Tuesday, April 23, 2013

FAMOUS PEABODY DUCKS AND BEALE STREET-MEMPHIS.

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When you enter the Peabody Hotel anywhere near 11:00, one elevator is closed off for the ducks. The Peabody is a famous hotel where many presidents and dignitaries have stayed. But they encourage everybody off the streets to come see the March of the Ducks.
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From the mezzanine, we watched the duckmaster roll out the red carpet.
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And from above we watched the ducks  scurry to the fountain to the music of a John Phillips Souza March. We waited  along with crowds of others with their cameras aimed.
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Five Mallards swim all day in the posh lobby fountain water and are given the same public march back to the elevator and up to their penthouse on the roof at 5:00.  It started in 1932 when hunters staying at the hotel put decoys in the fountain water as a prank. The guests loved the decoys and eventually they tried live ducks at the suggestion of a  former circus trainer who worked at the hotel. He became the duckmaster. He trained them to perform their march without deviating and that was his new job until his death. The ducks are “on duty” five months of the year,  and are then returned to a local farm to be replaced by five new ones  for the next season.
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Like all upscale hotels, you can find lovely shops in the building.  The Samuel Nathan Galleries has three shops on the premises. Above is a carved  seven-foot ivory tusk. I’m guessing that it is ivory, I didn’t ask. they are probably ancient rather than new.
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This part of the gallery wasn’t open, but the proprietor allowed us in to take pictures to share.
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This elephant has a price tag of $25,000. We only had a few minutes to give you an idea of the maharaja’s treasure in this shop.
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I was attracted by the eggs after having recently purchased mine from Vivian Alexander. Eddy, the manager,  immediately offered to buy mine from me.
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I know I’m going on and on about these exquisite pieces, but the hotel is more than ducks and shops. The history from the first Peabody in 1869 to the present tells interesting  stories. You can take a guided tour of this little city in a building. Be sure and stop. This was my second visit to the Peabody and we skipped the tour. You can’t go everywhere the tour takes you but signs around the hotel allow you to hit the high spots on your own.
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The famous part of Beale street is only about three blocks long. B.B.Kings place is here and plays blues musicians on a regular basis. He is no youngster. I saw him in concert in Murphys probably five years ago. He has a female singer that tours with him, walking with a cane, she has to sit to sing, but can she still belt out the tunes. It was marvelous. I asked workers at the club to remind me of her name, but they were clueless, just young kids.
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We are day trekkers but this street is alive and humming at night with music galore pumping out of these joints thick enough to swim in.  From us, you get the signs and a day walk. This sign?
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The entire inside is just like the sign. Guitars and banjos hang from the ceiling with the names of musicians who have played here. Pretty phenomenal. They take their blues seriously in Memphis.
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The neons  are a spectacle at night.Ya’ gotta walk Beale at night.
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I think this saloon is where the expression came from.
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We stopped and talked to patrons getting sidewalk service at the PIG. They specialize in smoked meats, pulled pork sandwiches, etc. The smells were divine but we avoid red meats. They did have some turkey leg smoked, but we weren’t quite ready to eat just then. Prices on Beale St. are inflated.
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We met near this building a homeless guy named Geno. He was pretty charming and told us he was born here, this is HIS city. He liked to try to climb the steel struts holding up the facade of this building  when he was a kid. He told us a lot about the buildings on the street, kind of like a tour guide. Eventually, he politely asked for a handout, assuring me he didn’t use alcohol. I gladly handed him five bucks. I guess everybody knows I have a homeless brother who  also must get by on charm.
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The patio at Sulky’s was closed, but Geno pointed out the two goats who cavort for customers and climb the tower and pose on the steep walkway. They were out of site of the camera just then.
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There are historic markers here and there along the way.And a park with a statue of  William Christopher Handy.
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They’ve gone Hollywood by placing a musical note for notable musicians in cement. Geeno told us Jerry Lee Lewis’s note embedded in concrete is the only one with hands for his ostentatious piano playing. Geno pointed us in the right direction but we never did run across it.
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Like New Orleans, it has some outrageous even risque signs and products.
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All in fun. This sign is in the window of the store, Strange Cargo.
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And in a town full of musicians, a guitar player may want a toilet seat shaped like a guitar.
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Or something glitzy with a pink Cadillac. We saw one shaped like a piano keyboard. Hey, this is Beale St. home of the blues.
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And there were a couple of blues musicians playing on the street for tips.
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Some beautiful old buildings. This theater gets a second life as a place to hold weddings and other events.
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And on Geno’s  recommendation,we walked two blocks up  2nd street for a kind of scruffy looking fish place.
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On the inside, they post pictures of a great catch from local fishermen and women on their liars wall.
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They have odes to hundreds of catches on their billy bass adoption center. We guessed correctly the fish would be fresh and good and it was.
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And,they are savy enough to know that not everyone wants their fish fried. My grilled catfish and veggies?  Delicious. Good ole’ Geno, didn’t steer us wrong. Kind of interesting that we were looking  at  maharaja’s treasure in the morning, and enjoying the street people in the afternoon. All in a day’s work.
Click the link for more pictures.

https://picasaweb.google.com/106530979158681190260/2013422PeabodyHotelBealeSt

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