I grew up in Memphis, Tennessee, but moved away in 1986. I am ashamed to say that in the twenty-six years since I left, I have only been back a handful of times – the last being almost twelve years ago when I went up for my friends’, Gene and Kathy, wedding. (I stood up for both of them and was deemed “best chick,” which tickled the priest to no end and he threw in the words “best chick” as often as possible.)
I recently went back and would like to share my childhood hometown with you.
I flew up the morning of Wednesday, August 15, 2012.
The Memphis airport was built in the 1960s and designed to look like champagne glasses. (A theme that would not work in today’s prudish culture… and, I admit, perhaps is not the most appropriate message for a hub of transportation… but I digress.)
By 10:30am, I was in my rental car and heading downtown. I was supposed to meet Gene and Kathy for an early lunch (they both work downtown), but one of Kathy’s patients was late and we had to move it to a late lunch. So, I parked at the convention center and went for a walk along the Mississippi River.
This is Mud Island. The amphitheater faces the city and when you are there for a concert, you can see the city skyline beyond the stage and the city lights twinkling in the river. I met my high school sweetheart at the Men at Work concert at Mud Island in 1983. A couple of years later, I got kicked out of the INXS/Go-Gos concert on the island. (My then boyfriend had just returned from Mexico and brought back some tequila, which we drank on the way downtown. I did not realize how much I’d had to drink until it was time to get out of the car and I fell flat on my face as my legs did not work. Later, I left my breakfast, lunch AND dinner all over the walkway over the monorail. Not my finest hour… but I was young and stupid. Not that I don’t do stupid things now – I just don’t need tequila to do them! Hmmm - maybe that was an "over share"...)
I walked to cobblestones that lead to the river boats. I used to love school field trips on the boats. I even went to formal dance on one once. It was a lot of fun, but I remember the kids who didn’t make it on time and stood on the pier in their long dresses and tuxedos waving for the boat to come back. (It didn’t.) We stood by the rails and cruelly waved and laughed at those left behind. (Another bad confession!)
I walked further and arrived at the Front Street Deli. (For those of you who saw the movie The Firm, this is the restaurant where Tom Cruise’s character first meets the FBI (or CIA ??) agent.) I remember eating there with my father when he worked downtown. As I hadn’t had breakfast (I had to get up at 4am to make my flight and I wasn't going to get up earlier for oatmeal), I got a small salad and sat at the window and people watched. As it was Elvis week, there were plenty of interesting people to watch.
On my way back to the car, I came across this historical placard about Casey Jones and learned something new. I didn’t know that fateful trip started in Memphis.
On my way to lunch, I went past Sun Studio of Elvis fame.
After lunch with Gene and Kathy at Molly’s Mexican Restaurant in Midtown, I took a nostalgic drive down memory lane and went past my high school.
And my old grammar school...
And my old grammar school...
The strip mall where I had my first job at 16... I worked at a nurse's uniform store where the Cash Quick is now. There was a frozen yogurt shop on one side of it and a middle eastern deli on the other. The owner of the deli, Ray, used to bring me fresh pita bread - hot out of the oven - when I worked alone on Saturdays.
The owners of the uniform shop, the Millers, have retired to Knoxville, Tennessee. Last time I went to see my parents, they met us for lunch. You couldn't ask for a better first job or better bosses.
Then I went to my friend Susan's house where I stayed for the week.
While we were reminiscing, she pulled out some old photos I had never seen. Including the one below. We were in New Orleans bringing in 1990. The big hair and big glasses make me laugh! (And I now have dark hair and Susan is now blonde!)
A great start to what ended up being a great trip! I felt like a teenager all over again.