Day Two, Part Two: Mayfield to Memphis

After leaving Louisville, we were on the road for about three hours.  Our next stop was Mayfield, Ky. , a very small town that we went through before we even noticed it was there.  As far as I know, people travel to Mayfield to see one thing – the Wooldridge Monument.  Located in the Maplewood Cemetary, this monument is referred to as “the strange procession that never moves.”  Henry Wooldridge, a Mayfield horse trader, commissioned 18 life-size statues of people and things that were important to him, including family, dogs and a horse.   Tragically, a tree fell on the plot during ice storms last year and caused substantial damage.  Only three of the human replicas and one dog are intact.  The town is uncertain at this time what to do about repairing the attraction.

About 45 minutes down the road is Paris, Tenn.  What else could be in a town named Paris other than a replica of the Eiffel Tower?  It’s located in a park off one of the main roads.  No, it’s not the exact size.

Patsy Cline Crash Site

Photo taken from the top of the memorial site looking down at the location of the plane crash, marked by a boulder that is barely visible here.

Our last stop of the day was a deeply personal one for me.  We stopped at Camden, Tenn., where Patsy Cline and three others lost their lives in a tragic plane crash in 1963.  Patsy was born in the next town over from where I was born and raised, and she returned there in death.  She is buried in the Shenandoah Memorial Park in Winchester, Va.  Every adult in my family has some sort of recollection of Patsy growing up – some good, some bad.  In any case, she was much more than a famous country singer in my neck of the woods – she was a real person.  Patsy often told her friends that she would not live to see 30; she died at the age of 29.  The site is about three miles off the main road that runs through Camden.   The area is a swamp surrounded by hills.  One can get a distinct impression of how difficult it must have been for rescue workers to retrieve the wreckage.  Whoever is responsible for the area has done a fantastic job at making it accessible for people like me who want to pay their respects.  At the top of the hill, there is a shelter with pictures of Patsy and newspaper articles about the crash.  There is a winding gravel path, which was covered with snow when we were there, that leads down to where the plane actually crashed.  A huge boulder lies at the bottom engraved with the names of all those who died – Patsy, Cowboy Copas, Hawkshaw Hawkins (all Grand Ole Opry stars), and Patsy’s manager, Randy Hughes, who was piloting the plane.  The boulder was covered with snow, but we were able to unveil the inscription using branches to brush off the flakes.  After lingering for some time, we left, and as I did, I felt like I had come full circle with a woman I didn’t know, but who had had such an impact on the area in which I was raised if not the people who raised me.

Two and a half hours later, we arrived in Memphis.  I was here once before, but my visit was very focused – I spent half a day at Graceland and then moved on.  As much as I liked that visit, this evening was much better.   After a brief freshening up, we hopped the trolley to downtown Memphis.  Charles Vargos RendevousThe trolley conductor and one passenger confirmed our destination for dinner was a good one.  Many thanks to my colleagues Linda Brigance and Kay McDonough for suggesting the Rendezvous for barbequed ribs.  Everything about this place is outstanding!  You know you are in for something special when you can find the restaurant by following the wonderful smell that leads you down an alley and into a basement.  The servers, dressed in crisp white shirts with bow ties, black pants, and long white aprons, sit on whisky barrels in a corner while waiting for and on their customers.  It is obvious that many of them have been here for years, if not decades.  Our server was absolutely wonderful and the ribs (labeled as the “main thing” on the menu) were like none I have ever tasted.  Service was quick and the price is reasonable.  And did I mention?  Patsy Cline was singing “Crazy” as we ate. 

We needed a walk after all the rack of ribs, beans and slaw (and we ordered the small serving!).  Across the alley is the famous Peabody Hotel, which houses a huge fountain in the reception area visited by live ducks between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m.  The ducks had already gone home for the night, but we enjoyed the bygone era of elegance that the hotel offers.

Two blocks down was Beale Street.  I enjoyed seeing the neon lights beckoning visitors in for drinks and live music.  Carriages resembling neon pumpkins offered to “make you feel like a princess” during a $20 ride.  (Note to self: find out why they are shaped like pumpkins . . .)  A statue of W.C. Handy, the “Father of the Blues,” can be seen along the way, along with the Brass Note Walk of Fame, brass notes inlayed in the sidewalk honoring those who have contributed to the blues and soul music.  The live music from one bar enticed us, so we entered the Beale Street Tap Room.  Awesome!  The band, 2 Weeks Notis, played Otis Redding to Jimi Hendrix, and lots of blues in between.  We could have stayed there for quite a while, but after just two beers we remembered we needed to take the trolley back.  It was 10:50 and I thought the last trolley was at 11:30.  We went ahead and left to be on the safe side; outside was a police officer who informed us that the last trolley was at 11.  Without much of a personality, he asked us where we were staying and we told him the Marriott.  “The Marriott?  Well, that’s a long walk.”  Very helpful, thank you.   We ended up running up the last block of Beale Street, not being able to really look at BB King’s restaurant, Black Diamond or Elvis Presley Park.  But just as we reached Main Street, the last trolley was coming our way.  Ten minutes later we were back at the hotel and I was able to start recounting day two.

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2 Responses

  1. Hope you enjoyed Mayfield – I’m a local!
    Famous Mayfieldians:
    Bobbie Ann Mason, author
    Kent M Robbins, songwriter
    Alben Barkley, V-P of the U.S.
    Kevin Skinner, America’s Got Talent Million Dollar Winner

    Wayne Youngblood
    Youngblood’s True Value

  2. Thanks for checking in, Wayne! We loved Mayfield — it seems like such a quaint town. It’s such a shame what has happened to the Wooldridge Monument — I hope it can be repaired in the future. Hope to get back that way in the future!

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