Joie de Vivre

Duck Soup

While we wandering around Beale Street, Nancy mentioned that the Peabody Hotel was nearby, and that it had a connection to Elvis. We found our way over there, and knew we were in the right place when we saw the Lansky storefront window. Nancy explained that Elvis had many of his clothes made here.

Lansky Bros. store front

Mr. Lansky jr. himself sold me a pretty fantastic shirt (Thank you Beverly!). And there is a ladies shop, too.

By now, the day was even more sweltering, and the air conditioning of the lobby was magnificent. We sat in what I thought must be a restaurant or parlor, and no one seemed concerned we were there.

That’s when I noticed the ducks swimming in a fountain.

Someone in a lobby shop explained the ducks live in the building, and there is a parade every day to the fountain. She invited us to visit the roof, and inspect their “palace,” so we did.

Sure enough, the location was clearly marked in the elevator.

On the roof deck, which was being prepped for a wedding, we found their home:

Around the back of this structure is a day duck day room, and this (next to another fountain) is what we saw:

The view from up here was great – and we just walked in off the street and got up there. Such a friendly place.

From the Peabody website:

How did the tradition of the ducks in The Peabody fountain begin? Back in the 1930s Frank Schutt, General Manager of The Peabody, and a friend, Chip Barwick, returned from a weekend hunting trip to Arkansas. The men had a little too much Tennessee sippin’ whiskey, and thought it would be funny to place some of their live duck decoys (it was legal then for hunters to use live decoys) in the beautiful Peabody fountain. Three small English call ducks were selected as “guinea pigs,” and the reaction was nothing short of enthusiastic. Thus began a Peabody tradition which was to become internationally famous.®

In 1940, Bellman Edward Pembroke, a former circus animal trainer, offered to help with delivering the ducks to the fountain each day and taught them the now-famous Peabody Duck March. Mr. Pembroke became Peabody Duckmaster, serving in that capacity for 50 years until his retirement in 1991.

Nearly 90 years after the inaugural march, the ducks still visit the lobby fountain from 11am to 5pm. each day.

The Peabody is fabulousness from a past era. We were told that up to three generations from the same Memphis families work there. It was splendid. Elvis signed his deal with RCA there.

Again, from their website:

The Peabody’s story as one of the grandest, most historic hotels in downtown Memphis dates back to 1869 when the original Peabody Hotel opened on the corner of Main & Monroe, immediately becoming the social and business hub of Memphis. In 1925 a newer, grander Peabody was built at its present location of Union and 2nd Street, continuing the legacy of the “South’s Grand Hotel.” It was 1933 when ducks were originally placed in the hotel’s lobby fountain, setting in motion an 85-year tradition that continues today with the March of the Peabody Ducks.