Every time I wander down South Main Street I admire this sign.But the other day, while going through some black and white negatives I’d shot about ten years ago, the sign was there in its original condition. Plain, simple, scratched and worn, it read Frank James Hotel.In the new version,the sign remained in form, the words still peek through but it ‘s the painting that captures your attention.I’ve enjoyed the new style so much, I hadn’t remembered it’s original appearance or could honestly tell you how long ago the transformation took place. As a photographer this concerns me because it means I’ve become less observant and it’s the details that make a photo. From here on, I’ll need to take notice.
Tag Archives: Memphis
From the highway, I’ve admired and desired ( so I’m a little strange) this abandoned warehouse with the bright red doors for a number of years. Sometimes it’s hard to know why one day you are compelled to act. But, the other day , a good friend and I , circled and drove around until we found our way. Surrounded by trucking companies and a smattering of traffic, it appeared safe for a daytime exterior shoot. Indoors is another chapter and it’s going to take more guts and a group for me to attempt it. The structure has retained most of its integrity – light fixtures, high ceilings, and its heavy red doors remain nearly whole. As I wandered the property, I could imagine so many uses that it makes me sad to think it stands empty.
Another refugee from the hard drive crash. This photo was shot through the window of one of the few Victorian houses remaining in Memphis. Slated to be restored, it waits silently for its fate. The photo has undergone a bit of transformation in this newer version. I gave it a more ethereal, softer, and out of time look. I hope this majestic home remains safe.
Memphis has its own rhythm. It’s not limited to Beale Street.You can’t help but notice the motion of the river, the cadence of the traffic, the blends of voices and accents and the feeling that something special is happening right around the corner.Every part of the city is directly connected to its musical heritage – whether it be Stax, Graceland, Sun Studios, or Al Green’s church.Rock, soul, R and B, rap, ragtime, it’s all here. Every performer comes here when they feel the need to connect with their musical roots and cut an album.When I saw this guitar case in a shop, I felt like it served as a reminder and needed a larger audience.Sometimes it’s easy to ignore what’s right in front of you and the music is one of our city’s greatest treasures.
There is no longer a front door, chimneys, mantels or window glass.You can almost picture a swarm of locusts descending and eating their way through the house.No locusts. Humans. Scavenger is a more appropriate word. The house beckoned from a roadside between Nashville and Memphis. I wish I could be more specific but when we road trip, we’re never exactly sure.Empty to the elements and those that felt they had a better use for the brick than the chimneys that once graced the home, it is a carcass. Stepping over the threshold, I could find glimpses of what the home might have been.Traces of color and scraps of wallpaper provided detail. The bird’s nest meant it still could provide shelter.Late afternoon sun warmed walls and door frames. I wondered what the former owners would feel to see it standing naked to the weather and abandoned to its fate.
No one would seriously believe or accept me as a member of a roller derby team. I wish I could say it’s because of lack of daring or not being mean enough but, it’s really a matter of my age and physical condition ( or lack thereof). I mean, being born in New York I have my share of loud voice and get out of my face attitude. Unfortunately that’s not nearly enough so instead I go to watch. Sitting on the floor during a match takes what little guts and agility I have to move out of the way or end up at the bottom of the heap. I hope this is a partial excuse for the graininess of the photos. I think they’re more dramatic and urban this way. I have decided that what makes the skaters daring are their names, so I’ve been working on mine. At first, the list was lengthy, but you know when you find IT. I thought it might be Shop and Drop , Death by Digital, or Digital Diva, but it has to be Reality Check. Now I need to find the right clothes.
Every morning this week I’ve gotten up and readied for school, pretty much oblivious to Elvis Week here in Memphis.
On Sunday , we played tourist and headed downtown to the Arcade for breakfast. We were seated in Elvis’s old booth, it seems he liked to sneak in the back door, so we sat in his booth and enjoyed country gravy and biscuits and sweet potato pancakes.
We wandered the city and reached the Peabody Hotel.
There we found a baby jumpsuit at Lansky’s ( Elvis’s favorite clothier).
Even the ducks were decked out for the week. As we walked down Beale, I shot a photo of both Kings to round out my impromptu collection.
Going to Graceland would have been too predictable so I chose to see what appeared in town.Shooting with my iPhone and processing with apps, I had a great day playing tourist. I hope you enjoyed this mini-visit to Memphis.
Searching for remnants of the past while driving along forgotten roads and vanishing towns, we often find surprises.But you don’t have to always travel far from home to find memories. This sign still stands upright over a building where many Memphians spent a good part of their youth. I couldn’t resist posting it. For me it was metal clamp skates on the sidewalks of Manhattan. A group of us would race down the block and the noise muffled the traffic. No wonder so many doormen chased us!
Memphis ‘ s Zippin Pippin, an early wooden roller coaster , one of the oldest in North America,is now satisfying roller coaster aficionados in GreenBay, Wisconsin.The roller coaster is 2,865 feet long, travels 20.8 mph to 40 mph, with a maximum drop of 70 feet .It dates back to 1912, 1915 or 1917, depending on your source but it was the mainstay of LibertyLand in Memphis.
Elvis would rent out the park and spend hours riding the coaster.Children and adults screamed with terror and delight as they rode the Pippin.
As a non-native Memphian, I only rode it once. There is a terrifying quality to wooden coasters,they appear more fragile, they shake and basically scare me. I’ve made it a point to ride the ones I’ve visited at least once so they don’t get the better of me. Before they dismantled The Zippin Pippin and shipped the pieces to GreenBay, it was closed and sat at LibertyLand for four years.
Several years ago, while wandering along the fence line, we found entry. Climbing up part of the structure , the view was amazing. It looked like sculpture! The cars sat in a row as if ready for their next riders.Elvis’s car was the first one in line.
The cars remained with the coaster until an auction at which the buyers wanted Elvis’s car but ended up buying the whole roller coaster for $2500. The sale included provisions that the coaster be removed. An organization in North Carolina bought it and when they didn’t move it, the coaster was later sold to Green Bay.
The rest of LibertyLand has also disappeared , the land subdivided into plans for community centers and private development. The Grand Carousel, created by Dentzel who is noted for carving incredible horses and figures, has been dismantled and remains in storage somewhere in Memphis.It will be interesting to see if this piece of our city’s history is returned to use or ends up in a different city attracting tourists.We need to look more carefully at preserving our city’s uniqueness.