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Friday, May 29, 2009

The Texans Come to Town

We were so pleased to have Mike’s daughter Shannon and her boyfriend Jeff here for a visit just after we returned from California.

We took them downtown for a visit to our river and to the wonderful Peabody Hotel. Barbecue and Beale Street were also on the agenda despite intermittent rain. Walking in the rain is tolerable, though not as romantic as it’s cracked up to be. And, naturally, the visit called for a family cook-out. You can see the photos at

One of Shannon’s “must-see’s” was the duck march at the Peabody Hotel. The Memphis landmark was built in 1869, closed in 1923 and re-built in 1925 on Union Ave. as an exact replica of the original. During the urban blight of the 1970s, the Peabody closed again, but was fortunately refurbished and opened again in 1981.

It’s been the elegant setting where we’ve attned many high school and college formals. My singer father performed at the rooftop venue, and so has Mike. I feel like I’m stepping into Memphis history as well as my family’s whenever I enter its grand lobby. I fully expect to see familiar ghosts.

An old saying goes “The Mississippi Delta begins in the lobby of the Hotel Peabody and ends on Bourbon Street in New Orleans.”

Shannon wanted to see the duck march at the Peabody, but, when we arrived 30 minutes ahead of march time, the lobby was already packed and the balcony rails on the mezannine were lined two deep. Hundreds pack the viewing areas twice a day to see the ducks.

Every morning since the 1930s, the mallards depart their duck palace on the roof and enter an elevator for their ride to the lobby. Awaiting them in the lobby is a red carpet from the elevator to the magnificent marble fountain. Stairs are placed at the edge for the short-legged, pudgy fowls. A master of ceremonies announces their arrival, and the ducks march to their daytime pool to the strains of The King Cotton March.

They happily swim undisturbed all day, and the process is reversed – with just as much fanfare – in the evening. Shannon, since you couldn’t see the waddlers, here’s a video clip which proves that occasionally the march is less than orderly.

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