Mature Life Features

Cecil Scaglione, Editor

Memphis Ducks Add Color to “Home of the Blues”

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By Sandy Katz

Mature Life Features

While Memphis calls itself the “Home of the Blues” and “Birthplace of Rock and Roll,” it retains an unhurried approach to life along with a healthy sense of humor. Nowhere is this more apparent than at the Peabody Hotel, a dignified local landmark that refuses to take itself seriously.

Twice a day, a flock of mallard ducks carry on a tradition dating back to the 1930s. The pampered Peabody poultry parade on a red carpet to the sound of a John Philip Sousa march on their way to the hotel lobby’s central fountain. After a day of frolicking and feasting on gourmet goodies, they waddle back  home with the same ceremony.

The marching mallards are only one of many attractions in an around the hotel that’s the city’s social and business hub. Peabody Place, an indoor entertainment center next door, has 22 movie screens, plenty of dining and shopping opportunities, and a museum that features changing exhibits from various eras.

In sharp contrast is the National Civil Rights Museum at the nearby Lorraine Motel where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. This facility is dedicated to letting the public understand the lessons of the civil-rights movement and its worldwide impact on the human-rights movements.

It features such pioneers as Rosa Parks in an exhibit that a Montgomery, Ala., 1955 city bus and walk past a lifelike statue of Rosa Parks sitting in a front seat, where “she didn’t belong.” Her action is a landmark in American civil-rights history.

The Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum in the Gibson Guitar Building in the Beale Street Entertainment District houses the Smithsonian Institution’s artifacts, photos, words and music that tell of the rebellious hearts and echo the times that shaped “the Memphis Sound” rising from its Mississippi Delta roots in the 1930s. You’ll see B.B. King’s first “Lucille” guitar, and costumes worn by such performers as Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley.

Called the holy ground of American music, Memphis produced the top 20 hit songs by Elvis, Otis Redding, B.B. King, Jerry Lee Lewis and other music legends..

The Chucalissa Museum, a National Historic Landmark combining an archaeological park with a museum. Re-created amidst nature trails and picnic areas is a pre-Columbian community – an abandoned Choctaw village where Native Americans lived long ago.

The region’s natural and cultural history comes alive in the Memphis Pink Palace Museum and IMAX displays. A major feature is the 1920s mansion of Clarence Saunders, whose Piggly Wiggly self-service grocery store was the forerunner of today’s supermarkets.

Memphis also claims to be  the “Barbecue Capital of the World” and the World Championship Barbecue  Cooking Contest  is held here each May.

But it’s back to the Peabodyd Hotel for the crème de la crème of Memphis restaurants: the Mobil four-star Chez Philippe. Exotic sauces, aromatic spices and exquisite presentation make this gourmet establishment the epitome of classic French cuisine.

Mature Life Features, Copyright 2003

Written by Cecil Scaglione

May 1, 2012 at 8:55 pm

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