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Berry Tramel


Memphis travelblog: Pride in a city

by Berry Tramel Modified: May 1, 2014 at 11:05 am •  Published: May 1, 2014

I am always amazed at the response to my travelblogs. Whether I’m going to Miami or Memphis or Ames, people seem to really enjoy reading about travels. And you don’t have to be stationed next to the beach. An Iowa cornfield is just as enrapturing.

And I’m always intrigued to hear from the locals about the places I’ve visited. Like this email I received from a Memphis resident the other day:

“I just read your recent blog/article and am a Memphian who would love to show you more of Memphis than you find in the little two (2) block area we call Beale Street.  Please consider this an invitation to spend the day with me on Wednesday/Thursday when I suspect you will be back here to cover Game 6.

“I am a lifelong (except for the 25 years I was gone) Memphian who would love to show you the sides of my city that many people don’t get to see.  We are a city that probably has a bit of self-consciousness because we have seen so many nationally publicized bad times.  We have had problems with the Klan, are the city where James Earl Ray decided to murder an innocent man in hopes of killing a dream, and the city where thousands flock every January and August to remember another king.  But, regardless of what others think, we are a city that loves each other as family.  We are blue-collar, generally, but we have family members who have given birth to the modern supermarket, Holiday Inn, Federal Express (aka FedEx), ServiceMaster, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, AutoZone and scores of other success stories.  We are a major medical device manufacturing area, a major transportation hub, and a place where a lot of nice people live.  We are also a people who are generally waiting for the other shoe to drop since we have seen so many dreams die so close to reality.  Do you remember the 2008 UM Tigers NCAA run?  But for the sake of argument, I ask you to provide the name of another city of our size (600,000) that has had so much impact on the U.S. cultures of the 20th and early 21st century as Memphis.  From music, to civil rights, to transportation; I believe we are the most talked about and sung about city ever.  Do you remember Johnny Rivers, Otis Redding, Stax, the Memphis Horns, 3-6 Mafia?  Our blue collars and our grit bothers many and, while it may give them something to make fun, we are ready to take on any problem we must face.  We are a family.

“This is a serious offer.  I look forward to sharing my Memphis with you.  No holds barred.”

The guy signed his name and left his phone number. Seemed like a good guy and I would go on Thursday, if my schedule wasn’t jam-packed. Thunder shootaround at 11:30, google hangout (video) at 3 p.m., need to blog a couple of times in between.

But I appreciated the offer and told him to get with me next year, when the Grizzlies and Thunder no doubt will rematch for some overtime waltzes.

I also received ideas from readers all over on where to eat and what to see — one friend told me about Elmwood Cemetery, which offers guided tours at a price of $15.

Anyway, we’re back in Memphis. Drove over Wednesday, a relatively uneventful (and quick) trip.

We stopped at the same Okemah in Sonic for a snack, where one of Sonic’s few irritants arose. I routinely order a junior double cheeseburger — not the junior double cheeseburger deluxe. I prefer the former. It reminds me of the old Hardee’s cheeseburgers I ate when I was a kid. The deluxe has mayo and tomato and lettuce. Nothing at all like the regular junior double. Sonic bats about 75 percent on getting it right.

We stopped at a rest area about 40 miles into Arkansas. Maybe the most gorgeous setting I’ve ever seen for a rest area. Set atop the Boston Mountains, overlooking the hills. Arkansas is a beautiful state.

The Burden and Johnny Damon shared the driving, so that RFD, A.C. Slater and myself could finish up our work. The mobile newsroom was in full force.

We didn’t reach Memphis until about 9:30 p.m., and we watched the final five minutes or so of the Brooklyn-Toronto game on some pirated website from overseas.

We checked into our hotel and didn’t go looking for something to eat until about 10:15  p.m. We ended up back at Blues City Cafe, the all-night diner where we dined last week and last year. It’s decent, not spectacular. They gave us a good table next to a couple of televisions — we were joined by some OKC television friends — and also were next to the room with live music. Most joints on Beale Street have live music.

Strange sight, though. About 11 p.m., here came a woman with three girls, ages probably 11, 4 and 3. They sat at a table next to the music room and obviously were listening to the music or waiting for a musician. Didn’t seem like the best environment for three girls, but who am I to judge? Beale Street on Wednesday night is a shell of itself compared to the Saturday night shennanigans, but it’s still hopping to some degree.

We watched the rest of the Houston-Portland game, then I went back to the Holiday Inn Select and hit the sack.


by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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