Charles Lindbergh's Visit to Memphis in 1927



If you were reading this thrilling, heart-warming blog waaaaay back in 2009 (and I certainly hope you were), then you might recall that I told about the day in 1927 when Charles Lindbergh visited Memphis. It was only a few months after his world-famous transatlantic flight, and the "Lone Eagle" had embarked on a cross-country tour in The Spirit of St. Louis to talk to various civic leaders about the advantages of air travel.

Lindbergh landed here at Armstrong Field on an October afternoon, and was driven to Overton Park, where he was greeted by some 100,000 fans. He gave free rides to a few VIPs (including the Lauderdales, I'm almost positive), then took off the next morning. All accounts of his visit mention the newsreel cameramen and newspaper photographs who captured his every move, and back in 2009 I wondered: Where are those photographs?

Well, one of them has finally turned up, as you can see here.

James Webster, now living in Galena, Illinois, wrote me a few weeks ago and told me this:

"I have an 8x10-inch glossy photo of Lindbergh taken on that visit. He is behind the wheel of a convertible, seated next to an unknown gentleman. My great uncle, William Lake Hayes (7/12/1891-9/13/1973), who was a Memphis city attorney, is in the rear, seated next to another unknown gentleman.

"As a child in the 1950s and early 1960s, I spent many summer days in Memphis visiting my grandparents, who lived on Oakview Street, near Lamar Ave. I would walk over to Uncle Lake and Aunt Margaret's house (at the southwest corner of Kendale Ave. & Burris St.) on the other side of the Southern RR tracks, to be regaled by his stories of the Boss Crump days in Memphis (while turning the freezer crank for my aunt's homemade ice cream).

"Other than my memories, I've been able to find very little about my uncle or his career in Memphis city government. As an amateur archaeologist, I'd certainly welcome more information."

Of course, I told him I was VERY interested in seeing the photo. When James sent it to me, he provided a bit more information about his family, and I thought I'd share that with you, because I am such a kindly old fellow:

"Uncle Lake is directly to the right of Lindbergh in the photo, his arm resting on the convertible top. I don't know the circumstances of the photo, or where it was taken. Perhaps it was taken by The Commercial Appeal, but there is no notation of that. I suspect because he was a city attorney, he was part of the official welcoming committee for Lindbergh's visit.

"He was quite the storyteller. From our conversations, now over 50 years ago, I vaguely remember him mentioning Lindbergh's visit to Memphis, but it was only on going through my father's things upon his death in 1992 that I came across this photo. A stamped inscription on the back says "Photograph by The Bluff City Engraving Co., Memphis, Tenn.). I have no idea who the other two gentlemen are. Also, to my knowledge, he never went by William ... it was always Lake Hays.

"The only other photo of Lake that I've come across is also attached (below). He is on the left in an extended family portrait taken in either 1929 or 1930 in the backyard of his residence on the southwest corner of Kendale Ave and Burris St. It includes his wife and son on the right, my grandparents, William C. and Mary B. Webster, their six sons and other assorted relatives, including Lake's father, who died in 1931. In May, I drove through Memphis en route to Baton Rouge and drove through the neighborhood. The color snapshot (below) is of the Kendale Avenue house today."

Thank you, James, for the wonderful photos. If I turn up more information about your family, I will let you know. And by the way, I've been to Galena, and it is a truly picturesque and fascinating town.


The Lake Hayes Family in 1929
  • The Lake Family in 1929

The Lake Hayes House Today
  • The Lake Hayes House Today

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