Mature Life Features

Cecil Scaglione, Editor

Posts Tagged ‘jazz

Rhode Island Mansions House Opulent Past

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Doris Duke's "cottage"

Doris Duke’s “cottage”


By Pat Neisser

Mature Life Features

NEWPORT, R. I. — Most people, if they think about this town at all, revive images of robber barons and billionaires who invaded Newport in the 19th century and built “cottages” of 100 or so rooms that resembled European palaces.
These opulent mansions draw thousands of visitors, especially during the annual August Jazz Festival, Van Alen Cup tournament every summer at the International Tennis Hall of Fame, and the hundreds of fairs and activities staged each year.
The settlement was an early seaport in the 1630s that rivaled Boston and New York in the amount of shipping to far corners of the world. It’s much more laid back today. You can spend hours walking on Historic Hill or the Point, and chatting with homeowners weeding their gardens or repainting old shingles.
Cobblestones can make bike riding in town a bit rough, but you can pedal along the Cliff Walk, or the harbor. Still, walking among the restored buildings is a delight for any history buff. And the piers are packed with seaside eateries and shops housed in period buildings.
The schooner America sailed out of Newport in 1851 and defeated a British boat in a race around the Isle of Wight to win what became known as the America’s Cup. It remained here until 1983, when an Australian crew snatched it away before America  regained it four years later.
Although the trophy was not returned to Newport, the community has retained its position as a sailing center. You can take all sorts of cruises around the area, as well as paddle a canoe or kayak in the bay.
But a major reason many people visit Newport is still to see the historic mansions built during the 18th and 19th centuries by the wealthy. Some still are privately owned but are open to the public. You can view several of these from the outside or go inside by joining a group at the Newport Restoration Organization Office.
We dined with a group in the gold-encrusted ballroom at Marble House, built for William and Alva Vanderbilt by famed architect Richard Morris Hunt. Versailles has nothing on this mansion.
My favorite is Doris Duke’s 105-room Rough Point. Duke played serious piano and studied art in a studio crammed with antiques, mother-of-pearl pieces, and tapestries. The solarium, her favorite room, housed one of her pet camels during a hurricane.

(Newport, R. I., Convention and Visitor Bureau photo)

Mature Life Features, Copyright April 2004

Written by Cecil Scaglione

February 5, 2013 at 8:52 am

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

There are only two types of people in this world …

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… as I’ve tried to explain for about half a century: those who jump and jive, and those who don’t.

– Cecil Scaglione, Mature Life Features

Written by Cecil Scaglione

September 12, 2011 at 12:05 am

Posted in A Musing

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