Life is Ducky at the Peabody in Memphis

The Peabody Ducks march the red carpet to return to the Duck Palace on the roof of the hotel.

At the Peabody Hotel, five well-fed ducks waddle across the red carpet, encouraged by two rapid thumps from the Duckmaster’s cane. No, this isn’t the opening of a children’s book, though the delighted faces of youngsters watching their progress speaks volumes. It’s a spectacle many, including a long list of glitterati  like Michael Jordan, Nicholas Cage and President Jimmy Carter, have found irresistible.

Ducks on a red carpet, you ask? Well, gather around and  I’ll tell you the story…… Continue reading

Diner – Elvis Ate Here

This was Elvis' favourite booth. His picture marks his spot. Could be him, couldn't it?

This was Elvis’ favourite booth. His picture marks his spot. Could be him, couldn’t it?

For the past month, as we have travelled across the top of the US on I-80, down through California and along I-40 to Memphis, our most recent stop, I have looked for authentic diners. In their heyday, during the first two thirds of the 20th century, nearly 7,000 diners dotted the American landscape. They were THE stop for travellers on classic roads like Route 66, or for those looking for a hearty, inexpensive meal in many cities.

Today fewer than 2,000 remain and most of those are in the east. So looking for one in the Midwest and west was like searching for a needle in a haystack. The fast food chains have supplanted this uniquely American institution in the hearts and appetites of Americans. So imagine my delight when, in Memphis, I found The Arcade, a diner that has been around since 1919! Continue reading

‘I Have a Dream’ Lives on in Memphis

marchers sI’m a child of the 60s. In August, 1963, I watched avidly as thousands marched on Washington and musicians like Joan Baez and Bob Dylan lent their voices to the cause of racial equality. And I thrilled to the words of Martin Luther King Jr. as he proclaimed, “I have a dream!”

Two years later, as protesters marched on Montgomery, Alabama, I joined the sit-in at the American Consulate in Montreal, along with dozens of other McGill students. We wanted to express our solidarity with the marchers down south. And we did. But I’ve realized how small was our contribution. Continue reading

Elvis and Me: Memphis

Elvis with gold record Elvis and Me Memphis

Elvis poses with a gold record in the awards room at Graceland

When I was a young pre-teen, my mom bought me a poodle skirt with a felt record on the pocket. But instead of the one with Elvis on its label, mine had Vaughan Monroe. Vaughan Monroe!!! It was probably her way of trying to keep me from the brink of depravity – all that hip wiggling. But whenever I listened to The King, I would turn the skirt back to front! Continue reading