PrologueWhat we are doing, and why we're doing it!
Memphis has a soul of music. The beating heart of the city is Beal Street. It's only a few blocks long, but the energy that flows from it permeates the entire city. It's an energy that has all of the sorrowful beauty of the Blues. The city, like the music, is a melange of racial strife, friendly people, and unfulfilled hopes and dreams. It's also the home of the King, Elvis Presley.
We visited Beal Street on our first evening in town, a Monday. As we strolled down the street we saw at least one live band playing outdoors on each block. Mind you, this was around 5 o'clock on a Monday. If Beal has that much going on early Monday evening, it's hard to imagine what Saturday night would be like.
We decided to eat at BB Kings place (mostly because of the sign advertising Catfish). Ownership of a restaurant by a famous person is of dubious benefit. The name will catch your attention, but you have to hope that's not all they're selling. As it turned out, BB Kings put on a wonderful feed! The catfish was great, the ribs were better than the 'award winning' rib joints that we'd visit later.
The entertainment after dinner was also memorable. The band (led by an 84 year old guitarist) was great. A debutant in her pearls and black dress who wanted to take over the show, and a couple of rednecks in jeans & t-shirts dancing with amateur strippers made the people watching almost as much fun as the music.
Memphis was also the first place that we took a city tour. This one was on a restored WWII landing craft called a Duck. We got a good review of the downtown area. Many of the notable mansions were included, as was a short tour of the city's waterfront from the middle of the Mississippi (remember, we were in an amphibious landing craft). The tour also passed by the hotel where Dr. Martin Luther King was shot. It's been converted into a Civil Rights museum. A woman has protested the conversion of the hotel to a museum instead of a homeless shelter. She has been living on the street across from the museum since the hotel closed, 17 years ago.
While we were in town, we took the opportunity to have our generator repaired so we could enjoy the luxury of Air Conditioning when we weren't plugged in at an RV park. Generators are odd critters, being both mechanical and electrical. The problem with ours turned out to be particularly hard to find. Fortunately, we had a written estimate so we ended up getting 12 hours of work while only paying for 4.
Memphis is home to the Mecca of music, Graceland. Folks really do make pilgrimages to pay homage to the King of music. Elvis also has a special place in our family. Barb's mom was nuts over Elvis. She would have flipped at the thought of going to Graceland, so we had to pay a visit. Some local folks had also recommended that we visit to go people watching, if nothing else. They said that it was common to see Elvis impersonators on the tour. While we didn't see any 'Elvi' on our tour, it was fun.
Next stop, Nashville!