A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: Jim Colyer



Michael and I drove to Chicago for a June 18 baseball game between the New York Yankees and Chicago Cubs. The Yankees won 4-3. They have won 3 out of the 5 times we have seen them. We found Wrigley Field on the north side of town after cruising by the Sears tower and along Lake Shore Drive. It is good to get out on the road with my son.

November, 1974 - Chicago

I drove to Chicago to see Burton Cummings & The Guess Who. It was funny because the concert was in an auditorium and somewhat formal. I lit a cigar, and an usher came and made me put it out. I saw The Guess Who three times, 1974-75. Their music inspired me to return to school and get my degrees.

June, 1966 - Chicago

My cousin and I were talking after having watched "The Avengers" on TV. We got the idea of driving to Chicago. We took off in the night. In Chicago, we drove along Lake Shore Drive and saw State Street. We went to an old time burlesque show. We ran out of ideas and headed home. I had read Theodore Dreiser's novel, Sister Carrie, about a girl who went to Chicago to find work. One must have a mission if he is to travel. Chicago sits by Lake Michigan.

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Jim Colyer in Frankfurt

I was stationed in Germany in the Army. I saw Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Bamberg and Nuremburg. In Frankfurt, I was out walking one night and chanced upon the house of the poet Goethe. It was wierd because I had seen a picture of the house in a book in the library at Fort Knox. The city of Frankfurt was founded by Charlemagne in 794. It sits on the Main river. The Main flows into the Rhine. I ended up in Nuremburg where the war trials were held. World War II had been over 25 years when I arrived. I saw no evidence of the war. Some soldiers want to return to Germany or think they do. I had no desire. I found German cities bleak and colorless, old gray and brown buildings. There is a quaintness, like going back a thousand years. Germany is still synonymous with Adolf Hitler. Its only desirable export has been the Kessler Twins, two song-and-dance girls who did variety television in the U.S. in the 1960's. Their names were Alice and Ellen, and they were leggy. Agnetha Faltskog of ABBA was recording in Germany in 1969 although it was two decades before I knew it. Any trip to Europe will tell you why our ancestors left it. The United States is the only country in the world fit to live in. Even European license plates suck. They are flat and elongated and ugly.

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Jim Colyer on Lake Shore Drive

June, 1966 - Chicago

Cousin Larry and I were talking after having watched "The Avengers" on TV. We got the idea of driving to Chicago. We took off in the night. In Chicago, we drove along Lake Shore Drive and saw State Street. We went to a burlesque show. We ran out of ideas quicky and headed home. I learned one must have a mission if he is to travel. Chicago sits on Lake Michigan.

November, 1974 - Chicago

I drove to Chicago to see Burton Cummings & The Guess Who. I saw the group 3 times, 1974-75. Their music inspired me in my efforts to get my degrees and get into the work force.

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Jim Colyer at Graceland

The following are some random thoughts I had during my stay in Memphis, June 18 and 19th, 1977. At 8AM, June 18th, I stood in front of the iron gates of Graceland, home of Elvis Presley. Grafitti was written all over the stone wall circling the 14 acres. Women from across the nation vowed their undying love. Cars were already parked out front along Elvis Presley Boulevard. People gawked curiously over the wall. Men looked slightly awkward, and middle-age women momentarily became teenagers again. People of all ages streamed by, old and young. "This is a shrine," I thought. Unexpectedly, the guard opened the gate and announced that Elvis was away and groups could be taken up to the house. Everyone would have to remain in the jeep, however. The guard provided some information on the ride up to the front door. Elvis bought the house in 1957. At that time, it was miles from anything. The area has been developed since. Elvis occupied the upstairs. His aunt and grandmother lived downstairs. They attended the church next door. When the guard mentioned that Elvis' bedroom was in the upper right corner of the house, a lady expressed her wish to know who took out his laundry. I guess she felt a need to ask a question. I asked if Elvis had his own studio. The guard said no, that when the (Moody Blue) album was recorded there, furniture was moved to make room for the equipment. The house has 23 rooms. A prominent feature is the set of lions flanking the walkway. The swimming pool is to the right. The guard took pictures for those who had cameras. About 10:AM, a parade of decorated cars passed by. The parade was sponsered by the fan clubs.


MSU is the prominent university in Memphis, and I was able to spend some time on the campus. Undoubtedly, it draws heavily on the Memphis school system but a school the size of MSU must be influential statewide.

Overton Park Zoo

These are observations made of the various animals:

The giraffe's neck whirls as if it were made of wire. The spots are large on its body. Those on its legs and neck taper and grow smaller. The entrance to its quarters is conveniently high to allow for its height.

The Kodiac bears are interesting. Their rounded, little ears, big snouts and thick necks make them look like real teddy bears. They stand on their hind legs and catch the food people throw them.

It is remarkable how much hippopotamuses resemble pigs. They are related. Hippos are aquatic and may remain submerged in water for lengthy periods.

The most impressive and hideous of all snakes are the python and the anaconda. The king cobra is long but rather trim.

Gorillas are not as large as the media have portrayed them.

I was struck by the awareness of the baboons. Their eyes dart to and fro and look as if they are studying you. They are reserved and bored.

The orangutans are the most bizarre of the anthropoids. Their arms are longer than their legs.

The tiger is easily the most intimidating of the big cats. The lion is smaller and more passive by comparison. There are two species of tigers: Siberian and Bengal.

The kangeroo uses his tail to form a tripod when he sits.

Llamas are found in the Andes of South America.

Timber wolves are lean, nervous creatures.

Zebras look like plump ponies with stripes.

Peacocks wander leisurely. Their variety of colors makes them the most beautiful of birds, blue necks and green tails. The noise they make will cause anyone to jump.

Brooks Memorial Art Gallery

The paintings here are of an international variety. The most striking are those from northern Europe. There are works by English, French and Flemish artists. One work by Peter Paul Reubens is called "Portrait of a Lady." To me, these old paintings are unrivalled. They seem to embody life itself just as great music is more than simply a mechanical arrangement of notes and chords. Their colors are rich and beautiful.

Pink Palace Museum

Museums reflect the areas in which they are located more so than libraries. Objects can not be duplicated or run off a press. The basic unit of a museum is the exhibit. The Pink Palace has two kinds of exhibits: those of natural history and those of cultural history. The agricultural and economic background of Memphians is emphasized. An early American drugstore is reproduced.

Memphis Queen

I went for a ride on the Memphis Queen. Hernando de Soto the Mississippi River. The Mississippi is to Memphis as the Ohio is to Louisville. Memphis has 3 riverboats offering rides to the public.

The Mississippi literally divides the country into east and west. It was romanticized by Mark Twain in his books. I briefly crossed the river by car to Arkansas. Later, I rode up Beale Street. This hot spot from another era was virtually abandoned.

Jim Colyer
Originally written, June, 1977

Karen and I went to Memphis, November 12 & 13, 1982. The Elvis legend is the one thing which had assumed a whole new dimension since I was there in June, 1977. Little did I know then that he only had two more months to live.

Graceland is open to tourists now, and for 5 bucks apiece we were escourted through several rooms. Karen liked the gold piano. We saw the TV room with the 3 sets, one for each channel, and the trophy room full of mementos. Dozens of gold and platinum records lined the walls. Outside were several cars Elvis had owned. Over by the pool is where he is buried along with his parents and grandmother. We walked to the gravesite before the tour began. Karen bought post cards of the inside of the house because no pictures were allowed. Souvenir shops were plentiful across Elvis Presley Boulevard.

Leaving Graceland, we went to the zoo. The Memphis zoo is my favorite perhaps because it was the first one I ever saw. It is well-planned. I like the way the primates, carnivores and reptiles are housed.

We took in the same things I did in 1977: the Brooks Art Gallery, Pink Palace and Memphis Queen. We got to the Pink Palace at dusk and could just make out that it was pink. It was cool aboard the riverboat, but the experience deepened my understanding of our nation's river system.

We drove by Sun Records.

We finished our trip the way it started, with Elvis. We drove to Beale Street looking for a statue of Elvis recently erected in an attempt to renovate the area. "There it is!" Karen shouted. It was night, but we lept from our car and ran to it.

Jim Colyer
Originally written,
November, 1982
Contact: jim@jimcolyer.com

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Jim Colyer on Lookout Mountain

Karen and I returned to Chattanooga, January 7-9, 1983, and added another dimension to our understanding of the area. We visited Lookout Mountain and its two attractions, Rock City and Ruby Falls. Rock City is just that, a lot of boulders with a path winding through them. The walk climaxes at Lover's Leap with a panoramic view. Rock City was opened to the public in 1932 by Garnet Carter.

Ruby Falls was discovered by a man named Lambert and named for his wife, Ruby. It is located within a cave inside Lookout Mountain, nearly 1/4 mile directly below Point Park. An elevator lowers people to the cave. The falls originates underground and flows into the Tennessee River.

Point Park, perched at the northern tip of Lookout Mountain, is part of the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park. Our time at Chickamauga Battlefield must forever cause us to associate the area with the Civil War. The battlefield is a succession of monuments and cannons. The view from Point Park is the best on Lookout Mountain.

No trip to Chattanooga would be complete without seeing the Chattanooga Choo Choo. This is a complex of old train cars and shops as they may have looked a hundred years ago. The train called the Chattanooga Choo Choo came down from Cincinnati and was the first transportation system between north and south following the Civil War.

July, 1977 - Chattanooga

I saw Ruby Falls inside Lookout Mountain. It presents a stunning spectacle, a waterfall actually within the mountain. Point Park sits atop Lookout Mountain. I drove down between school years while working at Castle Heights Military Academy. Chattanooga is about 100 miles south of Nashville.
Contact: jim@jimcolyer.com

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