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Stories: Gwen & Ernie Vescovo

Gwen and Ernie Vescovo attended the Overton Park Stories event at the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library’s Memphis & Shelby County Room in June.  These are some of the stories and photos they shared with us.  (Click the photos to see larger versions.)

Final Shell concert, 1970Last Day at the Shell
Ernie shares: “John Scott was a DJ at FM 100.  He used to have concerts once a month at the Shell and this was the last one for the summer–actually, I think this was the last day before the Shell got shut down.  We were all local bands, and it cost a dollar to get in.  The shows would start at 2:00 in the afternoon, and it was like a big hippie convention.  On Sundays once a month, they’d have great bands–like the Allman Brothers, Black Sabbath–that were just starting up.  My band was called Blues Power back then, so this poster would have been from 1970.  We went on the road right after that and that’s when we changed the name to Concrete and Stone.  Later we were the Reflections, but in the last year and a half we’ve gone back to Concrete and Stone because we’ve got a bunch of the old guys back together.”

Dancing at the Shell, circa 1958Dancing at the Shell
Gwen shares: “This is a picture of my sisters and me.  We took dance lessons with the Park Commission.  This would have been in the 1958-1960 range–see my daddy’s ’57 Chevrolet in the background?  At the end of the summer, at the Shell, all the City of Memphis Park Commission dancers came, and each age group had a different dance they did.  Rosemary did the Tiptoe Through the Tulips, Diane got to be a ballerina, I did the French dance and wore a beret, and I think Jamie might have been too young at this point.  But we all loved dancing and we loved the Shell.  We’re so happy it’s back!”

Violet Blomberg in Overton ParkAunt Violet
Gwen: “This is my aunt Violet Blomberg.  She wrote on this photo that it was taken around 1913-1915.  She died in 2003, and she was 95 years old, a week from her 96th birthday.  This is Aunt Violet in Overton Park.  Back in those days, beyond the parkway was ‘out in the country,’ so everything happened around downtown or Overton Park.”

White Steamer car in Overton ParkThe White Steamer
Gwen: “That’s my grandfather, Oscar Blomberg, and his brother Frank, who owned the first car company in Memphis.  My grandfather Oscar worked at Memphis Power & Light.  My grandmother said that she was forbidden by her father to ever ride in the horseless carriage.  However, she met this cute guy from Sweden who had a brother who owned a car company, and they started going for rides.  From there, they got married and they had Violet and my mother, Virginia, and another little girl named Sylvia.  So this is a picture of the 1906 White Steamer.  You can see the pavilion in the back of the photo, so it’s probably up there on the Parkway side.”

White Steamer in Overton Park