Topic: "Place of Good Abode" (3)
Beale Street was just a name for liquor stores, pawnshops, and preconceived notions when Frodo lived in Memphis. Having recently achieved Hobbithood, Frodo was susceptible to rumor and often avoided real life experiences as a result. That was all true until he read about Furry Lewis and his guitar.
PLAYBOY magazine was truly, at one time, more than just pictures. Sometimes there were answers to questions that seemingly had no source for authoritative response (Frodo has been conscious of his toes at certain times ever since). Sometimes great "urban myths" were dealt with scientifically and honestly (and what brings John Dillinger to your mind?). Sometimes there were interviews which truly changed public perception (Frodo has never again been ashamed of 'lust in his heart').
What Frodo remembers, even more than Barbi Benton, was the stories; the real as well as the fictional. It was in PLAYBOY that Frodo first met Jean Shepherd, who introduced him to Wanda Hickey and thus to Ralphie and his Red Ryder Christmas. On the real side, Frodo learned of the guitar that set, once again, in a pawnshop on Beale Street waiting, again, for Furry Lewis.
Frodo went down to Beale Street and looked in the pawnshop window to see the instrument that first carried the tune of "Stagger Lee." It was actually a very ordinary looking instrument, but it was just as important as the lyre strummed by Solomon, or the flute blown by Pan. Frodo thought about paying for the guitar, and returning it to the man who made it magical. At the time Frodo decided that was condescending, and probably something that had already happened a dozen times or more.
Beale Street today is a lot of trendy bars and shops. Frodo imagines that you could probably even find a pretty good guitar to buy if you looked hard enough. Problem is, the songs would sound tame, untried, innocent. Very different from Furry Lewis, or Frodo.
". . .Billy, poor lad, he threw eight. . ."