Well, I'm Stumped

Ask Vance

(page 3 of 3)


What’s the story behind the gravestone for “Old Robby” in the cemetery at Central and Lafayette, with the curious inscription: “Renowned golfer and bridge player / Tone bidder and oral specialist / Who dealt? What’s the score? / Don’t think. That’s a funny thing. The hell with it.”? — A.H., Memphis

When I was in high school in the 1980s I watched a cable-access TV show, The Fabulous Billy Bob. A man with a jambox took phone calls while dancing and wearing longjohns, a vest, and some sort of mask. It was very strange, even for Memphis. Please help me find Billy Bob. — J.B., Memphis


Where was the Tiny Tot Studio, where this cute portrait was taken? — B.E., Memphis

When I was young, I heard about a terrible storm in Memphis. Someone was in a tall building looking out a window, and lightning hit the window and burnt their face in the glass. For a long time, you could look up and see the burnt face etched in the glass. Is there any truth to this tale? — M.G., Memphis

Can you provide me with information about an old velodrome that operated in Memphis in the 1890s? The design for the old Vailsburg board track in Newark, New Jersey, was inspired by the one in Memphis. — M.G., Clifton, New Jersey

I understand that Winchester Park is the site of the second cemetery in Memphis. Is it true that Mayor Winchester is buried under what is now the city garage? — D.P., Memphis

I can’t help wondering about the “S” curves on the north-south streets between Summer and Poplar, such as Goodlett, Perkins, Mendenhall, and White Station. Did our city employees “party too hardy” at Leon’s the night before they laid out those streets? — G.H., Memphis

In 1963, I lived in a beautiful Victorian home that was called the Elizabeth Club. It was located on Carroll Avenue, and was for young women going to business college. Have you heard of it? — B.R., Bartlett

Years ago, my dad’s favorite restaurant was Bill and Jim’s. I would love to get him the recipe for their beef tenderloin, and while you are at it, how about the rolls too? — K.F., Cordova

I am a volunteer at the Memphis Zoo and need information about the “Round Barn.” All I know is that it was stables for the Memphis Police Department Mounted Unit and was donated to the zoo in 1923. — L.A., Olive Branch

Do you have a picture of the Greenlaw Opera House? I remember my grandmother mentioning it many years ago. — P.W., Rogers, Arkansas

My dad says a statue once stood in the middle of the intersection of East Parkway and Summer. It was struck by traffic more than once, and that was the reason for its removal. I think the vastness of the Lauderdale Library holds answers: who it was, when it was removed, and where it went. — P.K., Sardis, Mississippi

I heard there was a specific reason John Cougar Mellencamp hasn’t played Memphis in the past 20 years. A friend told me Cougar appeared at a concert here in the 1970s wearing pink leotards and was booed off the stage. Where was the concert, and can you find a picture of Cougar in his pink leotards? — C.B., Marion, Arkansas

I’m told that an area of Memphis was once known as Hollywood, Tennessee. Can you tell me what time period and where that was? — T.P., Memphis

A friend asked me why there isn’t an exit #19 on I-240. It jumps from #18 at Perkins to #20 at Getwell. I told her if anyone knew, it would be you. — P.C., Millington

An old billboard on Poplar advertised “The Phantom Bed.” The slogan was, “It comes and goes with the night.” It was the first moving billboard I ever saw. Do you remember it? — L.D., Blue Mountain, Mississippi

Do you know anything about a hot tamale company in Memphis owned by A.D. Hickel and called Hickeleats? They were sold in a can. — B.I., Columbus, Mississippi


Happy Hal introduces Memphis children to the pleasures of “spud” guns. Photo courtesy Special Collections, University of Memphis Libraries.

I am looking for the name of the local dance studio/teacher for children where Happy Hal Miller (above) began his dance training. My dad was there in 1939. Any clue? — G.F., Memphis  

Happy Hal photograph courtesy Special Collections, University of Memphis Libraries

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