Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Posts tagged ‘Piggly Wiggly’

Founder of Piggly Wiggly Built Pink Palace

Piggly Wiggly pink palace

The Pink Palace was built in the 1920s by Clarence Saunders, founder of Piggly Wiggly.

   If you want to impress your friends and neighbors, building a pink marble palace might be one possibility. That is what Clarence Saunders decided to do back in the 1920s.

Piggly Wiggly trucks

Piggly Wiggly had their own delivery trucks.

   Clarence Saunders began working in Owen’s general store at the age of ten by cleaning, oiling, and trimming the kerosene lamps. When he was fourteen,  Owens hired him permanently at a salary of $4 per month plus room and board. A few years later, he received a job at another general store for $10 a month and worked there until he was 17.

Piggly Wiggly store

This is a replica of the interior of an original Piggly Wiggly.

   After working in the general store all those years, Saunders thought of ways to make it more customer-friendly. As a result, Saunders became the founder and sole owner of a new kind of general store. He wanted his store to be unique so named it Piggly Wiggly.

Piggly Wiggly Soup display

You could pick a can off the shelf all by yourself.

   This was the first true self-service grocery store. Previously, the clerk in the store retrieved the items for the buyer and brought them to the counter.  Now, the buyer entered through a turnstile and went down the aisles picking up the things they wanted and brought them to the counter to check out their total price.  By  1921, he had 615 grocery stores in forty states and many more franchises.

Piggly Wiggly Saunders

Clarence Saunders founded Piggly Wiggly.

   Saunders chose to use the fortune he had amassed through Wall Street stock to build a lovely home in Memphis, Tennessee. He purchased 155 acres across the street from the Memphis Country Club. He called his new home Cla-Le-Clare to honor his children Clay, Lee, and Amy Clare.  Since it was being built of pink Georgia marble, the Memphians called it the Pink Palace.

Pink Palace lobby

The Grand Lobby contains restored Burton Callicott murals.

   Sadly, his good fortune on Wall Street did not last. With only the exterior of the house finished, it was sold at public auction in 1925 and plans were to demolish it. However, the Garden Corporation stepped in and had the palace donated to the city with hopes of turning it into a museum.

Pink Palace star

Early controls for their planetarium are on display.

   A group of high school boys formed the Memphis Astronomical Society in 1953. They gathered weekly to look at the stars from the lawn. The city wanted to construct a planetarium and it was finally decided to put it in the Pink Palace. Due to a lack of funds, the high school boys ran the planetarium on the weekends for many years.

Pink Palace shows

Interesting films are shown on a large 3-D screen.

   The Mansion Theater has shows running throughout the day on a large 3-D screen. When visiting, the Dinosaur movie projected creatures flying into the audience and walking close by. Apollo II was to be shown later in the day.

Pink Palace General Store

Take a walk through an old general store where you were waited on personally.

   Explore an old general store like Clarence worked in as a boy. Then visit his first Piggly Wiggly store and see the improvements. His advertisement contained stories like these:

   A customer wants 5 pounds of granulated sugar put up in a cloth bag. She is in a hurry so she runs into Piggly Wiggly and helps herself. She pays the cashier and away she goes.

Piggly Wiggly circus

Enjoy a moving miniature circus in the Clyde Parke Circus Gallery.

   Upstairs the Clyde Parke Miniature Circus filled an entire room. This is a 3D model of a real circus done to 1:12 scale. Parke carved each of the figures from white pine he salvaged from packing crates. There are animals, clowns, a lady on a trapeze, and an audience of 1500 people. He donated the circus so people would remember “when the circus was the biggest show in town.”

Piggly Wiggly bear

This polar bear attracts plenty of attention.

   A large male polar bear from Alaska was donated to the museum forty years ago for educational purposes by Dr. Harold Misner. The bear has been a popular presence at many weddings in the Pink Palace. When the Memphis Grizzlies make the playoffs, he is lit with blue lights.

   The Pink Palace captures the history of not only Piggly Wiggly but that of early natural history in “A Walk Through Time” and the history of the early days of the South. Take time to visit their theater, have lunch at Metro Eats, and take home a memory from the Museum Store.

   “There’s Lively Learning for All at Pink Palace Museum.”

The Pink Palace is located at 3050 Central Avenue, Memphis TN. Your GPS should come in handy to find this location.

 

 

 

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Music City Trolley Hop Tour

Trolley SignWaiting for the red trolley car to arrive, there was time to visit the Farmer’s Market in Nashville, Tennessee. Downtown parking seemed rather expensive at $20 for the afternoon but it was free to park at the Farmer’s Market and hop on the trolley at that point.

TrolleyThe driver and guide made the trip fun with a great assortment of historical facts, stories of businesses and some downright corny jokes. The Trolley Tour is a hop-on tour so you can get off at seventeen various stops and hop right back on later in the day. Sure saves fighting downtown traffic.

Trolley CapitolGetting on at this point, the first stop is the Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park. Not sure if the guide was stretching the truth or not, but he said the fountain of water supported a large granite ball weighing 18,000 pounds!

The view of the capitol building brings out everyone’s cameras. The capitol building is framed by the 50 columns, representing the 50 states in the United States. The 95 bell carillon rings out on the hour and represents the 95 counties in Tennessee.

Trolley Piggly WigglyAttention was given to the local Piggly Wiggly as this chain began in Memphis, Tennessee as the first self-service grocery store back in 1916 by Clarence Saunders. Previous to this time, shoppers gave their orders to the clerk and the clerk then gathered everything from the shelves. Saunders rearranged the stores to make shopping much faster for the customer and the clerk. Today there are 600 Piggly Wigglys in 17 states.

Trolley RCARCA Studio B created Nashville magic for over 35,ooo songs, making it an international recording center  known as one of the cradles of the “Nashville Sound”. Popular artists, such as Elvis Presley, Chet Atkins, Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, and Eddy Arnold recorded their songs here.

Trolley ColumbiaNearby, the historic site of Columbia Records Studio A displays large guitars indicating the Carter Family and Johnny Cash recorded many of their songs here. Today both of these formerly popular studios are learning centers for Belmont University.

Trolley StationAt Riverfront Train Station, the trolley takes a short break before continuing on the rest of the route. This site was previously the home of another train depot which was build in 1902. The present station was built in 2005 and they have attempted to capture the Old World flavor.

Trolly Honky TonkStraight across the street from the station is Honky Tonk Row. This is where many stars and hopefuls play during the evening hours as entertainment in many local clubs. They provide encouragement,  a stage, and a tip jar for musicians.

Trolley StadiumThe beautiful Cumberland River flows behind the station and gives a grand view of the Nissan Stadium, home of the Tennessee Titans football team, on the other side. You can actually walk across the river to the stadium on the Shelby Street Pedestrian Bridge. The Cumberland River is 688 miles long and eventually joins the Ohio River in Kentucky.

Trolley SculptureA beautiful sculpture brightens the waters also. Ghost Ballet East Bank Machineworks received its name because as you look at the sculpture from different angels, it suggests movement, similar to that of a dancer. This gives a little time to watch the river flow by and gain a little peace from the busy day.

Trolley Art CenterOn our way back to Farmers Market, evidence appears that Nashville hosts more than country music. A glimmering bronze statue, The Recording Angel, stands at the corner of the Schermerhorn Symphony Center, home of the Nashville Symphony, which provides classical music entertainment. But they are no snobs, as often country music favorites appear accompanied by the orchestra.

This tour will perhaps be taken again someday when there is more time to visit various stops along the way. It is the perfect way to see Nashville…without fighting downtown traffic or trying to find a parking place! Try the Hop-On Tour the next time you visit Nashville.

 

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