Walkin’ in Memphis

If you don’t mind, imma reward the clock for a second and take us back to October — October 13th, to be exact. The day mom and I took a flight out to Memphis to visit Ira and Eddie and to go to Jocelyn (and Elliot)’s wedding!

The trip was quick, but we were able to spend one-on-one time with Eddie and Ira, and then the four of us had a really fun Asian dinner together at the former home of a lumber tycoon #MemphisLife. Plus we walked around their neighborhood and checked out Halloween decorations (yup, mid-October, remember) and dropped off their new neighborhood flyers.

When we spent time with Eddie on Saturday, he took us no a tour of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Sure, I’d seen all the tv commercials and I’d seen print ads and so many stores that partnered with them to raise money. But I didn’t know much about the actual place itself. Did you know it was founded by Danny Thomas? He was an actor, and the story goes that back when he was struggling, he prayed to be shown the way (to success), and that if he was, he would do something good in return (I’m paraphrasing here). Well, he became successful and not long after, decided to open a hospital for children with completely life-threatening diseases and name it after St. Jude, the patron saint for hopeless causes. I was particularly impressed by this because it seems like his creation of the hospital was completely selfless — he wasn’t personally impacted by a family member or friend who had any sort of childhood cancer, he just did it out of the goodness of his heart. And it’s blossomed into one of the most impactful — and emotional — places I’ve ever learned about. (I was especially blown away by a wall filled with different newspaper cartoonists’ works after Danny’s death. He was famous for starring in a show, “Make Room for Daddy,” and a ton of the artists spoofed the title changing “Daddy” to “Danny” and implying heaven needed to let him right in, like here.)

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We toured all around the campus and went into a bunch of the buildings, which is where we saw the above. This is the ABCs of Cancer exhibit. Eddie explained it’s a rotating exhibit and everything is provided by a child. If you can see, each letter has its own poster, where the kids choose words or phrases or pictures the start with that letter. Many were funny (V was for vomit), some were sweet (N was for nurses), and others were completely heartbreaking (W was We are chemo Warriors, and Q was Questions, which included some unbelievably sad questions for a child to be contemplating).

We didn’t see any areas where the patients actually stay, but we walked through my halls and lobbies and I have to say, it’s about a cheery as it could possibly be. There’s one waiting section where you literally feel like you’re a fish in an aquarium! It’s very cool. Danny and his wife are actually buried on the property in a beautiful zen garden, and we spent a little bit of time there — it’s completely unreal that he spent so much of his life dedicated to this cause, and to see how many lives it’s saved and impacted, and how its reach has grown tremendously. Super uplifting. (I donated once we got back to NY, btw.)

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But now let’s talk about something a little lighter, okay? How about… ducks?! Remember the Peabody Hotel? It’s famous for the twice-daily duck walk, where ducks literally come down from the elevator, walk across a red carpet, up steps and into a fountain — and then do just the opposite at the end of the day. (Fun fact: Neil and Kiyomi stayed at the Peabody during Ira’s wedding.) We checked out the Peabody this time (I’d never been inside!) and it’s beautiful and charming and everything you’d want and expect from an old hotel. And they had Peabody duck desserts, which was pretty cool.

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The hotel is super old so they also had fun things on display, like tiny little (pay)phone chambers that I hardly fit into, plus some phones like this (above!). RETRO, MAN! If you want to learn more history, you can here, and there’s a YouTube video if you have time…

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Sure there’s old stuff in Memphis (we actually passed by a ton of old mansions that were apparently being renovated or refurbished), but a new trend is breathing new life into old architecture. For example, the old Sears magazine distribution center. This massive building was once a key structure for Sears, but was left untouched and abandoned when things started slowing down for the company. It was decided to make the space into essentially a one-stop shop: it opened over the summer and currently houses a bunch of nonprofit offices, plus a grocery store and a bunch of little restaurants — plus it’s home to a bunch of tenants who have rented apartments on the upper floors. And they’re working on a theater space, opening in the summer, plus a ton of other really neat features.

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What I love is that it embraces the history of Sears through artwork — check out these cool old signs that are from the building! There’s a lot written up about it; worth a Google if you’re interested in learning more.

Of course, our trip wasn’t all exploration and travel — it was also filled with a WEDDING! IMG_2043 (2)

The wedding was at the Woodruff-Fontaine House (which is gorgeous, as evidenced by the above photo). The ceremony was outside and the reception was in the carriage house, which is back and to the right of the house. The House itself has a storied history — I didn’t know it, but Woodruff, the first owner, owned a carriage business; Fontaine, the second owner, was in the cotton business. (P.S. how I learned everything) We didn’t go inside the house because toured ended at 4pm and the wedding was called for juuuuust after that, but it’s stunning — and shocking to believe that it was saved by a Public Trust and may otherwise have been demolished and forgotten about!

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Me and my mommy both wore black — we joked that you could tell who was from New York/the northeast, because those were the people in the legit suits and the black dresses. So many people were dressed more casually in spring-color airy dresses — and there was even a dude who wore a t-shirt, which was just confusing to me…

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Anyway, love was in the air — and so was this Snapchat filter! It was so fun seeing Evan and Katherine again, plus Irene and Peter — I forgot how long it’s been since we’d seen them face to face. Someone mentioned when our families spent time together in Paris (remember that???) and it was such a crazy blast from the past!

What a fun trip! Maybe next time we’ll coordinate… 😛

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