I had been praying for our sabbatical / study leave and asking God what to do and where to go . . . on my way to work one morning I was listening to Chuck Swindoll and he mentioned the Pyramids of Egypt. At that split second the pyramid- shaped sports complex of Memphis flashed in my mind. I thought that's it -- MEMPHIS! I presented the idea to Terry and we both realized it would be a lot of fun to revisit our old "haunts". We made a plan to work and play -- Study and tour the spots we wanted to see.
FRIDAY We took off for "River City" Friday afternoon with phone calls to KC intermitantly during the day to see if Baby Hope was about to make her appearance.
We moved to Memphis in our mid-twenties --we were pre-K (pre-kids)-- Terry still had lots of hair -- mine was dark brown. He was attending Harding Graduate School of Religion. The plan was that I would teach to support us. . . just didn't have a job. Within a couple of day, I heard about a school interviewing for a teacher in a private school for the handicapped. I went for the interview and was hired that day!
We were straight off the plane from India -- we loaded the smallest u-Haul trailer with every possible thing we owned, hitched it to our little Chevy and left Illinois headed for Memphis with the song "Please Come to Boston" blaring on the car radio.(at that point it became one of our favorite song) Our first digs were an apartment at 1582 Stribling. The economy was different then in the mid-seventies. We lived on my $400 a month teaching salary -- rent was $99 -- utitlies were $30 -- AND we made it!!! We shared the complex with other graduate students, widow ladies and alcoholics. Which proved for some interesting block parties.
Visited that apartment complex today -- I think the rent is still about the same -- there were gates up -- windows out and people just hanging around. We wanted to take a picture and a little guy popped out of one of the apartments stuck his head in our car window and said, "is you the pOlice?" We assured JR that no we weren't the police -- he was blocking Terry's camera lens as he told of a guy who got robbed their last night shile I thought, "let's just snap it and drive out as fast as we can"
Those were five good years -- We worked hard --Terry earned two degrees -- I taught at two different schools -- one year in the private school and two years at an all-black junior high school. (Naive -- the teachers discussed me -- I found out later-- and thought I wouldn't last until Thanksgiving). Terry served as a bus minister, taught 8th grade girls Bible class at Harding Academy, was their substitute teacher and weekly chapel speaker, while he studied hard to earn a Master's Degree in Family Counseling and a Doctorate of Ministry in Communications. (He was their first doctoral candidate). Every Spring at this time- he would be coming off a hard semester and me finishing up school-- we looked for somewhere to go to get AWAY from Memphis to refuel and renew!
We attended a church we dearly loved -- he hired on staff as family minister and bus minister-- we lived on the church property in a huge house which we didn't have enough furniture to fill -- and our daschund had the run of the property.
We learned a lot about life during these years -- with Terry's bus ministry work in the projects and me teaching 6 blocks from where Martin Luther King was assasinated. We lost a child in pregnancy --had 3 foster kids during --- and I underwent major surgery to improve our infertility issues.
One of our favorite things to do was walking the different gardens in Memphis: Dixon Gardens, Audubon Botanical Gardens and Overton Park -- Our favorite was Memorial Gardens CEMETARY of all things -- not just any cemetary - This one was owned by the Heinz Ketchup family and always in bloom with the most beautiful flowers. They had this built as a place families could come enjoy a park-like setting with all sorts of outdoor beautiful structures by Dionici Rodriquez, a Mexican architect, including a wonderful Crystal grotto.
SUNDAY: DIXON GARDENS & OVERTON PARK FORREST TRAILS
We lived there during the time Elvis died and were even among the throngs of people lined up outside Graceland that day. Not being fans of his, I'm not sure why we were there -- the town almost shut down -- people came in from everywhere -- just to be near the mania. Terry was asked to preach Elvis' memorial service on the date of his birthday because his step-mother had previously attended the church where he was the interim preacher.
MONDAY: Wanting to capture all of Memphis, we drove Elvis Presley Blvd to see what has changed since our last visit in 1992 when we brought the kids here.
Gates surrounding Graceland are completely covered with tributes to Elvis
Having taught so near the Lorraine Motel, we revisited the site that changed so many lives.
Now, we're heading North to the Churchill Memorial in Fulton, MO and to KC to check on our kids the "parents-in-waiting!
Only made it as far as Rolla, MO. We liked the accomodations and found Meramac Springs was a "must-see"! We decided Terry could study there quite well so we stayed an extra night. How fun to be off schedule! No 55-minute classes to teach five hours a day --
WEDNESDAY The Churchill Museum in Fulton, MO, proved impressive! The section of the Berlin Wall was a reminder of the threat that Communisim was to all of us during the 60's and 70's. We traced our way through the exhibits, reading all the headers and watching all the videos. . .witnessing the loss of so many lives and seeing the influence of this great leader on our own freedom today --wondering where would we have been today if Naziism had not been defeated???