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Memory Lane Road Trip Part 16

17 Oct

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

 

Day 16 – Wednesday 5/2/2018 

 

Because of my word dyslexia, I don’t really like to read, so to satisfy my literary needs, I listen to audio books on CDs in my car.  One of my favorite authors is James Lee Burke, many of whose books are read by Will Patton.  One of Burke’s series revolves around a detective, Dave Robicheaux, whose duties take place in and around the south Louisiana town of New Iberia, and Will Patton makes Burke’s characters come alive for me.  Since my route today was taking me south, on U.S.- 90 from Lafayette, my first stop was in New Iberia, to visit the Bayou Teche Museum.  Who knows, I might even meet James Lee Burke, somewhere on Main Street, on my way to the museum.

 

 

This is a small museum that displays memorabilia and artifacts related to the people, history, culture, and industry of New Iberia and the surrounding area.  In addition to being the hometown for Burke’s detective, Dave Robicheaux, (who I didn’t see at the museum or in town) it was at one time the hometown of Blue Dog artist George Rodrigues.

 

 

I continued southeast on U.S.- 90 to visit the Wedell-Williams Aviation Museum located in Patterson, LA.  This is a good-sized museum filled with artifacts and memorabilia related to the Golden Age of Aviation.  The museum also has nine beautifully restored Golden Age Racer airplanes that flew in air races all over the country during the 1920s and 1930s.  I have read about these very airplanes for years, but it’s something else to see them in person, and so well taken care of.  The Wedell-Williams Air Service was formed in 1928, and became Louisiana’s first commercial airline, providing passenger and mail service between New Orleans and Houston.

 

 

The museum building actually is home to two museums, the Wedell-Williams Aviation Museum and the Cypress Sawmill Museum.  I had no idea that Jimmie Wedell’s partner, Harry P. Williams was associated with the Cypress lumber business.  As it turns out Harry P. Williams was the son of Frank B. Williams, who is credited with starting the Cypress Milling Industry in Louisiana, and was also known as “The King of the Cypress Industry.”  This museum displays memorabilia, artifacts, and machinery related to the harvesting and milling of Cypress lumber in south Louisiana dating from the late 1800s.  I was amazed at the size of some of the Cypress logs (cross section) and the machinery needed to handle those huge logs.

 

 

Heading east a few miles on U.S.- 90 I visited the International Petroleum Museum located in Morgan City, LA.  This museum consists of a full-sized ocean oil drilling rig and barge, on which is displayed the associated equipment to support ocean oil drilling operations. If you have ever seen photos of an ocean oil drilling rig, then you can understand why I didn’t want to climb up to the base of the rig.  I’m sure my bad knees wouldn’t have survived the climb to where the museum’s artifacts and memorabilia are located.  The photo below will just have to suffice.

Continuing east on U.S.- 90 I visited the Regional Military Museum located in Houma, LA.  I was surprised to find a museum of this size out in the middle of what I call bayou country.  This is a fairly large museum that displays artifacts and memorabilia from all branches of the U.S. military services.  They have one tank, one howitzer, one helicopter, one air force airplane, one navy airplane, two jeeps, a motorcycle with sidecar, and a cruise missile. It didn’t take me long to go thru this museum.

During my 2016 Midwest America trip, a couple of museums, not far from New Orleans, had been closed and I thought I would try them again today.  So I headed northeast on U.S.- 90 until I picked up I-310/I-10 around New Orleans, and headed east to visit the Busted Wrench Garage Museum located in Gulfport, MS. I was looking forward to getting some photos of the 50+ restored automobiles of all makes and models.  As luck would have it, the museum had closed to the public sometime in February of this year.  Phooey!

 

 

 

And to top it off, the Model Railroad Depot Museum located in Bay St. Louis, MS was closed when I got there.  Not to be deterred I stopped, on the way back to New Orleans, at the Slidell Municipal Airport to see if anyone was sky diving on this beautiful afternoon. The answer was NO.  They are only open on the weekends.  The Skydive Nawlins hanger was closed, but I got a big kick out of their sign on the door that read, “SKYDIVENAWLINS.COM,”

 

 

So I gave up for today and asked Greta to take me to my motel for tonight.  After I got checked in, I asked the desk clerk about a good place to eat and he said he liked Don Jose’s Mexican Grill not too far down the road. I had Don Jose’s Chili Relleno filled with shrimp and cheese.  It was delicious and was a new taste treat for me.  As usual, there was nothing worth watching on TV, so it was early to bed for me again tonight.

 

 

 

—–To Be Continued—–

 

 

 

 

Bill is a retired Mechanical engineer living with his wonderful artist/writer wife, DiVoran, of 61 years in Titusville, Florida. He was born and raised in the Southwest, did a tour of duty with the U.S. Navy, attended Northrop University in Southern California and ended up working on America’s Manned Space Program for 35 years. He currently is retired and spends most of his time building and flying R/C model airplanes, traveling, writing blogs about his travels for Word Press and supporting his wife’s hobbies with framing, editing and marketing.  He also volunteers with a local church Car Care Ministry and as a tour guide at the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum there in Titusville.  Bill has two wonderful children, two outstanding grandchildren, and a loving sister and her husband, all of whom also live in Central Florida, so he and DiVoran are rewarded by having family close to spend lots of quality time with.

 

Bill

 

One of Bill’s favorite Scriptures is:  John 10:10

Memory Lane Road Trip~Part 15

10 Oct

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

Day 15 – Tuesday 5/1/2018

I headed south on I-40 this morning to visit the Flying Tigers Heritage Park located just outside Alexandria, LA.  This is a park situated just outside the entrance to, what was until 1992, the England Air Force Base.  Now known as England Airpark & Community, it is a thriving residential neighborhood and the air base has been transformed to serve as the Alexandria International Airport.  I was only interested in getting photos of their static displayed airplanes, and then I was on my way.

I continued south on I-40, and then took a short side trip down U.S.-167/SR-13 to visit the Cajun Music Hall of Fame located in Eunice, LA.  All along U.S.-167 and SR-13 I kept seeing these large, flooded fields with some kind of a device evenly spaced over the entire field.  I had no idea what I was seeing until I arrived at the museum, and asked the curator.  

She said they were crawfish traps, and showed me one she had there in the museum.  I asked her what they used for bait, and she said, “Any kind of meat scraps will do, but most farmers use processed crawfish bait which is made up of concentrated fish parts.” When I mentioned how shallow the water looked, she informed me that they plant rice in those fields, and then after the rice crop is harvested, they flood the fields, seed the crawfish, and put out their crawfish traps.  Check YouTube for “Crawfish Trap Videos” to see how they do it.

I learn some of the most interesting things on these trips!  The museum is located in a small building and displays some Cajun Music memorabilia, but is filled mostly with early 1800s Louisiana artifacts from the surrounding area. 

Next door was the equally small Eunice Depot Museum, which was closed, so I headed east on U.S.-190 to pick up I-40 and head south again towards Layfette, LA.  Friends had told me that if I was ever in the Layfette area, I needed to stop at “Prejeans Cajun Restaurant” located on I-40 just north of Layfette for a meal.  Well, it was lunch time wasn’t it?  So of course I stopped in to give them a try.  

Everything on the menu looked great, but I settled on a bowl of Seafood Gumbo to start.  Then it was their “Blackened Shrimp Skillet Creole” with red beans and rice.  Yummm! It was all pretty spicy, to my taste, and I needed two glasses of ice tea to keep my mouth cooled down!

After that delicious meal, I was ready to head south on I-40 again to visit the Acadian Village located a few miles southwest of Lafayette.  This is a 1800s living Cajun village, with relocated and restored authentic buildings, including houses, a church, a meeting house, and a blacksmith shop. The village is set around a small bayou and the dwellings are easily accessible from a paved walkway.

A few miles east of the Acadian Village I visited the Vermillionville Historic Village located on 23 acres adjacent to the Bayou Vermillion.  This living history museum and folk-life park is another frontier village type attraction, with some of their buildings dating from the late 1700s.  The seven relocated buildings have been restored, filled with period furnishings, and hosted by tour guides dressed in period costumes who will answer all your questions.

Now it was time to head for the motel and get settled in, so I could relax and enjoy my leftover Blackened Shrimp with red beans and rice from Prejeans.  Yummm again!  Of course I didn’t have the ice tea to cool down my mouth this time, so I had to be satisfied with a can of Mountain Dew from the motel’s drink machine.

                                           —–To Be Continued—–

Bill is a retired Mechanical engineer living with his wonderful artist/writer wife, DiVoran, of 61 years in Titusville, Florida. He was born and raised in the Southwest, did a tour of duty with the U.S. Navy, attended Northrop University in Southern California and ended up working on America’s Manned Space Program for 35 years. He currently is retired and spends most of his time building and flying R/C model airplanes, traveling, writing blogs about his travels for Word Press and supporting his wife’s hobbies with framing, editing and marketing. He also volunteers with a local church Car Care Ministry and as a tour guide at the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum there in Titusville. Bill has two wonderful children, two outstanding grandchildren, and a loving sister and her husband, all of whom also live in Central Florida, so he and DiVoran are rewarded by having family close to spend lots of quality time with.

Bill

Memory Lane Road Trip~Part 14

3 Oct

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

Day 14 – Monday 4/30/2018 

My original plan was to head north this morning to visit a couple of smaller museums, and then turn around and head south to meet another of my cousins in Many, LA for lunch. However, I was getting off to a late start, and there was a good chance the museums wouldn’t be open, and I didn’t want to be late for our meeting.  So after breakfast I packed up and headed south on US-171 to visit the Fort Jesup Historic Site located about six miles northeast of Many.

The site was closed, but Wikipedia tells me the fort was built in1822 to protect the U.S. border with New Spain, and to return order to the Neutral Strip (1806-1821).  The fort was active until after the Mexican war, in 1846, when it was closed.  The only building that remains of the fort now, is the Enlisted Barracks 4, which was restored and is currently being maintained by a private organization in Many.

Now I continued about six miles southwest on SR-6, from Fort Jesup into Many.  My cousin Jimmy had said he couldn’t meet my other cousin Alfice and me for lunch.  I thought maybe I’d drive over and see where his office was anyway.  It was only 10 o’clock, and I wasn’t sure what I was going to do for the next two hours.

Just as I was pulling into town my cousin James Alfice called me to let me know he had to come to town early to run some errands.  What a serendipity!  We met at the local Burger King and as he got out of his car he said, “You must be Billy.”  I shook his hand and said, “And you must be Alfice.”  I got in his car and we started what turned out to be the very best four hour family history tour I have ever had.  Alfice is four years older than me, and has lived a very active life there in the Many area.  He and his family grew up and lived there, as has my family.  At one time he was the police Chief of Many for several years, and later he was Sherriff of Sabine County, Louisiana for a number of years.

He knew everything there was to know about our family background, as well as, everything there was to know about what had gone on in Many and Sabine county over the years. He drove me around every part of Many, pointing out which of my relatives had lived in, or still lived in this or that house.  He would point out which criminal had lived in some house, or the very spot in the woods where he and his deputies had turned the dogs loose on another criminal. Then he took me to the Mount Zion Baptist Church.  According to Alfice, his grandfather and my grandfather were both instrumental in starting that church sometime around the late 1800s or early 1900s.  That is the church my family attended those times we visited my relatives when I was a youngster.  Most of my relatives who live in the Many area still attend there.

Next to the church is the Mount Zion Cemetery, where many of Alfice and my relatives are buried.  This is a beautiful cemetery that dates back to the early 1800s, and has been kept up by the church families over the years. I found the grave of my grandfather (T.J. Lites) and grandmother (Mattie Lites) who started populating the area in and around Many with their 13 children.

We stopped for lunch at Alfice’s favorite restaurant, Fisherman’s Galley, located on the banks of Toledo Bend Lake.  I had a plate of their Grilled Catfish with Sweet Potatoe Fries.  The food was really great, and lots of it.  While I was eating, I had this picture in my mind of two little black kids, sitting on a pier, fishing in the lake for catfish for the restaurant.  As soon as they hooked one, they would run it up to the restaurant cook, and the next thing you know, there it was on my plate, fresh out of the lake.  The catfish was that good!

Alfice continued the tour for a while after lunch, but then he told me he had to get his car back for his wife.  We exchanged contact information and said our goodbyes, with promises to stay in touch. Then I went looking for my cousin Jimmy’s asphalt business, so I could take a photo of their sign. Jimmy had told me he was starting a new job in another town that day, and I assumed his whole crew would be on that job with him.   As luck would have it, the gate was open, so I drove in to see who might be there.  I was surprised when the mechanic told me that two of my cousins, Danny and Tracy, were in the office.  They came out and we had a great impromptu visit.

After I said my goodbyes to cousins Danny and Tracy, I drove back into Many to check out The Robert Gentry Museum, there on San Antonio Avenue.  I had seen this museum as I first drove into Many, and hoped I had time now to visit before they closed.  But I found out the museum had closed and all that was left in the building was a pawn shop.

Now it was time for Greta to take me to tonight’s motel in Natchitoches, LA which was about 30 miles east of Many.  After I checked in, I warmed up my delicious leftover catfish, for another delightful supper.  As usual, there was nothing worth watching on the TV, so I recorded my notes for the day and then it was early to bed for me.

—–To Be Continued—–

 

Bill is a retired Mechanical engineer living with his wonderful artist/writer wife, DiVoran, of 61 years in Titusville, Florida. He was born and raised in the Southwest, did a tour of duty with the U.S. Navy, attended Northrop University in Southern California and ended up working on America’s Manned Space Program for 35 years. He currently is retired and spends most of his time building and flying R/C model airplanes, traveling, writing blogs about his travels for Word Press and supporting his wife’s hobbies with framing, editing and marketing.  He also volunteers with a local church Car Care Ministry and as a tour guide at the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum there in Titusville.  Bill has two wonderful children, two outstanding grandchildren, and a loving sister and her husband, all of whom also live in Central Florida, so he and DiVoran are rewarded by having family close to spend lots of quality time with.

Bill

Memory Lane Road~Trip Part 13

26 Sep

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

Day 13 – Sunday 4/29/2018 

Today I headed west on I-20 to visit the Vicksburg National Military Park in Vicksburg, MS.  This national park covers 1,728 acres, and is designed to preserve the site of the Battle of Vicksburg, which took place during the Civil War in the summer of 1863.  The park displays an impressive number of historic monuments (1,325), strategically placed along the nearly 16 miles of tour road that rings the park.  Also there are a total of 144 period canons positioned in simulated high-ground battery locations that gives a person an idea of just how large the battlefield was.

I had originally thought the USS Cairo Museum was in a separate location, so I had to ask for directions to the Museum.  It turned out to be located on the park’s Tour Road, toward the northern edge of the park, adjacent to the Yazoo River.  This museum houses the restored remains of the USS Cairo that was built in 1861. One of the first ironclads to be built at the beginning of the Civil War, she served with the Army’s Western Gunboat Flotilla on the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers until 1862 when she was transferred to the Navy later that year.

On December 12, 1862, while clearing mines from the Yazoo River, she struck a mine and sank.  Not located until 1956, the gunboat was damaged in 1964 while crews were trying to raise her.  After many years of hard work and many delays, the restored USS Cairo and its museum were finally opened to the public in 1980.

While in Vicksburg, I also visited The Old Depot Museum located just a couple of miles south of the USS Cairo Museum.  This museum is housed in the old 1872 Vicksburg Railroad Depot, and consists of scale models of the Olde Town of Vicksburg, a scaled model scene of the Battle of Vicksburg, operating model train layouts, as well as model ships, boats and vessels dating from the time of the Vikings to the present.

Next I headed west on I-20, across the Mississippi River, to visit the Chennault Aviation Museum located in Monroe, LA.  This small museum basically tells the story of Claire L. Chennault’s military career, from his initial involvement in aviation during WWI, to his part in the creation of the American Volunteer Group (AVG), known as the “Flying Tigers” in China prior to WW2 and beyond.

I continued west on I-20 to Ruston, where I turned north onto US-167 for a short side trip to visit the Bernice Depot Museum located in Bernice, LA.  This very small museum is housed in the 1895 Arkansas Southern Railroad depot, and was one of the significant loading points for the surrounding lumber industry during the late 1800s.  The museum displays memorabilia related to the railroad and local lumber industry that gave birth to this small town of Bernice.

Greta kept me with a question in my mind as to her navigating abilities for the better part of the next hour.  She took me thru roughly 50 miles of Louisiana back roads to get us back to I-20.  Then it was another 30 miles west so I could visit the Barksdale Global Power Museum (8thAir Force Museum).  This museum is located just outside the gate to the Barksdale Air Force Base, on the east side of Shreveport, LA.  The museum consists of a building that tells the history of the 8thAir Force by means of memorabilia, artifacts, and exhibits and some 20+ beautifully restored outdoor static displayed aircraft.

Barksdale Global Power Museum

Now it was just a few miles west to visit the Shreveport Water Works Museum located on the southwest side of Shreveport adjacent to the Red River.  The museum is housed in the old 1887 McNeill Pump Station building, and displays much of the original steam equipment, pumps, filters, and other machinery used to supply water to the city of Shreveport during the late 1800s.

Right next door to the Water Works Museum was the Shreveport Railroad Museum.  This small museum is housed in one of the original 1887 Water Works buildings, and displays memorabilia and artifacts related to the civic and economical influence of the Kansas City Southern Railway on the Shreveport area, dating from the 1860s.  The museum also has several pieces of rolling stock in various stages of restoration at an off-site location, including steam locomotive #1140.

Just a few blocks away I tried to visit the Strand Theater there in downtown Shreveport, but it was closed.  Wikipedia tells me that the theater was built in 1925, and opened as a Vaudeville venue until the mid-1940s, when it became a movie theater.  This 1,536 seat theater remained a movie theater until it was closed in 1977.  It was renovated and reopened in 1984 as the “Official State Theater of Louisiana” where it serves as a performing arts venue featuring mostly off-Broadway traveling shows.

Another few blocks away, toward the Red River, I visited the Spring Street Historical Museum there in Shreveport.  This small museum is housed in what was originally the Tally’s Bank building. Built in the 1860s, the building is one of the few remaining examples of New Orleans style cast-iron gallery grillwork in Shreveport.  This museum displays historic artifacts and memorabilia related to the history in and around the early days of Shreveport, as well as displays of traveling costumes of the time period.

I wondered why my stomach was growling, and decided it was time to head for the motel and get something to eat.  Greta took me to the motel with no trouble, and after getting checked in, I was able to relax, warm up, and enjoy leftover Zydeco Wrap from the Froghead Grill.

—–To Be Continued—–

is a retired Mechanical engineer living with his wonderful artist/writer wife, DiVoran, of 61 years in Titusville, Florida. He was born and raised in the Southwest, did a tour of duty with the U.S. Navy, attended Northrop University in Southern California and ended up working on America’s Manned Space Program for 35 years. He currently is retired and spends most of his time building and flying R/C model airplanes, traveling, writing blogs about his travels for Word Press and supporting his wife’s hobbies with framing, editing and marketing.  He also volunteers with a local church Car Care Ministry and as a tour guide at the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum there in Titusville.  Bill has two wonderful children, two outstanding grandchildren, and a loving sister and her husband, all of whom also live in Central Florida, so he and DiVoran are rewarded by having family close to spend lots of quality time with.

Bill

One of Bill’s favorite Scriptures is:  John 10:10

Memory Lane Road Trip~ Part 12

19 Sep

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

Day 12 – Saturday 4/28/2018

This morning I headed southwest on US-61 to visit the Delta Blues Museum located in Clarksdale, MS. This museum is housed in what was originally the Clarksdale Passenger Depot, which was built in 1926.  The Passenger depot was used by the Central Illinois Railroad, and others, until 1965 when passenger service at the depot was discontinued.  After years of abandonment, the depot was restored, and the museum moved in.  The museum displays many artifacts and memorabilia related to the history of Blues Music in the Mid-South.

One of the artists that legend credits with helping birth the blues, in this area, is McKinley Morganfield, better known in the blues music world as “Muddy Waters.”  The museum honors “The King of Chicago Blues” with a wax figure of the artist strumming his guitar in the rebuilt portion of his slave shack.  The shack is where he spent most of his first 30 years.  It was moved to the museum, from its original location, on the Stovall Plantation, near Clarksdale in 1996.

Now I continued south on US-289/US-82 to visit the Greenville Air Force Base Museum located at the Mid-Delta Regional Airport in Greenville, MS.  This small museum turned out to be housed on the mezzanine of the airport terminal building.  The museum displays memorabilia related to the history of the Greenville Army Airfield operations (1940-1946), and the U.S. Airforce Training Center (1950-1966).

3

Next I headed southeast on US-61/US-149 to visit the Canton Railroad Museum located in Canton, MS.  This museum is located in the restored 1852 Canton Railroad Depot building, and displays artifacts and memorabilia related to the railroad’s influence, from the mid-1800s to the late 1970s, in and around the Canton area.

4

Now I headed south on I-55 to visit the City of Jackson Fire Museum located in Jackson, MS.  This museum is housed in a portion of the active Fire House #10.  The museum was closed by the time I got there, but Wikipedia tells me the museum displays artifacts and memorabilia about the Jackson Fire Department Safety programs.  There are also several beautifully restored pieces of firefighting equipment/engines dating from 1904 displayed within the museum.

5

As I was driving thru downtown Jackson, I stopped to take a photo of the Old Mississippi State Capital Building (1839-1903). Wikipedia states that this building has been renovated several times since 1903, the last being in 1961, after which it was designated the Mississippi State Historical Museum.   The museum was closed by the time I got there, and that was OK with me.  I expected it would have taken hours to see three floors full of memorabilia, artifacts, and exhibits related to the full history of Mississippi.

6

On the way to the motel, I happened upon the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, and stopped by to get a photo.  Wikipedia tells me that the museum was opened in 2017, and displays artifacts and memorabilia covering the Civil Rights Movement in the U.S. (especially Mississippi) from 1945 to 1970.  This museum was also closed, so I turned my attention to where I was going to stay tonight. By now it was time for Greta to take me to the motel (which actually ended up being in Clinton, MS located just west of Jackson) so I could get checked in and find some place to eat.

7

After I got checked in at the motel, I asked the desk clerk for his recommendation about a good place to eat and he said, “The Froghead Grill just down the street is pretty good.”  I put my things in the room and walked about 1½ blocks to see what they had to offer.  As you might expect, the Froghead Grill had a very unique menu.  I selected their “Zydeco Wrap” which was Alligator sausage and Crawfish with cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, and Scooter Sauce.  Boy was that different and delicious!  With a full tummy, I headed back to the motel for a good night’s sleep.

8

—–To Be Continued—–

Bill is a retired Mechanical engineer living with his wonderful artist/writer wife, DiVoran, of 61 years in Titusville, Florida. He was born and raised in the Southwest, did a tour of duty with the U.S. Navy, attended Northrop University in Southern California and ended up working on America’s Manned Space Program for 35 years. He currently is retired and spends most of his time building and flying R/C model airplanes, traveling, writing blogs about his travels for Word Press and supporting his wife’s hobbies with framing, editing and marketing.  He also volunteers with a local church Car Care Ministry and as a tour guide at the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum there in Titusville.  Bill has two wonderful children, two outstanding grandchildren, and a loving sister and her husband, all of whom also live in Central Florida, so he and DiVoran are rewarded by having family close to spend lots of quality time with.

Bill

One of Bill’s favorite Scriptures is:  John 10:10

Memory Lane Road Trip~Part 11

12 Sep

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

 

 

Day 11 – Friday 4/27/2018

 

After a great complimentary breakfast at the motel this morning, I headed east on I-40 to visit the Fire Museum of Memphis located just as I crossed the Mississippi River in west Memphis, TN.  This museum is located in the 1910 Fire House No.1, where they display several beautifully restored early 1900s fire engines.  Other fire station artifacts and memorabilia displayed in the museum, tell the story of the Memphis Fire Department as far back as the late 1800s.

 

 

As I headed for my next museum, I passed a Historical Marker relating the story of the Memphis slave trade. I parked so I could get out to read about the history and get some photos.  I was not aware that Memphis was, in around 1855, considered a regional hub for the slave trade.  This turned out to be the exact corner where Nathan Forrest established his slave auction block (circle) in 1854.

 

 

He continued his lucrative business there (owner of some 3000 slaves himself) until 1860 when he moved his auction center one block north.  When Tennessee seceded from the Union in June of 1861, Forrest joined the Confederate Army.  Distinguishing himself during the Civil War, General Forrest left the Army at the end of the war in 1865.  Wikipedia states that in 1866 Forrest joined the KKK, and was later voted the first “Grand Wizard” of the KKK in 1867.

 

Now I headed a few blocks south to visit the Cotton Museum located in the Cotton Exchange building, at #65 Union Avenue there in Memphis.  This museum tells the story of how the cotton industry influenced the lives and economic growth of the area in and around Memphis from the mid-1800s.

 

 

The Memphis Cotton Exchange was founded in1874 to handle the growing cotton market in the area.  Once established, the Memphis Cotton Exchange was connected with the New York and New Orleans Cotton Exchanges to regulate standards for the buying and pricing of cotton in the Memphis area and the mid-south.

 

 

It was only another few blocks south to visit the Memphis Rock ‘N’ Soul Museum.  I never did find that museum in the maze of “Jazz Joints” there on Beale Street.  They all advertised to be the original source, location, and very best of Memphis “Jazz”/”Blues”/”Soul” music.

 

 

Then there was the “Orpheum Theater”, that advertised to have the very best entertainment in town.   They had listings for all kinds of modern day performers that I had never heard of.   And of course, Elvis is still a big name anywhere you go in Memphis.

 

 

The Orpheum Theater was built on this corner in 1928, to replace the original “Grand Opera House” of 1890.  That structure had burned down in 1923.  They had their own “Walk of Fame” on their sidewalks, around the theater, that included some of the big names in the entertainment business down thru the years.

 

 

About three miles south of Beale Street I visited the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, there in Memphis.  I didn’t know until I got home and Googled the Stax Museum, that the building is actually a “replica” of the old Capital Theater, which Stax Records (1957-1976) used as their recording studio.  Known as one of America’s original promoters of Southern Soul music, this is where many early artists cut their famous record albums.  Stax also released many gospel, jazz, and blues recordings from this studio over the years.

 

 

Now I headed north, back toward downtown, to visit the Slave Haven Underground Railroad Museum.  This museum is housed in a small 1849 clapboard house built by Jacob Burkle, who was at the time, a well-known livestock trader.   The museum is filled with exhibits and artifacts that tell the story of the system known as the “underground railroad” in this part of Tennessee during the mid-1850s.

 

 

Next I headed east a few miles to visit the “Pink Palace Museum” located adjacent to the Memphis Lake and Chickasaw Garden Park. This turned out to be a huge “Family of Museums” that included a museum, displaying artifacts and memorabilia related to the history of the Memphis area, a Giant CTI 3-D theater, and the Sharpe Planetarium.  Since I wanted to get to my next museum before they closed, I opted not to spend the time in this “Museum.”

 

 

Now I headed for the Elvis Presley Auto Museum (at least that’s where I thought I was going) located in the Bluebird Estates area of Memphis.  The Internet listing indicated the Auto Museum was a separate museum.  Having never been to Graceland, I thought I could view Elvis’s cars and airplanes separately.  Silly me!  Of course all the collections are together, and everyone just HAS to go thru his mansion. So I ended up paying for the whole works, when I only wanted to see the autos and airplanes.  What a scam!

 

 

His 30+ cars, motorcycles, boats, and off-road vehicle collection is impressive, but really not worth the price I had to pay for admission (including getting to see his famous pink Cadillac).  And I had often wondered where all the Convair 990 aircraft ended up.  I have to admit the Elvis mansion is beautiful, and his family lived in opulent splendor.  But here again, what do you expect of people who have more money than they know what to do with?

 

After I finished with that impressive attraction, I ask Greta to take me to the motel, there in Memphis, so I could relax and enjoy my leftover Mexican Dinner from Papito’s Mexican Grill.  Yummm!

 

—–To Be Continued—–

 

 

 

Bill is a retired Mechanical engineer living with his wonderful artist/writer wife, DiVoran, of 61 years in Titusville, Florida. He was born and raised in the Southwest, did a tour of duty with the U.S. Navy, attended Northrop University in Southern California and ended up working on America’s Manned Space Program for 35 years. He currently is retired and spends most of his time building and flying R/C model airplanes, traveling, writing blogs about his travels for Word Press and supporting his wife’s hobbies with framing, editing and marketing.  He also volunteers with a local church Car Care Ministry and as a tour guide at the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum there in Titusville.  Bill has two wonderful children, two outstanding grandchildren, and a loving sister and her husband, all of whom also live in Central Florida, so he and DiVoran are rewarded by having family close to spend lots of quality time with.

 

Bill

 

One of Bill’s favorite Scriptures is:  John 10:10

Memory Lane Road Trip~Part 10

5 Sep

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

 

Day 10 – Thursday 4/26/2018

 

This morning I headed north on I-40 to visit the Arkansas Air & Military Museum, located at Drake Field just south of Fayetteville, AR.  This is a good size museum, filled with aviation and military artifacts and memorabilia.  Their nicely restored aircraft date from the Golden Age of Aviation to the jet age.   They have several aircraft displayed outside that could use a little TLC.  The museum also has military artifacts and memorabilia from WW2 thru current conflicts and restored military equipment of all types.

 

 

Now I headed southeast on SR-23 & I-40 to visit the Museum of Automobiles located in Morrilton, AR. Once I got off I-40 and headed south to find the museum, I thought Greta had lost her satellite contact.  The roads got smaller and the forest around me got denser and darker, and I just knew we were lost.  Then as I rounded a bend in the road, Greta announced, “Arriving at your destination on the right.”  Well, what do you know; she knew where she was all the time.

 

 

This turned out to be an amazing museum, out in the middle of nowhere.  The museum has around 50+ beautifully restored automobiles dating from 1904 to 1967, six motorcycles dating from 1913 and a large license plate collection. There were also antique arcade machines, antique player pianos, and an antique gun collection, all beautifully restored and in working condition.

 

 

We really did get lost as we tried to find our way back to civilization.  Greta was so confused that I had to turn her off, and stop to ask directions, once I came across a small general store.  Then we were on our way southeast, on I-40 again, to visit the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum located in North Littlerock, AR.  This “museum” turned out to be a WW2 tugboat, the Hoga (YT-146), and a WW2 submarine, the USS Razorback (SS-394), which gives visitors an idea of what it would be like to live and work on a submarine during WW2.

 

 

There were also two memorials to submariners: one for the USS Snook (SS-279) and one for the USS Scorpion (SSN-589).  This is all outdoors and situated at the North Shore Riverwalk Park there on the Arkansas River.

 

 

While visiting my cousin Milton in Arlington, he had mentioned another relative contact in Little Rock.  I gave him a call while I was there in the Little Rock area.  He told me one of his sons was into genealogy, and had a lot of information on the Lites family tree.  He couldn’t meet me today, but I made arrangements to contact him again after he had had a chance to talk to his son.  I was thrilled to come across another relative (no matter how distant) who might help me track down our roots.

 

 

Now I headed northeast a few miles, on US-167, to visit the Arkansas Military History Museum located in Jacksonville, AR.  This is a small museum with displays and exhibits that include memorabilia and artifacts related to the military influence, in and around the Jacksonville, Arkansas area from Civil War days up to the present time.

 

 

Next I wanted to check out the Little Rock Air Force Base Museum, which was just a few miles north of the Jacksonville Museum of Military History, but was informed at the gate that their museum was not open to the public.  So I took a couple photos of their C-130 Gate Guard and headed for the motel there in Jacksonville.

 

 

After I got checked in at the motel, I ask the clerk for restaurant recommendations and she said her favorite was Papito’s Mexican Grill.  That sounded good to me, so I gave Greta the address and said, “Go Girl.”  I had a Papito’s Special Dinner, which included one each: Chalupa, Taco, Tamale, Enchilada, and Chili Relleno with rice and beans.  Of course you’re right!  I couldn’t eat all of that at one sitting, but I had planned to take half back to the motel for tomorrow’s dinner.

 

 

 

—–To Be Continued—–

 

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