Search

Category

Memphis, TN

2019-05-31 – Traveling West – Little Rock, AR

Today we get to add another State sticker to our map:

img_3107img_3108

We have pulled the Villa through 40 States!  Next year we hope to add eight more!

We left Memphis this morning and drove to Little Rock Arkansas.  We had originally planned to stay in a great urban RV park, right on the river, directly across from the Clinton Presidential Park and Library, which are accessible via a pedestrian bridge.

Unfortunately, the Arkansas River was at record flood stage; the RV Park, the pedestrian bridge, and the park were all flooded and closed… The Library was still OK, but not by much…

img_3094

We had been forewarned of the closure by the RV park, so we were fortunate to find “courtesy parking” right downtown in one of Little Rock’s charming older neighborhoods; we parked in this back yard, right in front of another Airstream…

img_3081

We walked downtown via Main Street; Little Rock has a population of about 200,000 people and is quite nice…

img_3082img_3083img_3084img_9056

The flooding was really extensive, but nothing in downtown was threatened…

img_3100img_9057

img_3088

img_3085

We toured the Library…

img_3093

I’m always drawn to the interesting cars…

img_3096

The Library was typical of presidential libraries we have seen… I was great, blah blah, blah…

So we headed back into downtown, and stopped for a drink…

img_9061

or two…

img_3106

We Ubered back to the Villa; an enjoyable time was had by all…

2019-05-30 – Traveling West – Memphis, TN

Today was a day of contrasts…

First the silly:

img_3030

The RV park is right next to the Graceland Visitors Center, so we sort of had to visit… Of course, I never miss an opportunity to visit an interesting house, and this one certainly qualifies…

img_3060

We toured the first floor of the house, and visited the basement recreation room.  Elvis bought the house in 1957 and lived here for 20 years until his death in 1977.  Every room was outrageously decorated in the latest 1960s and 1970s style.  I won’t insult your eyes to show many pictures…

The 15′ long sofa in the Living was impressive…

img_3036

Dining Room has china remarkingly similar to our own…

img_3038

The kitchen is total 1970s…

img_3039

The “Media Room” has the latest in TVs…

img_3040

The record collection!

img_3042

The racquetball court!

img_3053

The property is quite beautiful… over 13 acres…

img_3049img_3048

The grave site of Elvis, his mother and father, and his grandmother…

img_3059

Something I had not known:  Elvis had a twin brother who was still-born…

img_3057

Not sure what this guy is doing on the roof…

img_3052

We left the house tour and returned to the Visitors Center and walked through the exhibits… The only interesting area that I liked were all of Elvis’ cars… Continental Mark II, two Mercedes 600 limousines, MGA, a few Cadillacs, and more…

No photos though…

We returned to the Villa, and caught an Uber into an area just a few blocks south of Downtown…

 

We were unprepared for this…

img_9020img_3062

Those of you who are my age (or older) know what this is…

img_9022

The Lorraine Motel went into bankruptcy a few years later, but was purchased by a local non-profit in 1982.  Today it is the site of the National Civil Rights Museum…

img_9024

The museum was very sobering.  Starting with the history of slavery, then moving on through the eras of the build-up to the Civil War, the war itself, Reconstruction, and the Jim Crow era.  It clearly outlined how the 13th amendment ended slavery, the 14th amendment granted citizenship to all former slaves, and the 15th amendment guaranteed the right to vote for all citizens.  That was 1870.  Except that in 1877 the Reconstruction era ended and the Federal troops left the south.  One by one the southern states all ignored the US Constitution and rewrote their state constitutions and laws to take away these rights and to mandate racial segregation.

Apparently no one in the Federal government cared, nor did the Supreme Court…

In 1896 the Supreme Court (nine old white men) ignored the amendments and, in Plessy v. Ferguson, they gave the green light to “separate but equal”… Jim Crow was now the law in the south…

The museum continued through the world wars, and finally Brown vs Board of Education, in 1954.  The case for integrated education and the elimination of “separate but equal” (which was always unequal) was heard before the court in 1952, but a highly divided court couldn’t make a ruling.  Finally, with Earl Warren newly sworn in as Chief Justice, Warren wrangled the other justices into a unanimous decision and the Supreme Court (nine old white men) said that “separate but equal” was unconstitutional.

Again, the southern states refused; in 1955 the court mandated that that they all comply.  It took Federal troops at the University of Mississippi to enroll James Meredith in 1962, it until 1963 that the University of Alabama admitted its first black students, and the State of Mississippi finally eliminated their “colored” schools in 1970.

The museum continued with the Freedom Riders, and Woolworth lunch counter sit-ins, the Montgomery bus boycott and Rosa Parks.  And the Children’s crusade. And the KKK.  And the church bombings.  And the lynchings… As I said, it was a very sobering exhibit.

The museum ends with visitors walking past and viewing the room where Martin Luther King was staying when he was shot…

(As good as the museum was, it dealt strictly with African Americans in the south.  There was no mention of discrimination of against Chinese in California, or of segregated schools in Massachusetts…)

We then walked across the street to see where James Earl Ray fired the single shot that killed Dr. King; the boarding house is the brick building beyond… The entrance tunnel leads to the basement; we went to the top floor…

img_3067-1

The bathroom window where the shots were fired…

img_3069-1

The view of room 306 in the motel…

img_3068-1

The exhibits in the boarding house are all about the search for Ray.  Even though there were FBI agents watching Dr. King along with 11 Memphis city police at the fire station across the street, Ray escaped.  He wasn’t captured until six weeks later, in London.

I had read an extensive book many years ago on James Earl Ray, and his six weeks on the run, and all the conspiracy theories…  We didn’t need to spend much time here…

But now it was late afternoon… We walked to downtown Memphis, about five blocks away…

We found Beale Street; home of the Blues…

img_3076img_3071img_3072img_9025img_3070

We found the ballpark, but didn’t stick around for the game…

img_3074img_3073

We had a drink at the Corner Bar at the Peabody Hotel…

img_3077

And we had dinner at Cafe Society, a nice French Bistro…

img_9026

We returned to the Villa, and an enjoyable time was had by all…

 

2019-05-29 – Traveling West – Nashville and Memphis, TN

Yesterday we flew back from Redlands to Nashville.  We Ubered back to the Villa in Franklin, KY… It was still there…

img_2854-1img_2853-1

Our host invited us to his patio where we shared a few bottles of wine…

img_8869-1

This morning we waved, “goodbye” and headed south, towards Nashville.  We were going to visit Hermitage, the plantation home of Andrew Jackson, the 7th president of the US… The house was built in the early 19th century, like most plantation houses… It is set in 1,100 acres of “park” land, although in Jackson’s day it was a working plantation, earning Jackson his money via cotton through the the hard work of slaves…

img_2954img_2957img_2959img_2960img_2961img_2964img_2962img_2965

As lovely as it is, the mansion was originally built as a simple house, but it burned down in its early years.  The house was rebuilt, but after Jackson became president, he had the house enlarged again and remodeled to its current Greek Revival form… thus these awkward “false fronts”…

img_2966img_2967img_3021

As was common at the time, economy often was a big feature; these “stone” columns are actually wood, with a faux-finish added to resemble stone.  At least they now have internal ventilation to reduce the likelihood of rot, mold, and wood deterioration…

img_2968

The trim around the doors was also wood with faux-finish…

img_2969img_2970

At the rear of the house the columns are allowed to look like wood…

img_2996img_2995

Hermitage had an interesting museum telling of the life and times of Andrew Jackson… Some interesting facts, firsts, and lasts…

  • He fought in the Revolutionary War (as a messenger, at age 13).  He was captured and spent time as a Prisoner of War (the only President to have been a POW…)
  • He fought in the War of 1812, and is known for his leadership in the Battle of New Orleans, the final defeat for the British in the war…
  • He was an orphan with no surviving siblings by the age of 20…
  • Both South Carolina and North Carolina claim his birthplace location is in their state…
  • He was the first Representative to Congress from Tennessee; he also was a Senator from Tennessee… He also became a Tennessee Supreme Court Judge…
  • He was the last President to have personally known all prior Presidents (Washington, J. Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, and J.Q. Adams)…
  • He was the first President who was not from the American aristocracy; all prior Presidents were born either in Virginia or Massachusetts…
  • He was the only President whose parents were born outside the country…
  • His wife was a bigamist and adulteress; she died just before Jackson’s inauguration; he never remarried…
  • He adopted two Native American children and raised them as his own; he also raised at least 8 foster children.  He was also the leader of the harsh and brutal removal and relocation of the Native Americans that lead to the “trail of tears”.
  • He was an unapologetic slave holder, and he did not free any of his slaves; all records do show that he treated his slaves relatively “fairly”, he kept slave families together, and he allowed them to cultivate their own gardens for their own use…
  • Jackson faced the threat of secession by South Carolina over “nullification”; South Carolina opposed the “Tariff of Abominations” and refused to comply; the crisis was defused when the tariff was amended, and Jackson threatened the use of military force if South Carolina attempted to secede.  (You would have thought that South Carolina would have learned its lesson that nullification and secession was frowned upon by the Union…)
  •  Jackson became the only president to completely pay off the national debt, in 1835…
  • In 1806 Jackson fought a duel with Charles Dickinson, whom he shot and killed..

The house tour was very interesting.  It is a fairly typical plantation “big house” in that it has a central hall with two rooms on either side, on both floors.  One unique feature of this house is that two ground floor rooms were bedrooms and there is a secondary hallway between the bedrooms leading from the central hall to a side door.  The house was enlarged when Jackson was president to add a large Dining Room on one side and two offices on the side of the bedrooms.  A back stair was also added at the side door.

The main central hall has this spectacular wallpaper:

img_2977img_2978img_8974img_2985

(Have you ever heard me rave about wallpaper???)

We were able to enjoy the balcony at the front of the house, which was a social space for family and guests…

img_8981img_2989

(Hint:  That is not the ocean out there…)

We also saw the back porch, which was a work area for the slaves; this nice grassy yard was a dirt yard for pigs and chickens in Jackson’s day…

img_2996-1img_2997

An interesting note about the tours at Hermitage…

img_8991

“Uncle” Alfred was a slave, who lived almost his entire life at Hermitage.  This is his cabin:

img_3013img_8993img_3016

Alfred was in charge of horses, one of Jackson’s interests. (He raised race horses, even while President)…  As such, Alfred held a place of honor among the slaves, and he is the only slave buried in the family graveyard, which contains the remains of four generations of Jacksons…

After Jackson’s death in 1845 his adopted son, Andrew Jackson, Jr., let the plantation become dilapidated.  In 1858 he sold the plantation to the Tennessee government to repay debts.  The family was allowed to remain living in the big house.

In 1889 the Ladies’ Hermitage Society was formed to maintain Hermitage and to offer tours.  Some of the 3rd and 4th generations of the Jacksons were still living upstairs when tours of the downstairs began being offered.  Who was one of the first tour guides?  Alfred, the longtime slave!  Alfred lived to the age of 98, dying in 1901; he was a slave during Jackson’s presidency, was emancipated the Civil War, was a guide for tourists curious about this house, and still lived in his former slave cabin…

It was an enjoyable tour, but it was very hot.  We were happy to start our drive to Memphis…

We arrived in Memphis about 5:00, really late compared with our normal scheduling… We did find a neat little place for dinner:

img_9004

Uncle Lou’s was featured on the Food Network, and a version of Uncle Lou’s Fried Chicken is served at Playground, in Santa Ana, CA…

We returned to the Villa, turned on the AC, and turned in early…

And an enjoyable time was had by all…

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑