Memphis, TN

We went to see Grace Land – home of Elvis yesterday. It is a big house, but except for the 13 acres it sits on, there are many larger homes in the neighboring suburbs. It goes to show how much our expectations in housing have grown. In 1957, this was a big mansion; now its just a big house.

I am not a big Elvis fan, but I have to say, he was unique – without a doubt the most significant entertainer of the 20th Century. We shall not soon see his like again. More than thirty years after his death, thousands of people visit his house showing more reverence than they would at St. Peter’s. My kids were not born during “the King’s” lifetime, yet they and billions of people all over the world recognize him, or at least his caricature. I am convinced that one reason Bill Clinton was elected president is that he reminded people of Elvis because of his accent and some of his mannerisms. The tour of the house is well done. It is done via recordings. You push the number when you get to the appropriate display. You can’t bring your digital camera into the building, so I have no picture. Suffice to say that it is very 60s or 70s. After the tour, we had down home southern barbeque at the Elvis restaurant. The grounds at Graceland are very pretty with lots of nice trees. It is characteristic of the region.

Memphis in general is a nice southern city, with lots of big trees. I ran today through the green suburban streets shaded by oaks, tupelos and magnolias. It is much like tidewater Virginia or Carolina. You can recognize southern cities, from Virginia to east Texas, by the broad tree filled lawns and smell of the typical plants. I had to jump over a lot of debris. One reason the grass is so green is that there has been horrendous thunderstorms over the last week that dumped torrents of water on the region causing floods in low-lying areas. We missed it all, but benefited from the aftermath. Not only is everything green, but also the rain brought lower temperatures. Last night it got into the 60s, which is rare for the mid south this time of year. This morning, when I went running, it was about 80.

We are staying in the Residence Inn. It is much like the others, but not as nice. We are next to the railroad tracks. About ½ kilometer from us, the tracks cross the street at grade. It is dangerous for the cars and the trains, so the engineer sounds a warning a good ways before he reaches the street, about a ½ kilometer before in fact. Trains must have rumbled by at least ten times during the night. I tried to incorporate trains into my dreams, but it still caused me some unrest.

The tracks outside our hotel. A train goes by every half hour.