Gaston Park — A Great Old Postcard View

I've written before about John Gaston, and the restaurant, hotel, hospital, and park that bear his name.

I won't repeat that charming story here, except to point out that Gaston wanted his property on South Third converted into a public hospital after his death. But the city decided it would be too hard to transform the sprawling mansion into a hospital, so in 1929 they tore it down and turned the estate into the park that still stands on the site today.

I had never seen a good photo of Gaston Park in the early days — until I came up with this wonderful old postcard in the collection of the Lauderdale Library. I admit it doesn't show as much of the grounds as I'd like, but it does indicate the place had concrete walkways, benches, and what seems to be clumps of banana plants or some type of palm tree (look closely at the stuff growing in the background).

What I especially like, though, is the way the postcard publisher decided to identify the place, by painting "GASTON PARK" across the soles of the boys' shoes. After squinting at the image, I can't tell if the letters were actually painted on the shoes, or if they were magically added to the image later, in those early days before PhotoShop.

At any rate, I thought I'd share it with you. If I come across an early image of the old pavilion, I'll post that too.

As I said, I told the story of John Gaston in a previous issue of Memphis magazine, and I also chat about Gaston and include some rare images in the March/April issue of MBQ (Memphis Business Quarterly) magazine, so be on the lookout for that issue.

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Famed Memphis trivia expert Vance Lauderdale answers reader questions weekly here on his blog!

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Ask Vance is the blog of Vance Lauderdale, the award-winning columnist of Memphis magazine and 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. 

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