Mature Life Features

Cecil Scaglione, Editor

Posts Tagged ‘rock ‘n’ roll

“The King” still Reigns in Faulkner Country

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11tupelo05AElvis at 13

Story & photo

By Sandy Katz

  Mature Life Features

TUPELO, Miss. —- The two-room dwelling where Elvis Presley came into this world still stands in a park here. Other local sites important to the formative years of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll include Milam Jr. High, where he won his first talent contest; the Tupelo hardware store where he bought his first guitar, and Tupelo fairgrounds, where he performed early in his career.

There are other aspects of culture and heritage of the Magnolia State handy, such as the nearby Tupelo National Battlefield, a reminder that many of the Civil War’s fiercest battles were fought on Mississippi soil. North and west of here is Holly Springs with its historic antebellum homes. Between these two communities is Oxford, immortalized in writings of William Faulkner, and the picturesque campus of the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss).

The Depression Era house where Elvis Presley was born in January 1935 was built by his father, a dairy farmer, for $180. Originally wallpapered with newspapers, each room now has flowered wallpaper and one lightbulb. In a 1957 hometown concert, Presley donated the proceeds to buy his birthplace and 15 surrounding acres. Elvis Presley Park now includes a memory walk where residents detail their recollections of the singer, a museum that traces his road to fame through a collection of his clothing from riding boots to a Las Vegas jumpsuit, a chapel, and an “Elvis at 13” bronze statue depicting him as a young boy in overalls with guitar in hand.

An annual Elvis Presley Festival the first weekend in June brings music, food, and fun to downtown Tupelo. Musicians from around the country play the music that influenced Elvis and music that he influenced. Among the festival events are a motorcycle show, pet parade, movie-
poster exhibit, and recliner, walking and bicycle races. When not singing, Elvis collected cars, often giving them away to friends. The Tupelo
Automobile Museum complements the nearby scenic made-for-cruising Natchez Trace Parkway. The 100-plus vehicles in the museum range from seven-horsepower models that could barely make it up hills to juiced-up Thunderbirds, Plymouths and Pontiacs. From the Fabulous Fifties,
there is a Corvette the color of Marilyn Monroe’s Technicolor-red lips, Mercurys and Buicks the color of lemons, and Packards and Edsels that really were lemons.

The Natchez Trace Parkway Visitors Center and Headquarters includes a giant mural depicting the history of the 444-mile route linking Natchez to Nashville. Designated a National Scenic Byway and an All-American Road, it is open year-round for motorists, hikers, and cyclists and offers visitors the opportunity for an unhurried trip through time.

With 64 antebellum properties in a landscape dotted with historic sites, magnificent homes, and wrought-iron fences, nearby Holly Springs draws thousands of visitors annually during the last week in April for the Holly Springs Pilgrimage. Guests are greeted by locals dressed in period costumes who provide detailed history about the homes, such as Walter Place, which was home of General Ulysses S. Grant.

Just off the town square is Graceland too, which attracts music fans to what possibly is the largest collection of Elvis Presley memorabilia on the planet. Owner Paul McLeod, who has been called the world’s number one Elvis fan, has spent more than four decades collecting every conceivable item related to the King. He and his son, Elvis Presley McLeod, offer tours every day around the clock.

Faulkner fans flock to Oxford hoping to tap into what’s left of the Deep South and the Southern psyche. Downtown Oxford still looks like it did when Faulkner used it as a stage for his characters. The Nobel laureate was born in nearby New Albany and spent the last 32 years of his life here at Rowan Oak, a stereotypical antebellum home on the edge of the Ole Miss campus. The house has the rumpled appearance of the author, who wrote here such masterpieces as “Absalom, Absalom,” “Light in August,” “The Sound and the Fury,” and “Fable,” an outline of which scribbled in the author’ hand remains on the study wall. The university library’s Faulkner Room contains his Nobel Prize and some of his original manuscripts.

Mature Life Features, Copyright 2005

Written by Cecil Scaglione

November 25, 2013 at 7:35 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