For this month’s “Memphis Memories” quiz, we dip into the archives of Old Reliable, more formally known as The Commercial Appeal, the daily newspaper that in one form or another enlightened, challenged, frustrated and delighted readers for more than 180 years.
The format is different, and, I think, fun: Each question contains a passage pulled from a story in the newspaper. So this quiz celebrates not just Memphis history but Memphis writers and words.
This is the sixth of a series of seven monthly quizzes that concludes in August with an all-Elvis edition. As with its predecessors, the quiz consists of 21 questions (because the year is 2021, see?); and, as before, the purpose is as much to entertain as to inform.
So, let’s begin. The answers, as always, appear at the bottom of the quiz.
1. “Emily, who drove to Memphis yesterday from her home in Charleston, Mississippi, started to cry. Then she started to scream. Then she started shaking her head wildly and pounding her knees with her fists.” What explains young Emily Strider’s behavior?
a) She was experiencing her first ride on the Zippin Pippin roller coaster on the opening day of Libertyland, on July 4, 1976.
b) She was outside the gates of Graceland on Aug. 17, 1977, the day after the death of Elvis.
c) She was getting her first glimpse of the Beatles as the band took the stage for an Aug. 19, 1966, show at the Mid-South Coliseum.
d) She was one of the thousands of “saints” attending the annual “Holy Convocation” of the Church of God in Christ at the Memphis Cook Convention Center in November 1999.
2. “He sits in the county jail, shackled hand and foot. Except for the hardware, he looks very much like the next man you meet. Observers remark that his blue eyes betray a fiendishness when he is aroused. Behind that blaze, who can say what processes take place to fire it?” Who is he?
a) George “Machine Gun” Kelly, arrested in Memphis on Sept. 26, 1933.
b) James Earl Ray, assassin of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
c) “Spree killer” George Howard Putt, who via strangulation and stabbing killed five Memphians in August and September of 1969.
d) Ernest Stubblefield, who in 1982 kidnapped a 15-year-old Memphis girl and held her captive for 119 days in the attic of Christ United Methodist Church.
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3. “The big show, the inquisition, or the crusade for God — whatever you like — will begin tomorrow.” What event is referred to in this first sentence of a front-page story?
a) The 1994 start of the first murder trial for one of the defendants collectively known as the “West Memphis Three.”
b) The start of the two-day “National Affairs Briefing,” a 1996 conservative Christian rally at the Pyramid that included speeches by Jerry Falwell, Phyllis Schlafly and five Republican contenders for that year’s presidential nomination.
c) The release in local theaters of “The Omega Code,” a Scripture-inspired 1999 apocalyptic movie thriller.
d) The 1925 start of what became known as the “Scopes Monkey Trial” in Dayton, Tennessee, where high school teacher John T. Scopes was prosecuted for teaching about human evolution in a state-funded school.
4. Fill in the blank in this 1964 story: “Memphians are in debt to those responsible for _____. Because of them, the city is richer in culture and tradition.”
a) the Brooks Museum of Art
b) the Jefferson Davis statue
c) the Mid-South Fair
d) The Commercial Appeal
5. “An aged, tottering man is waiting in sightless serenity at the twilight end of fourscore and one years for Gabriel’s horn to blow.” Who is the man?
a) Memphis political “boss” E.H. Crump.
b) Mississippi River hero Tom Lee.
c) The “Father of the Blues,” W.C. Handy.
d) Nathan Bedford Forrest.
6. “More Than a Million in U.S.” proclaimed a sub-headline on Feb. 9, 1912. More than a million what?
a) Unwed mothers
b) Drug fiends
c) Former slaves
7. Decisions, decisions. “Two Rock Concerts Are On Tap Tonight” an Aug. 17, 1973, headline reminded music fans. The concerts were:
a) Foghat at the Auditorium North Hall and David Bowie at the Mid-South Coliseum.
b) Bruce Springsteen at the Auditorium and the Isley Brothers at the Coliseum.
c) Billy Joel at Lafayette’s Music Hall and Yes at the Coliseum.
d) Mott the Hoople at the Auditorium and the Jackson 5 at the Coliseum.
8. Here’s a quote: “It’s coming and we have to get ready for it. We’ll just have to drink a lot and pray a lot and do the best we can.” Who said that, and why?
a) The father of three Memphis City Schools students in 1973, after a federal judge ordered a desegregation plan that would include busing.
b) The manager of a Tunica casino in December 1999, discussing “Y2K,” the widespread belief that computers and electronic equipment controlling everything from slot machines to bank alarms to airplanes in flight would go haywire on New Year’s Eve when the date changed from 1999 to 2000, due to a universal bug in programming that wouldn’t allow the machines to recognize the new century.
c) Delta Mae Biggs, better known as Elvis’ “Aunt Delta,” discussing the opening of Graceland — where she still lived — to tourists in 1982.
d) A Dyersburg store owner who was one of the hundreds if not thousands of Mid-Southerners who heeded the much-publicized prediction of self-described “climatologist” Iben Browning, who said a massive earthquake would occur along the New Madrid fault on Dec. 2 and 3, 1990.
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9. What invisible supernatural menace was credited with perpetrating these instances of physical abuse and wardrobe malfunction: “The hideous hair pulling was continued at nights, and frequently, in the presence of many people and in the bright sunshine, a fierce blow would be struck, as with an open palm, which invariably left the red imprints of an open hand on the girl’s delicately rounded cheek. At the same time unseen hands would draw the pins from the neatly arranged hair, which would fall in a disheveled tangle about her, and other embarrassing disarrangements would ensue with her raiment.”
a) The fairy folk of White Station Creek.
b) The Central Gardens poltergeist.
c) The Bell Witch of Robertson County, Tennessee.
d) The Lakeland Leprechaun.
10. “(This person’s) appearance undoubtedly established a new high for gross receipts for any Mid-South Coliseum event, outstripping the Beatles, Tom Jones and even James Brown,” The Commercial Appeal reported in 1970. Whose appearance?
a) Singer Stevie Wonder.
b) Vice President Spiro Agnew.
c) Evangelist Billy Graham.
d) Comic Flip Wilson.
11. “A potentially-explosive conflict between youthful folksong lovers and grim-jawed television personnel was handled here yesterday without bloodshed.” What inspired “massed marchers from Memphis State University” to picket a local television station on May 7, 1963?
a) The decision by ABC affiliate WHBQ-TV Channel 13 to broadcast the horror movie program “Fantastic Features” in the prime time slot the network was devoting to a new music program, “Hootenanny.”
b) An offhand comment by a WMC-TV Channel 5 anchor that Bob Dylan — whose increasing popularity was the subject of a brief news story — “looks like he has fleas.”
c) A Channel 3 editorial that suggested the city’s coffee house scene was infesting Memphis with “beatniks and Bolsheviks.”
d) A Channel 13 policy that required guest musicians on the teen-oriented “Talent Party” to promise not to perform what a performance contract called “protest songs.”
12. Fill in the blank: “_____, in a red and white patterned body suit and purple cape, waltzed lightly out under a parasol. Laying it aside, he grabbed a Spanish lady’s fan and cooled himself as he tripped slowly around the stage.”
a) Prince, “Purple Rain” tour, Mid-South Coliseum, 1985.
b) Elton John, the Pyramid, 1997.
c) Professional wrestler Gorgeous George, Ellis Auditorium, 1953.
d) Mick Jagger, Memphis Memorial Stadium, 1975.
13. More show-biz couture! Fill in the blank: “_____ is plumb splendiferous as he delights audiences at Le Restaurant International during his first-ever nightclub gig this week. The other night his first costume was a shocking pink affair with shorts and a cape. He threw off the cape and said: ‘What you see is all I got.'”
a) Deejay and “Disco Duck” singer Rick Dees.
b) Stax’s “Funkiest Man Alive,” Rufus Thomas.
c) “Wooly Bully” originator Sam the Sham.
d) Local rocker Larry Raspberry.
14. “With more than a thousand pairs of eyes staring on, Harry Houdini, self-proclaimed world champion self-liberator, yesterday at noon wriggled out of a regulation straight [sic] jacket while hanging head down from a block and tackle over…” Over where?
a) The Mississippi River.
b) The alligator moat at the Memphis Zoo.
c) A bonfire built atop an iron flatbed wagon in the center of Beale Street.
d) The sidewalk below the corner of The Commercial Appeal building.
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15. “For months now, a Midtown killer has been lurking in the shadows, leaving a trail of mutilated corpses and families in turmoil.” The killer in question was:
a) Aedes aegypti, the Yellow Fever mosquito.
b) Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary escapee Bunsen “Bonebreaker” Honeydew.
c) The so-called “Midtown coyote.”
d) Unknown — the perpetrator was never apprehended.
16. “In addition to creating an unsolvable parking problem, damage was done to a 1973 automobile and a fishing boat on display in the main terminal.” The source of this 1973 mayhem, caused by the 5,000 fans who converged at Memphis International Airport, was:
a) Isaac Hayes, returning to Memphis from Los Angeles after winning the Oscar for Best Original Song for “Theme from Shaft.”
b) The Memphis State University Tigers basketball team, returning from their victorious trip to the NCAA Midwest Regional Tournament in Houston. (They would go on to face UCLA in that year’s championship game.)
c) Elvis, returning home from Honolulu after his “Aloha from Hawaii via Satellite” television special, a ratings blockbuster for NBC.
d) Memphis’ first giant panda, Xiu Hua, on loan from a zoo in Chapultepec, Mexico.
17. Which of these delicacies did critic Fredric Koeppel in a 1989 restaurant review declare would make you want “to slap your pappy not once but twice”?
a) “She-crab soup with fresh thyme and sherry,” also described as an “indescribably silken… concoction capable of bringing a strong man to his knees in gratitude…”
b) “…uni, a sushi of soft, squishy mustard yellow raw sea urchin roe wrapped in a strip of shiny dark sea weed.”
c) “…shrimp and crawfish etouffee,” described as the “concentrated embodiment” of “all that’s right and good about New Orleans cooking…”
d) “…an order of broiled pompano with cilantro-lime butter — a splendid whole fish whose silver skin shone like a coat of mail under a golden sauce.”
18. “I think what it comes down to is he doesn’t have a sense of humor.” Who said this to a reporter with The Commercial Appeal on April 7, 1982?
a) Robert “Prince Mongo” Hodges, self-proclaimed immigrant from the planet “Zambodia,” explaining why he planned to challenge Shelby County Clerk Dick Hackett in the 1982 race for Memphis mayor.
b) Ringo Starr, theorizing why music producer Chips Moman called for musicians to picket The Commercial Appeal, in response to a wistful column by Rheta Grimsley Johnson that said “an aging Beatle is yesterday’s news” (written while Starr was in Memphis recording an album with Moman).
c) Director Ishiro Honda, in a phone interview, when asked why Godzilla was so dedicated to attacking Tokyo.
d) Comedian-turned-wrestler Andy Kaufman, backstage at the Mid-South Coliseum, referring to upcoming opponent Jerry Lawler, who later that night would put Kaufman in a neck brace with a “pile driver.”
19. A June 12, 1975, editorial about a long-standing local movie ratings board stated: “This newspaper has felt for some time that the Memphis Board of Review was no longer needed. It has become involved in too many questionable if not silly decisions. One of the board’s most ridiculous acts was to put an R (restrictive) rating on ____
a) ‘The Day of the Dolphin,’ a movie about scientists teaching dolphins to talk.”
b) ‘The Apple Dumpling Gang,’ a movie in which the ‘gun-slingers’ are portrayed by Don Knotts and Tim Conway.”
c) ‘The Land That Time Forgot,’ a dinosaur adventure.”
d) ‘Barry Lyndon,’ a movie more likely to inspire yawns than lust in those under 18.”
20. Which of these is reporter Terry Keeter’s lead paragraph on a March 18, 1982, story about the St. Patrick’s Day “pub crawl,” a since discontinued tradition that at the time was extremely popular?
a) “Leprechauns are small but the pub crawl has become gigantic, as thousands of green-beer-swilling revelers demonstrated yesterday while rambling from Downtown to Overton Square in a bacchanal that resulted in arrests, vandalism and more litter than St. Patrick could shake a shillelagh at.”
b) “St. Patrick may have needed the power of God to drive the snakes out of Ireland, but all it took yesterday was the promise of green beer to drive thousands of Mid-Southerners from their homes and into the collective frenzy known as the St. Patrick’s Day Pub Crawl.”
c) “No blarney stone was in sight but plenty of partiers kissed the pavement as they tripped, stumbled and passed out yesterday during a St. Patrick’s Day Pub Crawl that lured thousands of thirsty people to Downtown Memphis.”
d) “What’s green, has 100,000 unsteady legs and preys on beer and rest rooms as it listens to rock music, Irish lullabies and Fundamentalist preaching?”
21. On New Year’s Day, 1940, The Commercial Appeal published a special section dedicated to its centennial that included congratulations from a wide variety of notables, local and otherwise. “(We are) proud to be in a paper with such high standards!” declared one such contribution. Who was credited with that statement?
a) President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his wife, Eleanor Roosevelt.
b) Sister advice columnists “Dear Abby” and “Ann Landers.”
c) Comic-strip police detective Dick Tracy and his adopted son, Junior.
d) The Memphis Red Sox, a Negro American League baseball team.
1. C.(This story ran Aug. 20, 1966. The Beatles, according to the reporter, were dressed “in gray, Mod suits with red vertical stripes and abbreviated jackets.” All the dates in the other answer choices are accurate.)
2. A.(Written by Frank Ahlgren, the future editor of The Commercial Appeal, this Oct. 1, 1933, story carried the headline: “Spectacular Kidnaper Kelly and His Eyes That Blaze.” Arrested with Kelly was his “titian-tressed wife,” Kathryn Kelly. The other answer choices also describe real people and actual crimes.)
3. D. (The story ran July 10, 1925. Note: The other answers contain accurate dates and information.)
4. B. (This story about the placement of the Davis statue in what was then known as Confederate Park was published Oct. 3, 1964. The statue was removed in 2017.)
5. C. — the “horn” reference should have been the tip-off. (The story ran Nov. 21, 1954. Incidentally, Handy would, in fact, achieve four score and four years: He died at 84. Crump died at 80 in 1954; Tom Lee at 67 in 1952; and Forrest at 56 in 1877.)
8. C. (The story ran May 2, 1982, in “Inside Graceland,” an eight-page special section previewing what tourists would find at Elvis’ home. The other answers contain factual dates for actual controversies.)
9. C. (The story ran Aug. 2, 1903. The Bell Witch is the only menace among the answer choices that I didn’t make up.)
10. B. (This story ran Sept. 25, 1970; Agnew was the “headliner” at a Republican Party rally.)
11. A. (The other examples are made-up.)
12. D. (The story ran July 5, 1975, reporting on the Rolling Stones’ Independence Day concert at Memphis Memorial Stadium, now known as the Liberty Bowl. The opening acts included the J. Geils Band, the Charlie Daniels Band, the Meters and Furry Lewis. The other answer choices cite actual events.)
13. B. (The story ran June 22, 1972.)
14. D. (The story ran Feb. 17, 1916.)
15. C. (The story about the capture of the “Midtown coyote” appeared on Dec. 30, 2020, The coyote mostly terrorized the Central Gardens and Overton Park area; “one of the victims was a Central Gardens resident known as Mean Kitty,” the story reported. Incidentally, Bunsen Honeydew is a Muppet; as far as we know, he never has earned the nickname “Bonebreaker.”)
16. B. (The story ran March 20, 1973. Note: Hayes won the Oscar in 1972; the Elvis special aired on April 4, 1973, but Elvis’ return to Memphis was not a public event; and Xiu Hua arrived in 1987.)
17. C. (All the other choices also are quotes from 1989 Koeppel reviews. The etouffee was served at King’s Palace Cafe on Beale; the pertinent quote in full reads: “But rising above everything was the shrimp and crawfish etouffee, a concoction of such concentrated embodiment of all that’s right and good about New Orleans cooking — you can taste the roux like a dark underground vein of spicy iron — that you will want to slap your pappy not once but twice.”)
18. D. (Notes: Hackett was elected to his first term as mayor in 1982, but Prince Mongo ran for county rather than city mayor that year; Johnson wrote her column in 1987, and Moman did organize a picket, but Starr never said anything in public about the column at the time. As for veteran Japanese director Honda, he never was interviewed by The Commercial Appeal.)
19. A. (Note: The other quotes are made up, but the movies are accurately described, and all were released in Memphis in 1975.)
20. D. (The other sample paragraphs never existed, until now.)
21. C. (The words appeared in a balloon above Dick’s head, on a page that featured similar drawings and sentiments from such other stars of the “funnies” as Popeye, Moon Mullins, the Katzenjammer Kids and Tarzan.)