At the turn of the 20th century, Memphis' Main Street was a dangerous place and the site of many violent crimes. One of these involved a Native American named Creeping Bear. Some reports said he was a Creek Indian; others said he was a Sioux. Some believed he'd been left stranded in Memphis by a traveling Wild West show.
When you ask Memphians of the certain age to talk about the Christmases of their childhoods, they often mention a train, a puppet, and the circus.
Goldsmith's Department Store had a wonderfully elaborate electric train that ran through an enchanted Christmas scene. Parents brought their children to visit and be photographed with Santa, and then to see the train.
After Goldsmith's closed the Main Street store, the train was moved to Oak Court Mall for several years, but it was never the same.
The Lorraine Motel, the site of Dr. Martin Luther King's assassination, has had a long, uneven history. When the motel first opened in the 1920s, it was called “The Windsor.”
In that era of Jim Crow segregation, it was one of the few hotels that welcomed black travelers. Entertainers like Nat King Cole, Sarah Vaughan, and Louis Armstrong stayed at the Windsor and walked the few blocks to Beale Street. Walter Bailey bought the Windsor in 1942, and renamed it the Lorraine.
When the nation's fourth blood bank opened in Memphis in 1938, blood transfusions were still a new technology. Patients were connected by tubes directly to donors with the proper blood type, and many patients died before a suitable donor could be found.
Memphis physician Lemuel Diggs and the staff of the Memphis Blood Bank helped solve this tragic problem by developing a system for refrigerated blood storage, as well as methods for collection, filtration, and the typing of blood.