901 Day here in Memphis is a BIG day! It’s meant to show our pride for our city and our people. You may be asking “What IS 901 Day?” Well, it’s an unofficial grassroots holiday that was founded by locals Kerry Crawford and Jen Clarke sorta as an inside joke amongst friends several years back as a way to celebrate what they loved about Memphis back in a time when it wasn’t really cool to express your love of Memphis. (ummm, it’s ALWAYS cool to declare your love of Memphis!!!) It grew from there and has become an unofficial holiday of sorts throughout Memphis and is celebrated on September 1st with fun events and activities including music, food, film, outdoor fun and a lil bit of history thrown in for good measure. A popular saying around town is that the folks of Memphis have that “grit and grind” that make this such a special place to be. I agree.
Before I go any further, I want to acknowledge those of you in the back of the room loudly proclaiming that you need bullet proof vests to live or even drive through/around Memphis. We hear you. I won’t lie, the crime has been bad the last several years. I don’t know what it will take to turn that around and I hope that it happens soon for the sake of our people, our community and our overall protection; but when you look past all that, there’s a true sense of community, a pride unlike any other place I’ve lived before. Memphis has been a part of my entire life, and I’ve always felt a sense of belonging. I might have been born in Arkansas, but Memphis made me, man. I truly mean that. I found what made my soul sparkle right here in Memphis. I felt alive the moment I moved here (well, not the first time, because I was married to someone who hated it here, but the second time, some 20+ years ago as a singleton, definitely! Boom! SPARKLY SOUL ACTIVATED!). I always say it’s a big city with a small town atmosphere. Most of my favorite childhood memories were made in Memphis, alongside my Aunt Connie, but those stories are for another day.
901 Day truly means community around the city. Of course, with the Delta Variant running rampant, some of the usual events are not being held again this year or are severely scaled back. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t still get out there and support some cool places. With the amazing resourcefulness of the innerwebs, you can travel virtually everywhere! So, even if you aren’t living in Memphis, allow me to be your virtual guide and introduce you to some really neat places and folks (chosen at random so there’s no hidden agenda) you can (and should) check out:
Memphis Zoo: I grew up going to the Memphis Zoo and over the years it has really gone through some amazing changes. I remember the lion house “back in the day”. If you know, you know. I love that our zoo now has everything from pandas to kangaroos. Years ago, I lived blocks from the zoo and there was nothing quite like waking up early in the morning and hearing the lions roar. Who needs coffee after that!? Our zoo is truly a great place to check out, walk around and see the fun exhibits and interact with the staff and animals.
Memphis Inner City Rugby: Yep! We have the coolest things to experience and support if you just dig around a lil bit. I discovered this cool organization in preparing for this blog, and I HAD to include it. MICR was founded by two Memphis educators in 2012 who wanted to make an impact outside of the classroom walls. They launched rugby programs in the neighborhoods and schools where they taught. Now in it’s 9th year, MICR now serves approximately 300 student-athletes throughout Memphis. Cool facts to note: MICR scholars not only receive coaching in rugby. Their programming also includes: tutoring/academic tracking, ACT/SAT prep, College readiness counseling, Yoga, Travel, All-Star camps, Alternative fitness experiences, and Mentoring. WAY TO GO MEMPHIS TEACHERS AND STUDENTS!
Memphis Fire Fighters Association Local 1784: Because Firemen are hot. I mean, cool. I mean…they do some totally rad stuff, man. Anyways…thank you to our firemen and women who brave some intense situations, as well as help keep the trees clear of free range kitties.
Pink Palace Museum and Planetarium: There is a lot of ground to cover if you wanna talk about this place. I’ll let their website do most of the talking, but I will say THIS. As a kid, I remember thinking how cool it was that someone built this place to LIVE in it (although that never got to happen due to the owner having to declare bankruptcy), and we also got to see a pretty cool traveling mummy display back then (Hello Ramesses, I still remember you, yo!). Today, amongst all the really cool things that are there to see and do, you can walk through a life-size replica of the first Piggly Wiggly store (why a Piggly Wiggly store you may ask? Because Piggly Wiggly got it start right here IN Memphis in 1916 and the Pink Palace was the home I mentioned being built which now houses this museum!), see some amazing dinosaur and animal stuff, and check out some really cool movies in the AutoZone Dome. The website link will take you to some really amazing events, places and things to do. It’s definitely worth checking out.
Metal Museum: This place welcomes all to experience the beauty of fine metal artwork through rotating exhibitions, educational programming, and a fully functioning metals studio. Even though I have said EVERY year that I’m gonna go check this place out, I’ve not been yet. I know. I KNOW, uh…sheesh, get off my back!
The Crystal Shrine Grotto: Creepy or beautiful? You decide. This man-made grotto was created by a Mexican artist over a period of almost 50 years and depicts the life of Christ. Surrounding the man-made cave is the beautiful 54-acre Memorial Park Gardens. What this doesn’t actually say is this: Memorial Park Gardens is a CEMETERY. So, you are UNDERGROUND in a CAVE in a CEMETERY. Hands down one of the coolest places to visit in Memphis. Seriously. (I’ve linked the cemetery website as I can’t find one directly for the grotto.)
Stax Museum: This is the museum for American soul music! It contains a rare and impressive collection of over 2,000 artifacts to preserve films, galleries, music, artistry and more. The most impressive item on display might be Isaac Hayes’ custom Cadillac Eldorado, which has a mini-bar, TV and 24-carat gold trim and is lined with white fur carpet. ’nuff said…
Graceland: Y’all thought I wasn’t gonna talk about THE most famous attraction outside of Beale Street right here in Memphis? Pashaw, I say, Pashaw! I remember when Elvis was alive and living there, my mom and I went to the wall and signed it with red lipstick. I was just a yearling, but I remember it. (SWEAR TO Y’ALL I DO) I also remember when we went for my brother’s birthday in the early 80’s and got to sit IN the pink jeep. Good times, good times. There’s nothing I can say y’all don’t already know about this place. However, as someone who has travelled outside of the country and met Elvis fans in other countries, I do know it is THE DREAM DESTINATION for them, where they are willing to spend their life savings for just ONE trip to experience where “The King” lived. I don’t care who you are, it’s a MUST to experience it at least ONCE in your lifetime. Don’t even get me STARTED on Elvis Week and the Candlelight Vigil (just go read my last blog about the Candlelight Vigil).
Gibson’s Donuts: Y’all. I’m a die hard Krispy Kreme donut lover, ok, but Gibson’s Donuts..well….y’all . They trump the ole Krispy Kreme. Yep, I said it. You can find them on the book of faces and over on insta at @gibsonsdonuts. They don’t have a website. Who needs a stinkin website when your donuts are so good that word of mouth does all the work for ya?! Gibson’s has been in business since 1967 and they serve up some tasty treats with the BEST ATTITUDES this side of the Mississipp! Another bonus, they are next door to…
Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken: That’s right, where else can you enjoy donuts and chicken next door to each other except right here in Memphis! Gus’s may have had it’s start in Mason, TN, but it has since become a Memphis staple, having opened it’s first Memphis location downtown in 2001. This ain’ the spot for you if you are on a diet. NOPE. You get white bread under the chicken, the best sweet tea, and that crispy fried chicken. YUM. And, before you ask, no, you cannot have the recipe. As Gus once quipped, “This is a dead man’s recipe [and] I ain’t telling.”
I could go on and on as there are SOOO many really cool and unique places to visit here in Memphis, but then, what would I have to blog about later? Happy 901 Day, y’all, from all of us right here in Memphis to all of you around the world! Thank ya, thankyaverymuch.
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