See Rock City

See Rock City

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Train

The Train Of Life
Some folks ride the train of life
Looking out the rear,
Watching miles of life roll by,
And marking every year.

They sit in sad remembrance,
Of wasted days gone by,
And curse their life for what it was,
And hang their heads and cry.

But, I don't concern myself with that,
I took a different vent,
I look forward to what life holds,
And not what has been spent.

So strap me to the engine.
As securely as I can be,
I want to be out on the front,
To see what I can see.

I want to feel the winds of change,
Blowing in my face,
I want to see what life unfolds,
As I move from place to place.

I want to see what's coming up,
Not looking at the past,
Life's too short for yesterdays,
It moves along too fast.

So if the ride gets bumpy,
While you are looking back,
Go up front and you may find,
Your life has jumped the track.

It's all right to remember,
'That's part of history,
But up front's where it's happening,
There's so much mystery.

The enjoyment of living,
Is not where we have been,
It's looking ever forward,
To another year and ten.

It's searching all the byways,
Never should you refrain,
For if you want to live your life,
You've gotta drive the train!

Author Unknown


Thursday, September 10, 2015

Policeman's Prayer

Dedicated to Law Enforcement Agencies
everywhere....our Heros!

Policeman's Prayer
Dear Lord, be with me on my beat
This day and every day.
Grant that each weary block I walk,
May ease a brothers way.

Let me be kindly to the old
And to the young, be strong
But let me triumph over those
Whose acts are cruel and wrong.

And if according to your plan,
I am to lose my life,
Please bless with your protecting hand
My children and my wife.

The Fireman's Prayer

Dedicated to firemen everywhere
Our national heros!
Fireman's Prayer

When I'm called to duty
God wherever flames may be
Give me the strength to save some life
Whatever be its age.

Help me embrace a little child
Before it's too late
Or save an older person
From the horror of that fate.

Enable me to be alert
And Hear the weakest shout
And quickly and efficiently
To put the fire out.

I want to fill my calling
And To give the best in me
To guard my every neighbor
And protect their property .

And if according to your will
I lose my life
Please bless with your protective hand
My children and my wife.


In Memory Of 9-11

In Memory Of  9-11-01
Shining in the Dark

Today I lit a candle which sparkled very bright
It chased away the darkness, flooding it with light
A thousand names were seen there
With each flicker came a thousand more.

Each one a very precious memory
Resting now on another shore
Today I lit a candle many others did the same
One World united, in that one eternal flame.

~ Helen Arnold ~

With deepest sympathy to all who were
personally touched by this tragedy.

We would like to salute the unsung hero's
 who should not be forgotten.
The man that removed his jacket and gently
placed it around the shoulders of a woman
whose clothes had been blown off of her.
The many wonderful people who stood in line
for hours waiting to give blood.
The many caregivers that cared for, loved, 
comforted and fed children when their
parents didn't return for them.
The many that put a strangers life above their
own as they helped them from burning and
crumbling buildings.
The old man that stooped down to help an
injured person sitting on a curb, by placing
 his handkerchief against a bleeding wound,
and stayed with them until help arrived.
The thousands across our country that
held prayer vigils and lit candles.
The many thousand across our country that
gathered, food, water, and everything else
they could think of to send to New York.
To Clergy of all denominations
that offered comfort and prayers.
To the many news reporters that worked
around the clock, sometimes endangering
themselves to keep us informed.
The generous man in Phoenix, AZ that
not only donated his big truck to carry much
needed supplies to New York, but also
volunteered to drive it there.

To the many wonderful friends of this
country that have sent offers of help from

all over the world. We thank you!
May God Bless!
United We Stand....Divided We Fall.

We are in absolutely no danger of falling in
this wonderful country we live in...
We stand united as one in time of crisis!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Universal Life Insurance Company Memphis Tennessee

Memphis-based Universal Life Insurance Company (ULICO), the second African American company in the United States to attain million-dollar-capital status (1947), has been described as one of the "ten top Negro owned and operated business enterprises in the world" and as "the cornerstone of Negro business enterprise and financial initiative in the entire Mid-South." (1) The company was established in the Fraternal Bank building in Memphis on September 6, 1923, by Dr. J. E. Walker, former president of Mississippi Life Insurance Company. Other charter officers were J. T. Wilson, M. W. Bonner, Dr. R. S. Fields, A. W. Willis, and B. F. Booth. Only three of the men--Walker, Bonner, and Willis--remained active in the company, guiding it to its present position among African American companies.
Universal's capital stock increased from $100,000 in 1923 to $200,000 in 1926, and the company moved to its first home-office building at 234 Hernando Street in Memphis. ULICO prospered and over the next twenty years expanded into nine other states. During World War II, Walker served as national chairman of the War Bond Saving Club and spearheaded the purchase of $2 million in war bonds. In 1952 A. Maceo Walker succeeded his father as ULICO president. In 1956 he became the only black appointed to President Dwight D. Eisenhower's Person to Person Committee.

Universal's founding goal to "build a service institution that would give jobs and financial assistance to our people" is achieved through its use of assets for civic improvements, educational scholarships, and mortgage funds. (2) Descendants of J. E. Walker continue to operate Universal Life.


Bessie Smith

BESSIE SMITH (1894-1937) Print by Granger

Acclaimed blues singer Bessie Smith was born in Chattanooga and lived in a section of the city called Blue Goose Hollow at the foot of Cameron Hill. Her father, William Smith, a part-time Baptist minister, died when Smith was very young, and her mother died when she was nine. That same year, Smith began her career on Ninth Street in Chattanooga, singing and dancing for change to the accompaniment of her brother's guitar.
In 1912 she joined the touring Rabbit Foot Minstrels, where Gertrude "Ma" Rainey, the mother of all female blues singers, began to tutor her greatest pupil. Smith soon began touring on her own. In 1923 she signed a contract with Columbia Records and recorded "Down Hearted Blues," which sold 800,000 copies at 75 cents each. It was Columbia's first big hit and inspired the company to start its "Race Series," aimed at the African American market.


Billed as "The Empress of the Blues," Smith soon earned an annual income of $20,000 from her Columbia sales and performed for $1,500 to $2,500 per week on the African American circuit in the northeast and South. She sang with the best musicians of the day, including Louis Armstrong, who played trumpet on nine of her records. Smith wrote many of the songs she recorded, using the themes of poverty, love, and the temptation of alcohol. Her 156 known recordings include such classics as "Pig Foot and Bottle of Beer," "Beale Street Blues," "Beale Street Mama," "Baby Doll," "Standin' in the Rain Blues," "Midnight Steppers," and "Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out."

Bessie Smith - 'The Empress of Jazz'
"The Empress of Jazz"

Smith cut an imposing figure at 5'9" and 200 pounds, and her performance attire of satin gowns, headdresses, long strands of pearls, and feather boas became a well-known trademark. In the days before electronic microphones, her booming voice could be heard outside the largest theaters. Her only performance in Chattanooga after achieving stardom produced a memorable story. After her performance at the Liberty Theatre, Smith attended a party given by a friend, where she knocked down a drunken admirer who was pestering her. The would-be admirer then stabbed Smith, who chased him for several blocks before collapsing. She was taken to the hospital but returned to the stage the next night.

Smith's career declined in the 1930's due to a combination of the Great Depression, alcoholism, and the lack of radio exposure resulting from her suggestive song lyrics. In 1937 Smith was killed in a highway accident outside Clarksdale, Mississippi, while making a comeback tour of the South. Contemporary accounts that she died after being turned away from a "Whites-Only" hospital have proven unfounded, although she did have to wait for a "Blacks-Only" ambulance.

Smith was buried in Sharon Hill, Pennsylvania, near Philadelphia. In 1970 Janis Joplin, who credited her own success to her imitation of Smith's style, contributed funds to the erection of a gravestone at the burial site. Inscribed on the headstone are the following words: "The greatest blues singer in the world will never stop singing."


William Christopher "W. C." Handy

W. C. Handy, African American composer, bandleader, publisher, and "Father of the Blues," combined the contemporary ragtime and Latin rhythms he had encountered in vaudeville, minstrel shows, and extensive travels with the black folk music of his heritage into the unique twelve-bar harmonic structure that became known throughout the South as the blues. Handy's 1912 publication of "The Memphis Blues," the first published blues composition, gained him national attention and designated Memphis as the "Home of the Blues." A truly American musical style, the blues played a key role in the development of jazz and other popular forms.

Handy was born November 16, 1873, in Florence, Alabama. The son of former slaves, he understood plantation life and the struggles of post-emancipation African Americans. The music and struggles absorbed in his childhood inspired Handy's own compositions. Both his father and paternal grandfather were ministers and had hopes that Handy would follow in their footsteps. Much to his parents' dismay, however, music captured his imagination at an early age. The Handys considered musicians a disreputable lot, and when young Handy proudly showed them the guitar for which he had been anxiously saving for months, they strongly disapproved and made him exchange it for a dictionary.

Handy's love for music grew in spite of his family's lack of encouragement. At school he learned basic music principles through vocal instruction and began to share his teacher's interest in folk singing. As a teenager, he met Memphis violinist Jim Turner, who had come to Florence to begin an orchestra. Enticed by Turner's glamorous talk of Beale Street, Handy obtained a cornet and practiced secretly. Handy worked with Turner's group, earning a decent salary. He hoped his efforts would win his parents' approval, but by this time, nothing could deter Handy from his musical ambitions. Against his parents' wishes, Handy played, sang, and attended dances. At age fifteen he joined a local minstrel show as first tenor.

Before embarking on a full-fledged musical career, Handy taught school and worked for an Alabama pipe company. He continued to sing and play with various groups, most of which were temporary informal troupes. In the early 1890s Handy's first real attempt to make music his profession landed him in St. Louis, broke and alone. A low point in his life, the hard times he experienced in that city later inspired his most famous work, "St. Louis Blues" (1914).

In August 1896 Handy's luck changed when he received an offer to join Mahara's Minstrels, a Chicago-based musical company, as a cornet player. With this group, Handy gained valuable experience and matured as a professional musician and composer. He advanced quickly to the position of bandleader and began to add his own compositions and arrangements to their repertoire. The group's extensive travels throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Cuba expanded Handy's musical knowledge and skill by introducing him to a variety of new rhythms and sounds. In 1900 Handy, by now married, left the Minstrels to accept a position at the Agricultural and Mechanical College in Huntsville, Alabama. After only two years of leading the school's band and orchestra, however, Handy rejoined the Minstrels for one additional year. By this time his reputation as a bandleader was becoming well known, and in 1903 he received offers from both a white Michigan municipal band and a black orchestra associated with the Knights of Pythias in Mississippi. Handy chose the latter even though it was a less prestigious and profitable position.

Handy made frequent trips to Memphis, and in 1907 he decided to make the city, with its strong African American entertainment scene, his home. The Gayoso Street theater district, which included Beale Street, was home to such popular venues as Tick's Big Vaudeville, the Dixie, the Lyric, and the Savoy. Here, Handy published his first work, "The Memphis Blues." Initially titled "Mr. Crump," it served as a 1909 campaign song for Memphis mayoral candidate Edward H. Crump, who had hired Handy's band to promote his platform. The crowds went wild for the tune Handy had composed, and in 1912, after it was rejected by several popular music publishers, he published the sheet music under the new title. With limited sales and mounting expenses, Handy sold the rights to "The Memphis Blues" to a New York composer for one hundred dollars. The new owner added lyrics and republished the song, selling over fifty thousand copies by 1913. Although Handy did not benefit financially from his work, he gained a huge following, which established him and Memphis as important sources of the new musical style.

Handy, now wiser to the business side of music, formed a partnership with lyricist Harry H. Pace and began to capitalize on his recent notoriety. Located on Beale Street, the Pace and Handy Music Company published a series of blues hits including "Yellow Dog Rag," "Joe Turner Blues," and "Hesitation Blues." Handy's success increased with each new release and paralleled the rising popularity and mainstream acceptance of the blues. His third published composition is perhaps his most successful and best-known work. An immediate hit upon its release in 1914--and again in 1925, when it was recorded by Bessie Smith and Louis Armstrong--"St. Louis Blues" remains a classic blues number.

In 1917 Pace and Handy moved their business to New York City. The partnership eventually dissolved, but Handy continued to perform and write successfully, and in later life he published his autobiography. By the time of his death in 1958, the blues music that Handy had helped make a commercial success was a well-established and widely accepted American musical style. Handy's works have remained timeless classics over the years and affirm his reputation as "Father of the Blues."


Memphis Race Riot of 1866

On May 1-2, 1866, Memphis suffered its worst race riot in history. Some forty-six African Americans and two whites died during the riot. A Joint Congressional Committee reported seventy-five persons injured, one hundred persons robbed, five women raped, ninety-one homes burned, four churches and eight schools burned and destroyed, and seventeen thousand dollars in federal property destroyed. Hundreds of blacks were jailed, and almost all other freedmen fled town until the disturbance ended. For two days, white mobs, which included policemen, firemen, and some businessmen, attacked the freedmen's camps and neighborhoods.

The riot started after an alarm went out that African American soldiers from Fort Pickering, on the south boundary of downtown Memphis, had killed several policemen who tried to arrest a black soldier. In response to the reports, Union General George Stoneman disarmed the soldiers and locked them in their barracks, leaving nearby freedmen's settlements vulnerable to the white mobs that soon attacked women, children, and defenseless men, as well as the northern missionaries who served as ministers and teachers for the freedmen.

The Memphis riots reflected the anger and frustration felt by many white citizens and particularly former Confederates, who had suffered the agony of a bitter defeat at the hands of a black and white Union army. Irish immigrants, who had sided with the Confederacy, especially hated the freedmen who dominated the skilled and unskilled jobs that had previously served as a mechanism for upward mobility in the Irish community. Some downtown businessmen participated in the mob because they resented the hordes of penniless freedmen on the streets. Other rioters wanted revenge for the Union occupation. The use of African American soldiers as patrolmen with power to order whites to "move on" was especially galling to many. Finally, the riots reflected the attitudes of most white citizens toward the former slaves who were then free and soon demanding equal rights.

One outcome of the Memphis riot (and a similar riot in New Orleans) was the congressional move toward Radical Reconstruction. The Radical Republicans passed a Civil Rights Bill and the Fourteenth Amendment, guaranteeing citizenship, equal protection of the laws, and due process to former slaves. Tennessee was forced to ratify the Fourteenth Amendment before being allowed to return to the Union (July 1866). Paradoxically, the former slaves became citizens, voters, and officeholders in part due to the Reconstruction acts passed in response to the race riots in Memphis and elsewhere.


St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

The world's only institution devoted solely to the study and treatment of catastrophic childhood illnesses, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital was built on one man's promise. Then a struggling radio actor with seven dollars in his pocket, Danny Thomas offered this prayer on his knees in a Detroit church before a statue of St. Jude Thaddeus, the patron saint of hopeless causes: "Help me find my place in life and I will build you a shrine where the poor and the helpless and the hopeless may come for comfort and aid."

Surprising Facts About St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

Thomas dreamed of becoming a successful entertainer, but it was the depression era, and his career seemed to be going nowhere. He asked God for guidance. A few days later Thomas received his "big break" when he was hired as the headline comedian at the 5100 Club, a popular Chicago nightclub. Thomas later became the star of the classic sitcom, Make Room for Daddy, and the producer of many hit shows, including The Dick Van Dyke Show and The Andy Griffith Show.

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital makes FORTUNE magazine “100 ...

The famous performer never forgot his promise to St. Jude Thaddeus. He wanted his shrine to be a hospital where catastrophically ill children could find treatment, regardless of their race, religion, or their ability to pay for treatment. He dreamed of a place where the top scientists in the world would work together to find cures for the potentially fatal diseases of childhood.

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital founded by a Lebanese

Thomas began raising money for St. Jude Hospital in the early 1950's, and by 1955 Memphis business leaders had begun area fund-raising efforts. Thomas, often accompanied by his wife, Rose Marie, crisscrossed the United States by car raising funds at meetings and benefits. The pace was so hectic that the couple once visited twenty-eight cities in thirty-two days.

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

The son of Lebanese immigrants, Thomas turned for help to his fellow Americans of Arabic-speaking heritage. He believed Arabic-speaking citizens should, as a group, thank the United States for the freedom given their parents. In 1957, one hundred representatives of the Arab-American community met in Chicago to form ALSAC--the American Lebanese Syrian Associated Charities. ALSAC, headquartered in Memphis, has assumed full responsibility for the hospital's fund-raising efforts.

Description St. Jude Children's Research Hospital campus.JPG

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital opened in 1962. It has become an international resource for the study and treatment of pediatric illnesses including cancer, AIDS, sickle cell disease, and inherited immune disorders. Between 1962 and 2000, the hospital treated over sixteen thousand children from throughout the United States and sixty foreign countries.

may 30 2000 st jude children s research hospital and

The hospital rewrote the textbooks on childhood cancer. Before the institution opened, less than 4 percent of children with the most common form of pediatric cancer, acute lymphocytic leukemia, survived. Largely because of treatments developed at St. Jude Hospital, by the 1990's more than 70 percent of children were surviving this form of leukemia.


Thomas died in 1991 and is interred in a family tomb on the grounds of St. Jude Hospital. But his dream continues after his death. A landmark event in the hospital's history came in 1996, when Peter Doherty, Ph.D., chairman of the immunology department, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine for key discoveries he made about the immune system.

Why St. Jude Children's Research Hospital Matters...

During the 1990's the hospital began to devote increasing efforts to develop bone marrow transplantation and gene therapy as treatments for dozens of diseases from leukemia to sickle cell disease.


Gayoso Hotel Memphis, TN

A vision of grandeur for the developing river metropolis at Memphis, the Gayoso House was built by Robertson Topp, a wealthy young planter. Topp was involved in the development of South Memphis, an area of houses, commercial buildings, and a hotel designed to grace the young city with high architectural style. He commissioned James Dakin, a founder of the American Institute of Architects, to design the structure, which was constructed in 1842. Its Greek Revival portico was easily recognizable from the river.

In the late 1850's Topp continued his efforts to bring architectural distinction to Memphis, when the Cincinnati firm of Isaiah Rogers, designer of the Tremont House in Boston, contributed to an addition that almost doubled the Gayoso's original 150 rooms. The addition featured wrought-iron balconies overlooking the Mississippi; the supervising architect was James B. Cook, an Englishman who stayed in Memphis for the rest of his architectural career.

The Gayoso House became a Memphis landmark, an oasis of modern luxury frequented by travelers passing through the city by river, road, or rail. With its own waterworks, gasworks, bakeries, wine cellar, and sewer system, the hotel offered amenities far beyond those available to the rest of Memphis. The indoor plumbing included marble tubs and silver faucets as well as flush toilets.

The Gayoso House burned on July 4, 1899. To replace it, James B. Cook designed a new hotel. His U-shaped construction surrounded a courtyard screened from Front Street by a row of columns, which are no longer extant. Goldsmith's department store bought the hotel in 1948 and used it for offices and storage. Fifty years later, however, it was restored for use as downtown apartments, residences, restaurants, and offices.


Clarence Saunders

Clarence Saunders changed the way people buy their groceries. In his innovative Piggly Wiggly self-service stores no clerks fetched groceries for customers. Instead shoppers selected from items placed on shelves within easy reach. While Saunders did not open the first self-service store, he is credited with selling this idea to a public still accustomed to being waited upon in stores.

Saunders was born in 1881 to an impoverished Virginia family, who moved to Palmyra, Montgomery County, Tennessee. Young Saunders found his calling in a Clarksville wholesale grocery house. While still in his twenties, Saunders left Clarksville for a sales position in a Memphis grocery company. A bold and observant salesman, Saunders paid close attention to the business methods of his retail clients. Displeased by the lack of efficiency, he developed the idea of self-service.

On September 11, 1916, Saunders opened his Piggly Wiggly store for business. Shoppers liked the store where prices were cheaper than competing markets. Within a year he was selling Piggly Wiggly franchises across the nation. By 1923 the Piggly Wiggly chain included 1,268 stores selling $100 million in groceries and was the third largest retail grocery business in the nation. Piggly Wiggly stock was traded on the New York Exchange.

Then Saunders managed to lose it all. An attempt to corner the Piggly Wiggly stock failed, costing Saunders millions of dollars. He resigned from Piggly Wiggly and filed for bankruptcy. Immediately, he opened a competing grocery, called the Clarence Saunders Sole Owner of My Name Stores, or the Sole Owner Stores. A successful endeavor until the Great Depression, Saunders once again lost his business in the 1930s.

For the rest of his life, Saunders experimented with an automated grocery store, which he named Keedoozle. It operated on the principles of the vending machine. The customer slipped a key into a coin slot next to a window display. The key activated circuits that released merchandise from the storage room chutes. The merchandise tumbled to conveyor belts and was carried to the shoppers at the cashier's desk. Saunders visualized a system that would dispense groceries quickly, with fewer errors, and simultaneously track inventory. Unfortunately, Keedoozle never operated profitably.

On October 15, 1953, Clarence Saunders died. Having built and lost two fortunes, he will be remembered as the man who brought the retail store into the twentieth century.

Kenneth D. McKellar

Kenneth D. McKellar, influential mid-twentieth-century U.S. senator, was born in Dallas County, Alabama, on January 29, 1869. Young McKellar was schooled by an older sister and his parents before his father died when the boy was eleven. Working at different jobs, borrowing money, and with help from an older brother, he earned three degrees from the University of Alabama. Soon, along with most of his siblings--he was the fifth of nine children--he moved to Memphis, where he began to practice law.

At once interested in politics and civic affairs, McKellar was part of a group of young Democrats who organized the Jackson Club, and it was during these years that he formed his long political and personal association with Memphis political leader Edward H. Crump. With their allies, the Crump-McKellar tandem would form one of the most powerful political teams in the history of Tennessee.

In 1911 McKellar was elected to fill the unexpired term of Representative George W. Gordon of Tennessee's Tenth Congressional District. He was reelected in 1912 and 1914. With Democrat majorities in the House of Representatives and with Southern Democrats in both houses of Congress enjoying their greatest influence in national affairs since before the Civil War, McKellar began his congressional career at an opportune time. Even as a short-timer in Congress, McKellar in 1916 persuaded President Woodrow Wilson to support federal highway legislation which distributed $75 million of federal funds to the states. McKellar had already found his formula for political success--using federal money to promote economic development in the states, especially Tennessee. In time, control over the jobs that came with the money became a major preoccupation of the patronage-minded Memphian.

As a member of the House, McKellar supported the constitutional amendment which provided for the popular election of U.S. senators, and he became one of its first beneficiaries. In the 1916 Senate race in Tennessee, he not only defeated both incumbent Senator Luke Lea and former Governor Malcolm Patterson in the Democratic primary, but he then defeated former Republican Governor Ben Hooper in the general election. This was the beginning of a long and often stormy senatorial career for McKellar, the only Tennessean ever elected to six terms in the U.S. Senate.

In his first years in the Senate, McKellar supported President Wilson's progressive reform program as well as the president's unsuccessful attempt to convince the Senate to ratify the Treaty of Versailles after World War I. During the Republican-dominated 1920s, McKellar continued to support progressive legislation that usually failed in Congress while insisting that despite the nation's general prosperity, Tennessee and the South needed federal economic aid. However, McKellar, who first won reelection in 1922 and then defeated House Democratic leader Finis Garrett in a spirited primary in 1928, primarily used these years to build his seniority in a system which has always favored longevity in office.

These years proved profitable for McKellar when the Democrats won in 1932 and President Franklin D. Roosevelt launched the New Deal the following year. With his seniority as chairman of the Senate Committee on Post Office and Post Roads and as a ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, McKellar controlled countless jobs through federal programs which operated during the New Deal and World War II. Loyal to the New Deal program, McKellar supported federal aid for farmers, New Deal relief programs, and, of course, he helped lead the fight in Congress for the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) Act in 1933.

McKellar's considerable success in Washington was matched by that back home in Tennessee. From the mid-1930s to the late 1940s, the Crump-McKellar political machine rolled from one political victory to another. McKellar was reelected in 1934 and 1940 with little opposition, and few in the state questioned his considerable political strengths.

At the same time, McKellar increasingly took conservative stands on major policy issues as the years passed and became personally irascible. He began to differ with FDR over patronage matters, TVA operations, and several of the president's top-level appointments. The split became such that only weeks before he died in 1945, President Roosevelt asked Crump to withdraw his support from McKellar in 1946, a request that Crump refused to honor.

After the war, McKellar's position in the Senate remained secure. He headed the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee and for several years was the Senate president pro tempore. But at the same time, he spent less and less time in Tennessee, and, always prone to confrontational politics, squandered opportunities in feuds with political foes that distracted him from more useful political pursuits. In the early years of McCarthyism, McKellar often opposed presidential nominees on the basis of their political and social associations. Against his friend Crump's advice and weakened by the machine's political losses in 1948, McKellar was defeated four years later in the Democratic primary by Congressman Albert Gore Sr.
A lifelong bachelor, the aging McKellar then retired to his suite at the Gayoso Hotel in Memphis, where he died on October 25, 1957. He is buried in Elmwood Cemetery there and his papers are housed in the Memphis-Shelby County Library.


Edward Hull (Boss) Crump

Edward Hull Crump.
Democratic boss of Memphis and state political power during the Great Depression, Edward Hull Crump was born in Holly Springs, Mississippi, in 1874, the son of a planter and former Confederate officer. Crump's father died of yellow fever soon after his birth, and Crump grew up poor. He moved north to Memphis as an ambitious seventeen-year-old bookkeeper, married the daughter of a wealthy merchant, and bought the carriage manufacturing firm where he worked.

In 1905 businessman Crump entered politics as a Chamber of Commerce candidate for efficient, progressive government, winning election as a councilman and then, in 1909, as the mayor who began the commission form of government. His political success came without making a single political speech. Devoid of oratorical ability himself, Crump displayed a genius for understanding human nature and organizing others who could make speeches on the main streets and negotiate on the back streets with the six hundred saloon keepers and ward bosses whose support was critical.

Crump's talent was administration. He ran an efficient city government, getting more effort from the health, fire, and police departments. His administrative ability also built a personal political machine. On taking office, Crump conducted a brief publicity war on vice-but then permitted the underworld to run wide-open. The underworld of gambling, prostitution, and alcohol contributed protection money. Police Chief William J. Hayes later testified in court that underworld figures contributed as much as eighty thousand dollars in a single year. In addition to his use of tainted money for private purposes, Crump also paid a sufficient number of poll taxes to control elections.

Municipal corruption never led the voters to throw Crump out of office. Moralistic progressives turned to the courts to oust the Crump machine. In 1909 Tennessee adopted a statewide prohibition law that seemed to make Crump vulnerable to removal. When Crump refused to enforce the law in Memphis, Governor Ben Hooper pushed an ouster law in 1915 which provided the judicial method for removal of public officials from office who refused to enforce state laws. Crump resigned his office just ahead of court action.

While loss of office embarrassed Crump, he never admitted guilt. Instead, he presented himself as a victim of conspiracies by evil private power corporations that feared his plan for public power corporations. Crump's public relations campaign succeeded so completely that his fabrication was accepted as true even though no evidence supported the alibi.

In business, Crump turned to insurance and Coca-Cola franchising, becoming a millionaire. He remained out of city government for a decade before returning in 1927 as a political boss who no longer ran for office, except for a single congressional term, but who elected his entire slate of candidates. In 1932 his candidate for governor, Henry H. Horton, won, and for the next sixteen years Crump influenced the outcome of statewide elections. With Tennessee voter turnout low as a result of the poll tax, Crump's heavy Shelby County vote controlled state elections.

Crump understood the vanity of individuals and devoted enormous energy and industry into making individuals feel important. Always cordial, he worked hard over the course of many years to oblige the demands of individuals and groups. After more than twenty years of this kind of political effort, Crump commanded absolute authority in Memphis and Shelby County. He benefited enormously from the Great Depression, which shattered people's self-confidence and made them look to paternalistic leaders for relief. New Deal patronage--WPA jobs--boosted his power. Those who needed work or feared they might need assistance could not afford to oppose the machine. During the thirties, political candidates stopped running for office against Crump's local slate.

Under Crump's absolutism, city services worked. City employees undertook election work to keep the machine in power and did the people's work, too. Garbage was picked up daily, the streets were cleaned, the fires put out, and criminals arrested. People went to Crump to solve problems. He kept the taxes low and even reduced property taxes a few pennies a year. Crump government was modest and frugal in its expenditures because cheap government was good politics.

Crump's absolutism, however, required a social cost--a loss of individual freedom. Criticism and public opposition had to be abandoned. All were forced to pay homage to the boss. Newcomers learned how the system worked. A jeweler opening a business on Main Street, for instance, learned that city inspectors would not approve his building unless he purchased an insurance policy from E. H. Crump and Company.
Freedom of expression did not fully exist. Reporter Turner Catledge was beaten for getting too close to election fraud. A chemist's complaint letter to the newspaper resulted in his loss of a job. Black druggist and baseball executive J. B. Martin was run out of town. The political organization especially sought to intimidate black leadership as well as CIO labor organizers.

The dictatorship eventually produced an uprising from the middle class, blacks, and labor during Estes Kefauver's 1948 Senate race. Crump's absolutism was broken with the election of Kefauver, but his control over Memphis government continued until his death on October 16, 1954. Memphis honored the Boss with an eight-foot-tall statue in Overton Park, making him the only political leader (the others are a Confederate warrior and two entertainers) memorialized by the city in bronze.


Chickasaw Ordnance Works

Sometimes called the Memphis, or Millington, Ordnance Plant, this huge explosives manufactory had its origin in 1940, when the Anglo-French Purchasing Board formed the Tennessee Powder Company to produce munitions for the Allied war effort. After the French surrendered, the British assumed control and contracted with E. I. DuPont de Nemours Company to manage the construction and operation of the facility. The six-thousand-acre site north of Memphis met the plant's needs for land, labor, bulk transportation links, and access to an ample supply of cotton linters, which were chemically treated to produce "smokeless powder" (actually a high-explosive cake, or "guncotton") for small arms and artillery, as well as TNT.

The installation required its own power plant, a separate spur from the main Illinois Central Railway line, and new artesian wells that pumped enough water (22 million gallons per day) to supply the city of Memphis. U.S. Highway 51 was enlarged to a "four-lane super roadway" from Memphis to the Tipton County line to accommodate the workers' automobiles. Though some workers commuted by public bus, the complex was a forerunner of the automobile culture that burgeoned after the war.

Construction began in June 1940 and proceeded on a round-the-clock schedule with a peak workforce of over nine thousand black and white workers. In early 1941 the plant operated with fifteen hundred employees and shipped its first lots of explosive. It set a world safety record by operating for 2 million (later 3.6 million) work hours without a major injury. From November 1940 to May 1943 the plant maintained continuous night and day operations for 871 days (except Christmas Day 1942).


In May 1941 the U.S. government acquired the plant and later changed the name from Tennessee Powder Works to Chickasaw Ordnance Works before enlargement of the facility began. DuPont continued to manage the plant for the U.S. Army; it received the first Army-Navy "E" award given to a war plant in the Southeast, and received Es for four successive six-month periods. By October 1944 the plant employed more than eight thousand women and received an Army Ordnance safety award. Its overall accident rate remained less than half that of all other such plants.

Ironically, after more than $50 million in American and foreign investment, the award-winning plant was deemed too dangerous for conversion to civilian uses after the army deactivated it in mid-1946 and carefully dismantled it.