An Unlikely Neighborhood – Visiting the Port of Memphis

Just when I think I’ve seen most of Memphis, I am reminded that Memphis is much bigger and much more diverse than I can ever seem to remember.  A confusing and obscure drive South of Memphis delivered us into the welcoming arms of Riverside Park Marina on McKellar Lake.  (Didn’t know there was such thing as a McKellar Lake?  That’s ok, just get in line.  We are many).

Described as the “Port of Memphis – The Only Full Service Marina Within 200 River Miles of Memphis, TN,” Riverside Park Marina is a small community.  A neighborhood on the water.  With boat houses.  And….yard art.  And friendly people hanging out on their porches, having a beer and talking about their day.  It all seems so normal.  But then the sidewalk dips under your feet and you remind yourself – “Oh right.  This neighborhood floats.”

It is a gated community that remains locked, but in our visits we have found the permanent residents to be incredibly kind and welcoming and we remark quietly to ourselves that of course they are – we’re still in Memphis and last I checked our famous hospitality is not necessarily conditional to location.

Up close it looks like this:

Symmetry. South Docks, June 16, 2015.

Ghost Ship. South Docks, June 16, 2015.

Life Line. South Docks, June 16, 2015. Duly Noted. South Docks, June 16, 2015.

Porches are looked after with care and there is an ever-amazing sense of optimism.  At first it’s really weird.  It just is.  Cause it’s not “our normal.”  But it’s so damn genuine and unassuming that you forget about the gentle rocking under your feet and just embrace.  And when you ask the residents (accidentally incredulous) if they live there full time, they smile politely like they’re used to that and say yes and that they love it. And of course they do.  It’s beautiful.  Weirdly, perfectly beautiful.

Boardwalk at Sunset. South Docks, June 16, 2015.

Waterslide.  South Docks, June 16, 2015. Lazy Day on the Water. South Docks, June 16, 2015. Calm Before the Storm. South Docks, June 16, 2015.

Retro Fuel. South Docks, June 16, 2015. Best of Show. South Docks, June 16, 2015. Flag Ship. South Docks, June 16, 2015. Optimism. South Docks, June 16, 2015.Cure for the Blues. South Docks, June 16, 2015.


Sitting on these docks is a trip.  Some of the gentlemen who were hanging out on their porches were quick to offer us a beer and offer insight into their lives.  A man originally from Canada told us he just wanted a peaceful vacation home on the water and a young guy in his 20s wouldn’t let us help him carry his groceries down the long entrance staircase, cause he was “used to it.”  They’re also happy to regale you with stories about how they survived the 2011 flood.  Which is fascinating.  We were accompanied on our tour by Peanut, the neighborhood dog and are always greeted by him upon our returns.  It’s a happy place.

Also at the Southern-most tip of the dock, there’s this lady.  No biggie.  It’s fine.

Cast Away. South Docks, June 16, 2015.


If you find yourself driving South, this is a lovely place to stop by and wave hello to a few friendly home owners.

“Riverside Park Marina on McKellar Lake has provided emergency and routine services for vessels on the Mississippi River 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for over 50 years. Owner Larry “Pop” Stanley and wife Rita are proud of this tradition of public service.”

To learn more about Riverside Park Marina click here.

All photos were taken by Carla McDonald.
These words were made by Courtney Oliver.
For thoughts and suggestions, please go here and we will read and respond graciously!


Stepping Out. South Docks, June 16, 2015.
Stepping Out. South Docks, June 16, 2015.