VOL. 10 | NO. 38 | Saturday, September 16, 2017
September 15-21, 2017: This week in Memphis history
1998: Closing of the Wonders series exhibit “Ancestors of the Incas” at The Pyramid.
1973: New York Dolls and Iggy and The Stooges at Ellis Auditorium.
WATKINS OVERTON (City Hall Portrait)
1950: A shuffle on the City Commission as Louis Grashot resigns. Meeting in special session at the Shelby County Courthouse, the commission votes to make fire and police commissioner Joe Boyle the commissioner of finances and institutions, and appoints Memphis Police Chief Claude Armour as the new commissioner of fire and police. By the time the changes go into effect Oct. 1, Boyle is not happy with the transition and accuses Mayor Watkins Overton of trying to build his own political machine apart from the one of E.H. Crump, which Boyle was closely identified with and unerringly loyal to. Boyle held the politically important position of city poll tax collector starting in 1922 and moved to fire and police commissioner in 1940. Overton’s ally, according to Boyle, was Bert Bates, owner of a car dealership and commander of an American Legion post. Bates’ son, Guy Bates, was a secretary to Overton. Overton would give the younger Bates a $100 monthly pay raise, and Boyle, in his new role over city finances, refused to sign the checks. Armour was considered a Boyle protégé, which meant he was a part of the Crump machine. Overton would respond to the moves on the commission by the Crump loyalists by publicly calling for a “strong mayor” form of government, including more mayoral appointments and mayoral veto power over commission actions. Crump responds by saying, “No good man would want that authority and no bad man should have it.”
Source: “Mr. Crump of Memphis” by William D. Miller