After Vicksburg we sailed to Greenville and the launching point to visit Indainola the birth place of B.B. King. The boat landed against a huge levee bank emblazoned with a welcome message from the towns folk. We boarded the bus for the trip to Indianola, a little mid western town likely unchanged for 100 years.
Leaving the American Queen we travelled by bus to the museum outside of Indianola. We arrived in front of an old gin which has been transformed into a music hall with the museum to great man attached and his grave and tombstone beside it. Our visit commenced with Kerry posing in front of a monument to “Lucille” BB Kings guitar followed by an ensemble of male gospel singers presenting some of BB’s tunes in the music hall from which we proceeded to the museum. The museum is superb. It is a mixture of pieces of the past brought together to follow Riley B King from birth to his death. The story is told by a mixture of story cards with static displays of related things photographs, recordings interviews and film clips. Married twice but without any children from those relationships King fathered 15 illegitimate children that he supported throughout his life. Of course, his estate is the subject of disputed claims. After his death in 2015 the decision was made to bury him at the museum. Presently it is exposed to rain hail and sunshine but there are plans to build a chapel around the tomb. No visit to B.B. King’s museum is complete without visiting Club Ebony in Indianola. This is a African American Club built after the 2nd World War which has seen the likes of B.B. King, Ray Charles, Count Basie and others start their careers. King purchased the club and returned each year till his death to play. Sadly, it looks like it needs a good deal of maintenance.
We returned to the boat and set sail immediately. We sat in the cool of the evening watching the river pass by and watched our boat overtake a river tug pushing 49 barges somewhere. These barges carry everything from crops to coal and chemicals and although they are slow compared to road transport these barges keep thousands of trucks from clogging the roads. The record for the number of barges stands at 82 and each barge represents 15+ semi-trailers. We were nearly at Memphis and this part of the river did not have the high levy banks which had covered the view of the river banks and the inhabitant almost from New Orleans.
Next morning, just as we were steaming to Memphis, we witnessed the lowering of the smoke stacks on the boat to allow us to pass under low power lines and bridge crossing the river. In parts of the river they even have to lower the wheel house. This is our sailing day (no ports of call) as we arrive in Memphis tomorrow morning.