Saturday, 3 June 2023

Civil Rights Museum, Memphis

I hate saying this, but it feels like now, more than ever, it is so important to learn as much as possible about Black American history. I wish this museum was about racism "history" in the past sense, but am afraid it is very much in the present and in the future if we do not continue to challenge and change.

The museum is built on to the Lorraine Motel, room 306, the site of the murder of Dr Martin Luther King.  You can see the building above the hill from where he was likely shot.  You can see the firehouse where the FBI were staked out watching him and rushed over from when the shots were fired. 

The museum charts the evolution of Black people in America - recreating the horrific journeys on slave ships from Africa and their subsequent lives under the brutal leadership of their white "owners" through emancipation to early 20th century "separate but equal" education policies and their continued fight for true equality and EQUITY in the 1950s/60s/70s and onwards. And now.

I cried while hearing about the "Doll Test" and the little children thinking they were inferior compared to other children.  All because of being kept in separate schools. The only good outcome was that the results of that test, and other legal arguments, persuaded the Court that segregation in schools must come to an end (Brown v Board).  Putting that into practice bought its own set of problems of course.

But we got through that and get through today's problems we can and will.  But we must work together, and we MUST challenge racism wherever we see it and as individuals (well this is my call to myself anyway) we must challenge any inherent personal race biases.

We shall overcome.


Road Trip! 
We drove from Arkansas to Tennessee, arriving to Memphis in the early afternoon.

We stopped off at the visitor's centre which had a great view of the bridge across the Missippi River which we had just driven in across.

Next stop was the Pro Bass Shop in the Pyramid. A mad place altogether!

Here's a zoom in of the pic above

We toured the whole store, it is also a hotel too!  Vic bought a fishing rod and then we went up the lift to the viewing area

It was HIGH!  With superb views.

After that, it was check in time to our hotel (The Westin) and then on out to Beale Street for the evening.  I should mention that our hotel was in a fantastic location literally half a block away/backing on to Beale Street.


Beale Street

Day 1
We arrived to Beale Street on the afternoon of Wednesday, May 31 with the street practically empty.

Note the "no firearms" sign...

By early evening, the streets were lined with motorbikes as far as the eye could see.  Turns out that Wednesday is "Bike Night".  All the biker gangs turn out and hang out together, drinking beer and smoking weed.

It was loud as you can imagine...

We took ourselves off to Rendezvous for dinner - Vic, Patrick and myself.

And shared pitchers of beer.  Amy, drinking beer, imagine!
Vic & Patrick examined the beer list - not in detail I hasten to add - and randomly chose a beer which turned out REALLY NICE and ended up being Patrick's choice for the remainder of our time in Memphis.
And my choice whenever eating barbecue, lol:

Vic's friend Dennis joined us and we continued strolling up and down Beale Street stopping for a drink every now and again. Dennis lives and works in Memphis so it was nice to get the insight from a local.

Day 2
Our second day started with some time apart, I went to Graceland which I loved - read about my trip here.  And Patrick pottered around on his own, enjoying a typical lunch of crawfish!

That afternoon we met up at the Civil Rights Museum which was intense but important.

The evening was about music.  We strolled up and down Beale Street, doing a bit of bar hopping, stopping off wherever we heard good music. 

Silky O'Sullivan's had "ok" music

But it did have goats! Irish ones

Do you see that red brick building top right of photo - peering out from behind the Coors light parasol.  That is our hotel! That is how close we were to Beale Street.

My crappy camera does not do it justice but of course the street lit up with all the neon at night is beautiful.

Hot Springs

As they say, a picture paints a thousand words.  On this basis there is not much I can add to these fabulous photos below of our time at the Lakehouse in Hot Springs Arizona.

This is literally 5 minutes after waking up, Patrick jumped straight in a kayak.  I sipped my coffee on the upper deck enjoying the incredible views and atmosphere.

We spent our days fishingg


And just hanging out.
I may or may not, have spent some time sunbathing on one of those loungers on the left-hand side of this pic

Life is better at the lake!

More fishing. Caught nuthin'

Idyllic. Sheer serenity

We had a lovely day of sightseeing up the mountains (Ouachita) and the town of Hot Springs.  A particular highlight was filling our water bottles from the HOT thermal springs water.  When I say hot I mean HOT, practically boiling!! Like, you could not put your mouth up to drink from it like a drinking fountain!!
We also visited the Arlington Hotel and a Bathhouse museum which was very interested indeed. I was particularly taken with a hotel from the 1960's called the Aristocrat, unfortunately with a not so great story to tell in more modern times - it is now a low income housing unit with very poor living conditions from all reports :( (Poor AC and black mold everywhere).  I feel like the owner of the building could do better.... :( Have a google for full story 

Vic brought us to Stud Duck Brewery.  Which was supposed to be closed!!! Day after Memorial Day etc.  Vic put a call in and the owner kindly opened up and hosted us for an hour or two

The owner is to the left of this photo (duck yellow tshirt)
As you can see the bar/brewery is made out of three shipping containers.  Yes, one of them is an Evergiven container.


Vacation eats

A little photo dump of some of the fabulous foods we ate in Arkansas and Memphis.  I say fabulous because if you know me, you know that I loooooove meat and I love barbeque

This is our friend Vic's smoker!  He showed and told us all about it and recommended it so much that we are thinking of getting one for at home ourselves! Watch this space

Shoulder of pork.  Seasoned a day in advance, popped in the smoker in the morning....

....and 8 hours later ready for dinner

Rendezvous was so enjoyable that we went twice!

I drank beer!!! 
Patrick found a really nice one that both of us liked a lot - him so much that he drank it for the whole time in Memphis

Rendezvous ribs

Okay so not fancy but this is what I ate in Graceland.  This is the kids menu lol

While I was eating this, Patrick was eating MUDBUGS!  Aka crawfish or crawdads.  Fresh from the Missippi River.  No photo unfortunately.  He went to this fun little fish restaurant called Flying Fish which we had looked at the day pior - have a little google, a cute little spot!

Vacation Souvenirs

I'm not a big shopper when I am on holidays but I do like to bring one or two little items to spark memories in years to come.

I just thought this was a funny pic to post!  Whenever we come back after a few days away the poor little cat sticks to us like glue.  Here she is, sitting in Patrick's suitcase as he unpacks.

The main thing I wanted to get, after looking on the Graceland website prior to travelling, was a pint glass - on the right.  There actually was not a huge selection and some of them were a bit gaudy but I finally found the perfect one that I was happy with - I think it looks a bit retro too.

Check out the Elvis necklace around the pink coffee cup!

The cup on the left is plastic - I got it when I had lunch in Vernon's Diner paying extra for it.  It was both refillable and reusable so I thought it was great value. And then it was even better value because the guy on the till just charged me for a regular non momento cup when looking at my receipt later.

I also had considered buying a reusable coffee cup in Graceland too but they were not great - either cheap plastic (versus insulated aluminium/metal?? type) or else they were good material but very expensive.  Instead, on my last day I visited the Peabody again and I got myself the coffee cup and a coaster.  I also bought Patrick Rendezvous' seasoning (from the Peabody) and he was DELIGHTED with it.  Patrick can sometimes be hard to buy gifts for (he says he doesn't need/want anything) so I was delighted that he was delighted, lol.

Some better pics of my pint glass.  Thoughts?!


Like many people am sure, I have always wanted to go to Graceland. 

And here I am!

I didn't take a huge amount of photos because at the end of the day there are millions and millions of photos out there that are far better than I could take to show you.  Instead I decided to just soak up the atmosphere without the distraction of photographing.

I did however take a few snaps of things that interested me...  This is Lisa Marie's play swing set.  How cute and 1960's looking right?  Although, also very similar to the one my sister's and I had in the early 80's.

This boat engine was in an outhouse from the Graceland farm, as it was before Elvis bought it.  Elvis used this building as a little fun firing range.

Furniture out by the pool.  Look at the decoration underneath the coffee table - this is the same style furniture as my patio furniture that I recently blogged about!

Which parts of the trip were my favourite
1. Goes without saying, the House.  Although, ironically it was the shortest part of all the exhibits.  
Very moving seeing Elvis' grave and even sadder seeing poor Lisa Marie's tomb :(
2. The large exhibit about his extraordinary run at The International Hotel in Las Vegas
3. The exhibit of the jumpsuits and the evolution of their design
4. His planes. Sad that he made the massive purchase of the Lisa Marie Convair 880 in 1975 and enjoyed it for just 2 years before his death in 1977.

"Before Elvis there was nothing"
- John Lennon