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Lucy 1897


   The town of Lucy was founded in 1873 and was situated on the Memphis Paducah Railroad. It is believed to be named after Lucy Tice McDaniel Ralston who belonged to one of the first families to settle the area. While traveling the Mississippi they were driven up the Loosahatchie River by a storm. They used the wood from the riverboat to build their cabin.

   Lucy Baptist Church, 4005 Lucy Road, was established in 1870 at the “town hall” of the Township of Lucy, Tennessee. A frame building was erected in 1875 under an oak tree at the present location donated by John and Albert Duncan. Payment for the property was “in consideration of $1.00”. In 1870, Lucy Baptist Church was part of the Big Hatchie Association of Baptist churches; in 1903 she became part of the newly formed Shelby Baptist Association, which since 2004 became the Mid-South Baptist Association of Churches. The first recorded members joined in 1897. Baptisms in early days were held in the Loosahatchie River on Raleigh-Millington Road. Since then, several buildings and additions have been constructed to accommodate the church’s growth in membership and ministries.


   Three historic cemeteries are located within the Lucy community. Union Cemetery is located at 4393 Pleasant Ridge Road at Raleigh-Millington Road); Big Creek Cemetery at 6797 Big Creek Church Road; and Ralston Family Cemetery to the west at 3121 Ward Road.


   Lucy Elementary School, 6269 Amherst Road, was established in 1912 and is a public elementary school located near Millington in the Shelby County School District. It enrolls 487 students in Pre-K and grades 1st through 12th.


   The Lucy Opry was founded in 1967 by Doug Cole, Joe Taylor, DeWitt (Dee) Franklin, Bill Beck and others, who were looking for a place to play Bluegrass Music in Memphis. They had been meeting on a weekly basis at each other's homes for several years, until the gatherings had become too large to handle the numbers of people who showed up. They needed a "place" to play that could accommodate all the pickers and family members, as well as any interested spectators that might show up. The Lucy Opry was a Friday night gathering of Bluegrass musicians that was popular and opened to the public. It was held in Lucy from the 1970’s until 2009 when it moved to Bartlett.

   One day in 1967, Doug Cole was out looking for a practice field for the Little League Baseball team that he coached. He happened to drive by a frame building called the "Brunswick-Lucy-Woodstock Community Center" in the Lucy Community, on Pleasant Ridge Road near Millington in rural North Shelby County, and thought it might be a good place to use for a picking venue. He contacted the owner of the building and found out that the rent for the building was $4 per night. Doug got together with his musician friends and they began to rent the building on a weekly basis. The weekly meetings were always on Friday nights, so that the musicians could be free to play "paying" jobs on Saturday nights. They paid for the building rent by "passing the hat". At first, the only people to show up were the pickers and their families and the "rent" was paid by the musicians themselves. Eventually the word got around about the music and the family atmosphere and people began to come just to watch the informal shows.

   For a long time, the shows alternated between Bluegrass one week, and Country Music the following week. This was done to preserve the acoustical aspect of the Bluegrass Music and to allow the Country pickers a chance to hear and learn Bluegrass music. Most of the musicians just came to "Jam" on the Bluegrass nights, and soon the informal "Jam" sessions came to attract as many people outside in the parking lot, as did the "shows" inside. Many people found out that if they wanted to learn to play a Bluegrass instrument and learn Bluegrass tunes, that there were plenty of people in the parking lot who were willing to show them what they knew.

   Sometime around the Spring of 1974, the Lucy Opry was moved to another location at 869 Fite Road, where it stayed for many years. At this time, the alternating Bluegrass and Country format was abandoned, concentrating on Bluegrass only. The Lucy Opry stayed at the Fite Road location until 1982, and then moved to the Kiwanis Club building in the Raleigh area of Memphis until 1983. This building, although small, had a nice stage and was in fairly good condition, unlike the Fite Road location. In 1983, the Lucy Opry moved to the UAW Union Hall, near the International Harvester plant in Frayser, where the Opry stayed until January of 2000.

   The "amateur" aspect of Lucy has continued under the banner of The Memphis Area Bluegrass Association, who sponsor several weekly "picking" events and who also help run the show at the Bartlett Performing Arts Center (BPACC.org). Each performance of the Lucy Opry opens with a filmed presentation of the "early days" at Lucy, taken at the old Fite Road site. Doug Cole narrates this presentation. It is a fitting tribute to the tradition that was established by Doug and the other "pioneers" of The Lucy Opry, and serves as a bridge from the present to the past "Glory Days" of Lucy.

Note: With contributions from Valerie Barfield, Shelby County Historical Commission


For more about Bluegrass Music in the Memphis and Shelby County area,
go to www.memphis-bluegrass.org




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