I am looking over a high stone wall at Graceland, once the home of the King of Rock N’ Roll, Elvis Aaron Presley.
I can’t see much from where I am, and don’t have the time or interest to tour the mansion, so I just take a picture or two and leave, though I do gawk at his rather large private jet (a 707?), the “Lisa Marie” before we leave Memphis.
I always liked Elvis. It seemed like to me he was one of those rare decent fellows that remained a pretty nice guy in spite of his fame and fortune, and yes I liked some of his music too, and, though it was mostly before my time, you could just see he had a certain quality that nobody else did. He put everything together in a total package that was irresistible to a generation of fans: throaty voice, great looks, nice moves, good rhythm…and he helped put Rock N’Roll on the map and brought it right into living rooms and big screens all over America, and without him a whole genre of music would be much poorer. Though his death became a tragedy, his legend lives on. Rest in Peace, Elvis. We remember you.
We came up from Memphis via the short drive from Hernando, where we see my Uncle Rex. He’s a handsome guy even now that he’s bedridden. Aunt Betty says he took a fall when she wasn’t watching him carefully enough.
“Make sure you send that to Hollywood”, he chuckles with a bright gleam in his eye as I snap his picture. We chat a short while, but it’s obvious Betty wants to limit our time with him. Today’s one of his good days. There are other times when he’s “out of it”, and the Dementia gives him fits of fear. Better to remember him this way, I’m told.
Uncle Rex is 81 and, though he’s actually my dad’s half-brother, they never thought of it that way. They’ were all just family to each other, and you can tell that when you hear him talk of their childhood.
In one of them, my Dad was charged with turning off the battery power to the old farmhouse back in the days before anyone was on the electric grid. If you didn’t shut them off at night they’d run down too fast, and they were kept for safety reasons out in their own shed. One day, he forgot, and his Mom (my grandma) thought she’d teach him a lesson. So she grabbed a sheet and threw it over her head and waited at the shed for my Dad. When he got there, she gave him a fright. He thought he’d seen a spirit and came running back to the house to tell Rex, who was in on the joke. He was still laughing all those years later.
Rex retired from Life of Georgia as an insurance manager and was living in a nice big house until Betty just couldn’t do everything by herself anymore. Now they live in a small apartment and she frets that she can’t take care of him. So she’s moving again, this time to where she can get family help, and will pay to have someone look after him. You can tell that the burden is wearing on her, though she doesn’t complain.
We don’t have much time to spend here, and I don’t think Betty can handle much in the way of company anyway, so we take our leave after only a half hour or so and head north to Memphis, where we see Elvis’ house and also grab a bite to eat at Tom’s Barbecue.
We have a split decision here. Memphis is famous for its Q, and I just don’t think this lives up to the hype. Jonathan and I have the same dish, the rib tips, which were recommended by “DDD”, but whereas I loved the sweet tangy sauce, I didn’t think the tips provided enough meat to bother with and were a little dry, while Jonathan gave the tips good marks for moistness but agreed they were short on the good stuff. We both loved the baked beans, but I thought the slaw was a little too sweet, though admittedly this is just a personal preference. I would give this place a thumbs down, Jonathan a thumbs up. Too bad he gets no vote in reality. Thumbs down it is!
From Memphis, we head south and east through Tupelo and Birmingham before ending the day in Troy, Alabama, which is only about 40 miles from my old high school alma mater, and stay at the Econo Lodge, which is too noisy and lacks good Internet speed. About $70 with tax.
Tomorrow is the last day of the trip. BYE!
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