“People live here.”

That is what I used to tell my daughters every time we’d go to a town. North, south, east or west, each city, suburb, town or wide spot in the road is the home of someone, and it is not only important to them, but it helps make them what they are. No matter how small or random a place is, it is where people are born, live, eat, go to church, learn about life and die. Therefore it is an important place and should be treated with respect.

Last month, we asked about what our identity is as a person. This time we are finding out how where we are from helps create who we are

This month, we are dedicating to Memphis, Tennessee. It’s not a destination for many people, but nevertheless it has been an area that has influenced America in many ways. It has given us more than its share of writers, cooks, singers and musicians, and is the historic setting for what has made our country what it is, with all of the beauty and its dark side.’

Here is a list of reasons to visit Memphis and environs. Our family took a trip there a number of years ago and fell in love with its wide palate of attractions.

  • Stax Records-The (reconstructed) home of one of the most important record labels that gave us Booker T and the MGs, Otis Redding, Sam and Dave and the Funky Chicken.
  • Gus’ Fried Chicken, or Uncle Lou’s Fried Chicken-speaking of funky chickens, life doesn’t get much better than eating from one of these historic restaurants.
  • RIBS! You’ve got Corky’s, Paynes, Leonard’s and Rendesvous-some are dry rub, others are traditional and all are to die for.
  • Arcade Restaurant-Where Elvis used to eat his famous banana and peanut butter sandwich.
  • Sun Records-and speaking of Elvis, this hip little recording studio is still in use. It was the home of Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis and where Ike Turner had his “hits” with Tina.
  • Lorraine Motel-where Martin Luther King was assassinated. It’s a sobering sight, as is the rooming house across the street where James Earl Ray singlehandedly almost destroyed the Civil Rights movement.
  • Al Green’s church. The Full Gospel Tabernacle on Hale Street will get you rolling in the aisles, and if Green is in town, you’ll hear a sermon that is spot on!
  • Beale Street-a walk along at night will take you to the street where guitar players jam until the wee hours. BB King’s is the most famous, but Rum Boogie and Mr. Handy’s Blues Hall will be better deals.
  • WC Handy’s home. This is where music begins, and few people take a pilgrimage to it.
  • Gibson Guitars-you can take a tour on how the famous Les Paul is put together. Even if you’ve never touched a 6 stringer, the factory is a treat.
  • Diners! Bryants and Brother Junipers will make you feel like a local. You can hear your arteries hardening!
  • Graceland! What would Memphis be without the tackiest, most American of homes. When we went, the guy on the bus taking us to the place said, “I’ve taken all 4 of my wives here.” What else can be said?
  • If you drive around a bit, with a little detective work you can find the homes or birthplaces of Isaac Hayes, Albert King, Phineas Newborn Jr, Booker T Jones and a whole bunch of other soul stirrers.
  • Battle of Shiloh-it’s not too far from Memphis, but one of the most important, and bloodiest, battles of the Civil War took place in this small town. It’s a sobering sight walk through the stations where 23,000 died in two days.
  • Elvis’ birth Also a short jaunt away, and more intimate than Graceland, is the humble  “shotgun” house where Elvis Presley grew up. This is the Elvis that you’re going to love.

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