My plan was Slave Haven and the National Civil Rights Museum. But I found out that there is at least one advantage for Facebook knowing your location. While scrolling through Facebook the day before, up popped several Memphis events. And one was the Christmas Parade on Beale Street. That sounded like something fun. I thought I could do all three in one day but it turned out that in my old age I have discovered something – vacations are for relaxing. In the past, I spent vacations running around from place to place, not wasting a minute. I thought that because of the money I had spent, I could not waste a second. But in July I spent a vacation where the majority of time I simply relaxed at the pool and it was nice.
After breakfast at the hotel, I walked to the Slave Haven Underground Railroad Museum, which was a little over a mile away. Normally I like walking, especially in a strange city, but I am older and my aches are worse and at some point I realized I had made a mistake but I managed to push through. You can read about my visit to the museum here .
The walk took me past the Fire Museum and through the civic area of Memphis and past a park and I could get a good view of the pyramid. And I liked the way the mailboxes were lined up outside these homes. It was 10am on a Saturday morning, so it was just me and the homeless, which seems to be true in any city when I walk through an area that is not a tourist area.
I took a Lyft to Earnestine and Hazel’s, a haunted dive bar near the National Civil Rights Museum. It was still early, so there were just a few people there. There is just one menu item – their Soul Burger (a cheeseburger with sautéed onions and a special sauce). You can get a single or a double. It comes with chips (choice of regular or flavored). The burger is very good – it reminded me of a Shake Shack burger. I did not get to experience the haunting but that was okay. The jukebox, which is sometimes controlled by the ghosts playing songs appropriate for the situation, was played manually by the customers.
I decided instead of rushing through the next museum, I would take a Lyft back to the hotel (again within walking distance but I am old) and rested a bit before walking over to Beale Street for the parade.
I got there about a half-hour before the start of the parade. People were already lined up and based on where I was standing, I was at the end of the route.
If I did not already know that I was in the South, this parade made sure I knew. Every grade school, middle school, and high school had a band, cheerleading squad, and dance squad. There was a Camaro club and a Corvette club with car after car after car after car. Miss Shelby County playing a violin. Mrs. Tennessee. Krewes. Secret Order of Boll Weevils. A truck from a disco came by. A lot of the floats were throwing gifts into the crowd – mostly candy. But the disco truck threw dollar bills into the air, which I thought was crazy and dangerous. Kids went running into the middle of the parade trying to grab them from the air and scoop them from the ground. The parade started on time at 3pm but I thought that was rather late, since it gets dark at 5pm. The long gaps between some of the acts meant the parade might even run longer. It also meant a lot of people left before Santa showed up because the kids were cold and restless.
The group I hope to join soon.
Dancing little soldiers.
When groups of trucks would go by emblazoned with a football team’s logo (Cowboys and Steelers were two groups that went by), the couple across from me with a 49ers blanket would start shaking their blanket in their faces.
Last photo because my phone died. Santa came soon after the Boll Weevils.
While walking back to the hotel, I realized I was hungry and I was trying to decide if I should stop somewhere on Main Street or order in. There was the bbq truck on Beale Street off Main Street. A diner that looked good. I ended up at the Hu Diner in the Hu Hotel. I started with a very nice buttery and fruity Chardonnay. Then a cornbread salad, which made me realize that I really do not like bread in my salad – no croutons, no bread of any kind. The shrimp and grits had a nice bite to them and were served with onions and peppers. The crawfish mac and cheese was a disappointment because the cheese was watery. I was not as hungry as I thought, so I ended up taking some of the food to the hotel and ate it later in the night while I was relaxing (!?!) and watching TV.
By Carene Lydia Lopez