUR SERIES - All New !! On weekend afternoons, all of the eleven riverfront parks under the jurisdiction of the Riverfront Development Corporation will be "talked and toured" in April and May. All talks will cover the extensive history and events of Memphis, the Lower Mississippi River Valley, the Port of Memphis & Shelby County, Memphis' four bridges, the riverfront parks, riverboat companies, barge traffic and the Delta afternoons in April and May, with the following "groupings":
- Chickasaw Heritage Park, National Ornamental Metal Museum grounds, Marine Hospital grounds & Crump Park
- Martyrs Park, Church Of The River, Channel 3 Drive, "Rivermont" Easement & Ashburn-Coppock Park
- Tom Lee Park, Vance Park, Butler Park & River Bluff Walk
- The Cobblestone Wharf, Jefferson Davis Park, Confederate Park & State of Tennessee Welcome Center
- Mississippi Greenbelt Park on Mud Island & Mud Island River Park

It was 51 degrees at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, April 21 when 54 people gathered at Chickasaw Heritage Park (formerly DeSoto Park; originally Jackson Mounds Park).  The dew was heavy and several of us slid down on the mounds (accidentally, that is).  The tour meandered through the grounds of the National Ornamental Metal Museum (with Judy Davis of the Metal Museum staff giving excellent commentary) to the grounds of the former Marine Hospital (owner Lauren Crews chipping in very well here) to Crump Park, next to the Memphis & Arkansas Bridge.  What a great start to the Riverfront Park Series along the five-mile stretch to Greenbelt Park on weekends over the next month.  In October, we returned to Chickasaw Heritage Park for the unveiling of the “Legacies” statue by artist Vinnie Bagwell and the UrbanArt Commission.

* The MEMPHIS & ARKANSAS BRIDGE WALK - All New!! With all of the attention that is being given to the future Harahan Greenline project, many citizens do not realize that there is already an existing walkway across the Mississippi River to Arkansas. The access is hard to find and the walk can be a little "scary" at times, but it is absolutely safe and a thrill of an adventure. So, having a knowledgeable "tour guide" will help alleviate some of the anxiety or unknown factor. Saturday mornings in April and May, 2012.

Another big surprise this year, like the Inaugural November 6th Street Tour.  On a nice Sunday Afternoon (April 22), 146 folks appeared out of nowhere in Crump Park.  I am glad that I had purchased a megaphone, as the expressway traffic is rather loud in the area.  The prettiest tree in all of Downtown (the big magnolia in the center of Crump Park) actually became the de facto gathering point for all M&A Bridge Walks.  Designed to be a precursor to the future incredible Harahan Bridge Greenline, “mission accomplished” for the M&A Bridge Walks.  Over 500 people on eight walks enjoyed the history of the most scenic portion of the Memphis riverfront and heard some good history about the Mississippi River, riverboats, bridges, railroads, etc., and got to climb the Best Tree in Downtown Memphis!

* BATTLE OF MEMPHIS SESQUICENTENNIAL COMMEMORATION (June 6, 2012) - The (naval) Battle of Memphis during the Civil War was held on the morning of June 6, 1862. From 2011 to 2015, many states will be holding commemorative events on the 150th year recognizing the history and impact on our country. On Wednesday, June 6 (2012) a historical presentation will be given in Confederate Park detailing the events of the Battle of Memphis. In 1862, the citizens of Memphis actually anticipated the Battle of Memphis (which occurred approximately where Mud Island River Park exists today) as if they were spectators at an NFL game!

Over 200 Civil War enthusiasts enjoyed a somewhat hot Summer day on the bluffs, as the largest naval battle in the history of the world (the Naval Battle of Memphis) was commemorated in Confederate Park on June 6, to the tune of a lot of loud cannon and musket firing.

And, then on September 5, four cannons were placed on permanent display in the park.  Led by the local Sons of Confederate Veterans, and including the Shelby County Historical Commission and the Riverfront Development Corporation was financed with about $72,000 in private donations, said Lee Millar.  The cast iron carriages supporting the new cannon reproductions were donated by Shiloh National Military Park.

Steen Cannons, a family-owned company in Ashland, Ky., made the new cannons and stays busy supplying artillery representing a variety of wars to national parks, towns, cemeteries and other customers.  During the Civil War, carriages were wooden.  The cannon types at Confederate Park represent those used by two Confederate artillery units — Bankhead's Battery, formed in 1861 by Memphis attorney Smith P. Bankhead, and the Appeal Battery, sponsored in 1862 by The Appeal newspaper (an ancestor of The Commercial Appeal).

* BATTLE OF MEMPHIS SESQUICENTENNIAL WEEKEND (June 8-9, 2012) at Mud Island River Park & Mississippi River Museum - A weekend full of lectures in the Museum Theatre, re-enactments, authentic encampments, cannon fire, Civil War era music, costumed tour guides in the five Civil War galleries of the Mississippi River Museum, costumed tour guides along the River Walk detailing the various strategic battles on the "western rivers" - Ft. Henry, Ft. Donelson and Shiloh on the Tennessee River; Island No. 10, Ft. Pillow, Ft. Wright & Randolph, Memphis, Helena, Vicksburg, Natchez and New Orleans on the Mississippi River.

Many thanks to Alan Doyle, Ed Williams, Nell Dickerson, Elaine Turner, Jerry Potter,  Dr. James Gholson, Dr. Curt Fields, Dr. Douglas Cupples and Donald Harrison for making the Sesquicentennial Lecture Series a remarkable and diverse take on the Civil War and Memphis.  Fred Scott made the Changing Exhibit Gallery of the Mississippi River Museum come alive with the folk paintings of his father, Fred Scott, depicting nineteen scenes of the Civil War across Tennessee.  The encampment by the Sons of Confederate Veterans, Nathan Bedford Forrest Chapter, Morton’s Battery and the 52nd Regimental Band in the South Grove proved to be a popular spot, too.

* THE MOVING APPEAL - A new lecture has been created for the timeliness of the Civil War Sesquicentennial activities entitled "The Moving Appeal" featuring the editor John Reid McClanahan. On June 5, 1862, the Memphis Daily Appeal (newspaper) departed the city on a bold mission to continue publication during a three-year, 1000-mile, four-state odyssey - one step ahead of Federal forces. Grenada, Jackson, Atlanta and Montgomery were all cities that The Appeal was published to become one of the most reliable and respected publications of the Civil War, and only one of twenty publications (out of eighty) to survive the ravages of the Civil War - later to become The Commercial Appeal. This lecture will be available beginning this December, and will be one of the lectures at the monthly Lunch & lectures Series at Elmwood Cemetery next Spring. John Reid McClanahan is buried in Elmwood.

The Moving Appeal and the portrayal of John Reid McClanahan made for a traveling show on an unusual story to the Civil War & Memphis.  The Mississippi River Museum, Elmwood Cemetery “Read In peace” book club, University Of Memphis Society of Professional Journalists and even the Center Lane Alley were all backdrops for this presentation. Many thanks to Barry Lincoln of Mr. Lincoln’s Costume Shop, too.

* RIVERBOAT CRUISES - In association with MEMPHIS RIVERBOATS, two of the most popular excursions will be revived (dates to be announced) - the Helena Daylong Excursion and the Sandbar Cruise:
- Helena Daylong Excursion: A seven-hour cruise of 72 miles of twists and turns of the Mississippi River to Helena-West Helena, Arkansas. The cruise includes breakfast and lunch, full service bar, Memphis musicians, informational commentary, bingo!, and even a brief stop on a sandbar. A visit to the Delta Cultural Center and then a one-hour motorcoach ride through the cotton lands of the Mississippi delta for a return of a perfect daylong river adventure.
- Sandbar Cruises: Once the high waters of the Spring season leave, many sandbars and beaches "open up" along the shores of the Mississippi River within eyesight of the city skyline. This five-hour experience features lunch, marshmallow roast, music, games (volleyball, horseshoe), frisbee tossing, "driftwooding" and even a search for buried treasure!

Well, we did not get to Helena or on a nearby sandbar as hoped for, and a part of that was due to the historic long period of low water in the Mississippi River for the Summer and Autumn seasons.  But, Jimmy O was able to have the honor of cruising on the AMERICAN QUEEN from St. Louis, Paducah, Helena Vicksburg (with some ports in between) giving lectures about Memphis on inbound cruise to Memphis. What a fantastic time this was, and more AQ lectures are booked for the 2013 season.  Capt. William Lozier also allowed me to cruise the ISLAND QUEEN on selected occasions giving commentary on sightseeing cruises throughout the year.

* UNIVERSITY OF MEMPHIS: KNOW YOU NEIGHBORHOOD series continues throughout the Centennial Celebration of the University of Memphis. The first presentation is on Wednesday, January 25 at McWherter Library with the topic being the Churches in the University neighborhoods. More topics about the six surrounding neighborhoods and even walking tours will be given on a quarterly basis in 2012.

Friends For The Libraries at The University Of Memphis allowed me to give Part 6 and Part 7 in the continuing series – “Know Your Neighborhood”.  The Centennial Celebration was a big year for The University.  A highlight for me, as Chairman of the Shelby County Historical Commission, was the approval and dedication of the Memphis State Eight historical marker on the grounds of The University.

* COMMUNITY EDUCATION COURSES - Schedules are being set now for Spring and Autumn seasons at Rhodes College Meeman Center For Lifelong Learning ("Memphis History: Centuries Of Adventure & Development"). Stay tuned . . .

Two courses (four classes each in the Spring and Autumn) at the Meeman Center For Lifelong Learning at Rhodes College received maximum registration for the room, and a real diverse group of “students”.   “Memphis History: Centuries Of Adventure & Development” will return to Meeman on four Monday night in April, 2013 (April 8, 15, 22 & 29).

* CARAVANS - The popular "Dutch Treat" Caravans will return in 2012 with excursions to Randolph, Halls, Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park, C.H. Nash Museum Chucalissa and the Sultana site. These caravans and/or carpools generally assemble in the convenient location in Memphis and usually are less than a 45-minute drive to each destination. The charm of traveling in numbers, with friends and on a pre-arranged schedule makes the caravan more enjoyable and worry free. No fees are involved; participants may picnic or eat where they choose, and are free to depart from the group at any time for other reasons or preferences. The schedule will be announced in Spring, 2012 - stay tuned.

Well, there were no Caravans in 2012 as we simply ran out of time!

* BEALE STREET LANDING & the AMERICAN QUEEN - The largest steamboat ever built for passenger excursions on the Mississippi River has claimed Memphis as it home port this year as the Great American Steamboat Company opens its offices in One Commerce Square. Beale Street Landing is under construction and upon completion in several phases in 2012 there will be a modern, handicapped accessible docking system for all riverboats, spectacular viewing spaces on the green grass roof of the main building, a restaurant on the river channel (city side) with patio and terrace dining opportunities, concession kiosks, special events and other activities making the north end of Tom Lee Park (plus four additional acres) at the confluence of Riverside Drive and Beale Street a new destination for Memphians and tourists.

The local excursion company, MEMPHIS RIVERBOATS, will also being boarding passengers from Beale Street Landing in 2012. The first cruise of the AMERICAN QUEEN departs April 27 heading for the Kentucky Derby - now that is cool. Go to The American Queen Steamboat Company for the 2012 schedule and pricing.

Beale Street Landing did not open in 2012, but received substantial completion and still had numerous events during a full-blown construction site – the Christening of the AMERICAN QUEEN, AutoZone Powerboat Racing Championship, almost 100 hard hat tours, big events like Monogram Foods Loves Kids and ArtAFactor (ArtsMemphis), and holiday parties in December.  The anticipated opening is March, 2013 when Memphis Riverboats will begin boarding passengers from the helical ramp/dock and Riverside Grille & Dockside Bar will open on a daily basis for lunch, dinner, happy hours and parties.  Five overnight passenger vessels will be visiting Beale Street Landing in 2013, including the AMERICAN QUEEN, QUEEN OF THE MISSISSIPPI, YORKTOWN, GRAND CARIBE and the GRAND MARINER.  Phase 4B construction on the north four acres, terraces and islands will be completed in the Autumn, 2012.

So, there you have it . . . a lot activities scheduled and even more to be announced. Who knows what will find us in 2012. Jimmy O is always available to present lectures (on twenty different "Memphis" topics) to groups at their weekly and/or monthly meetings (services clubs, affinity groups, etc.) or senior citizen homes or even school groups. Just contact me . . .

In summary – my highlights, in no particular order, were being Chairman of the Shelby County Historical Commission and the work and dedication of the Plastic Products Record Plant and Memphis State Eight historical markers; the five cruises and lectures aboard the AMERICAN QUEEN; the conception and implementation of the Coltharp / River Walk Model exhibit at the Mississippi River Museum (thank you Alisa & Trey); the Sesquicentennial Lecture Series at the Mississippi River Museum; being on site at Beale Street Landing and seeing the project begin to take final shape; beginning the “Inside Memphis” segments three-times-per-week on KWAM AM990 radio; participation in the “Old Forest Fairy Tale” panel with Sunshine Snyder & Charlie Newman at Evergreen Theatre; the Peabody Hotel’s Historic Dinner Series TITANIC night; and the season long celebration of the career of MUS Basketball Coach Jerry Peters, culminating with his attainment of 1,001 victories; and having a “surprise” birthday party in November at Westy’s hosted by my grandchildren!

So, what will 2013 bring - the start of the next 60 Years Of Jimmy O?  I know that I will be busy at  Beale Street Landing and that will limit most of my availability to “hit the road” with Talks & Tours.  All I can say, is great big THANK YOU to the thousands of folks that participated and support the efforts this year . . . and “stay tuned . . .”

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Out With August, In With September Tours!

  The dog days of August are beyond, but it was a very busy month inside with Jimmy O being an emcee at several affairs - Shelby County Historical Commission's Annual History Awards Dinner, Tennessee Historical Commission's Humes High School Historical Marker Dedication and International Children's Heart Foundation Tour of the World Dinner; and even rotated between stretch limos for a Progressive Dinner of the Williams & Gillentine Legacy Planning group.


Add a few DriveArounds like with Meiji University and talks to the Germantown & Kirby Kiwanis Clubs, the Bop Club River Cruise, Rhodes College Fellows River Cruise, The Village in Germantown, Memphis Map For Elvis Fans Unveiling at A. Schwab's, Christened the M/V GEORGE C. GRUGETT, Paige Robbins Adult Day Care Center, made an appearance on "Joy In Our Town" on WBUY-TV and even took a Segway Tour! Quite a fun month . .


  Now with September here, it is time for some outdoor free, public tours - TUESDAY TOURS, Bridge Walks and Courthouse Tours. Please view the next few stories below and consult the Composite Calendar for more details, dates, times and locations . . .


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2014 November 6th, 1934 Street Tour - 11:45 a.m. on Thursday, November 6!


   During the lunch hour this Thursday (11/06/14), we will assemble in Elvis Presley Plaza between Main Street and Second Street to walk and talk about "South" November 6th, 1934 Street, between Beale Street and Court Square.
"November 6th Street - the Spine of Downtown History!". Plan ahead - on November 6, 2015, we will meet in the Pinch District and walk "North" November 6th, 1934 Street back to Court Square, and then in 2016 on Saturday, November 6, we will meet at 11:06 a.m. at Elvis Presley Plaza and walk the full length again (17 blocks, 27 turns!) like we did on the Inaugural November 6th, 1934 Street Tour in 2011.
Mark your calendars!


  On every tour of November 6th Street or Union Avenue that I given since I started the walking tour program in 2008, when talking about the origin of this unusual name, I tell that I have heard of streets named for months (like, May, June, August) or for holidays (like Easter, Christmas, Memorial), but never a street with the combination of month/day/year as the title for this one.

  I have always asked the folks walking on the tour this question: "Has anybody ever heard of another street anywhere named for a month/date/year like NOVEMBER 6th 1934 Street"? To date, there have been no responses with this combination.

  Well, while skimming the "Memphis Memories" section of The Commercial Appeal on January 11 (this year), look what appears in the "50 Years Ago: 1963" but a story about the possibility of naming a stretch of Washington Avenue between Main Street and Second Street to JANUARY 10, 1963 PLAZA!

  Well, that area became "Civic Center Plaza" and in the 1960s, four large buildings were constructed to house governmental offices for Federal (1963), City (1966), State (1967) and County (1969). On July 4, 1976, Pres. Gerald Ford dedicated the "Mid-America Mall", a mile-long pedestrian makeover of Main Street between Exchange Avenue and McCall Avenue (now Peabody Place), a failed effort to recapture the glory years of Main Street from the middle of the century. A large fountain was installed in the (former) intersection of Main & Washington, and now there is a magnificent clock tower structure at this location (although seldom does any of the four clocks tell correct time!). West of the Clock Tower in the former Washington Avenue right-of-way, fly the flags of the foreign countries honored by the Memphis In May International Festival, which began in 1977.

  By the 1990s, a new effort resulted in the Main Street Trolley replacing the Mid-America Mall - in 1993 from The Pinch on the north side of Downtown to Central Station on the south end. The Riverfront Loop addition came on line in 1997 taking over one of the north/south bound railroad tracks along the riverfront, and the Madison Avenue Trolley line was installed in 2004.

Did You Know??? - The first home in Memphis to be connected to TVA power was that of Mr. & Mrs. Nat Jones at 1438 Willett on June 4, 1938!

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2012 Year-End Review List of Groups










































A.L. Taylor / Phi Beta Sigma Historical Marker
AMERICAN QUEEN Christening (Beale Street Landing)
Andrew Jackson’s 245th Birthday Commemoration
ArtAFactor (Arts Memphis)
AutoZone Powerboat Racing Championship (Beale Street Landing)
Civil War History Festival (Marion, AR)
Coach Jerry Peters (MUS) Retirement Celebration
Cooper-Young Festival - Booth for Citizens To Preserve Overton Park
Delta Everything Southern Conference
Downtown Museum Day Walking Tours (3)
Elmwood Cemetery Costume Twilight Tour (Nathaniel Anderson)
Elmwood Cemetery Costume Twilight Tour (Lloyd T. Binford)
George Kessler 150th Birthday Celebration (Overton Park Golf Patio)
Harvest Party Horse Drawn Trolley Tour – Memphis Cotton Museum
Irish Festival – Pinch District
John Weatherall Historical Marker
Memphis Heritage 2013 Calendar Unveiling (A. Schwab’s)
Memphis State Eight Historical Marker
Mississippi River Museum Exhibit: “The Mud Island River Walk –
A Mississippi River Architectural Marvel”
Monogram Foods Loves Kids (Beale Street Landing Inaugural Event)
Mud Island Independence Day Celebration
Naval Battle of Memphis Sesquicentennial Commemoration (Confederate Park)
Naval Battle of Memphis Sesquicentennial Weekend (Mud Island)
Naval Battle of Memphis Sesquicentennial Lecture Series
(Mississippi River Museum)
“Old Forest Fairy Tale” (Evergreen Theatre) – Panel Discussion
with Sunshine Snyder & Charlie Newman
Old Forest Jamboree (Hi-Tone)
“Parking Day” (Downtown Memphis Commission)
Peabody Hotel Historic Dinner Series: Charles Lindbergh Dinner Menu
Peabody Hotel Historic Dinner Series: Titanic 100th Anniversary Menu
Plastic Products Record Plant Historical Marker
Saturday Night Jamboree Historical Marker
Shelby County History Dinner (Hillwood Hall, Davies Manor)
Shelby County History Festival (Hillwood Hall, Davies Manor)
Stan Bronson’s 84th Birthday Party (Wesley Highland Terrace)
St. Mary’s Cathedral Exceptionalism Series (3)
“Sultana” Exhibit in Marion (AR)
Titanic 100th Anniversary Dinner at Chez Philippe (Peabody Hotel)
UrbanArt Commission “Legacies” Statue Dedication – Chickasaw Heritage Park
West Tennessee Region, Tennessee History Day

Earle Farrell For Memphis - KWAM AM 990 (6)
FOX 13 w/ Darrell Green & Earle Farrell (3)
“Inside Memphis” – KWAM AM 990 (78)
Memphis Chamber “12-12-12 Luncheon” History Video with Larry Cox
“MEMPHIS” Magazine August issue feature
“SPOON” magazine – Spring issue feature
Sports 56 “Sportstime with George Lapides” (Coach Jerry Peters)
Talk It Out With Father Don Mowery – WHBQ (4)
The Peabody Hotel History Film
University Of Memphis Alumni magazine – Spring issue feature
WKNO-TV “Local Color” (1)
WMC-TV Sunday Morning Show (1)
WPTY-TV – TripAdvisor Story
WREG-TV “Live At 9” (2)
WYPL - Council Talk with Jim Strickland (1)

Davies Manor Association
Delta Everything Southern Planning Committee
Elmwood Cemetery – Elmwood University Class (2)
Greenways Alliance (3)
Memphis Area Maritime Security Committee (8)
U.S. Coast Guard
Mississippi River Corridor Tennessee Board Meetings (6)
Remember Libertyland
Shelby County Historical Commission monthly meetings (as Chairman)
University Of Memphis Stat Crew Milkshake Club (Wiles-Smith Drugstore)
West Tennessee Historical Society Board Meetings

AutoZone Liberty Bowl Media Guide records update
AutoZone Liberty Bowl Statistics Crew (Spotter)
Conference USA Men’s Basketball Tournament Scoreboard
FedEx St. Jude Classic Media Guide edits
Rhodes College Men & Women’s Scoreboard & Scorebook
University Of Memphis Baseball Scoreboard
University Of Memphis Men’s Basketball Scoreboard
University Of Memphis Women’s Basketball Scoreboard
University Of Memphis Men & Women’s Golf Score Sheets
University Of Memphis Volleyball P.A. Announcer
University Of Mississippi Men & Women’s Basketball Scorebook

Talks or Tours
20th Century Garden Club
American Orthodontists Association
AMERICAN QUEEN lectures (7)
American Road & Transportation Builders Association Downtown WalkAbout
Bank Travel Network FAM & Convention
Bartlett United Methodist Church
Beale Street Landing Hard Hat Tours (78)
Benjamin Hooks Public Library Experience Series
Berdeja Family Downtown WalkAbout
Biggs Family Downtown WalkAbout
Bixby Travel group
Blackburn Family Downtown DriveAround
Bolton High School Camera Club Downtown WalkAbout
Brooks Museum League
Campbell Clinic Spouses Downtown WalkAbout
Catmur Realtor group
CB Richard Ellis group
Central High School Class of 1970 Downtown WalkAbout
Chartered Property Casualty Underwriters Society
Chickasaw Gardens Garden Club
Christian Brothers University Urban Studies Downtown WalkAbout
Civil War Memphis DriveAround for AMERICAN QUEEN (2)
Collierville Contemporary Club
Collierville United Methodist Church Seniors Downtown DriveAround
Collierville Women’s Club
Coltharp Family Reception at Mud Island River Walk Model
Commercial Real Estate Women group
Crenshaw Family Downtown WalkAbout
Daughters of the American Revolution (We-Ah-Tah-Umba Chapter)
Dixon Gallery & Gardens Munch & Learn (2)
Downtown Memphis Commission Relocation Program Orientation (2)
Downtown Neighborhood Association Annual Sightseeing Cruise
East Memphis Exchange Club (2)
Elinor Crenshaw group
Elmwood Cemetery Lunch & Lecture: The Moving Appeal
Elmwood Cemetery “Read In Peace” Book Club (The Moving Appeal)
Evangelical Christian School (Courthouse Tour)
Evergreen Garden Club
FedEx Group Downtown WalkAbout
Fellowship Forum
Fletcher Party Talk
Food For Thought (2)
Friendship Force
Friends Of The Pink Palace
Gayoso Bayou (4)
Germantown Country Club Ladies Golf Luncheon
Germantown Iris Club
Germantown Kiwanis Club
Germantown United Methodist Church Brown Bag Luncheon
Girl Scout Troop Downtown WalkAbout
Goodlett Elementary School
Google Maps (for Memphis Riverfront Parks)
Grace-St. Luke’s School – 6th Grade (Memphis & The Civil Rights Movement)
Grace-St. Luke’s Middle School Speaker Series (Memphis Leaders)
Hobson Realtors
Home School Education Association
Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (Mid-South Chapter)
Hotel Chisca
Huguenot Society of Manakin In The Colony Of Virginia, Tennessee Branch
Hutchinson School (Turn-Of-The-Century Gathering Places)
Hutchinson School Perre Magness Series, Grades 1-8 (3)
Hyde Family Foundation
Idlewild OWLS
Illinois League of Financial Institution Downtown WalkAbout
ISLAND QUEEN Sightseeing Cruise Commentary (20)
John Ogle Group Downtown WalkAbout
Josephine Lewis Circle
Keane Group Downtown WalkAbout
Kirby Pines Kiwanis Club
Lunitects (American Institute of Architects-Memphis Chapter) (2)
Mansbauch Family Downtown WalkAbout
Matt Meador Family Downtown WalkAbout
Meandering The Mississippi Hog rally (Whispering Woods)
Meeting Planners International – Memphis Chapter
Memphis & Arkansas Bridge Walks (11)
Memphis Breakfast Rotary Club
Memphis College Preparatory School faculty (2)
Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau FAM Tour (BBQ Media)
Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau FAM Tour (Million Dollar Quartet)
Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau FAM Tour (Hanoi Media)
Memphis Fire department Administration staff
Memphis Light, Gas & Water Annual Meeting
Memphis Light, Gas & Water Customer Care meeting
Memphis University School
Mid-America Tours DriveAround Downtown
Military Order of World Wars
Military Order Wives Club
Missouri Blues Society (Stephanie Shonekan)
Monsanto Group Downtown DriveAround
National Ornamental Metal Museum Members Luncheon
National Young Farmers Education Association
Normal Station Trivia Night judge
November 6th Street Tour (2)
Overton Park Conservancy Volunteer Orientation
Overton Park Old Forest Hikes
Peabody Elementary School 3rd Grade
P.E.O. AA Chapter Meeting
P.E.O. American Chapter Riverboat Cruise
Powell Family Reunion WalkAbout Downtown
Professional Insurors Association of Memphis
Propeller Club
Prudential Realtors
Rhodes College Fellows Program
Rhodes College Meeman Center For Lifelong Learning (2 semesters)
Rhodes College Urban Parks Planning Class (Overton Park)
Richard Davenport group
Ridgeway Baptist Church Golden Agers
Ripley (TN) Rotary Club
Riverfront Parks Series Walking Tours (4)
Road Scholars DriveAround & Lecture (2)
Second Baptist Church
Second Presbyterian Church Fellows DriveAround
Second Presbyterian Church MMM Club
Second Presbyterian Church MMM Club DriveAround
See Memphis Orientation
Servicemaster (Courthouse Tour)
Shelby County Courthouse Monthly Walking Tour
Shelby County Mayor’s Office – Citizen’s University (2)
Society of Archaeologists Downtown WalkAbout
Sons of Confederate Veterans, Chalmers Chapter
Sons Of Confederate Veterans, Forrest Chapter # 215
Southern College Of Optometry Orientation Luncheon
St. George’s Independent School History Day Awards
St. John’s Episcopal Church Men’s Club
St. Luke’s United Methodist Church Young At Heart (2)
St. Luke’s United Methodist Church Young At Heart Downtown DriveAround (2)
South Main Association History Walk
Tauck Tours Downtown DriveAround
Teach For America (Frayser ASD) Downtown DriveAround
Tennessee Genealogical Society (Courthouse Tour)
Tennessee Planning Association Convention Downtown WalkAbout
The Village of Germantown
Town Village Seniors Program
Trezevant Manor Downtown DriveAround
United Daughters of the War of 1812 – Piomingo Chapter
University Of Memphis Center For Partnership in Geographical
Informational Services
University Of Memphis Friends Of The Libraries (2)
University Of Memphis Kemmons Wilson School Tourism Class (2)
University Of Memphis Legal Clinic (Courthouse Tour)
University Of Memphis Society of Professional Journalists (The Moving Appeal)
University Of Memphis Stormwater Class
University Of Memphis Study Abroad group (Meiji University)
University Of Tennessee Faculty Wives Club
Veesart Financial
Warr Family Downtown WalkAbout
Watoto De Afrika (2)
Wesley Highland Terrace (3)
White Station Optimist Club
Winnebago-Itasca Travelers Downtown DriveAround
Woodland Presbyterian School
Young Professionals Organization (FedEx)








































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Thank you for being a supporter and contributor to the “Talks & Tours” in 2010

Besides being able to talk to thousands of people about Memphis History, my event highlights of the year were two dedications in Memphis – Jack Tucker Alley in Cotton Row on April 3 and the Zippin Pippin/Libertyland historical marker at East Parkway/Young Avenue on November 1. My “top walking tour” highlights were the privilege of being asked by the local chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA Memphis) to lead a series of walking tours for its September Architecture Month program and the Memphis Bar Association’s tours of the historic Shelby County Courthouse. And, I continue to be appreciative of the opportunities that the folks at Elmwood Cemetery give me in various cool programs and volunteer opportunities there. And, I even got to speak to the West Tennessee Historical Society this year!

I look forward to working in the FedEx St. Jude Classic at TPC Southwind again this Spring (tournament week is June 6-12); resuming the Continuing Education course in Memphis History (this time at the new Nesin Graduate School of the Memphis College of Art at 477 South Main); to Tuesday Tours and Saturday Super Tours. I have already booked quite a few PowerPoint presentations to groups this year and I have some new topics available.

On a more personal note,
here is a list of folks and groups that I would like to say ‘thank you” to - one more time.

Groups I Have Had The Privilege To Make A Presentation In 2010:

Alta Vista Neighborhood Association
American History Teachers Collaborative
Annie’s Group
Bartlett Hills Baptist Church Golden Agers
Bartlett Historical Society (2)
Bartlett Senior Citizens Center Group
Center For Southern Folklore
Christian Brother University U.S. History Class (2)
Collierville Rotary Club
Cotton Museum at the Memphis Cotton Exchange Brown Bag Series
Daughters of the American Revolution – Watauga Chapter
Denise Reeder Group
Destination King
Downtown Neighborhood Association
East Buntyn Neighborhood Association
Fleur-De-Lis Club
Food For Thought (4)
FOX 13 Good Morning from Memphis (4)
Friendship Force
First Med
Gavel Club
Germantown Kiwanis (3)
Germantown United Methodist Church Brown Bag Series (2)
Greater Memphis Chamber of Commerce Staff (2)
Highland Area Renewal Corporation
Hutchison School For Girls (2)
Idlewild OWLS
Ikard Family Reunion

Jim Seven Group
Kelly Tours
Kentucky Opry Tours
Khara Woods Reunion Group
Kirby Pines Senior Citizens Group
Leather Apron Club
Maria Montesorri School 4th Grade
Memphis Agriculture Club
Memphis Area Transit Authority (MATA)
Memphis Civil Litigation GroupMemphis Sail & Power Squadron
Memphians For America
Midtown Rotary Club (2)
Military Order of World Wars

National Association of Consumer Agency Administrators (NACAA)
National Association of Community Health organizations (NACHO) (2)
National BBQ Association (NBBQA)
New Newcomers (2)
Northeast Memphis Optimist Club
Olive Branch Genealogy Club
Paperboard Packaging Council
P.E.O. Club
Raleigh-Frayser Seniors Club (2)
Regions Bank
Rhodes College U.S. History Class (2)
Rhodes College Summer Service Fellows (2)
San Diego Zoological Society Travel Group
Shelby County Historical Commission
Sons of Confederate Veterans – Nathan Bedford Forrest Chapter # 219
Southwest Prep Academy
St. Mary’s Elementary 4th Grade
Swiss Army Knife
Talk It Out With Father Don Mowery (3)
The Village of Germantown (2)
Town Village Audubon Square Seniors (2)
Trezevant Manor
Trinity Baptist Church
Turner Broadcasting Network (TBS) “Memphis Beat” Series
University of Memphis Architecture Downtown Studio (2)
University of Memphis Association of Retirees
University of Memphis Continuing Education Class (6)
University of Memphis Friends Of The Libraries
University of Memphis Interior Design Class
University of Memphis Hospitality School
University of Memphis Kemmons Wilson School Tourism Class (2)
West Tennessee Chapter PGA
West Tennessee Historical Society

Events & Places:

American Institute of Architects -Memphis Chapter
September Architecture Month Tours
AutoZone Liberty Bowl
Beale Street Brass Note Tour (2)
Cotton Museum History Day
Cuspidor Dedication – Shelby County Courthouse
Elmwood Cemetery (4)
Gayoso Bayou Tours (4)

George Klein Book Signings (6)
Germantown Show & Tell History Festival
Island Queen Sightseeing Cruise Commentary (13)
Jack Tucker Alley Dedication
Karla Shopoff Birthday Group
Lunitects – AIA Memphis
Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau Agricultural FAM
Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau BBQ FAM
Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau Civil War FAM
Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau Jersey Boys FAM
Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau Local Sales FAM (Orpheum)
Memphis Holiday Parade

Memphis University School Buzzard Dedication
Mind Your Meetings Expo
Old Forest Hikes (20)
Old Forest Jamboree (2)
Randolph Caravan
Regions Bank – South Central Region
Remember Libertyland/Zippin Pippin Dedication
Shelby County Courthouse Tours (9)
Shelby County History Festival
St. Jude Classic Presented by Smith & Nephew
Sultana Adventure
Super Saturday Tours (8)
Tuesday Tours (17)
Vollintine-Evergreen Community Association Lick Creek Coalition
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minifootprintsminifootprints  PAST EVENTS  minifootprintsminifootprints


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Big Boats & Big Stories In April
American Queen & Titanic On The Memphis Scene


  On November 14, Jimmy O has the privilege of cruising on the AMERICAN QUEEN on his 60th birthday. It is not often that a person gets to ride on the AQ much less spend his 60th birthday on the Mississippi River between St. Louis and Memphis, lecturing about his home town - what an honor! He has lectured into Memphis about Memphis from the ports of Paducah, Helena, New Madrid and Vicksburg and gained about 20 pounds from all of the good food everywhere on the vessel. He will be cruising and lecturing again from November 29-December 2 coming from Vicksburg, and has been booked on several occasions in 2013 to "preach" the message of "Memphis" to incoming passengers.

  April was a big month on the Memphis Riverfront. Although the new Beale Street Landing facility (restaurant, gift shops and daily riverboat excursions by the locally owned
Memphis Riverboats) will not officially open by the Riverfront Development Corporation to the public until July of this year, the "one-of-a-kind-in-the-world" helical ramp and docking system was the site of the inaugural visit on April 26-27 of the Steamer American Queen, operated by Memphis' newest tourism company, the Great American Steamboat Company. Jimmy O was on board from Helena to Memphis on April 25-26 as a lecturer on topics about Memphis, one of several cruises in which he will be featured on in 2012 aboard the American Queen.

  The American Queen, with a capacity for 436 passengers, is the largest riverboat (89-feet wide by 416-feet long by five-stories high) ever built to cruise the Mississippi River and began visiting Memphis in 1995. She will offer multiple-day/night excursions from New Orleans to St. Paul on the Mississippi River; all the way to Pittsburgh on the Ohio River; all the way to Chattanooga on the Tennessee River. Godmother Priscilla Presley will christen the vessel and the world famous Peabody Ducks also inspected the accommodations from bow to stern on April 27 before cruising to Louisville and the Kentucky Derby...

On a recent cruise from Vicksburg, Jimmy enjoyed listening to the talents of "Memphian" Andy Childs.

Now to the Peabody Hotel, Chez Phillipe and the 2012 Historic Dinner Series.

  On April 15th & 16th, as a commemoration of the 100th Anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic (April 15, 1912), there was a nine course event replicating the final on-board dinner with wine, a Titanic book as a gift and other surprises. Jimmy O was been asked to talk at the dinner about any connections of Memphians to the Titanic, as well as what was Memphis like in 1912.

Other dates for the Historic Dinner Series at The Peabody Hotel are:

May 21 - Lindbergh Dinner (85th anniversary). In 1927, aviator Charles Lindbergh was actually feted at a dinner at The Peabody Hotel two weeks after his famous trans-Atlantic flight to Paris. The Spirit Of St. Louis was actually returned aboard the United States Navy cruiser USS Memphis to America (June 11, 1927) - that's a neat Memphis connection, too.

July 14 - Bastille Day Dinner (223rd anniversary). On July 14, 1789, the storming of the Bastille prison, which represented the royal authority in the center of Paris, occurred and its fall was the flashpoint of the French Revolution.

October 10 - Orient Express (130th anniversary). The Orient Express name is synonymous with intrigue and luxury travel between Vienna and Paris.


For more information about the Historic Dinner Series, contact 901-529-4188 or www.peabodymemphis.com.

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MEMPHIS STATE EIGHT Historical Marker Dedicated

About 400 students, faculty, alumni and other dignitaries gathered on the south grounds of the Administration Building on The University Of Memphis campus on September 18 to dedicate the latest historical marker approved by the Shelby County Historical Commission - MEMPHIS STATE EIGHT.
The event was commemorated on the 53rd anniversary of the first eight black students to be allowed entry on September 18, 1959 into (then) Memphis State University.



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Plastic Products Record Plant - Hub Of Rock 'n' Roll
Historical Marker Dedication

1746 Chelsea Avenue

The Shelby County Historical Commission dedicated another historical marker during the 2012 Elvis Week. Last year, SCHC dedicated the Lansky Brothers - Clothier To The King marker at 126 Beale Street to the delight on many Elvis fans. When one talks or hears about the "Memphis Music Legacy", the most often mentioned topics are the singers, then the songs, then the recording studios, then concerts, then the museums and attractions - but seldom the "industry behind the industry" that made it all happen sixty years ago.

Without the record shops such as Poplar Tunes, Home Of The Blues, Boss Ugly Bob's; without the record distribution concept of a company called Music Sales (packing records and distributing them nationwide from Memphis - overnight by air, by Delta in the 1950s); without the jukebox empires, controlled out of Memphis (over 24, 000 jukeboxes in ten states by three companies; without the malt shops and soda fountains that kids could assemble to listen to the "new music of their generation" as so few had kids radios at home at that time; and without the deejays such as Dewey Phillips, Nat Williams, Rufus Thomas and George Klein, etc. - Rock 'n' Roll and Soul Music might just have stayed at home in Memphis, whether than go worldwide . . .

Well, someone had to make those records that could be played in jukeboxes, on radio station air waves, and eventually in home systems. And that is the incredible story of Buster Williams and Plastic Products Record Plant in those four forlorn Quonset huts at 1742-1744-1746-1748 Chelsea Avenue, one block west of McLean Boulevard.

"And, from a practical standpoint, another source of the success of Memphis record labels could be summed up in the magic word Mr. McGuire shared with Ben Braddock in the movie The Graduate; plastics. Memphis had a place you could go and economically press up thousands of records. Buster Williams came to town from Enterprise, Mississippi, where he had been a teenage business wizard. Starting as a peanut salesman, then drug store owner, he was fascinated by the money to be made from coin-operated machines. Buster became a jukebox distributor, then opened a record distribution company in the mid 40’s. In 1949, Williams’ next endeavor was Plastic Products, the second independent record pressing plant in the nation. Located in a Quonset hut on Chelsea Avenue, Plastic Products opened just in time to satisfy the clamor of the growing market of teenagers who desired to buy the records Buster pressed. With the advent of the 45-rpm record, and the onset of rock-and-roll, Fortune Magazine pegged Plastic Products sales at six million records annually, with a profit of 2 to 3 cents each."

Many thanks to Jim Cole, Mike Freeman, Jake Schorr, Robert Williams, Hal Lansky, Andrea Shaw
and George Klein for their part in making this marker happen.

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  Voices of the South presented their newest original musical, written by company member Virginia Ralph. Travel with the Smallish Girl through a forest portal to a Fairyland like you've never experienced before, populated by outrageous characters--Jackie SnowBear, Pluto the Planet, Wendy the Whale, Bobby Birdsong, and Fairies! Inspired by the historic Citizens to Preserve Overton Park v. Volpe Supreme Court case of 1971, we learn from our forest friends how even the very smallest among us can be a voice for our community. (This 45-minute performance is appropriate for PreK-8th grades.)

"Surely you have noticed that in our world, size does not determine Importance. In our world, a planet is a whale is a bear is a bird is a girl is a fairy when it comes to importance. Nobody's role is more important than anyone else's." ~ Bobby Birdsong

Evergreen Theatre
1705 Poplar Avenue
Memphis, TN 38104

Sunshine Snyder & Charlie Newman Highlight Panel Discussion

Jimmy O was asked (and honored) to participate in a Panel Discussion following the September 28 performance of An Old Forest Fairy Tale by Voices Of the South at the Evergreen Theatre. Chris Davis of the Memphis Flyer served as panel moderator of the discussion that also included Virginia Ralph, writer of the play. Sunshine was one of the "little old ladies in tennis shoes" for the original Citizens To Preserve Overton Park in the 1960s that confronted all levels of government to preserve Overton Park and the charm of Midtown Memphis. Charlie Newman was the filing attorney for the Burch Porter Johnson law firm in the Citizens To Preserve Overton Park vs. Volpe, Secretary of Transportation - a decision that announced on March 3, 1971 by the Supreme Court of the United States which disallowed I-40 to go through the Overton Park, a landmark =environmental decision for our country. Friday, September 28 , 2012 at the Evergreen Theatre was indeed a special evening . . .

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 Inaugural November 6th Street Tour A Rousing Success  !!!

  The 2:06 p.m. start was at the Elvis Statue on Beale Street (of course) on an overcast, cool, but polite Autumn afternoon (after "falling back" an hour in a daylight saving time change on the previous night), and there was an electricity in the air from the group's anticipation! The official count at Court Square (the halfway point) was 116 participants - (11-6, that's amazing), and by the end of the tour (at Shadyac Avenue in The Pinch) there were still 84 participants -three hours later!

The "cast of characters" was star-studded from 97-year-old walking tour veteran, Robert Wilder (actually in his wheelchair) to the "birthday girl", Erin Aulfinger, who was born at 6:16 p.m. on November 6, 1996. [Each year, Erin's parents bring her to the November 6th Street sign at Union Avenue for a photo on her birthday, but this one was a little different]. Both Robert and Erin were recipients of the first two of ten commemorative Jimmy Ogle Inaugural November 6th Street Tour t-shirts that were given away for various reasons during the tour.

  "Team Ogle" was present and well represented. From my wheelchair bound older (much older) sister Linda, accompanied by her "pusher" husband Travis, and my niece, Elise, to my older brother Curt and his wife Cheryl.

  Kris Kourdouvelis and Sharon Gray rode their segways from South Main. The biggest Buzzard of them all, MUS Class of '70 class mate, Dr. Steve Bledsoe represented well, as he always does - even on an NFL Sunday afternoon. Another pleasant surprise was that Peggy McClure was able to join us after her Carillon Concert at Idlewild Presbyterian Church earlier in the day. Even Wade Stack of the Shelby County Historical Commission brought his wife, Amy, on the tour. The age span of the crowd totaled 87 years - from the age 10 to age 97!

  We "fought" through construction sites, a few rough smelling dumpsters and even got a visit from Dan Holland of Nice As New Consignment Store (526-3277) at 23 South November 6th Street (in the basement of the Residence Inn, Main/Monroe). And, adding the icing to the cake, was the warm reception of select finger foods and mimosas prepared by Linda & Buck Thomas at the Red Fish Gallery, 356 North Main Street (in The Pinch) - the end of the line . . .

  For me, the highlight of the tour (after the overwhelming attendance) was at the Hebe Fountain in Court Square where I was the recipient of an original November 6th Street sign from James Cochran. James found the old sign this year when cleaning out the basement in an old building on Court Square. So, many thanks to James Cochran - not only for the surprise, but for jumping on board the whole idea of this dedicated tour at its inception in the Summer. James also did the art work (two separate images) for the limited quantity of Jimmy Ogle November 6th Street Tour commemorative bottled water and produced a map of the route, with all of its 27 turns over 17 streets (not to mention the alleys) along the way. What a fantastic contribution - thank you, James!!

  A big special thanks to Martin Norris (webmaster for jimmyogle.com) for the design of the Jimmy Ogle Inaugural November 6th Street Tour t-shirt and another thank you to Bluff City Sports, 769 South Cooper Street (274-2202) for their swift action in getting the shirts screen printed in short order. I also want to express my appreciation to Scott Carroll and photographer Mark Brown (of Zippin Pippin photo fame) from The Commercial Appeal who combined for a nice story and photo in the November 7th edition.

  From the Beale Street start with Elvis, the Orpheum Theatre and the Lansky Brothers historical marker to "Deadman's Alley", General Washburn's Escape Alley and Whiskey Chute, around the Hebe Fountain in Court Square, through Civic Center Plaza where we got applause from the Occupy Memphis group while passing by, past the sculpture of Osiris, The Muse and The River, and through the lobby of the Marriott Hotel to the Pinch - there was plenty of history and stories told, and shared . . .


In 2012, November 6th falls on a Tuesday and the start time is set for 11:06 a.m.
at Beale Street/November 6th Street. Be there!

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2:00 P.M. ON SUNDAYS OCTOBER 21 & 28

  Back by popular demand in the "second season" of Bridge Walks across the Memphis & Arkansas Bridge. Last Spring, 318 people enjoyed the four organized Bridge Walks across the only bridge with the only legal sidewalk across and above the Mississippi River (since 1949). We assemble at Crump Park - going west on Crump Blvd, take Exit 12 B Metal Museum Drive) and drive under I-55 and the first park on the right is Crump Park, right next to the Super 8 Motel. Attendants will direct you to a parking spot and then watch your car during the tours.

  Crump Park itself is a four acre setting atop the fourth Chickasaw Bluff on the historic site of the former Fort Pickering. Views of the Mississippi River flowing south and southwest (towards the Port of West Memphis) are wonderful, and get even better when we get up on the M & A Bridge sidewalk. Now, the tour begins with a 20-minute orientation (and safety talk) from Jimmy Ogle under the canopy and shade of the prettiest tree on all of the Memphis Riverfront parks - a magnificent, multi-limbed magnolia! The history of the early inhabitants, explorers, steamboat industry, bridge development, railroad industry, and future development in the "French Fort" area, including the Harahan Greenline project, I-55 flyover, National Ornamental Metal Museum (the next nearest Metal Museum is in Japan) and Chickasaw Heritage Park (Legacies statue soon to be dedicated) is offered.

  All walks are FREE, with some limited accessibility (but assistance on hand), reservations not required and definitely a camera bugs' best day on the riverfront! The Memphis & Arkansas Bridge itself is 5,222 feet long over into the Arkansas delta, and some people actually walked all the way across (but remember you have to also walk all the way back). Most went halfway to two-thirds-of-the-way across the bridge to get the full effect of seeing the high bluffs of South Memphis below the bridge, Metal Museum, Marine Hospital, fuel docks, Economy Boat Store operations, Presidents Island and the river traffic over eighty (80) feet below. The bridge also "shakes, rattles and rolls" by design. The sidewalk is near the expressway traffic and the noise from trucks whizzing by can be somewhat distracting at times.

  The Mississippi River at this location in Memphis is only a half-mile wide, which is why the three early bridges were built in this area to begin with:
the middle bridge - The Great Bridge (1892) - now the Frisco Bridge; the northernmost bridge - The Harahan Bridge in 1916-17) and the southernmost bridge - Memphis & Arkansas Bridge (1949). Both the Frisco Bridge and Harahan Bridge are "off limits" and protected by security (cameras and all) due to the volume and importance of the freight rail traffic that crosses them on a daily basis.

2:00 p.m. on Sundays - October 21 & 28.
Scheduled group walks at other times during the week are available upon request.

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30th Anniversary Mud Island River Walk:

A Mississippi River Architectural Marvel

  Mud Island River Park and the Riverfront Development Corporation will recognize the most unique architectural feature on the Memphis Riverfront by celebrating the design, installation and 30 Years of Family Fun on the Mud Island “RIVER WALK” model.


  Mud Island is a river oriented urban park, developed on a strip of land located between the Mississippi River and the Wolf River Harbor, at the foot of Downtown Memphis, Tennessee. One of the most popular features of the park is a working (flowing) scale model of the lower Mississippi River, including its flood plain, between Cairo, Illinois and the Gulf of Mexico, known as the ‘RIVER WALK”. The walk is approximately two thousand feet long. The scale used for the model is such that each long step (thirty-three inches) represents a mile on the real river. Features included four watershed panels, 65 graphic panels of historical and geographical information of the river, contours which represent river gage levels, levees and flood plains. The ‘RIVER WALK” flows 2.2 million gallons of water in its system.


  Nesbit Coltharp was the designer of the “RIVER WALK”, while employed by the local architectural firm, Roy P. Harrover & Associates of Memphis, in charge of the park development which was completed in 1982. Mr. Coltharp received his Architectural Degree from Tulane University in 1952. He moved from New Orleans to Memphis in 1958. Since that time until his retirement, he was an active and responsible participant in some the most significant Architectural Projects constructed in the Memphis area – including the Memphis International Airport terminal, Memphis College of Art in Overton Park and Goldsmith’s Oak Court in East Memphis. The exhibit in the Mississippi River Museum will feature the artistry of Nesbit Coltharp and include drawings and photographs of the formative years of the “RIVER WALK”.


Mississippi River Museum

125 North Front Street

Memphis, Tennessee

September 18 – October 31, 2012

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Elmwood Costume Twilight Tour
Saturday, October 27 4:00 - 7:00 p.m.


  This all-walking tour will begin at 3:00 p.m. and the last tour will begin at 7:00 p.m. Tickets for this event are $15 per adult with children under 12 free. If you have never visited Elmwood, this tour is the best way to get to know the cemetery and the individuals who rest here. Costumed characters portraying Elmwood residents will introduce you to the history of Memphis' oldest active cemetery.

  This year, Jimmy O will portray Lloyd T. Binford, nationally known President of the Memphis Censor Board in the middle-20th century. Other famous Elmwood residents being portrayed are: James & Jennie Stewart, Belle Edmondson, Sister Constance, Susan & Esther Spikes, John Park, Charles Dinstuhl, America Carolina Dill, Lt. John McKinney and A.W. Willis.

  Special Note: The grounds of the cemetery will be CLOSED beginning at noon on Saturday, October 27th. The gates will re-open at 3:00 p.m. for the Costume Twilight Tour. Tickets can be purchased at the gate the day of the event - call 774-3212.

  For our mobility-impaired visitors, we recommend that you call ahead and speak with Jody Schmidt or Kimberly McCollum regarding tour route information.


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Halls Caravan Recap

The Halls Caravan on Saturday, February 19 was just plain good ol' f-u-n! Our group of 14 received "red carpet" treatment from Murray Hudson Maps & Globes, as well as a guided tour of all three of his locations in Downtown Halls. To be in and around hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of new and old maps and globes of all kinds, was an enlightening experience. To have "the man" himself (Murray Hudson) give the tour was a real special treat. Many thanks to Murray and his assistant (Sally) for the generosity of their time and knowledge.

The Garden Cafe was a place we walked to and were given our own private room to dine in. Brooke, our waitress, and Donnie (the owner) made sure that all our needs were met (they even turned the heat on for us!). The food was scrumptious. By the way, every other Saturday night at The Garden Cafe, there is a musical show in a special theatre in the complex with old church pews for seating, featuring some mighty good local talent. Music starts at 6:30 p.m.

And then to wind up with the southern hospitality and charm of Pat & Sonny Higdon at the Veterans' Museum on the site of the Dyersburg Army Air Base, home of training for B-17 pilots and crew in World War II. The amazing story of this "community" during the war years, the impact that it had on preparation for war, the aspects of life around the base (rationing, etc.) were mesmerizing. One of the mottoes of DYAAB was "Use It Up, Wear It Out, Make It Do, Or Do Without". The displays were nicely developed and the docents (including Dave McCaslin) were very informative. What a great story, and what a dedicated group of Americans keeping these memories of "the greatest generation" preserved and alive for future generations.


Winter Caravan To Halls, Tennessee

When: Saturday, February 19, 2011 Assemble at 9:00 a.m.
Where: Millington IHOP, 8484 Wilkinsville Road (just north of the Walmart)
Lunch will follow at The Garden Cafe

If you liked the caravans to the Sultana site in Arkansas and to Randolph, Tennessee earlier this year,
then you are prime for an adventure further up into West Tennessee to two treasures:

The Veterans' Museum

At the former Dyersburg Army Air Base


Murray Hudson’s Shop

Antiquarian Books, Maps, Prints & Globes

I visited the Veterans' Museum last Autumn and was thoroughly infatuated with the exhibits, the role of the Dyersburg Army Air Base in World War II in the training of B17 crews, and the “TLC” and passionate stories of the keepers of the museum, Pat & Sonny Higdon.

I met Murray Hudson at the Antiquarian Book Fair in Memphis at The Parkview last May and I could not leave his table as I thumbed through map after map after map and print. At his store in Halls, Murray has one of the largest globes collections in the world!

So, this is another “Dutch Treat” caravan/carpool set-up and we will meet once again at the Millington IHOP to create the caravan. We will have lunch on the road at a “locals” place in one of the towns along the way. To ask questions or sign up, go to info@jimmyogle.com


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