Friday 29 July 2011

Friday 55 Flash Fiction #170 Contents of a diary..

Sitting quietly she filled in her diary.

Mundane happenings, her family, her feelings.

Once she had started it had become compulsive

to record her life and everyday things,

however boring, even the news on the radio.

"I wonder if anyone will ever read this?"

thought Ann Frank, as she sat in the attic in Amsterdam.

The last entry in Ann Frank's diary was 1st August 1944, this is the nearest Friday I could get with my Flash Fiction.

Friday 55 Flash Fiction is brought to you by G-man (Mr Knowitall). The idea is you write a story in exactly 55 words. If you want to take part pop over and let G-man know when you've posted your 55.

Wednesday 27 July 2011

Dixieland Part 8....

Day Nine dawned to find us leaving Memphis behind as we set off on our journey to the Mecca of Country & Western music - Nashville.

Our first stop was Jackson, Tennessee and the home of Casey Jones, the heroic railroad engineer who's attempts to stop his train, the Cannonball Express, from colliding with a stalled freight train saved many lives but resulted in his death.

Jones was also famous for his peculiar skill with the train whistle.  It's unique sound was described as a sort of whippoorwill call and people living along the route of the train recognised it saying "There goes Casey Jones", as the train roared by.  

Casey Jones' Engine

At the rest stop in Jackson there was a quaint general store

Which sold absolutely everything you could imagine

and we spent an entertaining hour mooching in the store then grabbing a cup of coffee before it was time to board the coach again to complete our journey to Nashville.

We arrived in Nashville before lunch and as it was too early to check into the hotel our first stop was The Ryman Auditorium, the original Grand Ole Opry.

The History of the Ryman dates back to the 1880s when Thomas G Ryman, a riverboat captain and Nashville businessman, attended a revival by famed travelling evangelist Sam Jones.  Legend has it Captain Ryman planned to heckle the preacher but instead was converted on the spot and decided to raise money for a permanent place for Jones to preach. Seven years and $100,000 later, in 1892, the Union Gospel Tabernacle was completed.   It would be renamed Ryman Auditorium upon Captain Ryman's death in 1904.

Thomas G Ryman

The Ryman served as a venue for a wide variety of events: religious revivals, jazz recitals etc and in 1943 a contract was signed to rent the Ryman out on Saturday nights for a popular live radio show The Grand Ole Opry - a decision that changed the course of history for the Ryman and for country music.   The Ryman was the home of The Grand Ole Opry from 1943 until 1974.

After the Opry departed for the new Grand Ole Opry House, there was a public outcry at talk of razing the Ryman which caused the building to be left standing and it deteriorated into a sad state.  It was renovated in 1994 and named a National History Landmark in 2001.  Now it is a living monument that continues to present the best in entertainment to a new generation of audiences.

After a delicious lunch at Demos we headed down Broadway for a little retail therapy, our aim was to purchase some real 'cowboy boots' and we weren't disappointed.  We found this store

offering this

so in we went and bought these.

Mine, MWM's, Mine

MWM paid for his and I got two pairs free!     We bought a few souvenirs - t-shirts and a whole load of guitar picks for our youngest son before heading back to the hotel.   After a short rest we showered and changed ready to meet the rest of the group for the highlight of the whole trip as far as I was concerned - a night at the Grand Ole Opry - the one place I have wanted to see since I was a teenager!

Here's me posing with the lady who was portraying Minnie Pearl, the comedienne who appeared at the Opry for more than 50 years.

Of course I wore my jeans and a pair of my brand new cowboy boots, what else would one wear to visit the Grand Ole Opry?

The atmosphere as we made our way into the Opry was A.M.A.Z.I.N.G.!    We had great seats right down near the front and we couldn't wait for the show to start.

Here's the programme for the evening, we were thrilled to see who was on last, and we took a picture of every act, which I've put in a slide show below.  I've also put a link in to each act if you want to read more about them.

Saturday - May 14th 2011

7.00 - 7.30
Sponsored by
Cracker Barrel
Old Country Store

7.30 - 8.00
Sponsored by
U.S. Bank

8.15 - 8.45
Sponsored by
Dollar General

Mike Snider - Host
Opry Square Dancers
8.45 - 9.15
Sponsored by

The pics are a little dark but if you click on View All Images and then on Full View you should be able to get a better picture.

All of the acts were fabulous and we found the advertisements for the sponsors really funny and it seemed strange being part of a radio show that was being broadcast live. The highlight of the evening was Charlie Daniels playing The Devil Went Down To Georgia - that really got the place rockin'!  Then, long before I was ready, the show was over and we had to leave the place that had featured in my dreams for so long, it is a memory I will cherish forever.

We made our way back to the coach for the short trip to Downtown Nashville where we hit the honkytonk bars, specifically Robert's Western World, for a couple of drinks to round off the evening before making our way back to the hotel to dream of Country Music and the Grand Ole Opry - well I did, don't know about any one else!

I hope you'll join me for Dixieland 9 where we have a Nashville City Tour when we visit the Country Music Hall of Fame, RCA Victor Studio B and had dinner at the Loveless Cafe.    YEEHAW!

Read Dixieland Part 1 here
Read Dixieland Part 2 here
Read Dixieland Part 3 here
Read Dixieland Part 4 here
Read Dixieland Part 5 here
Read Dixieland Part 6 here
Read Dixieland Part 7 here

Monday 25 July 2011

Succinctly Yours - A Microfiction Meme #18

Grandma at Grandma's Goulash provides a picture and a word prompt for this Microfiction Meme and the rules are use the photo as inspiration for a story of 140 characters OR 140 words.

Want more challenge? Use the word of the week in your story. This part is optional.

This week's word is ARBITRARY here's the picture and my offering using the picture  in 140 characters, including spaces and punctuation.

Their date went swimmingly, but a carpenter’s workshop was not what Mel was expecting 

when Dave asked her if she wanted to see his shavings.

 My brain wouldn't let me fit in the word ARBITRARY. 

Thursday 21 July 2011

Dixieland Part 7......

The King - Elvis Presley

Day eight was the day that many of our fellow travellers had been looking forward to the most - the tour of Graceland.   Not being avid Elvis fans it was just another interesting tour for me and MWM but of course we took the opportunity to see everything there was to see.    Every morning at 7.30 a.m. the gates of Graceland are open to the public for just one hour, to enable them to walk up the drive and visit Elvis' grave, they are not allowed in the house at this time but for many this is how the pilgrimage starts.    We were up early and after breakfast we took the short walk to Graceland and walked up the drive to the beautiful meditation garden to see Elvis' grave.

Me on Graceland's drive

The meditation garden was built by Elvis in the mid-sixties as a place for contemplation.  The bodies of Elvis and Gladys were moved from Forest Hill Cemetery following security threats and reinterred in the Meditation Garden on 2nd October, 1977.   The garden's centerpiece is a circular twelve-foot fountain pool with five single jets of water and large one in the middle all lit by coloured floodlights.  The curved wall behind the fountain is made of Mexican brick with four stained-glass windows.

  Meditation Garden, Graceland

The grave markers of Elvis, his mother, father, grandmother and his stillborn twin Jesse Garon are beautiful and are adorned with tributes from loyal fans.

Everyone who visits the graves takes photographs to remind them of where Elvis' remains reside and to remind them of the day they paid their respects to the icon that was Elvis.    After paying our respects at the graves, we made our way back to the hotel to meet up with our fellow travellers to board the minibus which took us on the Platinum Graceland tour, which started with the inside of Elvis' mansion.


The Graceland Mansion tour included the Jungle Room, Music Room, Racquetball Building and the Hall of Gold with it's amazing display of gold and platinum awards and more, I took a lot of photos so I've put them in a slide show for you.  If you want to have a closer look click on the slide show and it will take you to my Slide page.

The next stop on the tour was to see Elvis' custom jets - the Lisa Marie, which has a living room, conference room, sitting room and private bedroom, as well as gold-plated seatbelts, suede chairs, leather covered tables and 24 karat gold-flecked sinks, and his smaller Lockheed Jetstar the Hound Dog II.    See the slide show below.

We carried on to the next part of the tour - Elvis' Automobile Museum, where we strolled down a tree-lined street to see over 33 vehicles owned by Elvis, which included his famous Pink Cadillac, Harley Davidson motor-cycle, Stutz Blackhawk, a 1975 Dino Ferrari, the red MG from 'Blue Hawaii', two Rolls Royce Sedans, a 6 door Mercedes Benz limousine and his John Deere 4010 tractor.   See slide show below.

By the time we'd seen all this it was way past lunchtime so we went in Rockabilly's Burger Shop for a quick lunch before a quick walk past the Heartbreak Hotel

Heartbreak Hotel

and a huge wall painting of Elvis before having a quick walk round the Elvis Presley: Fashion King Exhibition, where we saw lots of Elvis' actual clothes before heading back to the hotel to meet up for yet another coach ride to visit 

Sun Studio where the sound of Rock'n'Roll was born!  

Some of the equipment in Sun Studio

This was the place where Elvis actually paid to record 'My Happiness' for his mother's birthday.  When Sam Phillips was looking for a backing singer his assistant, Marion Keisker, reminded him about the truck driver, Elvis Presley, having a nice ballad voice, she called Elvis on May 26th 1954 to come into the studio to record some tracks.  

This was where Elvis recorded "That's Alright (Mama)",

(on this exact spot my foot is standing on -

using this exact microphone), which was then played on radio twelve times in succession on the same day!

Phillips sold Presley's contract to RCA Victor for $40,000; the highest sum ever paid for a recording contract.  Sun had permission to keep pressing previously recorded singles until January 1, 1956, and RCA released Presley's first five singles nationally on their label.  In January 1956, Presley began recording for RCA, recording "Heartbreak Hotel" as his first single.  He returned to Sun Studio regularly over the next few months, visiting with Phillips and meeting many of his new artists.   Although Presley would never officially record with Sun again, he was caught on tape during an impromptu jamming session on December 4, 1956.   Presley had arrived during a Carl Perkins recording session, which also featured a young Jerry Lew Lewis on piano, and a new artist named Johnny Cash watching on.   During a break in recording Presley sat at the piano and began to sing along with Perkins, Lewis and Cash.  Phillips kept his tape recorder running (illegally because by this time Elvis was under contract to RCA) and, seeing an opportunity to promote another of his new acts, he arranged for a reporter to cover the event.  The recordings would eventually be known as 'The Million Dollar Quartet',  which was subsequently released.  Of course we bought the CD!

The Million Dollar Quartet

The following day, an article, written by the reporter, Johnson, about the session, was published int he Memphis Press-Scimitar under the title "Million Dollar Quartet".   The article contained the now-famous photograph of Presley seated at the piano surrounded by Lewis, Perkins and Cash.

Interestingly, Jerry Lee Lewis has recently released a new album entitled "Last Man Standing", which is thought to refer to the fact that he is the last surviving member of the original 'Million dollar Quartet'!

As if the tour of Graceland and Sun Studio wasn't exciting enough we then went on to our Memphis' Rock'n'Soul Museum, that presents a chronology of the musicians that shaped 'The Memphis Sound' - legends like Elvis Presley, Otis Redding, B.B. King, Jerry Lee Lewis, Al Green, Isaac Hayes and many others who recorded in the city that people called "the  holy ground of American Music".      To finish off our time in Memphis we ate at B.B. King's restaurant that evening, on the famous Beale Street, where else would you finish a perfect day?

It had been a looooong, interesting, emotional day and one we will reflect on for a long time to come.     The next day we were heading for Nashville.    I hope you'll join me for that in Dixieland Part 8.

Read Dixieland Part 1 here
Read Dixieland Part 2 here
Read Dixieland Part 3 here
Read Dixieland Part 4 here
Read Dixieland Part 5 here
Read Dixieland Part 6 here