Does Anyone Remember This 1960s Memphis Coffeehouse?



Photo courtesy White Station High School

A standard feature of old (and maybe recent) high-school yearbooks is to pose groups of students in popular settings or hangouts away from the school. And so the editors of the 1964 edition of the White Station High School yearbook did just that, by putting their "Who's Who" campus leaders in places like Shoney's Eastgate or the parking lot of the Tropical Freeze.

Most of these places are (or were) close to the school. After all, that's where the kids hung out, and it made it easier on the school photographer if he or she didn't have to haul the students all over town just for one picture.

But I'm stumped by this photo, which shows a group of clean-cut students listening to a stand-up bass player in what seems to be a coffeehouse. The background doesn't reveal much — what seems to be an elaborate brass coffee machine, maybe a stained-glass chandelier, and in the background an air conditioner stuck in a high window.

I know the most swingin' place in town in the early 1960s (this photo ran in the 1964 yearbook, remember) was the Bitter Lemon, at Poplar and Humes. Not exactly in the White Station neighborhood, but nothing else comes to mind.

Does anybody remember or recognize this place? Was it indeed the Bitter Lemon, or another place entirely? And while you've got your thinking caps on, does anybody know the students pictured here?

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Ask Vance is the blog of Vance Lauderdale, the award-winning columnist of Memphis magazine and MBQ: Inside Memphis Business.  Vance is the author of three books: Ask Vance: The Best Questions and Answers from Memphis Magazine's History and Trivia Expert (2003), as well as Ask Vance: More Questions and Answers from Memphis Magazine's History Expert (2011) and Vance Lauderdale's Lost Memphis (2013). He is also the recipient of quite a few nice awards, the creator of several eye-catching wall calendars, and the only person we know with a vintage shock-treatment machine in his den. 

You can find him from time to time in the pages of the Memphis Flyer and MBQ, on WKNO television, and on Facebook. When he is not exploring the highways and byways of Memphis, he spends his time sleeping, napping, and dozing.

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