Shankerman, Lansky and Guy: Paragons of Sartorial Splendor and Nary a Barrister Among Them

Magical Madge in drag - see video! ?

Shonda Warner and Magical Madge Marley Howell at the Delta Ball in Clarksdale. Photo by Delta Bohemian

Shonda Warner and Magical Madge Marley Howell at the Delta Ball in Clarksdale. Photo by Delta Bohemian

(Clarksdale, Mississippi) By Poor William


Old-school retail customer service still exists in the world of men’s attire; just visit Shankerman’s in Clarksdale or bop on up to Memphis and check out Guy’s Formal Wear and Mr. Lansky’s “Mister Hats.”

Recently, Miss Del’s owner Shonda Warner hosted a Delta Ball at her Seven Chimney’s Farm near the famed Stovall Plantation. The affair? Black tie. It’s not every day a soiree in these here parts has men and “sometimes” hot chicks donning such formal wear outside of the 15 minutes high school seniors spend in their tuxes prior to changing into whatever this year’s crop decides to wear for whatever after party event they may or may not attend. Get the drift ladies and gentlemens!


Magical Madge and her unworthy, who-ain’t-so-groomed groom, the poorest of all known Williams anyway, attended the event as Man-and-Man—means Madge looked fantastic in drag. The Delta Bohemian publisher of mythical proportions decided a couple of days prior to the event that she would like to mimic the hot Kim Basinger wearing a tux for the adventurous Mickey Rourke in the hit movie Nine ½ Weeks.

Madge decided to rent a tux from Shankerman’s Men’s Wear Store on Yazoo Street in downtown Clarksdale, where he has had a store for a bazillion years. Poor William remembers shopping at Shankerman’s, Wiley’s (also wrapped presents there during Christmas) and the Brass Button.

Side note: Floyd Shankerman remembered Poor William and his erstwhile and slightly saner vato, Mr. Lil John Mckee, introducing him back in the late 70’s in the Abe’s BBQ parking lot one night to the beer bong.


Beer bonging involved pouring several beers into a large funnel attached to some clear hosing with the free end closed by the soon-to-be-toe-up funneler. With a heroic lift, the funnel is raised high into the air, while the hose is placed in the consumer’s mouth as copious quantities of cold beer careen like a high desert flash flood straight into the gullet and bloodstream of one proud young man.

How cool that Mr. Shankerman would “kick it” with some college-age kids—I think we were legal if any of our children are reading this—in a parking lot and remember it fondly. Poor William never forgot that night and he has forgotten most things, but he vividly remembers how interested Mr. Shankerman was in us as the children of parents who knew him and patronized his store and his level of interests in something new and something kids found interesting. Floyd has always been cool and someone who innately makes his conversant feel valued.

Poor William digresses…

Magical needed the tux by Saturday afternoon and it was Friday; there was not enough time to get it all done. Floyd, the consummate retailer, made a special call to the insanely busy Guy’s Formal Wear in Memphis. Guy Miller was no longer renting tuxes for the weekend. However, he did a favor for Floyd who did a favor for Madge. Floyd measured the couple for tuxes and Madge headed to Memphis two hours later to secure the black tie fodder Friday afternoon.

Madge does few things halfway. She wanted a dapper fedora and a mustache. The last item gave Poor William the willies, but she agreed to take it off after the party and before the loving began.

Guy sent her to Mister Hats, owned by a member of the noted Memphis Haberdashery Lansky family, who outfitted The King—Elvis the Pelvis, and his cousin Enis. Mister Hats, owned by Alvin Lansky, has been selling hats from his collection of over 10,000 for more than three decades.

Lansky had two employees who really knew their hats, per Magical Madge. One recent Ole Miss Rebel Pride of All the South Kappa Sig graduate, Blake H. Viar, and Hardy Phillips, a man who has been in the men’s clothing business for 52+ years—having worked first for Goldsmith’s in two different locations—rounded out the Mister Hats sales team. The service she received from three eager and knowledgeable salesmen who were passionate about hats was awesome. Mr. Lansky convinced her she needed a cane to complete the look. Poor William thinks they just knew how fine she looked in a pair of boxers and some patent-leather shiners!

What was next? The mustache. She had to go to a costume store for this one. The salesman was not enthused by her presence, until she began talking about mustaches.

No one but the Poor William who had to sleep with the mustached woman, Charles Evans who owns the Clark House, Floyd Shankerman and the fellows in Memphis knew that Madge was going to the party in drag. She was the belle of the ball or maybe the balls of the ball; thankfully, she left her balls at the event and took the mustache off before locking lips with the Delta Bohemian Love Machine.

Enjoy the pictorial experience. And remember, do business locally and with old-school retailers with well-above-par customer service skills. By the way, Guy and Floyd allowed Madge to keep the tux for a couple extra days so she could be painted in some of the garb—meaning all she needed was the shirt, and not all of that!

Need a hat? Go to Mister Hats! Need a tux? See Floyd Shankerman! Need some suave and debonair threads or some really cool jeans by River Road, go see FLOYD SHANKERMAN!!!!


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  1. Lazarus says:


  2. The hat I wore was what the gentlemen at Mister Hats called “The Godfather.” The brim on it was much more defined and upturned when I bought it. Because I was trying to mimic the iconic Kim Basinger in 9 1/2 Weeks, I reworked it by steaming and bending it. I hate to admit that as I am sure my new buddies at Mister Hats might be horrified.

    That all being said, it cost $65. There were so many wonderful hats in that store! I’m going back, for sure.

    Shankerman’s is a classic and Floyd a sweetheart. He knew my grandparents, Madge and Phil Thornton, well. I think that is why he jumped through hoops for me. He loved my mother, too.

    Those jeans in the photograph are less than $40 and quality. Shop Shankerman’s!

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