The Vance Lauderdale Trivia Quiz

Odds and ends about the history of Memphis.



1. For years and years, what well-known Memphian kept telling listeners, "Keep dialing and smiling. Bye-bye now"?

a. Elvis Presley, of course, at the end of every show.

b. Herbert Killebrew, first owner of the Memphis Telephone Company.

c. J.C. Levy, owner of the Dial and Smile telephone joke line (above).

d. Dr. James Montague, president of the Memphis Dental Society.

2. In 1952, a massive blaze at the Quaker Oats plant in North Memphis consumed thousands of:

a. Quakers.

b. Oats.

c. Homes surrounding the huge plant.

d. Corncobs. That's right, corncobs.

3. In the 1950s, a Memphian opened a business on Lamar with the curious slogan, "Where You Won't Get Bit." This was, of course:

a. The Bitter Lemon.

b. Bittman's Appliances, owned by Herbert Bittman.

c. The Memphis Humane Society.

d. The House of Mews.

4. Who were "The Original Memphis Five"?

a. A jazz quintet formed in New Orleans in the early 1900s.

b. The first city councilmen.

c. The original founders of our city.

d. Thieves who held up the Wells Fargo offices here in 1983.

5. What stands on the former site of the Grand Opera House, which burned in 1899?

a. The Mediocre Opera House.

b. The headquarters of Opera Memphis.

c. The Orpheum Theatre.

d. The grand offices of Memphis magazine.

6. How did Lakeland's "Huff 'n' Puff" Road get its unusual name?

a. Oldtimers used to huff and puff as they climbed its many hills.

b. Construction of a nearby subdivision was sponsored by a cigarette company.

c. It followed the course of an old-timey steam locomotive, back when Lakeland was first developed as an amusement park.

d. It's a corruption of an American-Indian name.

7. Who — or what — stands at the entrance to the Juvenile Court building on Adams?

a. Police officers, of course.

b. A bronze statue of "Blind Justice."

c. A pair of cast-iron dogs that originally graced the entrance to the Victorian mansion that occupied the site.

d. An obelisk from the Tri-State Fair, donated to Juvenile Court in 1935.

8. What happened to the estate of restaurant and hotel owner John Gaston?

a. It was turned into a public park on South Third.

b. It was turned into a public park in East Memphis.

c. John Gaston Hospital was constructed on the site.

d. Memphis International Airport occupies the property today.

9. What was the Bitter Lemon?

a. A local rock-and-roll band that performed on Talent Party.

b. The signature drink at the Whirlaway Club.

c. A really hip coffee house on Poplar Avenue.

d. A tasty dessert at the Old Master Says Restaurant (below right).

10. Who was Pappy Sammons?

a. The owner of Pappy's Lobster Shack, an Overton Square landmark.

b. The owner of Happy Pappy's, the downtown bar demolished to make way for FedExForum.

c. The inventor of the Whirlaway — forerunner to the Hula-Hoop.

d. The founder of Pappy's Famous Fried Chicken, now called KFC.

11. When the MAGNIFICENT hill Mansion on Union was demolished in 1979, the TWO snarling stone lions at the entrance wERE relocated to:

a. Lion Country Safari outside St. Louis.

b. The Lauderdale Mausoleum in Elmwood.

c. Memphis Brooks Museum of Art.

d. Cat Country at the Memphis Zoo.

12. In the early 1960s, the Whirlaway Club made news because:

1a. It was the city's first revolving restaurant.

b. Two dancers were arrested for their obscene performances and costumes.

c. The owners put the stuffed Kentucky Derby winner — a stallion named Whirlaway — on display in the lobby.

d. It was the first club in town to offer karaoke.

13. What in the world was "Eat-Um Aid"?

a. An appetite suppressant manufactured and sold by John Gaston.

b. A soft-drink mix sold by the Clyde Collins Company of Memphis.

c. The Memphis horse who won the 1944 Kentucky Derby.

d. A fund-raiser for starving children, hosted by George Klein on Talent Party.

14. What was "The Riverview Project"?

a. A massive urban-renewal plan of the 1960s, never carried out.

b. An ill-advised plan to cut down the trees in Confederate Park so office workers could have a better view of the Mississippi River.

c. The top-secret proposal to develop Federal Express here.

d. Just one of Berl Olswanger's many hit songs.

15. What happened to Natch, the brown bear that was the first animal at the Memphis Zoo?

a. He escaped and vanished in the woods near the Wolf River.

b. Stuffed and mounted, he guards the entrance to Juvenile Court today.

c. Unfortunately, he was poisoned a few years after the zoo opened.

d. A trick question. Natch was the keeper. The bear's name was Ole' Smoky, and he lived to a ripe old age.

16. Who were Margarita, Polly, and Samantha?

a. The Whirlaway Club dancers arrested for obscenity in the 1960s.

b. The pet names for the three old cannons in Confederate Park.

c. Some of the first animals at the Memphis Zoo.

d. The first ships christened at the Memphis Naval Yard during the Civil War.

17. What did the Memphis company Arrowglass build?

a. Windows.

b. Bow-and-arrow kits featuring the exciting new product, fiberglass.

c. Boats.

d. Scooters.

18. In the late 1950s, a Nice restaurant called "The Old Master Says" opened on Poplar Avenue across from East High School. The "Old Master" was:

a. Former mayor E.H. Crump.

b. Notorious city censor Lloyd T. Binford.

c. Owner John George Morris.

d. Chef de cuisine John Masterson.

19. Who was Berl Olswanger?

a. A Memphis musician, composer, and music-store owner.

b. The sculptor of the Jefferson Davis statue in Confederate Park.

c. The little-known composer of "Blue Suede Shoes."

d. The notorious owner of the Whirlaway Club.

20. What fell from the sky in Midtown on the afternoon of April 29, 1944?

a. A meteorite, narrowly missing Tech High School.

b. A B-25 bomber, killing all aboard and several people on the ground.

c. Hail the size of baseballs, in one of this city's worst storms.

d. Lizards and tadpoles, many of them still alive!

21. The tiny gray cottage at 1737 Madison has gone through many owners, but it originally housed:

a. A toy store.

b. A doll hospital.

c. A Pure Oil gas station.

d. Pappy's Lobster Shack.

22. Where — or what — was the "Speedway"?

a. A section of North Parkway used for horse racing in the 1800s.

b. Lakeland International Raceway.

c. Any part of Interstate 240.

d. A popular hangout in Overton Square where Edwin Hubbard performed.

23. Leonard's Barbecue was a Memphis institution. Who was Leonard?

a. The first lion at the Memphis Zoo.

b. Leonard Heuberger, the owner.

c. Nobody. The owner just thought it had a nice ring to it.

d. Leonardo Lauderdale, my great uncle.

24. Who were "Graveyard" Graham, "Horse" Birk, "Dutch" Leggett, and "Little Man" King?

a. Cohorts of Memphis gangster George "Machine Gun" Kelly.

b. Horses that raced — and won — at the old Montgomery Park racetrack.

c. Players on the UT Doctors football team in the 1920s.

d. The names of the Lauderdale family servants. May they rest in peace.

25. What was the original name of the revolving restaurant atop White Station Tower?

a. The Embers.

b. The Flames.

c. Berl Olswanger's.

d. The Whirlaway Club.

26. Why was Charles Decker famous?

a. He was the first winner of the Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest.

b. He was billed as "the tallest man in the world."

c. He was billed as "the smallest man in the world."

d. He was a Memphis advertising genius, who came up with the slogan "Where You Won't Get Bit," among others.

27. If we can believe historian Paul Coppock (and I usually do), what Memphis store once sold airplanes?

a. Sears Crosstown.

b. Memphis Aviation Supply.

c. Bry's.

d. Airplanes 'R' Us.

28. What famous historical artifact traveled to Memphis as part of a national tour in 1915?

a. The torch from the Statue of Liberty.

b. "Buffalo Bill" Cody.

c. Charles Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis airplane.

d. The Liberty Bell.

29. What was the name of the old steam-powered, horse-drawn fire engine (above) that was once displayed in a giant glass case in Overton Park?

a. Old Huff 'n' Puff.

b. Little Squirter.

c. Fire Engine No. 1.

d. E.H. Crump.

30. What product did the Saymore Company manufacture here in the 1950s?

a. Arrowglass boats and scooters.

b. Sky Rocket bubble gum.

c. The elaborate costumes and capes worn by Elvis Presley.

d. The little ice-cream carts called Merrymobiles.

31. A "trademark" of popular musician Edwin Hubbard (below) was the clump of turkey feathers tied to:

a. The end of his flute.

b. The headstock of his Fender Stratocaster.

c. His ponytail.

d. The bumper of his gleaming Rolls-Royce convertible.

32. What structure on East Parkway was called "The Showplace of the South?"

a. The Zippin Pippin roller coaster.

b. The Lauderdale Mansion (before the fire).

c. The Fairview Drive-in.

d. The Fairgrounds Casino.

33. Who was "Happy Hal"?

a. A popular clown at the Mid-South Fair.

b. A laughing hyena at the Memphis Zoo who lived to be 35 years old.

c. "Happy Hal" Miller, children's TV show host and toy store owner (below).

d. A cartoon character on the old Looney Zoo show.

34. What local television program used "Music of the Spheres" as its theme song?

a. The Happy Hal Hour.

b. Looney Zoo.

c. Fantastic Features.

d. The Sanders Sisters, Featuring Margarita, Polly, and Samantha.

35. Where did gospel recording artist Bette Stalnecker obtain the massive columns that adorn her former home at 688 S. McLean?

a. Memphis Column Company (since defunct).

b. The Lyceum Theatre downtown.

c. Oak trees in Overton Park.

d. Telegraph poles that once lined Main Street.

36. Even though it opened to the public in the early 1900s, not until 1964 was this important feature added to Confederate Park:

a. A really nice neon sign saying "Welcome to Confederate Park."

b. The statue of Jefferson Davis.

c. A massive floral portrait of Tennessee.

d. The rows of vintage cannons overlooking the Mississippi River.

Finished already? Well, don't look for the answers on these pages. If you're stumped, you'll have to turn to my "Ask Vance" blog. Once you check your answers (no cheating!), rate yourself accordingly:

0-10 correct: Pitiful. Just pitiful. Are you sure you even live here?

11-25 correct: Well, at least you've read three or four of my columns.

26-33 correct: An impressive showing, but nothing to brag about.

More than 34 correct: Almost impossible. Even I have already forgotten the answers to some of these. Congratulations!

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