Monday, May 28, 2012

Beale Street Blues

Just returned from a wonderful weekend wedding in Memphis, Tennessee. I've never been to Memphis, though I seem to remember we drove through there on our way out to California in 1959. So, no real experience with the city renowned for blues and barbecue. And this occasion gave me the opportunity to do it up right.

I got to stay at The Peabody, the city's grand dame of a hotel. The place is massive, the lobby gorgeous, and the rooftop experience (for the wedding reception, dinner, and dancing) unsurpassed. And then there are the famous Peabody Ducks. What started as a prank in the 1930's is now a tradition that brings in hundreds of people from 11am-5pm daily. If you only have one shot at Memphis, do stay at The Peabody.

Didn't have a bad meal the whole time I was there. (Notice how my travels seem to revolve around food? Yeah, well.) Breakfast at Cockadoo's, lunches at Flying Fish and Blues City Cafe, rehearsal dinner at BB King's Itta Bena, and wedding dinner at The Peabody. Fish basket, BBQ ribs, shrimp and grits, and lots of wine and mojitos. Good eatin'. Missed getting to experience BBQ at Rendezvous, but - like Graceland - that will have to wait for another visit.

Beale Street consists of several blocks of blues and rock clubs, BBQ restaurants, and shops filled with all things Elvis and the blues. We witnessed a zombie parade as we were making our way into BB King's on Friday night, and by the time we got out several hours later, all the non-zombies were out in force (though I bet many of them looked like zombies the next day).

And then there's the mighty river. It's awesomeness comes from knowing how long it is, and that Memphis is just one town along 2,500 or so miles.

The only blues I encountered was the musical kind. I highly recommend the food and hospitality of Memphis.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Brainerd Bombers Fall in Line

Well, Reunion #2 with my elementary and junior high school girlfriends  is now just a wonderful memory - three days filled will laughter, tears, and lots and lots of food. Sort of like Reunion #1 (the family reunion at the farm). The only difference was the amount of booze consumed at #2. (Not to worry. We were up on a mountain and contained within a lovely log cabin. No driving or operating heavy machinery were involved.)

Alas, we all promised to abide by the sacred golden road rule ("What goes on the road, stays yadda-yadda"), so I can't pass along some of the best stuff. But, let's see. There must be something I can report. OK, here are a few harmless, yet adorable, highlights:
  • So many junior high events that we'd forgotten were remembered, thanks to Debbi's scrapbook - and I do mean "scrap' book. Newspaper clippings (back when every little thing got local news coverage) of awards assemblies, choir concerts, river boat parties, and home ec. fashion shows (love those swingin' 60's styles!) brought back lots of memories.
  • A hilarious game of Catch Phrase quickly turned into a game of Please Pass The Eyeglasses So That I Can Read My Clue. (That's not too much information, is it, ladies?)
  • We still know all the words to "Hey, Baby" and the Brainerd Junior High fight song, which we spontaneously broke in to during one of our photo sessions. (Why? Who knows?) But do not ask us to remember our children's middle names or our current cell phone numbers.
  • Actually, there was one incident involving the operation of`heavy machinery, but I can't tell you about it. However, I don't think it had anything to do with wine consumption.
We had such a good time that we vowed to make it an annual event and gather even more Barger/BJHS girlfriends. The more the merrier, especially since we're at the stage where we need a roomful of us to come up with one lucid fact. Now, one more time!

Oh, when those Brainerd Bombers fall in line,
We're gonna win this game another time.
For when the Brainerd team has got the ball,
We'll be the champions again this fall, this fall.
We're gonna fight, fight, fight for every yard.
We're gonna circle in and hit 'em hard.
We're gonna roll old Northside on the sod, on the sod.
Brainerd Junior High!

Wednesday, May 09, 2012


It's a season of reunions for me. Normally, I'm not big on reunions - at least, not the infamous high school type. But since neither of my springtime get-togethers involves anyone I sat with in Algebra II or fought with over the cropping wheel on the yearbook staff, I'm happily taking part. Not only taking part. Seems I'm one of the main instigators and planners of two reunions. (What was I thinking?)

Well, for both, I was thinking: Isn't it about time?

One, a family reunion (with my daddy's side) on the family farm near Nashville, Tennessee, was way overdue. It was the first time in almost 50 years that I'd been to the farm. The last proper Frazier/Pardue family reunion was in the late 1980s, but it was held at a park, not the farm. The genesis of the reunion idea was at Aunt Frances' funeral last August. It was obvious to all of us that it was high time to reconnect and celebrate the family and the family place.

So we just did it. Our goal was to make it as no-muss-no-fuss as possible. No years of planning, elaborate invitations, or food responsibilities. We got in touch with as many folks as possible via email, Facebook, and Evite, though I did hand-write two notes. We named the date, said "y'all come! and bring a side dish or dessert," and hoped for the best.

The weather was cold and breezy, but the gathering was warm and full of love. It was so good to see the farm again and walk down roads where I'd stirred up dust as a kid. It was good to spend time with cousins and Uncle Harold; why don't we see each other more often? It was fun meeting and re-connecting with more distant relations. I loved showing daughter Kate and grandson Liam their Tennessee roots, literally and figuratively. Yes, this long-overdue reunion was everything we'd hoped it would be.

And tomorrow I leave for reunion #2. So many girlfriends from elementary school and junior high had found each other via Facebook that we decided to stop posting "We should get together some time!" and actually do it. Like the family reunion, we put the invitations out electronically, and said whoever could show up, should show up. I'm looking forward to seeing friends from a long, long time ago. Like our slumber parties of yore (and I do mean yore), I'm sure we will have a Twistin' good time, unless someone breaks a hip.

Just a bit of advice. If you've wanted to get together with family or friends you haven't seen in decades, do it. It doesn't have to be elaborate. The hardest part is finding a place and date. And no date will work for everyone, but don't let that stop you. Life is too short to miss out on spending time with a scattered, spread out family or those friends who taught you to Twist or suffered through Willie Jones gym class with you. Just re-union.

Guess I'd better go pack. Wonder what I did with those spiffy mod pj's I used to wear to all those slumber parties?