|The First and Only
MATT HERITAGE TRAIL
Motor Coach Tour is history.
|Generally speaking, there were two reactions to Mississippi and some of its more
interesting residents on the first and last Matt Heritage Trail Bus Tour. One is that
although you may think you know what clinical obsession is, you don't really
appreciate it until you see it. The second reaction was the realization was that
Faulkner didn't need a great imagination. All he had to do was write about the
people he saw around him.
Mostly (as Ellen Ball from UConn and Don Clayton from Washington University
demonstrate at left), the reaction was laughter and having a good times with friends
from around the country.
We started with an unscheduled trip to the grand bazaar of the exotic that is
Graceland. Some folks hadn't quite finished their gift shopping so we put in some
mall time before heading south for a look at Jerry Lee Lewis's ranch in Nesbit. I had
called ahead and discovered that Jerry Lee has shut down his gift shop for some
reason, so there really was no need stop.
Graceland Too awaited.
Even though the house is currently undergoing renovation, Bill allowed us a quick
look at the house's most famous attribute--an out line of the novel, "A Fable",
Faulkner's last book, that is written on the wall of his writing room. Wearing what he
said was an old tweed jacket that had belonged to Faulkner, he told us some of the
lore of the house.
Afterward, Jeff Alford and Perry Moulds showed us some of the more historic
buildings on the Ole Miss campus. Curiously, none of the dormitories I lived in were
mentioned. Hmmm. We finished off our visit to Oxford with a short shopping
Square Books on the Oxford Square. As is the case with practically any bookstore
anywhere, it left the crowd wishing we'd had longer to browse.
By the time we got to Batesville, it was dark and we were running late. The folks on
the bus were deprived of seeing churches and schools I attended and ditches I
played in as a child. Maybe next time. They were treated (literally) to a short visit from
my poor,old mother, who (at Kim Francis's earlier request) made brownies for us.
We really needed more food.
Along the way to Clarksdale, I pointed out the bridge the Billy Joe McAllister might
have jumped off of (had he been a real person) and the site of the old cotton gin that
had been dismantled and carted off to Los Angeles to become the House of Blues on
Sunset Boulevard. When we got to Clarksdale, I pointed out the infamous
"Crossroads of the Delta" where Robert Johnson and the devil duelled for Johnson's
soul. I believe that both Robert Johnson and Satan are both real, but somehow, the
details of this story just never made sense to me.
We saw rather more of Clarksdale than we wanted before we got to Madidi, the
restaurant owned by Morgan Freeman.
Happily for us, Morgan was dining "in house" that night and few of our group said
hello. He promised us that he'd come up to our private room and say hi, but didn't. I
NEVER LIKED HIM!!! Seriously, his restaurant was as pleasant as he is. It took
forever to get served, but we all had a good time waiting-and waiting. (Oddly enough,
even though the food was slow, the drink orders from the bar came really fast.
The leisurely meal at Madidi meant that we were two hours late getting back to
Memphis. By the end of the day, we were all good friends who had seen just enough
of Mississippi to wonder why Faulkner got a Nobel Prize for fiction.
After wondering what the hell just happened, we moved on to Oxford, home of the
University of Mississippi. Within the last year, Oxford has been ranked as the
number one retirement community in the nation by Fortune and one of the ten best
college towns in the country by GQ. We saw why It deserves both rankings and is a
pretty nice place for people in between as well.
At Rowan Oak, the home of William Faulkner, we were met by Jeff Alford, Vice
Chancellor for Public Relations at the university; Perry Moulds, major gifts officer for
the College of Arts and Sciences; and Bill Griffith, the gregarious curator.
"So who WERE all
Ellen Ball, U of Connecticut
Mary Sue Cheeseman, U. of Cincinnati
Elena Cerri, U. of Pittsburgh
Don Clayton, Washington U.
Vicki Clayton, St. Louis
Karyn Connolly, Albany
Michelle Dodenhoff, Tulane
Chris DeWolf, Tulane
Kim Francis, U. of Cincinnati
Betsy Gellert, Albert Einstein
Dana Grossman, Dartmouth
Abe Habenstreit, Albert Einstein
Janet Honeycutt, U. of Arkansas
Matt Isch, U. of Cincinnati
Linda Karr, U. of Cincinnati
Maggie McDonald, U. of Pittsburgh
Mark McKeown, Tulane
Sally Millett, Atlanta
Linda Nine, U. of West Virginia
Nancy Nungesser, New Orleans
Joshua Waggoner, Tulane
Betsy Waters, Medical U. of S. Carolina
Butch Waters, Charleston
Charlotte Zamjahn, Wake Forest
AT CRACELAND TOO
|I wondered who Mr. McLeod would ambush with his serenade.
I couldn't imagine that it would be Anke from Columbia. .
|By the way, this is what the dark room in the house looks
like in the light. All of the photos you see are some of the
225,000 visitors to Graceland Too that Mr. McLeod has
photographed over the years.
The perfectly shaming woman with the orange hair, green
shirt and big mouth in this photo is my wonderful New
Zealand friend, Bridget "Fifi L'Amour" Venning. Fifi is as
adorable a person as you'll ever hope to meet, but she
tends to verbalize anything that happens to pop into her
brain at any given time. After her first visit to G2, she
walked out onto the front porch and shrieked, "I'm f******
speechless!" Ever since, I've considered that to be the only
|I think this is most of the group.