Met pretty Ashlyn Staggs wearing
her softball uniform. She and dad Jim who says he can eat all the
junk food he wants were at the gas station just before a game--or was it
a practice? Anyway her team is the piggly Wiggly Express and Ashlyn
can belt out a tune, so give her an audition for your next Tennessee wedding,
anniversary or party. She may be all of 10 but she's got big plans.
Hire her before she gets famous.
Drove too long yesterday and
made it to Bolivar, Tennessee where I pulled into the first motel sign
I saw. Signed up for a room but didn't have a very good feeling about
the place. When the key wouldn't open the door I figured that was
enough of an omen. Seno was crawling with guys like gnats in a Wisconsin
tomato patch. We hightailed it to the next motel and it wasn't a
bargain but at least we're both still safe.
Still I was awake at 4 a.m.
There's been a time zone crossed over at some point so that's not as ambitious
as it sounds. We were haulin' A (for Alyce) by 5:30.
Didn't know I was going to
make it all the way into Memphis today but the easy miles of Highway 64
(now my favorite road besides the lovely Merritt Parkway). This road
goes almost the length of Southern Tennessee, it is divided, finished and
Got a little tangled up in
early morning traffic but made it to the Graceland area without too much
stress. Had enough time to stop at the closest open restaurant and
that turned out to be MacDonald's. After I got what I needed, a lady
came in and had a hissy fit with the clerk and I was reminded that people
do get shot in MacDonald's occasionally so I split.
The very accommodating guards
at the asphalt acreage known as Graceland parking took Seno under their
wing and parked him in a "high eyeball" spot. Everybody who arrived
at Graceland this morning saw him--and that was probably about 2,000 people.
It will take me many pages
to describe the experience of seeing what i figured would be the pinnacle
It may take awhile for my eyeballs
Talk about CONTROLLING.
The only way to get in is on their shuttle and before you get on one, you
are told all the no's: no flash, no smoking, no video, no food/drink, no
pets, etc. you are given an audio thingy. Your bags are checked
and if you have a video camera, it will be locked up and held for your
return. Then you are photographed. You think maybe this is
for the souvenier photo for later (and that's right) but one security person
said it was part of the "head count." I'm not sure Elvis could have
gotten in. Probably not. No firearms.
Why "Graceland"? The
name, I mean. Well, it was a mansion on acreage and named after the
original owner's Aunt Grace. Elvis kept the name. He kept a
lot of other stuff too. You see the house as it was when he died
but in the basement you see a sampling of the other phases of decorating
he went thru--including the fake fur period, the red plush period and the
mirror period. Og. If I never see olive drab green shag carpeting
again as long as I live, that would be fine.
Did you know that Elvis had
a twin? Did you know he was 6'2"? Did you know he was raised
as an only child? How long has E.P. been dead--assuming he really
is? This amazing performer died at 42 and that was TWENTY FIVE YEARS
AGO! I was one of the first to arrive today and I was on the 4th
Elvis was generous with various
charities in Memphis and was the source of hospital bills getting paid
and more than anyone can even document. Well, looks to me like he
is STILL taking pretty good care of Memphis because so many people are
employed there. The place is fairly big (remember now I'd just come
from the Biltmore Estate...) but there appears to be a small army as guides,
clerks, drivers, landscapers, etc.
In the shops there are Elvis
guitar picks, sewing kits, his Last Will, his driver's license, a pendulum
clock where his legs swing, his image on a camp candle for the vigils and
my favorite: an Elvis cookie cutter for $10.99.
I probably won't have many
photos to share on this part of the trip. And all I bought was a
slider pen with a little Elvis that wiggles back and forth across a stage.
I braved the humid heat and
the dust to get to Mud Island. Sounds like a great destination point,
right? Well, it IS actually. There's a monorail to take you
over there and one of the coolest "sculptures" in the U.S. is the reproduction
of the Mississippi River sort of miniaturized with water flowing through
it in this park. Intriguing.
But I came for the plane.
I do hope my shots of the Memphis Belle turn out. Did you know that
when the bombadier took over, the pilot was NOT to touch the controls during
a bombing raid? Whoa! The pilot could get the controls back
when he heard "bombs away"! You look at this plane and you think
that KIDS were flying this thing--very young, handsome, scared Americans.
And it just seems impossible. Old war planes will squeeze the AWE
right out of you if you just stand and look at them for a little while.
I had my own cockpit to get
back into. There's a fine exhibit at The Pyramid but you'll have
to see it without me. The damp heat, the noise, the dusty construction
just taking its toll on my adventurous spirit. I'm insatiably curious
about nearly everything--when I'm half way comfortable. Today wasn't
Read about Alyce in the Elk
Valley Times: Click