When you think about Memphis, your mind probably goes to the famous singers and musicians that live and have lived there. Memphis is the home of the blues and was the home of the King of Rock and Roll. A walk down the famous Beale Street or a tour of Graceland lets you know Memphis will always be the place to visit if you are a true music lover. In Memphis, great musicians and their art live forever.
You also think about the Memphis in May celebration, great BarBeQue, and world-class medical facilities. However, there are some things about Memphis that you may not know about. We would like to show you that no matter what you enjoy, there are things to do in Memphis for you too.
The Peabody Duck March
Every day at 11 AM and 5 PM guests and visitors of the Peabody Hotel will witness the march of the Peabody Ducks. They leave in the elevator and walk in single file down the red carpet to the beautiful fountain in the lobby where they take a short swim. When they have finished, they exit the lobby just as they arrived.
This came to be in 1930 when the then General Manager Fran Shutt and a friend Chip Barwick returned from a hunting trip. In those days it was legal to have live decoy ducks. They brought the live ducks in and let them swim in the fountain. The guests loved it. Ten years later Bellman Edward Pembroke offered to train the ducks. He remained the Duck Master for the next 50 years.
The Pink Palace Museum
This unusual and beautiful mansion was the dream of wealthy businessman Clarence Saunders was well known as the founder of the grocery chain, Piggly Wiggly. Sanders began construction on his 36,500-foot mansion in 1902. The entire home was faced with pink Georgian marble. The massive lobby was to feature marble floors, a pipe organ, and an indoor pool. The plans showed eight bedrooms with eight bathrooms and every luxury. While the name he had chosen for his dream home was “Cla-Le-Clare” for his three children, Memphians took to calling the mansion the Pink Palace. The site was so massive and so impressive that people would take a drive down Central Avenue just to see the progress of the beautiful pink stone.
In 1923 Saunders entered into a massive battle with the New York stock exchange. This battle rendered him bankrupt and his home was claimed by his creditors. The new owners donated the Pink Palace to the City of Memphis who spent $150,000 to finish it.
The Pink Palace is now a wonderful museum, planetarium, and home to a replica of the first Piggly Wiggly Store. The collections are both local and worldwide. Sadly, the Saunders family never got to sleep in their beautiful palace.
The Orpheum Theatre (Haunted?)
No trip to Memphis is complete without a visit to the Orpheum. The Orpheum is a step back in time. When you go to the Orpheum, you see beautiful red carpets, heavy velvet drapes with golden ropes, and golden woodwork on stairways. Attendants are in uniforms and you are treated like royalty. Drinks are served in the lobby. Whether you are there to see a live performance or a classic film, you are in for a rare treat.
While you are there, someone is sure to mention spirits. It has long been rumored that the Orpheum is haunted. Many famous psychics have confirmed “visitors”. Mary seems to be the one person that is mentioned time and time again.
Mary was a 12-year old little girl who died in the theater. One story says that Mary was trapped in the Orpheum when it caught fire in 1921 and she died there. Another story says Mary was playing outside when a streetcar hit her on Beale Street. She was brought inside and she died in the theater.
Mary has been seen running and playing in the theater. People have reported that she has talked to them and they have heard her laughing. Her favorite seat is C5 and many people seem to have seen her sitting there. She has long brown hair that she wears in a braid and a white dress in the style of her time. She wears dark stockings and no shoes.
The Beautyshop Restaurant
When Elvis and Priscilla Presley lived in Memphis, Priscilla went to The Beauty Shop on Cooper Street for her big and beautiful style. Today, The Beauty Shop is one of a kind gourmet restaurant. The 1950’s beauty shop signs are still on the windows. The green hair washing sinks now serve well behind the bar. Choice seating is found under the old-fashion hairdryers and glass dividers turn the old workstations into great private booths.
The menu is a creation of master chef Karen Carrier. There is no doubt that you will find your new favorite food here. It is retro, fun, and of the highest quality. If you are in Memphis, you owe it to yourself to visit The Beauty Shop.
Memphis is a diverse city created by diverse people. There is more to do and see than you will ever see in print. To get to know the city, get to know the people who live here. Then you will get an idea of why Memphis is truly a great city.
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