Monday, March 16, 2009

Day 3 - Clarksdale, MS

This is the coolest town in the universe.

"You women have heard of jalopies,
You heard the noise they make.
Let me introduce my new Rocket 88.
Yes it's straight, just one way.
Everybody likes my new Rocket 88."

This might not sound like much but lots of people claim it's the first rock and roll song. Ike Turner wrote it in 1947 or thereabouts. In the basement of our hotel.

We spent the afternoon sitting out front drinking beer in cans listening to stories told by the proprietor, "Rat", whose mother opened the place as a boarding house in 1944.

It seems Ike Turner and Sonny Boy Williamson both lived here and John Lee Hooker was in and out. In the 1920s and 1930s it was a black hospital. (segregation days) Bessie Smith died here after a car accident. The room where she died is now a shrine.

The Jim and Drew room was formerly occupies by the Staple Singers and "the Siamese twins."

This place is basically unchanged from when it was a segregated hotel/boarding house in the 1940s. The bathrooms are down the hall. There are room keys. Checking IDs for Homeland Security is from some other universe.

Note the old Schlitz sign.

It's not physically possible to bring our bikes into our room. Rat told us to chain them to his riding lawn mower out front.

Rat says the lawn mower has been there for three years and nobody has messed with it because everybody in the neighborhood knows he's sleeping on the other side of that window. With a gun.

-- Post From My iPhone

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