An Historic Day

A target rich environment! Custom car on Beale St, Memphis
Camera: Panasonic DMC-GX7 | Date: 23-09-2014 19:38 | ISO: 3200 | Exp. Time: 1/15s | Aperture: 5.6 | Focal Length: 12.0mm | Location: Beale Street National Historic | State/Province: Tennessee | See map | Lens: LUMIX G VARIO 12-35/F2.8

Day 3

The drawback of being a stone’s throw from the airport is somewhat curtailed sleep as the flights start at about 4.30. Oh well…

First stop is a fabric shop on the outskirts where Frances buys some tassles, and we find by accident a flag shop where we manage to replace several of our older flags. Then we drive back to the centre via Summer Avenue which suddenly within one block transitions from tired commercial properties to very expensive-looking leafy suburbs.

In the centre we get coffee at the old and very elegant Peabody Hotel, whose central lounge fountain has been home to a bunch of ducks since an incident involving drunk hunters in the 1930s. The amount of duck merchandise is staggering, and their “walk of fame” outside has the stars’ names picked out with webbed footprints.

We decide to walk up to Sun Studios, and spend half an hour in the tiny recording room where so many great careers got started. The seven block walk in each direction probably just about cancels out the chocolate duck served with coffee. Then it’s back to the waterfront restaurant for a catfish sandwich for lunch – Memphis is seriously bad for the waistline!

The Cotton Museum is mis-named. It should be The Cotton and Blues Museum. It’s the only place in Memphis where we see an acknowledgement that it took musicians from Kent and Surrey to break down the barriers and make blues a universally-accessible artform.

A walk along a very quiet historic Main Street brings us to the Civil Rights Museum, which is closed. However we don’t have to go in to appreciate its location – the Lorraine Motel where Martin Luther King met his untimely end. So much for the promise about no more graves!

In general Memphis seems to be trying to quietly forget the days of discrimination, which seems a bit disingenuous, but maybe that’s what is required for a society to heal.

Dinner is taken at B B King’s Café, with a very good blues band who manage to make even Bill Withers songs sound like Cream. Throughout the meal Frances is occasionally squeaking as old cars turn into the pedestrian Beale Street, and we come out to a custom car show which fills the street for three blocks. Another “target rich environment”.

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