Long before he was in the news for things other than comedy, I had a chance to interview Bill Cosby back in my TV News days.
He was hosting “Kids Say the Darndest Things” and the station I worked for carried the
show, so we got a sitdown interview with him. I remember him saying
something along the lines of “the way to unhappiness is trying to please
everybody all the time.” That stuck with me back in 2011 when I hosted a
group travel trip down South that worked it’s way back up to Clarksdale,
“The Ritz we ain’t!” That’s what the Shack Up Inn proclaims. Called the coolest hotel in America by some, Charlie Adams takes you inside one of the most unique places to stay anywhere. Period. The Shack Up Inn is in Clarksdale, Mississippi, home of the Blues.
I had stayed at The Shack Up Inn in Clarksdale in the summer of 2010 with
my two oldest, Jack and Abby, when Jack was looking at colleges. We had
visited my Aunt Dorothy and cousin Bill in Jackson while in Mississippi
visiting Milsaps and stopped in Clarksdale on the way back to Indiana.
Folks had told me about the Shack Up, so we stayed in one of the cabins
and loved the place. If you have never been or heard of it, it’s kind of a
B and B made up of restored sharecroppers’ cabins as a tribute to
Mississippi Delta blues. They boldly proclaim “the Ritz, we ain’t.”
When I got back to South Bend, I met with Tom Edgerton, the owner of
Edgerton’s Travel, and talked him into making the Shack Up a stop on the
group tour I would host in March of 2011. Tom was hesitant. While
acknowledging the Shack Up appeared unique, he was concerned some of the
travelers – almost all senior citizens – might be a bit ‘taken aback’ by
it. I told him, “Oh, Tom, they will be fiiiiiiine,” like Andy Griffith
would say the word.
Well, we worked our way from South Bend down to Memphis for a couple of
days and then to the Mississippi Gulf Coast with a fine meal at Mary
Mahoney’s and then to New Orleans for a few days, up to Natchez, and then
an overnight stay in Clarksdale. I went on and on about how unique the
Shack Up was and how they would love it. Some nodded. Some had arched eye
brows. We got there and they all were assigned their cabins. Keep in mind
the average age was 73 and they were accustomed to staying in luxury
hotels on group trips.
Be sure to watch the video I produced of the Shack Up at the bottom of
this story because it gives you a feel of how cool the place is and why
fans of it love it. I say that because of our group of about 45 there were
15 that LOVED the place, 15 that were fine either way, and 15 that I
thought went into semi shock.
Like Bill said, you can’t please everybody all the time.
Some folks came running out of their cabins all excited over what Blues
musician it was named after. Others looked like they had just taken a bite
of a persimmon. Well, for the naysayers I had something for them later
that night that I did not even know that I had for them, if that makes
sense. We had a room reserved at Morgan Freeman’s Madidi Restaurant that
night. I know folks see the legendary actor from time to time in Oxford
and other north Mississippi locales, but for our northern Indiana group
the chance to eat at his restaurant and POSSIBLY see him was a big deal. I
was hoping it would help those battling sharkecroppers shack shock.
We hopped on our motorcoach for the short trip and I told them that Morgan
might be there but probably was off shooting a big Hollywood film. We
started unloading and Karen Dalrymple, who was a bee keeper with her
husband Terry in Angola, Indiana, darted inside and came running back out
saying, “He’s here! Morgan Freeman is in there!” Oh, we got excited. Lo’
have mercy, as my Gram would say in Morgan City.
We walked in a fairly close to him on the way up to the banquet room where
they put groups like us. Karen, being a go getter, walked over to his
table and started cracking jokes with him and let him know all about us,
and asked him to come say hi to us. He said he would try to oblige.
We sat in there eating staring at the door. Sure enough, 45 minutes later
Morgan arrived at the door and you should have heard the commotion of
folks grabbing their cameras! He said the nicest things to us, asked us
where we were from and what all we had been up to on our trip. At the end
he said, “We have a saying down here in Mississippi, ya’ll come back, you
That’s a picture of him from that night. (insert photo)
On the short motorcoach drive back to the Shack Up I made a point to go on
and on about what a wonderful experience that was to actually see Morgan
Freeman, hoping it would build up points with those still giving me the
mean eyes over the Shack Up. Ah, they turned out fine and the next morning
said it just took awhile to get used to the place. Everybody else, the
majority, flat out loved the place and appreciated the uniqueness of it.
If anything, it reinforced a lesson to me that we can all learn from.
Sometimes you have to take a chance and when you do realize that not
everybody is going to go for it. You can’t please everybody, but you sure
can make things memorable!
Be sure to check out the short video I put of it. I think you’ll get a
kick out of it and may want to check it out one of these days!
Charlie Adams was born in Oxford in 1962. He was a 1980 graduate of Lafayette High School and a 1985 graduate of Ole Miss. Following a television news career, Charlie has focused on delivering inspirational keynotes, seminars and writings. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.