Tuesday 15th May
Who said this? Yes of course, it was ‘THE GREATEST’ Muhammed Ali fighting Ernie Terrell at the Houston Astrodome on February 6th 1967. Ali had just changed his name from Cassius Clay (watch it on Youtube – great stuff) and Terrell refused to call him Ali. In the 7th round he shouts “whats my name, whats my name” over and over again before going onto win back the world title in 15 rounds (you don’t get all this precious info on any other blog you know). We have now arrived in Louisville for a brief overnight stay before pushing onto Chicago. In doing so we drove, painlessly I might add, through a time zone. We are now only 5 hours behind the UK. I have always been a huge fan of Ali. Flawed in so many ways but overall a great life ambassador, to my eyes anyway. We were hoping to visit The Ali Centre this afternoon but it closes at 4.15pm so we’ll have to go in the morning. Never mind, en route to dinner this evening we will drive past his birth place – see below. The rather monotonous drive from Nashville took around 4 hours, but was interrupted by a delicious burger lunch at Wendy’s. If you didn’t like burgers you would starve in this country.
Before I forget, we were really very sad earlier today…….we finished our last Rich Tea biscuits with our tea this morning. Would brought out from the UK two packets and now they’re all gone!
Above is the actual house that Muhammad Ali (MA) grew up in. As the sign below states his family were middle class and this shows in the relative leafy and airy quality of the area. Daft though it sounds, I felt a real sense of his presence, in that one could picture him, as described in his biography, in his youth sparing outside in the front garden with his brother. I’ve seen this picture in the biog’s I’ve read on the great man, so it was a thrill being there. Its now a museum, although it was closed by the time we got there.
Above are the gates to Cave Hill Cemetery where M.A. is buried. He died on 3rd June 2016. Again, closed when we visited.
We returned to MA’s cemetery this morning. It is a most beautiful park. His grave and head stone are very subtle and tasteful, if one can say such things about a grave? And nothing like we expected. His grave is halfway up the slope just in front of the red flowers in a lovely peaceful spot. What a man. RIP Ali.
Immediately following this we set off for Chicago. The Satnav said 3.5 hours. It took 4.5. It is forgiven however because what on earth did we do before Satnav? Its a life saver.
We pulled up outside our hotel in the heart of Chicago City (having regained the hour lost the previous day. Louisville and Chicago must sit either side of a time line I guess) when a tall man suddenly appeared and said “hello handsome, can I help you?”. Naturally I immediately spun round, and yes he was talking to me. I tried not to be discouraged by the thickness of his spectacles and just went with the flow. Turns out this is Reggie a retired Firefighter Captain of 73 years vintage. Now concierge at the hotel. Sadly his wife of 50 years died 4 years ago but he is comforted by his 5 children and 23 grand children. At just the 10 grand children, Linda and I are clearly beginners at this game. The added bonus is that Reggie is into the Blues and was able to point me in the direction of all the best places. I’ve already booked tickets for Buddy Guys (look him up) Legends Club tomorrow night.
I can’t get over this city, everyone is so friendly and helpful (mind you we’ve only been here for 2 hours! They can’t have received the memo telling them that city folk are supposed to be surly and rude. Lets hope it continues.
Several years ago I came out of Charing Cross Station in London and noticed a man standing on one leg, arm outstretched holding a magazine. On closer inspection he was a ‘Big Issue’ vendor. Normally these people are fairly invisible, but not this guy. I approached him and said “how long have you been in marketing?”. “You what mate?” came the response. We had a god chat I became a regular customer thereafter. The point is he stood (literally) out. For quite different reasons so did the guy below who was stationed just down the road from our hotel. I approached him and said Ive got to throw some money in your hat “how long have you been in marketing?”. Turns out he’s Micheal, just out of prison and homeless. “What were you in prison for” I asked. He said, “for killing bald headed men who ask too many questions” (No he didn’t). I advised him to get a job I marketing. His message is blunt but impactful which is half the battle in that game.
Took the car back this morning. We’d been through a lot together between New Orleans and Chicago (just under 2000 miles). Given some of the dirt tracks we’d travelled down in the Delta looking for various birth places of blues legends, the old gal seemed out of place on the streets of Chicago, tired and covered in dust. We were delivering her back two days early, we really don’t need a car in the city, and guess what. There is a penalty for for late return, but no refund for early return. This really surprised me!!
Off out clubbing in a moment. The musicians don’t start until 9.30pm at Buddy Guys place which presents us with a problem………..will we be able to stay awake?
We’ll be sightseeing around the city tomorrow – Friday, so get ready for lots of boring holiday type snaps that nobody really wants to see.