Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Mud Island in Memphis, Tennessee

After spending several days in Chattanooga, Tennessee along the Tennessee River, we drove back home for 4 days and started driving again. This time we went to Memphis, Tennessee to visit our daughter who has moved there from Long Beach, California. Below are maps showing the state of Tennessee and also the town of Memphis, which is in the lower left side corner, at the juncture between the states of Tennessee Arkansas and Mississippi. Chattanooga is about half way between Atlanta and Nashville where we also drive often to visit our other daughter and her family. (Bottom map courtesy Ezilon – click on collage to enlarge.)

It only took us about 2 hours 15 minutes to come back from Chattanooga, but about 8 hours or more to drive to Memphis. Atlanta-Memphis is about 631 miles or 392 kilometers – which is a bit more than the distance between Paris and Stuttgart, Germany - 610 kms. I do not count missing the freeway exit in Memphis and driving to Arkansas then driving back to Memphis…. Actually downtown Memphis is bordering the Mississippi River and half way across the bridge is the Arkansas state line. We drove through Birmingham, Alabama, then the state of Mississippi. We stopped at the Tupelo Mississippi Welcome Center. It is a nice center looking very southern. I was given a map there and directions to visit Elvis Prestley’s birth place in Tupelo – but that will be for another visit. A large room on the left of the Center entrance is furnished with southern style furniture. I took pictures. (You can see my reflection in the mirror as I take a picture of a painting of the Center.)

A portrait of Elvis is in a prominent place as well as a painting of General Robert E. Lee. Local furniture and artworks are also displayed.

Our daughter lives in Mud Island, which is in downtown Memphis. It is a small peninsula surrounded by the Mississippi River.  After crossing the A. W. Willis Bridge you are about 2 miles from the downtown business center and the famous Beale Street, home of the Blues.  With this name in my head “Mud Island” I was a bit worried about what we would find. I was very surprised. A bridge was completed in 1987 linking to downtown Memphis and a Traditional Neighborhood Development (TND) was built on the island. Below is the Willis Bridge providing the entrance to the island.

The north end of the island contains about 500 houses, some apartments, a small private school, several town greens, a marina and yacht club, nature trails, ponds and walking trails. A small center called Harbor Town includes a grocery store, an inn, several restaurants and shops. The houses have a diverse architecture but most of them have decks and balconies – they are very pretty. The south end of the island is occupied by Mud Island River Park and an amphitheater seating 5,000 but we did not see the south end this time. The bottom right picture is my daughter’s house upstairs balcony. There is another balcony on the first floor as well.

I tried to find the history of the island. It seems that the flow of the Mississippi River is irregular in this area sometimes flowing upstream and other times downstream. By 1889 a small sandbar was formed by sediment deposits. The sandbar kept growing and floods in 1912 and 13 helped to build the sandbar even more. In addition, around 1910, a Spanish-American War gunboat headed upstream to St Louis ran aground on the sandbar. It was left there for a couple of years which made the sandbar grow even larger into an island. In 1917 to avoid more flooding the Corps of Engineers dredged a channel between the Tennessee shore and the island. By 1930 the city realized that this island could be an asset and built a large dike to protect it. Then highways were built and finally a bridge. We strolled along the banks of the Mississippi River on the island which looks like a pretty, open park.

Many benches invite people to rest and look at the river. Joggers and parents pushing baby strollers walk on the paved trail.

People in houses fronting the Mississippi have a wonderful view.

I went closer to take some pictures.

Walking back along the river, I admired the big, old trees and sat on a root of a big one.

Looking to my left I could watch the vehicles on the bridge driving to Arkansas.

Looking to my right it seemed a tugboat pushing a barge was motionless – but no, it was slowing coming toward me. As it came closer I waved to it and was surprised and pleased when I got an answer – a couple of horn blasts. I followed its path with my camera until the tugboat faded away.

While I was taking pictures of the tugboat, my husband was also taking pictures - but of me. I was using my little Panasonic Lumix camera which has a strong telephoto lens.

Then we walked up to one of the restaurants in Harbor Town – my daughter had an engagement that Friday evening and could not join us. The restaurant is aptly named “Tug’s - a casual grill.” Entering the restaurant your eyes are drawn to a colorful stained-glass artwork of a riverboat on the wall above the bar. It is from a Currier and Ives print called “Midnight Race on the Mississippi.” Many photos of riverboats are hung on the walls.

I had “Fish & Chips” - Beer battered cod, fried golden brown, served with tartar sauce and shoestring french fries – but I requested sweet potato fries instead. My husband had “Blackened Mississippi Pond Catfish” – served with red rice and fresh grilled vegetable. At $10.95 each this was pretty good and with a beer it was even better. Then we went back toward the river as the sun was setting.

Some people were walking along the river, some children playing and others just watching the sunset. An older gentleman, dressed all in white, was walking toward the water with a photographer in tow. I watched them for a while.

The sun was slowly moving down and everything was turning gold. It was not too warm with a soft breeze blowing.

Then we left.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Recollections – A San Francisco wedding in 1967

When we were in New York a month or so ago, we had dinner with my friend Christina, who writes the blog called “Bowsprite.” When I told her that in June my husband and I would be celebrating our 45th wedding anniversary, Christina urged me to write a post about our wedding. I had meant to write about it in the order of my recollections – but my recollections posts are still no farther than a post written in June 2010 ending with my mother meeting my father. So this is a post, (not in proper sequence of my recollections,) but about our wedding on 17 June 1967 in San Francisco. I did not take many pictures then, so below are vintage postcards of San Francisco.

In 1966 my fiancé and I traveled to Paris so he could meet my family. We had decided to get married in June of 1967. At the time people did not travel as much by aircraft as we do now. Neither my parents nor fiancé’s parents came to our wedding because of the distance. My fiancé’s brother, who was his best man, flew into San Francisco a couple of days before the wedding. Other than him, we had no family present. Most of our guests came from the companies where we worked. We decided to get married in the Swedenborgian Church on Washington Street in San Francisco. I had been told that it was a small, but lovely romantic church. It looked stern from the exterior as you can see below but it had a very pretty garden in the back for photographs. In addition you did not have to be a member of the church.

The church was completed in 1895 and is regarded as a pure California Arts and Crafts building. There is a beautiful stained-glass window over the altar of a dove by a fountain. The frame of the church consists of long lengths of unpeeled Madrone trunks (also called Arbutus tree) cut from the Santa Cruz Mountains and there is Douglas Fir wood on the sanctuary walls. The flooring is Oregon pine. Pastoral paintings on the walls, the maple chair (made by hand without the use of nails,) a great fireplace and all this antique wood gave a warm and intimate atmosphere. Details in the walled garden were selected for universal significance. Later, in 2004, the church was declared a National Historic Landmark. (Click on collage to enlarge then on each photo - photos courtesy Fiammata Glass.)

Earlier in that spring of 1967 I saw a beautiful wedding dress on the cover of Bride Magazine. I checked with several stores and found out that the Emporium, a large department store in San Francisco, could order this dress for $150. At the time it was an enormous amount for me to pay. But the following week I received my income tax refund check, and it was for $175 – so I went back to the Emporium and ordered the dress. It was a formal shantung silk dress with a lace coat, empire style. I looked up the inflation calendar - $150 in 1967 would be approximately $1,030.00 in 2012. I read that the Emporium founded in 1896 lasted until 1995. Below is a picture of the store from the mid 1960s (courtesy SF Images.)

My maid of honor, Virginia, was my best friend from work. I had two other bridesmaids from my office. My fiancé had two ushers – George a good friend I had met while attending the San Francisco Art Institute and Leslie who later joined a commune. We met Leslie at The Farm in Tennessee two years ago (see post here.) We had not seen him since we left San Francisco in 1970. My bridesmaids wore lavender dresses and had lavender orchids as bouquets. Below are pictures of them at the reception.

Since my father could not be at the wedding I asked my best friend, Vince, to give me away. I had met Vince when I started working in San Francisco in 1962. His family was from Sicily, Italy and he was a great gourmet cook. Vince and his partner, Garth, lived a block up from me and I spent many hours in their kitchen learning Vince’s Italian cooking. Sadly Vince passed away many years ago. In the picture below, I am standing outside the church with one of my bridesmaids and my friend Vince.

The picture above is dark and most of my wedding pictures are not very good. A friend from the Philippines, who was an artist but also an amateur photographer, took our wedding pictures, but the cameras then were not the best. Several guests gave us pictures, too, but the colors are fading. In addition when we moved to Decatur, Georgia, several years later, our house was burglarized and a couple of large boxes containing our color slides were taken. I have scanned some of the pictures I have left. Below I am entering the Swedenborgian Church.

The interior of the church was dark but lovely. The flowers decorating the chapel had been left from the previous wedding (we had arranged for this and paid half of the cost.) Below Vince and I are going up the aisle.

If we had married in France we would have had to go to the town hall first with our wedding license to be legally married. In France there is a strong separation of church and state and a church wedding only is not legal. All couples there have to get a civil wedding first then, if they so chose, go to a church or other religious institution for the religious ceremony. In the USA though one can be legally married in a religious establishment like a church, a synagogue, temple and mosque – well, unless it is a same-sex marriage, which is still not legal in many states. Below the Marriage Certificate is being signed by Reverend Othmar Tobisch, pastor of the church.

Below my new husband Jim and I are standing at the altar after the ceremony.

Below is the wedding party.

Here we are, on this 17th June 1967, for a formal wedding picture in the San Francisco Swedenborgian Church garden.

Below we are with our attendants.

Now we are leaving the church going to the reception in Marin County.

Good friends of my husband gave the reception for us as a wedding present. It took place in the outdoor garden of a lovely restaurant called “L’Europe.”

Since none of my family was present I liked it that there was still a European flavor.

It was a very pretty, sunny day, and about 35-40 people mingled, talked and laughed while eating snacks and drinking wine and other beverages. Below on the left is my maid of honor, Virginia. She had also been my roommate while I was studying at Berkeley. Her boyfriend, an Egyptian student who was finishing his PhD at University of California, Berkeley, is near her. Next to him is my hairdresser who was also my friend – she had come from Hungary a couple of years earlier. (Unfortunately all these photos are faded – Virginia’s dress was mauve but it does not show.)

I remember the wedding cake as being pretty and delicious.

After cutting the cake I threw my bouquet of roses. Virginia caught the bouquet. She did marry her Egyptian boyfriend later on. It had been a day to remember and I remember it well.

My husband had a British Racing green MG TF 1500 automobile at the time which was a two-seater. Since his brother was in town for several days we decided not to leave him alone in San Francisco and took him on our little honeymoon. We rented a cream colored Volkswagen Beetle. Below are examples of the two cars – the MG TF on the bottom and VW Beetle on top (courtesy Conceptcarz and Wikipedia.)

First, on Sunday 18 June we attended the Monterey International Pop Music Festival. This was a three-day concert from 16 through 18 June, 1967. An estimated 200,000 young people attended this concert. It was a three day celebration of Music, Peace, Flower-Power and Love. There was an enormous amount of people that Sunday. The entrance fee was one dollar. The artists performed for free (except Ravi Shankar.) I remember watching The Blues Project, Ravi Shankar, Buffalo Springfield, the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, Big Brother and the Holding Company, The Who, The Mamas and The Papas, Otis Redding. I watched as Jimi Hendrix burned his guitar and jumped on it. The day after my wedding, this was also a festival to remember – it achieved historical significance, really. It was incredible. Some have said that it was the greatest rock concert ever – it defined the ‘60s and the “Summer of Love.”

After that we drove all the way to Hearst Castle in San Simeon. The view of the coast was breathtaking. I took some pictures, in black and white, but they don’t show the grandeur of the view. I took the picture of a small restaurant with a sign above the entrance saying “No Hippies Allowed.

The painting of the Monterey Coast by Paul Moran below certainly gives a better feeling for the beauty of this unique place.

Monterey Coast, Paul Moran, American 1837-1926

So here we are 17 June 2012 – forty-five years later. Where has the time gone? It does not seem so long ago – but it was. I will always remember that week in June 1967 with much love.


Note: Blogger Break - Post pre-programmed.

Monday, June 11, 2012

From the end of the Jubilee Celebration to the Delta Queen

While I was writing my post of May 5, 2012, “Cruising on the Lower Mississippi River in New Orleans” (click here to read it) I found out that the historic Delta Queen steamboat is now docked in Chattanooga, in Eastern Tennessee, about 2 hours from our home. The Delta Queen does not cruise the Tennessee River. It is now a floating hotel. I also found out that they have a promotion called “Staycation” - if you stay two nights you get the third night free – this includes a full English breakfast. We made reservations for a stay starting on Tuesday 5th June. Early that morning we were ready to go but it was raining very hard. We decided to wait till the rain slowed down. I went back on my computer and followed more of the Jubilee celebrations which I had not seen since the Flotilla festival. Cody, our cat, came and decided to get comfy next to the computer. (Click on collage then pictures to enlarge.)

As I started watching, the images shown on the computer were of the House Cavalry on their horses, the Foot Guards marching and other regimental bands.

It was not raining in London then but it was continuing to pour here. I took many pictures of the conclusion of the Jubilee until our rain finally stopped and we could leave. The stream of pictures from my computer was not accompanied by any commentary (which may have been a mercy) so I had to guess at what was happening. It seemed that Queen Elizabeth was leaving St Paul’s Cathedral and being driven to a luncheon at Mansion House ending with a performance by a Youth Orchestra and Choir.

There certainly were many guests at that luncheon.

More images of the regiments were shown during the length of the luncheon.

The Queen then stepped into her 1902 State Landau followed by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall. It looked like this open-topped horse drawn carriage went up Whitehall to Trafalgar Square. It then went through Admiralty Arch, along the Mall and entered Buckingham Palace through the Center Gates. Another carriage carrying her grandchildren the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Henry of Wales was also in the Diamond Jubilee Procession.

During the Carriage Procession the King’s Troop fired a 60 gun salute. More images were shown of military servicemen and military bands. The crowd was immense. A Guard of Honor was waiting in the Forecourt of Buckingham Palace. These guards with their scarlet tunics, navy collars, shoulder straps and tall black fur hats really look like toy soldiers – they are cute if you can ever call a soldier cute… I cannot visualize them in a war.

The Queen stepped down from her carriage and as she entered Buckingham Palace, a member of her household gave her a bouquet of flowers. The Queen and members of her family appeared on the balcony. Unfortunately her ailing husband was not at her side. The crowd waving red, white and blue Union Jacks cheered.

The royal party then looked up as a fly-past made of vintage aircraft - Hurricane, Lancaster and Spitfire airplanes – appeared above flying in formation. They flew over the palace trailing red, white and blue smoke.

The Foot Guards executed additional maneuvers in good coordination. They went on with the Feu de Joie and ended with three “Hip, hip hooray” and throwing their hats in the air. Their hats are 18 inches tall (45.7 cm) and made from real bear skin from Canadian brown hears – each weighs 1.5 pounds. I read that the British Army has been trying to find synthetic alternatives to bearskin with no result.

Queen Elizabeth smiled (first time I really saw her having a genuine smile) and waved again. It was over – she turned around and the party left the balcony.

The rain here had finally stopped so we gathered our things and departed for Eastern Tennessee. When we arrived in Chattanooga we got lost. It appears that June 8th is the start of a yearly music festival called Riverbend – a huge festival lasting 9 days and bringing over 650,000 visitors. (Poster below designed by July Curd.)

Many streets were already closed. Vendors were setting up their tents and there were trucks everywhere. There were several stages being built.

A great amount of entertainers are scheduled to appear during the 9-day festival. I looked at their program here but did not recognize many names. I did remember the group Foreigner from the 1970s – they are pictured below as then and now (courtesy Riverbend.)

We finally arrived near the river but realized that we were on the wrong bank – we could see the Delta Queen on the other side. By the way the Delta Queen celebrated her 85th birthday on December 12, 2010. She was assembled in December 1925, just 4 months before the birth of Queen Elizabeth (21 April 1926.)

We drove up and down streets, across two bridges, and finally arrived around 3:00pm at the Delta Queen. The sun was shining; it was not humid, around 75 degrees F (24 C.) We had four full days in Chattanooga with perfect weather. We walked miles and now my knees are very painful. When we came back a book was in the mail – the book below “Queen Elizabeth II: A Diamond Jubilee Souvenir Album.” I’ll write more about the Delta Queen and our stay in Chattanooga in future posts.

Right now I’ll take a look at this book. I’ll also get another old book from my shelves - a book I have not perused in many years “Sixty Years a Queen” by Sir Herbert Maxwell. This is an 1897 book celebrating Queen Victoria’s Jubilee which I purchased in the late 1970s at the Portobello Road Flea Market in London.

There will be several posts on Chattanooga, the Delta Queen and our cruise on the Southern Belle coming up soon…

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