Vicksburg, MS Sunday March 9
As “professional travelers” we work on Sundays. Not so much for many of the places we wanted to see or local restaurants to dine in. This impacted on our day’s options.
We left Memphis after church and breakfast and headed for Mississippi. U.S.Route 61 in this area was described in one of the resources we used as “Not much to write home about”. The source was correct and so we won’t. The weather was overcast and foggy but the snow has completely disappeared. I think we have turned the corner. Green fields are starting to pop up. The weather is warm; time to put the fleece and heavy socks away, break out the windbreakers and light shoes.
Route 61 was our major road all day long. It is publicized as the part of the “Blues Trail”; a series of historical markers detail significant places and times in the lives of numerous blues musicians who are from Mississippi. Clarksdale MS was planned to be our first, and brief, stop.
Tennessee Williams spent most of his childhood here. Like Hannibal and Sam Clemens, many people he encountered in his childhood turned up later in his novels. Clarksdale is also noted as one of many towns that had an important role to play in the development of the blues. But the town sidewalks were rolled up tight, few people about, and many, many storefronts boarded up. It was depressing and we just kept moving on.
We had lunch in Cleveland MS. Downtown was deserted. Local restaurant options were closed. Luckily Cleveland is the home of Delta State University so chain restaurant options were available. We chose Back Yard Burgers, a regional chain. Good food, but the money spent on interior aesthetics must have been miniscule.
Indianola MS was our major stop of the day. Getting there continued the drive through farm lands that looked rich and fertile. Our destination was the B.B. King Museum. It was excellently done and we spent several hours enjoying the displays.
The museum presents many aspects of B.B.Kings life. One theme I am sure we will experience frequently in the first part of this trip is the change in the U.S. from the brutal segregation actions and policies of the first half, or more, of the 20th century to the much improved current status. It is difficult to read the displays describing the lynchings, murders, almost non-existent schools for blacks, etc. Then you realize you are standing in the heart of that part of the country.
BB King was born Riley B King and learned his musical skills from a variety of self taught sources. The displays describe the other musical influences on him and how he grew from playing the “Chitlin Circuit” of African-American clubs in the late 1940s and early 50s to becoming a world renowned blues musician and ambassador of American music by the end of the 70s.
After Indianola, we made a quick stop in Leland MS. Leland is the birthplace of Jim Henson, creator of the Muppets. Leland does not have a major Muppet museum but the visitor’s center (closed on Sundays) does have a logo of Kermit the Frog on the building.
Vicksburg is our home for the next two nights and the scene of the first flowers we have observed.
Ed and Chris Vicksburg 10:30 pm