no matter where you go, there you are

Thursday, October 6, 2011

wade in the water

Besides Graceland there wasn't anything else in Memphis that Molly or I were dying to do. We'd done a little research during our trek from the Grand Canyon but as we were trying to spend as little as possible, we wanted to find a cheap and interesting place. My aunt had recommended we go to the Slave Haven Underground Railroad Museum but there was also the Civil Rights Museum which is in the same building that Martin Luther King Jr. was shot. Decisions, decisions. Beale street was another option but that was going to be a drive-by. Neither of us cared that much to pay for parking and then walk in the scorching heat.

I think because of admission price we decided to head to the Underground Slave Museum which turned out to be a very good choice. However, as we never went to the Civil Rights Museum I can't say for sure that it was better. It took us a little while to find the museum and we were about to give up when we finally found it. There wasn't a distinct sign or anything to set it apart from the other homes in the the neighborhood but we somehow found it. Inside the back entrance was a collection of homemade trinkets and books relating to the Underground Railroad and Slavery. We purchased our ticket and was led into the front room whose walls were covered in quilts, pictures and prints. We were told to look around here and the other room while we wait for the "tour" to begin.

We ended up being the only ones on this tour so it was nice and personal. It began with our guide sitting with us and giving us a background on the house and its significance to slaves' escape during the 19th century. The house, owned by a white man whose name I can't remember, allowed passage of escape to numerous African-American slaves becoming a hero to many. He did own slaves himself but it was to maintain the image of fitting in with other white people so no one would become suspicious of his doings. Our guide was terrific. She told us stories, explained how they passed messages in quilts and songs, sang to us and made us feel quite at home. After the chat she took us down to the basement to show us the escape passage out of the house. They entered like anyone else would but then crawled through a teeny little hole in the basement and hid under the back porch until nightfall when it was safe to escape. All of the artifacts hanging up were fantastic and really added to the vibe of the museum. It was a great little non-commercial place I'd highly recommend to anyone in the Memphis area.

Afterwards we decided to drive by the Civil Rights Museum to see the iconic former hotel where King Jr. was assassinated and then do the driving tour of Beale St. The museum was nifty and they've worked to make it look frozen in the 1960s. Beale St. was a failure as it was barricaded off from driving down. Oh well, we did get a nice picture of it.

So that was the end of our day in Memphis. Before heading back to Mississippi and our wonderful hotel we stopped at the local AAA office to pick up Universal Orlando tickets with a small discount and decided to ask the attendant if she had any local food joint recommendations. She did, and it was a place only about a mile from the hotel so definitely not out of our way. It was a great recommendation and had an abundance of items you don't see on many New England menus. Fried catfish, fried green tomatoes...and plenty more. Now I'm not a big tomato person but the fried green ones were pretty tasty. And the catfish wasn't bad either.

1 comment:

  1. That restaurant was so awesome!! I still remember our waitress's name was Misty lol.