It was snowing hard. In Memphis and all over the Mid-South. In fact all over the USA, Florida excluded. He was stuck in traffic downtown, after work, trying to get to Arlington to pick up his son, sitting in the shadow of this beautiful old building he loves. He described it to me, and for the life of me I couldn't remember ever seeing it in all the years I lived there myself. I thought maybe it was the Sterick Building,
across the street from the 
Memphis Light, Gas & Water Division 
on Madison Avenue where I worked 
so many years ago. To be 1968 
before Peter was born in 1970. 
Tracy was just three years old.

"No, I don't think so," he said.
"This building is white and pristine
and it looks like the
Woolworth Building in New York.
I've seen it every day of my life since
I've lived in Mid-Town.
It's at the corner of Main and Court.
Actually, in Court Square.
It's snowing on this lovely old white
building, and it's a site to behold."
We stayed on the phone for a long time, Peter turning on this street and that, in and out, round and about, trying to avoid stranded vehicles, slipping and sliding, anxious to pick up Harrison at school and Chrystal and Kimba who were stuck out there in the snow somewhere on the other side of town. All the time, I'm on line looking for skyscrapers in Memphis. And then I found it. I read:

"The Lincoln American Tower, a twenty-two story, 
historical landmark, one of the first 
steel frame skyscrapers built in 
Memphis, Tennessee. The tower 
underwent a six year 
refurbishing project starting 
in 2002. It now features 
thirty-one residential apartments, 
three floors of commercial offices, 
and New York-based Ceriello Fine Foods 
on the ground floor.

"And get this, I said, reading on:
"The Tower is a replica of
New York's Woolworth Building,
at one-third scale!"

"We nailed it, didn't we?" said Peter.

"Well... you did."

The beautiful old Late Gothic Revival, built in 1924, sits on the Fourth Chickasaw Bluff below the mouth of the Wolfe River in Memphis. And if old buildings could talk, I'm sure The Tower would gladly weave some enigmatic tales of this old River Town. Tales that would rival those of Faulkner with The Reivers; Shelby Foote and his September, September. The Firm, The Client... Grisham's tales. And Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris.

And we must never forget—Gaddy with Gruyere.

Memphis is my son's town.

It's the Peabody.
The Pyramid.
The Pink Palace.
The Old Gayoso Hotel.
The Orpheum.
Grace St. Luke's.
The Grid Iron.
Beale Street.
The Blues.
It's Cooper-Young.
The Cotton Market.
Court Square.
And Crump Stadium.
It's Highpoint Church.
Riverside Drive.
And Rhodes College.

Memphis in May.
The Memphis Zoo.
It's Barbecue.
And The Big M Bridge.
The Bold New City of the South!
Overton Park.
The Delta Queen.
The U of M.
And Union Station.

It's Madison Avenue 38104!
Memphis' pre-Civil War
main east-west corridor,
once the location of the "Dummy Line,"
the streetcar line that ran from
downtown to the Fairgrounds,
east along Madison,
south down Cooper,
and east along Young.
Most of this piece of Madison
retains its original granite curbs,
and in a few locations the original
brick pavers can be seen in the gutters.

And Peter watches from his third floor window
on Madison Avenue... he watches, and listens to
the clang of the trolley bell and the rumbling on the
old Dummy Line as it once again lumbers
down Madison Avenue toward Downtown Memphis.
Even on a snowy day.


  1. It's funny to read your take on this old town of ours. Although I wish I was far away sometimes- for now it is home. You captured it. There's something about this place. It sticks to your ribs like good BBQ. Love you Mother, thanks for hanging out on the phone with me this afternoon. I'm going to see if Kim will take some photos of the Lincoln for you. It really is a gem.
    Great blog. YOU nailed it this time.

  2. I woke up thinking about what I might have left off the list... it was the Orpheum, so I jumped up and added it. This was a great old town in its day. Wish it could have stayed with us. You've done your part to keep it alive if only in our hearts.

  3. This almost made me cry it was so good! And i love that picture of him-SOOO handsome!! Good job Momma!

  4. You know he's in New York, where he loves to be (in that picture). Thank you, Chrystal. This so aligned with his post—I didn't know he was writing, he didn't know I was writing. He thought I had read his first! It sounded like you guys were having a splendid evening. You and Kimba make for such a great time with my boys! Did you pop corn and make fudge?


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