Photo credit: Bruce N. Meyer
Anchored on the banks of the Mighty Mississippi River in the
central U.S. is Memphis, Tennessee, the land of blues and Elvis and barbecue,
among other treats. A getaway to Memphis is a sultry, low-key experience, where
folks try not to work up a sweat except for when their native son, Justin
Timberlake, is in town or when the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies are rocking it on
the hard court.
Your getaway must include the Peabody Hotel, whether to
enjoy a Four-Star, AAA Diamond getaway in a historic property, or just for the
celebrity watching in the lobby. The commotion starts just before 11 a.m., as
hotel guests and visitors gather around the marble fountain and the bar is busy
with orders for Bloody Marys. One of the
elevators is roped off and a red carpet extends from the elevator to the
fountain. The excitement is palpable as people ready their cameras and jockey
for a better position.
Then right on time, the elevator doors open and out comes
the celebrities everyone is waiting for – five mallard ducks who waddle their
way to the fountain, up a carpeted stairway and splash down for a day of play.
And that’s it folks, the show is over until 5 p.m. when the
ducks return to their rooftop palace for a nice evening out of the spotlight
their celebrity brings them.
They’ve been parading ducks through the lobby of this
historic hotel for more than 80 years and nearly every day is the same – a
lobby filled with people speaking a dozen or more languages who have come from
around the world and across the country to see these magnificent ducks. If it’s your birthday or another special
occasion, check out the opportunities to be Duck Master for a Day!
The Peabody is located about three blocks from the famous
Beale Street, in its heyday, the hottest spot in the city to catch the rich,
soulful sound of blues floating through the air. B.B. King’s and the Rum Boogie
Café are today’s hot spots. There are some great restaurants serving soul food,
but also make time to visit A. Schwab, a funky old mercantile store that’s
reveled in the Beale Street mojo since 1876. This is the only original business
left on Beale Street.
You’ll find a mish-mash of everything for sale on the two
stories here and that’s part of the fun. There’s vintage clothing and
old-fashioned candies, along with an old-fashioned soda fountain. The soap
collection is pretty rare and apparently includes several lines that Mr. Schwab
Music fans also come to Memphis for the Stax Museum of
American Soul Music in the middle of a neighborhood that brought the world
Isaac Hayes, Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin and Booker T. & the MG’s, among
It is a neighborhood that defied racial barriers in a time
when those barriers were as electrified as any place in the country. White and
black musicians performed together creating an original sound that knew no
boundaries or barriers. Color didn’t matter. See Isaac Hayes’ gold plated
Cadillac, dance to episodes of Soul Train, and learn how it all came to an end
when Martin Luther King was assassinated just a few blocks away.
National Civil Rights Museum
And if for no other reason, go to Memphis for the National
Civil Rights Museum and the Lorraine Motel, where Martin Luther King lost his
life to hatred and bigotry. Stand in the
room that James Earl Ray rented and look across the block at room Room 306. And
then follow the efforts of law enforcement officers from around the world who
helped bring the assassin to justice.
The museum includes city busses from Montgomery, Alabama, and
lunch counters from throughout the city. If you are too young to remember why
those items are important for a museum on Civil Rights, then you are blessed to
be living in a better time, in large part because of the sacrifices made by
Martin Luther King and others and what happened on the streets of Memphis.
Go there and pay your respects.
What interests you most about Memphis?