Monday, July 20, 2020

Delta Blues Trip - Leg 2b (7/18/2020)

Trip Plans
Leg 1
Leg 3 and 2a

UPDATE:  I failed to mention that as I write this, the world is covered in COVID-19.  I don't know if that's the cause of it; but, there were VERY FEW public restrooms available to us as we made our travels.  Take it light on the drinks and food so you don't absolutely HAVE to go!

These dusty old roads were probably traveled by many a blues performer in the early 1900s, folks who would pick cotton and dig dirt by day, and pick guitars and dig beats by night.  Yet, here I am at 47 years old, making my way through to visit the grave sites of people whose music I have long admired and appreciated.

While I've told my stories out of order a bit, the true path was this:
Memphis to Clarksdale and Crossroads 1b and 1a, to Rosedale and Crossroads 2, then to Leland and the Jim Henson Boyhood Museum, then to the grave of Charley Patton, B.B. King's grave, Dockery Farms and Crossroads #3, the grave of Robert Johnson, and a few markers that tell the story of Emmitt Till.

This post will take us to the grave sites.

CHARLEY PATTON - Includes Willie James Foster

First, we went to the grave of Charley Patton.  When you arrive at the location, continue on a bit, turn right by the covered tractor thingy-thing, and go to the back corner of the cemetery.  I mention that because I parked at the first cemetery drive that I saw, and had to walk ALL THE WAY around the cemetery to find his grave marker.

Click to open full size and read.

Right next to Charley Patton is the grave of blues harpist Willie James Foster, from Leland, MS, who had a military plaque behind his monument.

I wiped the monuments down for the photos, and after we wandered around a bit and looked at other stones, then made our way to our next destination.


Before leaving Charley and James, I plugged the next location into my GPS and followed the course.  It took us to Indianola, MS, where the grave of B.B. King is located, however I was frustrated that GPS led me to the museum and not a cemetery.  So, I took photos of the museum.

Then, I decided to check findagrave .com to see if I could see a photo of it, and it appeared to be in a garden, possibly behind or somehow inside of the museum.  I figured you had to pay to get in and see the grave - not unlike Elvis' grave - the photo showing a black granite on top of a white concrete patio.  As we were leaving, I looked over and saw a side-view of what looked like the grave.  I whipped the vehicle into a parking space and made by way across to the location that looked like it could be it.

And it was!

Riley B. King 1925 – 2015

Don’t know why I was made to wander.
I’ve seen the light, Lord, I’ve felt the thunder.
Someday I’ll go home again
And I know they’ll take me in.
And take it home.

Lyrics from the song “Take it Home,” released on the 1979 album by the same name
BB King

And we have to hear some B.B. King now...

In the real path of the trip, next we went to Dockery Farms, followed by the final grave visit on this trip.  Then on to Johnson's


This is the grave that I needed to visit.  I have been drawn to Robert Johnson since the first time I heard his legend, to which I don't ascribe, but love telling.  I needed to visit and see his monument in person.  Note there are two other supposed locations for his gravesite; but, I choose this one because someone who was at the burial told an historian that it was the location.

I found myself getting more and more excited as the GPS showed me getting closer and closer.  When we showed up at the location, and I saw the church, I knew just where we were and exactly where the cemetery plot was located.

Click to see full size image, but sun bleached makes it tough to read.
CLICK HERE for easier to read text.

Robert L. Johnson

May 8, 1911 – August 16, 1938
- musician & composer -
he influenced millions beyond his time
Jesus of Nazareth, King of Jerusalem,
I know that my Redeemer liveth and that
He will call me from the Grave.
…handwritten by Robert Johnson, shortly before his death and preserved
among family papers by his sister, Carrie H. Thompson

“When I leave this town

I’m ‘on’ bid you fare…farewell
And when I return again
You’ll have a great long story to tell”
…from “From Four Until Late” by Robert Johnson

This memorial marker is placed at the base of this

old pecan tree as was Robert Johnson himself, prior
to his burial nearby…in accordance with the account
of eye-witness Mrs. Rose Eskridge, as told to
historian Stephen C. LaVere

So, nothing supernatural; but, from nowhere we were visited by a toad.

So, that's the end of this trip.  I hope you enjoyed the photos and the tour and the dialogue.

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