We arrived in the city of rhythm and blues in the rain.
The ride through a good chunk of Arkansas was pleasant and looked exactly like the foothills in rural NC. But just after the hills, our weather luck ran out and it started to rain – all the way to Memphis.
Most significantly, we arrived in time for the duck parade at The Peabody Hotel. A surprisingly large crowd was on hand at 5 PM to watch the five Mallard Ducks line-up and, to the music of John Phillip Souza, march (waddle) out of their lobby fountain, into the elevator and to their penthouse home for the night.
After the duck experience, we met-up with my good friend Paula from J-school, and headed over to nearby Beale Street for great conversation, drinks and dinner at Itta Bena, upstairs at BB King’s Blues Club.
When we emerged, the rain had stopped! So we took advantage of the break for a quick night tour á la Paula, including a Graceland drive-by. Paula had sent plenty of advance history info to prep us, and filled our heads with an explosive amount of Memphis history, politics and behind-the-scenes stories.
In the morning, we just had to see the ducks return to their fountain at 11 AM!
Then, on to more serious history, we visited the Lorraine Hotel, now the National Civil Rights Museum, and the site of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King. This marks the final stop of the memorial portion of our multi-week adventure.
After touring the Mississippi riverfront again (in daylight and with no rain), we headed over to the Little Tea Shop, a popular downtown spot. Established in 1918, the Little Tea Shop is on The National Register of Historic Places, and is the oldest continually operating restaurant in Memphis. Current owner Suhair serves up good food at reasonable prices and the daily crowds of locals prove it.
Alas, we said goodbye to both good friend Paula and Memphis and headed east for our last stop, Nashville.
Friend Paula Casey is spearheading the effort to document Tennessee’s significant role in women’s right to vote. A key state in the Suffrage movement, Tennessee cast the final vote needed to grant woman in the U.S. the right to vote – the 19th Amendment.
In late October, a major monument to these persistent Tennessee women will be placed in downtown Nashville. For more details and/or to support the cause, check out: www.tnsuffragemonument.org and www.theperfect36.com
You did get a set of Elvis Salt and Pepper shakers, I hope.