As we sat at the Firehouse (see my last post - Homeward Bound) eating establishment, I glanced around in curiosity at the memorabilia. As one would expect given the name of the joint, there were fireman's boots hanging on a hook, along with some fire hoses, axes, etc. In case I have been too subtle, this building was once an actual firehouse.
There was also an autographed note from Eddie Money encased under a glass frame on the wall. (I never knew that Eddie Money was involved with fire fighting, but then there is a lot I don't know, especially about out-of-the-way dining establishments devoted to hosting Kiwanis or Rotary on alternate Thursdays.)
The floor was original pine six-inch rough board/planks. It was at least 75 or 100 years old. I liked that. Nearly all the men in the place wore their hats (baseball caps with the bills bents, and edges frayed in true NASCAR style) while they ate. I didn't like that.
Babies, several of them, wailed and cooed in the baby-carriers, which were placed on the dining tables, right along with the silverware and the napkins. I didn't know what to think of that. Must be a local custom as no one else seemed to think anything of it.
...and as we waited for our food to arrive, the fellow at the next table advised my husband that it might be wiser not to mention to anyone else that we were from California. "Not everyone around here is as tolerant as I am." * * *
Next morning, we drove into Tupelo and stopped by the birthplace of Elvis Presley. His name is on signs beside the highway, streets bear his name, and then there is the small white house where he was born, the church he attended where he first learned to sing and play the guitar, and finally the museum.
I was never a huge Elvis fan (the church of my youth frowned upon his lifestyle and understandably so); but we were, nevertheless reminded during the 15 minute video that the only albums for which he won Grammys were gospel albums.
During the re-enactment of a church service like the ones Elvis attended in his youth, my husband smiled as he realized that I was silently saying the words of the various songs right along with the film. The Old Rugged Cross, Let Us Have a Little Talk with Jesus, I'll Fly Away, and What a Friend We have in Jesus. Oh, yes, I remember them all.
* * *
The Tupelo tribute to Elvis was humble and authentic. We later drove by Graceland, but we did not stop to go in. It was tacky, artificial, even from the outside, and according to several I have spoken with who have visited the inside tour, it is very Hollywood and blatantly commercialized.
The two seemed to me to reflect the contrast in the progression of his life itself. He began in a genuine family, a real church, and a humble job. He ended, sadly, in a mansion, surround by sycophants, and deluded by his own celebrity.
His was a true cautionary tale of success on the world's terms. It may offer much, but in the end, takes away everything worth keeping. * * *
Lord, please help me to remember that success is a journey not a destination; and that the way we conduct ourselves upon that journey is more important than any recognition we may ever attain.