Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Doing The Tourist Thing in Memphis

Saturday - Early Afternoon

Our next stop as tourists was Sun Studio, the birth place of Rock-n-Roll, in early afternoon after a chow down at a downtown Mexican restaurant that we remembered fondly from a trek during the summer months when it was so hot you could fry an egg on the sidewalks. The interior was super cool and the beer was served in frosty mugs with droplets of condensation rolling down the sides. It was heaven on earth that day.

Sun Records is located on a difficult section to navigate on Union Ave. After driving around several times, we finally found the way to the side parking lot. We elected to opt out of the tour and perused the gift shop, taking pictures of all the cool memorabilia and soak up the ambience. When it was time for the tour to begin, the line formed out of thin air! At least 25 to 30 people trooped through the back room and entered the sanctuary.

After all, this is where Rock-n-Roll was born. Elvis, (“who do you sound like?” “I
don’t sound like nobody” he replied) (he said a mouthful), Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison, Carl Perkins, the list goes on in history.
We bought trinkets and trash decided to move on.

A horror awaited us on our return to the car. The parking lot, on the side of the building is large enough for maybe 20 cars parked pulling into spaces nose first to the building. Because of a lack of space and so much demand for the tour, about eight parking spots were behind the pull in spots, sideways, along the fence. Naturally the one car who pulled in there was directly behind us.

It looked extremely bad. Joe thought we would have to wait for the owner of the car to emerge and let us out! But not to fear, I volunteered to maneuver him out, with hand signals!

We began and immediately I knew this was close to impossible. If he cut it to the right, he was going to hit the car to the left of us. Same with cutting it left. A direct hit to the car behind us was imminent.

Out of the darkness of the Sun Studio came a shadowy figure making his way towards us.

“Need help?” he asked. I knew immediately he was stationed there waiting for unsuspecting tourists to get into a pickle. Just like us. For one evil moment I thought maybe it was his car holding us hostage! He was dressed well for the chilly day. A heavy coat, denim jeans, woolen gloves and a matching sock cap. His snappy outfit was completed with sparkling white tennis shoes. Not your average pan handler. I began to relax even though he had appeared out of the shadows like an apparition.

“No!” Joe replied, “She is doing fine.”

“What!! Is he smoking crack!!” That was my reaction to Joe’s refusal of the help.

I knew right then that Joe was thinking the same thing about the guy wanting money, but I also knew I was not doing a fine job. But I put on a brave face and began to wave Joe back for one more try. The Shadow stepped in and began to order Joe back and to cut it to the right by turning an imaginary wheel with his arm. Joe followed directions and I got in the front and gave Joe clues at how close his fender was to the car on the left (half an inch).

Back and forth, over and over, after four rocks, the car was free and the guy smiled brightly and began to walk off. You would not believe how close Joe had to cut it. At one time I put my hand over my mouth as the Shadow barked “Stop!”…you knew you better STOP.

Joe quickly pulled out a couple of bucks. I know I was totally grateful. I could never have gotten us out. He took it with dignity and waved good-bye as he returned to the shadows.

“I wonder if Sun Studio hires him to stand out there and help us poor souls?” I wondered aloud.

“Suckers like us, you mean?”

What ever we were, I imagine the Shadow makes quite a good living helping tourists out of the Sun Studio parking lot. He saved my skin because we all know how this story would have ended if he had not stepped out of the shadows!


Donna said...

Very interesting indeed!

I'd love to visit the Sun Studio, but I don't think my husband's nerves could take the parking situation.

Nelle said...

I would love to visit Sun Studio but I have to tell you I am horrible at those parking situations. I think I have some type of spacial impairment as I think I am close and see that I am a foot away! Good job Joe!

Beth said...

I'm glad the Shadow helped. Sounds like a decent guy.

pia said...

I know so many people who have made the "pilgrimage" and none like Elvis. But it has become a father/son ritual among many of my friends I like Elvis but only the Sun Sessions :) love Roy Orbison

I am spatially impaired so am impressed at any parking

mtrib2 said...

Having spent this morning reading your entries, I enjoyed the writing about early school days and home life. Those memories come back, especially the class photo each year. Grades K thru 6 contained approx. 30 students in each. In Joliet, IL, there were several grade school districts, before entering the larger junior high, and then new 1 of 3 high schools. So, grade school was the most memorable, knowing individual students, from year to year. Life seemed so real, so apparent in grade school, knowing who's father did what for a living, and where each kid went to church. My Mom said raising the kids when young was easy, it is when they get older, that it gets difficult. That was a time of life that can never be repeated. mark