Miracle in Millington
(page 2 of 2)
Dear Vance: I found an old bookmark for a Memphis company selling “wall mount shoes.” What were these, exactly, and where was the firm located? — D.N., Memphis.
Dear Vance: This was certainly an intriguing item — or maybe I am more easily intrigued than normal people. But as readers can see, it’s a promotional card or bookmark, showing a nice assortment of flowers, but not a single view of a shoe, wall-mounted or otherwise.
It turns out, however, that nothing really unusual was offered by this establishment. After literally minutes of extensive research, I discovered this was just a regular shoe store, operated by two fellows — Robert L. Wall and Carroll B. Mount. So there you have the meaning behind the somewhat unusual name.
The card gives the address: 355 Main. The firm opened in 1890 and remained in business only four years. In 1894, city directories note that Wall “removed to St. Louis,” which seems a curious way of putting it — did he die? — and they don’t list Mount at all. The Wall-Mount Shoe Store building was taken over by a series of different establishments over the years: Kimbrough & Duncan Tobacco, the Memphis Umbrella Company, A.S. Barbaro Liquors, and — for almost three decades — Beasley Clothing and Hatters.
I should explain that 355 Main was the “old” numbering system, where the addresses started at zero in North Memphis around Mill Street and worked south. It really wasn’t a good plan since all too often it didn’t provide space (meaning: new numbers) for new buildings. In 1905 most addresses were changed to a new, and current, system, with Madison serving as the “zero” line, and most north/south streets divided into north and south sections.
What I’m getting at, in my roundabout way, is that 355 Main (old numbering) became 99 South Main (new numbering). But don’t go looking for the old home of Wall-Mount Shoes. That entire block is now occupied by the gleaming new Barbaro Flats Condominiums.