Delta Days, Part 2 of 2

Coming back from Helena, Arkansas, we decided to take the boys to Ground Zero (it’s the blues club in Clarksdale owned by Bill Luckett and Morgan Freeman). I didn’t eat here, but the boys had a snack. The food here is…meh…forgettable. But that’s really not why people come here. In fact, we sat close to some people from Indiana and they were just happy to see such a place.
Ground Zero Blues Club, Clarksdale MS//

I didn’t eat anything because I knew I’d we’d be going to Hicks Tamales afterwards, but we got a small order at Larry’s Hot Tamales first (this pic, below), and wound up liking them better!
Larry's Hot Tamales, Clarksdale MS//

And I love Hicks…

Hicks' Hot Tamales, Clarksdale MS//

…but today they just weren’t as good as usual. Hopefully they were just having an ‘off’ day.
Hicks' Hot Tamales, Clarksdale MS//

We drove over to Money, Mississippi to check on Bryant’s Grocery and photographed these Bernard Coffindaffer crosses:
Bernard Coffindaffer Crosses, Money MS//

…and the current state of Bryant’s Grocery, where Emmett Till’s fate was sealed. Hopefully soon, Till Bill 2 for unsolved crimes will be passed, which “will eliminate the 10-year sunset provision for the existence of the original law and lift the 1969 time limit on cases under consideration and extend it indefinitely into the future.”
Bryant's Grocery, Money MS//

Emmett Till’s casket will be on display at the new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture
Bryant's Grocery, Money MS//

I watched the ‘hard hat tour’ of the museum led by Director Lonnie Bunch a couple of months ago on C-Span; so much work and amazing artifacts and exhibits will be on display — really looking forward to seeing it next year.
Bryant's Grocery, Money MS//

Supper at Lusco’s in Greenwood, Mississippi — open (and mostly unchanged) since 1933
Lusco's, Greenwood MS//

famous for its curtained booths

which are separate little rooms each table gets. The curtain is pulled, and you’ve got your own private dining space.

…there are buttons on the wall for which you can (if they work, many of them don’t) summon a waiter if needed. It’s Mississippi’s version of Downton Abbey’s bell system.

Except here, m’lady needs the pompano rather than the tea service. Actually it was the Earl of our table who had the pompano, which they’re famous for
Pompano, Lusco's, Greenwood MS//

…and for m’lady, the crabmeat Gayle:
Crabmeat Gayle, Lusco's, Greenwood MS//
Go now, because a member of the younger generation told us they don’t plan to keep it going once it’s their turn to take over. That may be years and years and years from now, but still. Sad.

We promised the boys dessert since it was Friday (we let them get dessert on Fridays), so before services, we ran to Crystal Grill to share some cheesecake:
Cheesecake, Crystal Grill, Greenwood MS//

and pie, of course. Of course, pie! This is Crystal Grill, after all. Pie is their thing. Obviously, right?!

We had services at Greenwood’s Ahavath Rayim, where we just love everybody. There were other kids about Shug and Shugie’s age, and they ran around after services playing.

One of my favorite pictures is one Bill Aron took for the Shalom Y’all project here at this synagogue. Bill Erber, mailman and part-time policeman, is there holding the Torah, and he’s still in his USPS cap.

From a Sound Portrait David Isay did:
ISAY: The last to show up is Joe Erber. He is not an ordained rabbi, but ever since 1968, when Ahavath Rayim could no longer support its full-time rabbi, a congregant has had to lead the services. Erber, as usual, arrives a little out of breath in his police uniform — a walkie-talkie and a billy club on one hip, a .357 Magnum on the other. But even the president of the congregation doesn’t seem to mind.

LESLIE KORNFELD: He keeps us all quiet. (Laughs.)

ERBER: I asked a rabbi about that, and he said, “If soldiers in Israel carry a gun and they daben and they pray, then it’s perfectly alright in America, too.”

ISAY: The congregants begin making their way into the sanctuary, which is stunning. Old, but immaculately kept up, with high arched ceilings, dark wood and stained glass all around. They pull prayer books off a shelf at the back of the synagogue. The men take tattered prayer shawls off a wooden rack, kiss them, and drape them over their shoulders. Joe Erber walks to the front of the synagogue. And steps up onto the pulpit. This room, he says, brings back a lifetime of memories.

ERBER: I can close my eyes. My father wore hearing-aid glasses — he had a hearing aid in both ears. And we used to have a Rabbi that reminded me of a Baptist preacher when he started the sermon. He would rant and rave and pound the pulpit to get his points across. And when he got up and it became time for the sermon, my father would reach up and you would hear “click click” as he hit both hearing aid switches. And he would sit there with the prettiest smile on his face and his eyes closed, and pretty soon he’d start snoring. And I can see that just like it was yesterday.

I miss Joe.

Then we had a nightmare stay at the Indianola Best Western. There are very few places to stay there: this hotel (which a few weeks after we were there transformed into a Quality Inn) and other 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 star hotels (this was the highest rated, and it’s just a 2-1/2). See how there are three room numbers on our key sleeve? That’s because we had to visit three different rooms before we got one. In a thunderstorm (outside corridor).

The first room was under renovation, so we found it with a toilet between the two beds. WHAT!? Then the next one had a do not disturb tag on the doorknob, and I’m NOT trying a key on a very possibly-occupied room, and our last room…well…

It had clearly been smoked in, there was no stopper in the sink, the phone was unplugged, and some kind of alarm went off in the middle of the night for which the front desk said it was a regular meaningless occurrence and not to worry about it.

Thankfully we were there just long enough to sleep. In the morning, we were *out*.

After services another day, we had lunch at the Delta Meat Market in Cleveland.
Delta Meat Market, Cleveland MS//

Delta Meat Market, Cleveland MS//

Delta Meat Market, Cleveland MS//

I had the roast chicken curry, served on McCarty plates:
Roasted Chicken Curry, Delta Meat Market, Cleveland MS//

Another night, we stayed in Greenwood. Options: a Holiday Inn, HI Express, a Hampton, and this Best Western. And the Alluvian, my favorite Delta hotel. But we were going to be checking in after 9p and checking out before 8a, so we figured we’d save a ton of money and stay elsewhere since we wouldn’t be there long enough to really ‘enjoy’ the hotel.

For some reason we picked to stay here even though it was a Best Western (the only other BW the boys know is the historic BW Windsor Hotel in Americus, Georgia which is so neat).

Oh wow, I hated this hotel. First of all, who out there is stealing towels?
Best Western, Greenwood MS (ugh terrrrrible!)//

The boys and I were getting dressed the next morning while Av was taking his shower. All of a sudden ***the room’s fire alarm went off***! It was an old alarm and just crazy loud — we were standing right underneath it practically when it went off. Imagine having your eardrums tasered. Oh yeah.

The three of us ran out (not completely dressed even, I think poor Shugie was still in his underwear) not so much concerned about an in-room fire but just to get away from ten thousand decibels. Av grabbed a towel and hopped out of the shower. Once the door opened, the alarm quit.

Av put on some clothes, went down to the front desk if they had any idea what in the world was going on in our room, and the first thing they asked was if he had been taking a shower.

He said yes.

They asked if the shower produced steam.

He answered that when he takes showers, there’s steam.

They: “oh yeah. Steam sets off our fire alarms.”

WHAT. hahaha! I mean, all we could do was laugh because two nights in a row we had just the craziest hotel experiences! And what kind of hotels were we staying in?!? Seriously so crazy!

Well, everything else was terrific and we got to see a bunch of people we hadn’t in a while, and the boys got to go to the brand-new Grammy Museum which was a-maz-ing (upcoming post). They’re still talking about it!

So, friends, have a great time in the Delta but maybe learn from our mistakes and consider sticking with the Alluvian. xoxo!

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