For the majority of us, whether you've vacationed in Chicago or St. Louis or parts in between, it's always great to see that Memphis skyline in front of the windshield as opposed to the rear-view mirror.
The "Big M" bridge, the Pyramid, the "Neon Memphis" sign...
Wait a minute ... where's the sign?
Well, after 13 years, the famed elevated sign atop the former Lonestar Silos has been taken from its lofty perch to soon assume a temporary storage in the basement of the city's convention center.
"No. They really didn't have to take it down," asked resident Terry Herman. "It's been there so long. Just let it stay there. It's been there ever since I was a kid. I'm 38 now. So, why take it down?"
According City Special Projects Director Robert Lipscomb, "It's just probably the passing parade. I mean things happen. We make progress and things change."
It was in the name of progress, or at least as a symbol of a city on the move, the signs' unveiling in October 1999, was greeted with a joyous fireworks display. At cost of more than $160,000, raised through contributions and donations, the two-sided lighted portions of the sign measured 18-by-45 feet.
One side said, "Memphis" with a guitar shaped "I" in the middle. The inscription on the other read, "Home of the Blues, Birthplace of Rock 'N' Roll."
As they say in the country, "Twern't much, but it was ours."
"I thought it was lovely out there at the bridge," said resident Jeanette Benzinger. "I'm sure it made people think, 'maybe okay. Maybe we should stop into Memphis for a day or so and have a celebration with them and spend a little more,' you know?"
But, with changing times, comes changing attitudes. With the new revitalization of the city's riverfront in conjunction with more than $200 million in tourist redevelopment funds to help round out the Bass Pro entry into The Pyramid, the gaudy simplicity of the sign fit like someone wearing fake pearls with a mini-skirt.
That's not saying all is lost. With the signs soon to be in the possession of the city's Convention and Visitors Bureau no doubt offers from the heart will come.
"They should find somewhere to put it constructive where when you're traveling, maybe, coming across Arkansas or coming around the loop that you could visibly see it," Larry Smith suggested. "Put it on something; something that was high, that could be eye-catching."
"They're not going away," promised Lipscomb. "We going to preserve history. I think we ought to preserve our icon history. Just like the bricks that were done through MIFA at The Pyramid, we're going to preserve this too."
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