Standing beneath the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis gave me chills. I was a junior in high school when Martin Luther King was assassinated in that spot. Because of the care taken to preserve the motel and the horrific violence that happened there against a man of peace, The National Civil Rights Museum was worth a visit even though we’d visited a similar museum in Atlanta just last year. One new thing I learned was that the motel’s owners, unlike most southern hospitality workers, welcomed people of all colors. The woman had a stroke when she learned MLK had been shot there. She died five days later.
I had goosebumps for a more pleasant reason at Sun Studios, where rock and roll got its start. Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Johnny Cash recorded there.
We had looked forward to BBQ in Memphis, but it was a bit of a disappointment. Though my ribs from Central BBQ were meaty and tender, the sauce was far from stellar and John didn’t care for his brisket and slaw at all. Best BBQ sauce I ever had? The Rev. Hopkins’ sauce at our annual spring BBQ at Thomasville High School. Talk about the right combo of heat and sweet! And in Tallahassee, the baby backs at Old Town Cafe rate high. Smokeybones, now out of business, had the best BBQ of all.
In Memphis, we parked our RV at Tom Sawyer’s on the Mississippi, where we could watch towboats pushing long, heavy loads up and down river, speculating about the goods they were transporting.