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Taking Care of Business - Reunion 2018

Memphis, TN


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Wow!  Who knew there was this much to do in Memphis Tennessee??  With just a little bit of preliminary research, many points of interest popped up for consideration.  After much more research, enough key venues were selected to fill the Event schedule and then the fun began of working everything in such a manner to fit the flow of a good itinerary.


Everyone except Redeye and Cheryl checked in the first day.  We all met in EP’s Bar at the hotel for a Social Meet Up before dinner where schedules were distributed.  Our transportation method this year was again using Uber ride shares that worked so well in New Orleans 2016.  It worked out very well again and is a great way to avoid the cost of personal vehicles, parking fees, taxi delays, city transportation schedules, etc.  Uber usually arrived for pickup within 5-8 minutes.


We then Uber-ed to our first destination, which was for dinner at BB King’s Blues Club on Beale Street, originally opened with the legendary B.B. King himself playing nightly.  BB’s is a renowned Memphis Barbeque eatery and Blues music purveyor with, you guessed it, a ready supply of adult beverages which reminds me of the 3 monkeys…I have no personal knowledge of our group participating in such debauchery – I swear!  Everyone was starving, but we endured the wait to be seated.  Our doorman, after a generous tip, was able to get us two near stage-side tables which afforded us a great view and bombarded eardrums!  The food came in piles, yes literally piles of meat on the plates, but it was delicious and worth the wait.  After we ate, we went outside onto the famous Beale Street to take in the local nightlife action, very reminiscent of Bourbon St, complete with street acrobatic performers and large crowds, most all a bit younger than we.  Then it was an Uber ride back to our new home to bed down for the night, thus ending our first day in Memphis.  Well, I am told in confidence that some had a nightcap in the lobby lounge with more catch-up visiting, but once again, three monkeys.


Day two started with a fantastic, huge buffet breakfast in Delta’s Kitchen restaurant at the hotel, then it was off on a bus guided city tour with Memphis Best Tours.  Slapper had to get home, so he and Maggi departed early from the hotel to start their drive.  Our tour driver was excellent with all the knowledge he shared as we traveled around the city hitting all the major points of interest.  This was scheduled first so as to give a preview of some of the places we were scheduled to spend time, but to my surprise, the tour was much more inclusive and informative.  One great stop was at St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.  While there, we spent some time at the co-located museum, learning about Danny Thomas and his influence and love of the children and the hospital he greatly helped support for many years.  Another unexpected tour stop by our driver was the Peabody Hotel, complete with us getting to witness the morning march of the Mallard ducks to the lobby fountain.  Later they would march back to the Penthouse at the end of the day where they live.  What a hoot that was and has been a tradition at the Peabody since the 1930’s.   From there we got dropped off at a little hole-in-the-wall soul food café called Willie Moore’s for lunch.  Quite an off-the-grid experience, stand in line service, paper plates and cups, but again the food was great.  One block away, we walked to the pedestrian bridge that would take us out to Mud Island River Park, a small island in the Mississippi that contained different attractions, the most notable being a 5-block long scale model of the entire Mississippi River that you can walk along or wade in.  The pedestrian bridge was probably at least a half-mile long to the island, so some of our walkers pooped out and wound up in rocking chairs near the end, thoughtfully provided by the Parks Dept, for a rest break before the hike back to our Ubers.  Since we were “out of season” we did not get to pedal the swan boats, nor use the tram for that trip to the island.  Redeye and Cheryl arrived at the hotel in the afternoon to join the reunion group.  For dinner on day two, we Uber-ed to the Pyramid and one of the restaurants within, Uncle Buck’s Fishbowl & Grill.  Everyone ordered off the very reasonably-priced menu with fish and seafood, entrees other than Memphis barbeque.  By the time we finished dinner, it was getting late on GDT (geezer daylight time), so everyone passed on the bowling and pool shooting to kick back at the hotel.


After another Delta’s Kitchen breakfast on day three, it was time for our audio tour of Graceland, the home of Elvis until his death.  It was a very enlightening and sobering tour to be in the actual home where he lived all of his adult life, except while he was in the Army.  The tour culminated back at the museum where all of his cars, airplanes, motorcycles and many other “toys” were on display for our amazement.  Our next planned event was an Uber to the Victorian Village area of Memphis where the centuries-old homes still stand, most in a grande state of repair.  We visited the Mallory-Neely House which had been almost totally restored to the original state, including the furnishings of the period…a day trip into the past lives of the very rich for sure.  Dinner on this day was planned as a paddle wheeler River Dinner Cruise on the Mississippi for everyone to enjoy.  The cruise was about 3 hours in length and after dinner, the warm balmy weather made the sitting and visiting on the open decks delightful.  A live band and a dance floor were available on the upper deck, but none of our party took advantage of that.


Day four started with an Uber to the “Best breakfast in town” according to online sources, as well as the signage at the restaurant, Brother Juniper’s Café.  Being a Sunday morning to dine out, there was a significant wait to be seated, but the weather was great and the company even greater, so there were no internal group fist fights or hair pulling.  Cheryl honchoed the seating list progress with the hostess to keep the system honest.  Following breakfast, some folks went to the Zoo as planned, but most went on their own to other venues or back to the hotel for free time.  The lunch at the Cat House Café did not happen after such a huge breakfast.  The next event was Sun Studio, a recording studio where Elvis got his first recording audition with the tenacious help of the company lady receptionist.  Many other greats in rock and roll and blues also recorded their music there, including Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, Ray Harris and others.  Even today, Bruno Mars has also recorded there…quite humbling to see this meager building, certainly nothing fancy, with this much history and still plugging along.  Some folks also took in the National Civil Rights Museum which is located in the same motel where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated, the Lorraine Motel.  To see the same line of fire that James Earl Ray took from his rented apartment across the parking lot from the balcony motel room the Dr. was staying in, was very sobering, as well.   Our evening of the last full day began with a Social Hour in EP’s Bar at the hotel, followed by our closing dinner in a private area of Delta’s Kitchen.  By happenstance, Sue and I were celebrating our 51st Wedding Anniversary of October 7th.   As true friends, Jim & Masayo were very gracious to buy champagne for the whole group and hoist a toast to us.  Very moving for both of us.  After dinner, I presented a brief synopsis of our Night Rustic Reunion History to date, followed with a brief Memorial; the name reading and a single chime in remembrance for each of our Night Rustic comrades at arms, who have departed before us.


Monday morning the fifth day had our farewell breakfast at Delta’s Kitchen once again, following which all members of the group prepared and departed for home.  All those attending expressed high kudos to Sue and I and to each other regarding the success of this reunion, hopefully another Mission Accomplished for Zeke and Redeye!  We would like to personally thank everyone who made the physical and financial effort to attend.  That is no small task at our later age, so you folks are greatly appreciated.  And to all of you who did not attend, PLEASE consider attending the next one in 2020.  It could be your last chance, or our last reunion, as no one knows the future!!!

-- Capt Zeke D, Reunion Chm.