Monday, February 19, 2007

Walkin' in Memphis

We spend most of our time at home in the country or our small university town, so E. and I were in need of an urban fix. Chicago is usually our first choice, but it’s been unusually cold lately, and we knew it would be worse if we went 250 miles further north. Why not head south?

That took us to Memphis, where we stayed at an artsy/lofty/quaint guesthouse called Talbot Heirs, just across the street from the famous Peabody Hotel—the place with the ducks in the fountain. It was a perfect location for an immersion into the city’s Downtown.

Friday night we had the requisite barbecue (and now I proclaim, Memphis reigns!) After that, we wandered in to the Blues Hall on Beale Street, a funky club dripping with history, where The Dr. Feel Good Potts Band played some of the best blues I’ve heard. We lingered there into what I thought were the wee hours. I was shocked when got back to our room and found it was only 10:45—but then it had been a long drive.

On Saturday we took the trolley to the National Civil Rights Museum. Walking up Mulberry Street, I kind of choked as I glimpsed the facade of the Lorraine Motel, an image that was seared into my brain in 1968 when Martin Luther King was gunned down there. The exhibits included a bus like the one Rosa Parks rode, a reconstructed Woolworth lunch counter and KKK robes. The displays tell such a troubling—yet inspiring—story.

I didn’t expect a great meal in a small city, but we both agreed Saturday’s dinner at Automatic Slim’s Tonga Club was among the best we’d ever had—anywhere.

I think my favorite experience of the weekend was buying a sweater and two shirts at Lanskys in the lobby of the Peabody. There are pictures on the wall of Mr. Lansky fitting Elvis in 1952. I asked the 80-year old guy waiting on me if that was him in the picture. “Yes,” he said. Then he went on to tell me he’d lived in Memphis all his life, and how much he loved his hometown. I told him that after just a couple of days there, I agreed it was a pretty great place.

On Sunday we had brunch with old friends Jeanne and Bill Goodrich who have retired back to their hometown. The experience was kind of “Old South” because men are required to wear jackets on Sunday at their place. Jeanne and Bill’s sunny, southern dispositions brightened our family’s lives when they were our next-door neighbors in Indianapolis in the 1960s and it was great to reconnect with them.



At 3:55 AM, Blogger DetroitGirl said...

Ah...Sunday brunch at the Kirby! Glad you had a good time in Memphis and thanks for the positive review.


Post a Comment

<< Home