There are a few places in the United States that are still on the top of my list to go visit. I have done a pretty good job seeing the country, but there are gaps. One of the gaps until recently was Graceland, and Memphis, in general.
When describing myself, “Elvis fan” would not make the list of characteristics. But, I do love me some Elvis. And, I have always wanted to make the pilgrimage to see his house (and car museum, and plane). And, I was looking forward to a lot more than just Graceland: I wanted to see the duck parade at the Peabody Hotel, try Guss’s famous fried chicken, and listen to some music on Beale Street.
We got to Memphis, and headed directly to the Heartbreak Hotel, where we spent our first night. (We were actually scheduled to stay both nights there, but immediately upon checking in, we decided we needed a plan B.) Then, we taxied to Beale street, and got into the Memphis groove.
The next day we toured Graceland, which lived up to all my expectations, and then moved into the Peabody Hotel where we saw the ducks. The staff at the Peabody couldn’t have been friendlier and they directed us to Guss’s, where we imbibed several frosty beers while waiting for our table. The wait was worth it, that chicken was finger licking delicious.
The whole visit to Memphis, I was thinking about the latest Stephen King book which I had just finished, 11/22/63. In a nutshell, it is about a time traveler from the present day who travels back into the late 1950’s in an attempt to stop the assignation of John F Kennedy. I really enjoyed the book, and while it doesn’t take place in Memphis, it kept coming to mind.
One of the major takeaways I got from the novel was that while, in many ways, the late 50’s and early 60’s were a golden era in the US (the food was tastier, the beer was fresher, the air was cleaner, the cars better), it was really only a golden era if you were a white, Christian, heterosexual man. If you weren’t, you are a lot better off in 2012, no matter how good the food used to taste.