Harold Fortune deserves credit for opening some of the best-known ice cream parlors in Memphis.
Born in Kentucky, he moved here with his parents in the early 1900s, when they opened the Fortune Ward Drug Company on Main Street. As a boy, Harold noticed that the soda fountain was the busiest part of the pharmacy, so when he grew up, he went into the ice cream business.
His first establishment was the one you see here, a rather posh ice cream parlor and restaurant that he called Fortune's Belvedere, since it was located at the southwest corner of Union and Belvedere. This mission-style drive-in dished out hot dogs, hamburgers, shakes, and sundaes, with the ice cream made right on the premises.
In the 1960s, the place closed so the property could be used entirely as the Fortune ice cream plant (later sold to Midwest Dairy), and Harold moved farther west, opening his famous Jungle Garden on Union, a tropical-themed oasis in the heart of the city.
He also opened Fortune's Cotton Boll (sometimes spelled Bowl) on East Parkway, right where Sam Cooper intersects it today.
It's sort of ironic, I guess, that expressways put an end to establishments that were designed to attract people in cars. But the north-south interstate (and the resulting bridge over Union Avenue) put an end to the Jungle Garden, and the planned extension of I-40 through the zoo caused the demolition of the Cotton Boll.