Sunday, February 07, 2016
Through a series of unexpected events, my family and I ended up celebrating my parents’ wedding anniversary on an Elvis-themed cruise. We weren’t quite sure what to expect, so I packed a few sequined garments "just in case" (you never know when you might need to blend in with a host of Elvis impersonators).
We started in Memphis, where we toured Sun Studio - Elvis’s first label was the Sun Record Company - and posed for pictures in the old recording studio:
I also managed to sneak in not one but two visits to the Memphis Zoo before we embarked:
One of my favorites - river otters! They roamed around, surprisingly, in a tight pack:
Serendipitously, a penguin went into attack mode just on the right side of the frame:
We also visited the National Civil Rights Museum, at the site of the former Lorraine Motel. A wreath commemorates the site of Dr. Martin Luther King's death:
One highlight: an October 1964 journal with a cover story "The First Negro President: The Man" (described as "The New Bestselling Novel":
Onboard, we were pleasantly surprised to find that sequins were entirely optional! We saw no Elvis impersonators at all, but we heard an interesting talk by one of his former bodyguards (whose sister dated Elvis for a while), and most evenings, the musicians sang "Kentucky Rain" and other favorites.
Stops on the way included Natchez, where we attended a program on “Southern Hospitality” at the lovely home of Regina Charboneau:
At Vicksburg National Military Park, we saw the USS Cairo, which was resurrected from the Mississippi River and displayed with the surviving portions mounted within a wood frame intended to evoke the vessel's original lines suggested (a method known as "ghosting"):
We learned a lot about the devastating 1927 flood, and some of the bad choices that made it even worse, including attempts by townsfolk on opposite sides of the river to undermine the other side's levees. A PBS video (transcript) shown at the 1927 Flood Museum in Greenville, Mississippi highlighted the horrific local treatment of African-Americans during the flood. They were pressed into service at gunpoint, and were forced to stay in a badly organized camp on one of the levees -- even after several boats came to evacuate them.
The smokestacks folded down when we went under bridges:
The paddlewheel, at night: