Memphians have the proper right to pride that pales a peacock. More innovation, invention and world-shaping, groundshaking concepts, styles and other types of influence have come out of residents of this town than most other cities on earth. It is that much of a world-class city because of so many things that made the world a better place to live in.
Back in the 20's there was Clarence Saunders handing you a key to a bin where you picked out your own groceries. Initially called Keydoozle, it became Piggly Wiggly-the world's first self-service grocery store.
I don't know the decade of its inception, but Hunter Fans, a Memphis company, created the paddle-ceiling fan, used the world over to cool off a hot head on a summer's night out on the porch.
An oyster needs a lot of ouch to come up with a pearl, and Kemmons Wilson needed to be nickel and dimed to death on a vacation to get mad and invent the new look of the hotel motel industry-Holiday Inns.
The ouch of the soul was the birth of the blues, a musical style that found its home here, with artists from Mississippi. BB King's early days were here, while he built his reputation and career. He is joined by a great many other singers from the Mississippi River delta.
Another Mississippian, Elvis Presley, was moved here as a kid. He later went to Memphis Recording Service on Union Avenue to record a song for his mom. Then there were some boys from Arkansas and other places joining with him to birth a whole other musical style-rock and roll. Together they created a sound that joined white and black musical styles to create a new style that characterized music in the mid-south. Later on, the group whose music had more influence on rock than any other band in history-the Beatles- started off their legacy playing Memphis style music. It is this musical heritage that has worldwide respect from musicians on tour. They want to be able to say they played in Memphis.
In broadcasting there were two firsts. The first station to air specifically to a black audience, with ads from black advertisers was started here-WDIA. Later on, Sam Phillips, father of rock and roll, approached Kemmons Wilson to propose the first all girl radio station- WHER.
Lucy the cat keeps clawing at my shin to remind me that Volney, the lion that roars at you from the middle of the MGM logo, was originally a Memphis cat.
A Memphis college student named Fred got a B+ on a paper that changed package delivery forever. His company, Fedex, is a world leader in package delivery, sorting through a few million per night. The traffic generated at the airport makes it the world's heaviest airfreight airport for several years running, as well as the world's busiest airport overnight.
Net baby playpens and St. Joseph Aspirin are two more products, we stash our kids and knock out our headaches with, both made here. In medicine it was very wise advice given to an actor that a hospital for children with blood cancer should also be a research unit as well. Danny Thomas started St. Jude Hospital here, and dedicated himself to its success. His body, as well as his wife's, is buried on hospital grounds.
So Memphians can and should be proud of our city on the river. We have changed, and continue to change life for the better for millions of people the world over. It is only right to say you are from Memphis not just for musical reasons, but also for lots more.