No one bashes Memphis more than Memphians (similarly, no one bashes Republicans as well as fellow Republicans). So when Bloomberg came out with an article listing Midtown Memphis zip code 38104 as 18th in the nation for “fun and affordability,” it was good to read. I might add especially since it is the Midtown zip code where I live.
Most of us were surprised to read it. Not that we don’t love it here, but other places often seem more glamorous. We don’t have pleasant tropical weather, beaches or rolling mountains. We don’t have celebrities or famous people from here. Elvis preferred Whitehaven. We did have Boss Crump, whose nearby home has a plaque on it, but he wasn’t exactly a founding father.
We do have beautiful homes of all price ranges, a nearby zoo, a good mixture of commercial places and beautiful avenues to walk. The best, though, resides in our people.
People who are quirky, interesting, idiosyncratic and hospitable.
Take one summer evening a few years ago. We heard noise outside and went out to investigate. Around the corner from us was a wedding party. The bride and groom were riding on the back of a fire truck, followed by a high school marching band singing and dancing and inviting the neighbors to do so, too. Since the groom was a unicyclist, his fellow unicyclists were wheeling around, too, entertaining everyone. The stopping point was the couple’s home where they held a catered Bbq – the good, sweet Bbq only Memphis does best.
Events like that might happen in New Orleans, but they are already organized to parade at the slightest suggestion. All they have to do is grab the Mardi Gras beads and head out the door.
In our neighborhood we’re not afraid to speak to people. The newspaper delivery man has been doing it for 30 years. He’ll ask you if you missed getting caught in the rain, whether you’ve been out of town and if you need his help to watch your dog.
The mailman stops to get a Coke, the cashiers at the stores inquire after your family. Your house has a story to it; built in the 1910’s or 20’s, it evokes stories from neighbors who remember those who moved in way back. You can walk to schools easily and make friends along the way.
What does this have to do with politics?
Sadly, our district votes Democrat. In the 80s it was a Republican stronghold. What happened? The things we love about it, I would argue, are the Republican aspects of life here. We like to be free to do as we please. We’re not followers, like Democrats, blinding marching to their orders. There is a core of people obsessed with what we can and cannot do, but for the majority of us, we are laissez-faire.
The strong interest in preserving the past also is a Republican virtue. Call it conservatism, if you will, in the sense of protecting the past and our values. With property taxes high, most Midtowners are against raising taxes.
Our Republican Party, like Midtown, needn’t think some of our citizens are unreachable. We just have to make the effort, which we often fail to try, and connect. Our city and our country must be fought for and it starts in every neighborhood and zip code.