A Schwab’s…A Memphis Landmark

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A. Schwab’s located on historic Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee,  has seen a lot of changes out its front window, a whole lot of changes.  Opened in 1876 by Abraham Schwab, it has the distinction of being the only original business still in operation on Beale Street, and, possibly, the oldest family-owned general store in the mid-south.  The family business was originally located right up the street and moved to its current location in 1912.  In 1924, it expanded into the building to the left of the main doorway, which had been occupied by I. Goldsmith’s and Brothers (the predecessor of Goldsmith’s Department Store).  The beautiful brick buildings were built in 1865.

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When you step inside its doors, you are immediately transported to a different time, a simpler time.  The creaky wooden floors, glass display cases, and tin roof are reminiscent of the original Beale Street of years gone by.  But the going hasn’t been easy for the iconic store.  In the mid-seventies, with traffic on Beale at an all-time low, the family began a museum within the store to pay homage to the rich history of the street and area they called home.  0C3680A0-CE1E-4A90-97C4-D1B589FE6D24_1_201_a.jpeg

The museum includes many relics of Memphis history.  From farming tools to washboards and household items, original blues records, and even a carriage warmer, the museum is a visual history of Memphis and the Delta region through the years.  But it isn’t just about the past at Schwab’s.  The store has adapted and changed with the times. In the 1980s, the store played an essential role in the revitalization of the community and the street.  Once again, visitors young and old begin to stream through the doors and discover the wonders inside.  Wonders like a fully stocked old fashioned candy counter with all your favorites from your childhood represented.

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Are you looking for a pair of Elvis Pajamas?  They have you covered, complete with an Elvis pillow.  How about suspenders?  Schwab’s carries over 100 different kinds. A galvanized Maid-Rite washboard and bar of homemade lye soap are located just across the aisle from an extensive collection of kazoos and harmonicas.  Books about Memphis history line a table that is right beside the largest collections of hats I have ever seen in one place.

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I am always amazed at how many locals have never walked through the doors of this treasured landmark.  Children love the selection of retro-inspired wind-up tin toys, yo-yos, and slingshots.  A very nice change of pace from the ever-growing diet of video games most of them are used to. There are plenty of Memphis, souvenirs too.  From T-shirts to post-cards, key-chains, and bumper stickers, Schwab’s is one of the city’s biggest fans.

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In 2013, Schwab’s made another addition to the store, a retro soda fountain.  With its 50-foot white marble counter and vintage stools, it is the perfect place to sit and watch the people walking up and down the historic street.  Want a simple ice-cream cone?  They have you covered.  But the soda fountain also creates and mixes their own syrups for delish and unique sodas and shakes.

 

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After being in the Schwab family for 136 years, the torch was passed to new owners in 2011.  But do not fear, the new owners are dedicated to preserving the rich history found within the walls of the store.  So next time your kids have a day out of school, or you have an unexpected free Saturday, head downtown, and be a tourist in your hometown, I have a feeling you will be pleasantly surprised.

American Queen

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The American Queen will be docked at Beale Street Landing on Sunday, January 12th…and it is something to see! Built in 1995, it is a 6 deck recreation of a Mississippi riverboat. At 418 feet long and 89 feet long it has a capacity of 436 guests and a crew of 160 with 222 staterooms…in other words, this is a big boat! Riverboats are scheduled to dock at Beale Street landing over 100 times in 2020 with overnight guests adding close to $100 million into the city coffers in the form of tourism spending.  That’s a big economic impact!!! To read more about the beauty click on the link below, and if you happen to be near downtown, don’t miss a chance to see it in person!!
https://www.americanqueensteamboatcompany.com/

 

Teaching My Kids To Love Their City

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I have lived in Memphis my entire life but never took the time to really see my city. Over the past few years, I have made it a point to change that.

My children and I have explored our city like travelers, mostly afternoons and weekends.

The National Civil Rights Museum ignited our desire to learn more about the pioneers in the movement. Stax and Sun studios made us want to know more about the rich Memphis music history.

We were captivated by the views from the Ornamental Metal Museum, Big River Crossing, the top of The Peabody and the top of Clark Tower.

We explored the trails of Lichterman Nature Center, the River Walk at Mud Island, and Shelby Farms. Woodland Discovery Playground is the kind of place I dreamed of when I was a kid.

We tailgated on Tiger Lane and cheered the Redbirds in beautiful AutoZone Park. We danced to free music as Levitt Shell and watched the free duck march at The Peabody.

My favorite part of our exploring has been learning the history of buildings that make up our downtown and sharing that history with my kids.

I shared my memories of shopping downtown at Goldsmith’s. I explained a bit about Memphis history as we explored the Cotton Exchange, Court Square, and Civic Center Plaza.

I knew I had instilled my love of the downtown buildings when were at AutoZone Park and my 11-year-old excitedly pointed to a building and said, “Look Mom, it’s the Sterick Building, The Queen of Memphis!”

Jerry’s SnowCones

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Foodie Friday Sno Cone style! Legend has it that back in the 1930s a Sinclair gas station was located somewhere around 1657 Wells Station Rd. These same legends state that the owner of this gas station would make snow cones for kids while their parents had their cars worked on. Like all good legends, the lines of truth and tale are blurred about these early years, however, the next part of the story we know to be true. After the Sinclair station closed in the late ’60s a wonderful couple names L.B and Cordia bought the building and turned it into a car wash and snow cone shack…and the rest is history! After a director who was in town filming ”Great Balls of Fire” ran across the unique building, he asked if a scene from the movie could be filmed there. That’s when the word really began to spread, and Jerry’s became a destination for both locals and out of towners alike. They like to say they didn’t invent the snow cone; just their ”World Famous Snow Cone Supreme”…think ice cream meets snow cone with a dash of pixie dust and unicorn tears…yes it is that good!! With flavors like Electric Slide, John Deere, Toxic Waste and my personal favorite, Wedding Cake, you can’t go wrong! They also serve great burgers! Jerry’s Sno Cone opened a second location in Cordova last year at 1601 Bonnie Lane. Summer hours are 11 am to 9 pm Monday-Saturday, and they are CASH ONLY. And don’t let the lines discourage you, I promise they are worth the wait!

Shelby Forest General Store

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 Opened in 1934 by Emmett and Dixie Jeter, Shelby Forest General began its long and storied history as a dry goods store. As the years passed, a grill was added and the store became a gathering place for area residents who came to hear the local gossip as well as partake in the delicious food. Owners Doug and Kristin Ammons began the legendary Friday Night Steak Night around 14 years ago with a single banjo picker providing music. These days it’s not unusual to have 8-10 musicians playing bluegrass on any given Friday night. The store is located at 7729 Benjestown Road in Millington(right across the street from Justin Timberlake’s elementary school😊)and opens at 6am 363 days a year. Click on the link below for a full menu and hours of operation…I hear the fried bologna sandwich is the best you’ll ever have!
http://shelbyforestgeneralstore.com/

 

Shelby Forest

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Meemen-Shelby Forest State Park began in the 1930s as part of the New Deal recreation areas of the National Park Service. Named after former Memphis newspaper editor Edward J. Meeman, the park contains 13,467 acres of hardwood bottomland that borders the Mississippi River. It is the most visited state park in Tennessee! And for good reason! The park has two lakes, perfect for fishing or boating. There are canoes, kayaks, tandem kayaks, and paddle boards. You can also bring your own boat. There is a free launch ramp on the Mississippi River. It is the home of one of the largest disc golf courses in the southeast…two 18-hole wooded courses. There are more than 20 miles of hiking trails that wind throughout the park. There is an eight and one half mile Horse Trail(bring your own horse though 😊) and a 5-mile mountain bike trail. There are 6 newly renovated cabins along the shore of Poplar Tree Lake. Each cabin can sleep up to 6 people and have a fully equipped kitchen…and firewood supplied in the winter! There are 49 campsites each equipped with table, grill, electric and water hookups. Now do you see why it is the most visited state park in Tenneasee?!
https://tnstateparks.com/parks/meeman-shelby

The Legacy of the Lorraine

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The National Civil Rights Museum had its humble beginnings as a 16 room hotel named The Windsorlorrine in 1925. After purchasing the hotel on 1945, Walter Bailey changed the name to the Lorraine Motel. After the King assassination, the hotel fell into disrepair and was in foreclosure in December 1982. It was purchased on the courthouse steps for $144,000 and finally closed as a functioning hotel/boarding house on March 2, 1988. It reopened in 1991 as The National Civil Rights Museum. With interactive exhibits, this museum is a learning experience for all ages. The museum is open from 9-6 every day but Tuesday. Tennessee residents with a state-issued ID may visit the museum for FREE every Monday from 3pm until closing. To read more about the museum click on the link below.
https://www.civilrightsmuseum.org/

 

4-Way

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The Four Way Restaurant was opened in 1946 by Irene and Clint Cleaves. Clint Cleaves had been a chauffeur for former Memphis Mayor E. H. Crump and started the restaurant as a tiny counter in a pool hall. It grew to have a full dining room and became one of the few places during the 50’s and 60’s where both black and white customers sat together to eat. It was a favorite spot among civil rights activist during this time. Irene ran the restaurant herself until her health and age made it impossible in 1996. The restaurant was then closed until 2001 when it was bought by Willie Bates on the courthouse steps and ran it until his death in 2017. His daughter Patricia Thompson runs it today with the same amazing food and history that put it on the map in 1946. The see a menu and hours click on the link below.
http://www.fourwaymemphis.com/

 

Davie’s Plantation

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.Located at 9336 Davies Plantation Rd in Bartlett TN, Davies Manor is the oldest existing home in Shelby County and quite possibly the oldest in West Tennessee. Built somewhere around 1830 the original owner is not for certain. We do know that William Davies bought the home in 1838 and his two sons Logan and James farmed the land and created the plantation part of Davies Plantation by expanding the farm to 2,000 acres. Ellen Davies-Rogers left the home to the Davies Manor Association upon her death in 1994. There are several outbuilding that’s make up the grounds including a small tenant cabin. There are also several gardens on the property that are maintained by Memphis Area Master Gardeners that help explain some of the aspects of pioneer life including a kitchen garden and a herb Garden. The home and grounds are open for tours Tuesday thru Saturday from 12-4. Admission is $5 for adults $4 for seniors and $3 for students. To read more about this historic home, please click on the link below.
http://daviesmanorplantation.org/

Valentines Day 2019…Let’s Do This!!

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All right people…it’s crunch time…8 days till Valentines Day.  And whether you love it or hate it, it will be in your face soon demanding your attention.  Allow me to help you with your Valentines Day plans…so whether you are celebrating the day before the big day, on the big day or after the big day, we have you covered!  Now on to the list….

  • Cosmic Skate Night at Midsouth Ice House Every Saturday night in February the MidSouth Ice House turns down the lights, turns up the music and brings out the disco ball for an event that is fun for the entire family. Can you say Black Light Couple Skating??!!
  • Maybe painting is more your thing.  Pitter Potter Studios is offering a special painting night for couples from 6pm-9pm on February 14th.  Reservations are required.
  • Phillip Ashley Chocolates is hosting the first Chocistry Experience Tasting of  2019 on February 14th from 7pm-9pm at Memphis Botanic Garden.  Enjoy eight designer chocolates paired with eight different wines and heavy hors-d’oeuvres.
  •  Romantic movie trivia will be going on at Pimentos, Maciel’s Highland and Memphis Made Tap Room are the places to be to test your trivia knowledge of all things Rom-Com!  February 14th at 6:30…this is a free event, but reservations are strongly suggested.
  • Have you always wanted to take a Memphis Riverboat Cruise?  The Valentines Day Dinner and Music Cruise is perfect for you!  The two-hour cruise will begin boarding at 6:30om and includes live jazz music and a delicious meal.  If you haven’t seen our Memphis skyline at night, this is the perfect opportunity!
  • Speaking of amazing views of the Memphis’ sky-line  The Lookout Restaurant located on top of the Pyramid is serving a special Valentines dinner.
  • Here is a fantastic opportunity to celebrate while giving to a very worthwhile cause.  The 4th No Show Ball is a fundraiser for the Forrest Spence Fund.  This wonderful non-profit helps support families of critically or chronically ill children by assisting with non-medical needs.  And guess what?  You don’t even have to leave your house for the ball!  They will deliver a meal for four in a cooler to your door (complete with wine or apple cider) on February 9th between 10am-1pm.
  • Celtic Crossing is hosting a special three-course dinner complete with chocolate hearts and piano music…all set in beautiful Midtown Memphis
  • Primas Bakery and Boutique has put together a Valentines Truffle Tasting on February 9th at 4 pm. Truffle flavors include Nutella, Salted Caramel, White Chocolate Rasberry, and Chocolate Peanut Butter.
  • Blue Suede Ballroom is offering a Valentines Day dance class on February 14th at 5 p.m, 6 p.m., and 7 p.m.  These 45-minute classes give you the opportunity to practice the Rumba, Tango, or Salsa.
  • The Memphis Shrine Circus starts on February 14th this year and runs through February 17th at the Agri Center Showplace Arena. A Valentines Day treat for the entire family!!
  • Woodruff-Fontaine is hosting a Galentine’s Day Tea complete with your favorite hat and fan!  Come celebrate in style on February 17th from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m and have a proper afternoon tea along with a tour of the museum.
  • Felicia Suzanne’s is serving a fantastic three-course dinner complete with take-home chocolate dipped strawberries from Dinstuhl’s
  • Trolley Stop Market is throwing a Valentines’ Day Celebration that celebrates the love of family and friends. It will include face painting, door prizes, and even a movie and will be held on February 14th from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

So there you have it, a variety of fun things to do to celebrate Valentine Day in Memphis and the Mid-South.  You need to make sure you call ahead and make reservations and or purchase tickets to ensure your spot.  What are your plans to celebrate this year?  If you have any other suggestions or ideas, please share them in the comment section below…Happy Celebrating!!!