By Valerie Coffey
Alright, we’ve been very vocal about the trouble we’ve had with the Beast and how it consumes our days, but what also consumes our days is having fun in new places! So here’s an example of the fun!
Mitch is going to Graceland! I went because Mitch wanted to. As he put it, “I’ve never been much of an Elvis fan. It’s just something I feel I have to do.”
We walked over from the Graceland campground in Memphis to the Graceland headquarters. The parking lot had a couple hundred cars on a Tuesday. Wow!
Visitors take a shuttle from the Graceland ticket headquarters on one side of Elvis Presley Blvd. across the street to the home and grounds. Everyone receives an iPad and earphones that conducts a personal multi-media tour at your own pace, narrated by John Stamos.
Elvis purchased the 13.8-acre Graceland property in 1957 for $100,000. He was 21. His first recording contract was in 1955 and within a year he had become an international sensation. He lived here until his death in 1977. The house had originally 23 rooms including 5 bedrooms. Elvis added several rooms, including a trophy room and a racquetball facility. When Elvis died the house was valued at $500,000.
The grand entryway to Graceland isn’t all that grand compared to today’s McMansion standards…just a simple chandelier and archways to the rooms on either side. The public can’t visit upstairs. The family keeps it private, exactly how it was when he died. The voice of (his only daughter) Lisa Marie Presley tells you (in your earphones) that Elvis had such a powerful presence, “…you just knew whether he was upstairs or downstairs. You could always hear him coming when he came downstairs. He jangled…he was always covered in chains and keys and rings.”
To the right of the entry way is a white living room, with peacock glass inlay, behind which was a music room.
The living room fireplace with mirrored mantel.
To the left of the entryway is the dining room. A big console stereo TV sits to the left (out of the picture), which Elvis used to watch during meals. He liked to keep up with news and his favorite programs.
This ground-floor bedroom was a guest bedroom that Elvis’ mother stayed in when she visited. A few items of her clothing still hang in the closet. Elvis loved purple.
Looking back at the front door in the grand entryway.
A framed photograph of Priscilla Presley and daughter Lisa Marie hangs in the living room.
Close-up of the photo of toddler Lisa Marie Presley and Elvis’ first and only wife, Priscilla Presley.
The King’s kitchen. Lisa Marie’s voice tells you that it was always full of staff cooking food for the family and guests at all hours.
The tour proceeds downstairs. Elvis’ TV room had a yellow wet bar.
Elvi’s TV room had three TVs so he could watch three things at once. The couch and wall are purple and yellow. The lightning design is part of Elvis’ theme, “Taking care of business.”
Three TVs and a giant stereo “juke box” system with Elvis’ large collection of records.
Another angle of the yellow wet bar
The pool room. Lisa Marie said she and her friends spent many hours playing in this room, or watching Elvis and his friends play.
A picture of the iPad giving my tour with a picture of the pool room.
Selfie in the Jungle Room… Elvis’ favorite room.
The Jungle Room with its Polynesian feel. The stone wall had a waterfall coming down it, and he had lots of polished wood furniture imported. Elvis had green shag carpets installed throughout, and a plethora of stuffed or sculpted animals.
The jungle room with its pelt-covered couch and polished tree-stump table…Elvis liked the jungle room in part because it reminded him of Hawaii where he enjoyed filming several movies and performing many concerts.
More of the Jungle Room with another wet bar and stairs to the private bedroom areas.
Vernon Presley’s business office. Colonel Tom Parker managed Elvis’ career, but Elvis’ father, Vernon Presley, managed his personal business from this office on the Graceland grounds. Vernon oversaw all of the details of Elvis’ personal finances and the management and staffing on the grounds. In front of the office is a swing set Elvis bought in the 1970s for Lisa Marie to enjoy along with her cousins and friends. A recording of an interview with a newly famous (and very humble) Elvis was playing in a loop on the TV, which you can hear in the headphones. The reporter asked him how his time in the Army was (he was drafted and deployed to Germany for a couple years after he became famous). He said he was just like any other soldier, following orders and keeping his head down. He confessed that he had met a girl there (Priscilla, whose father was an Air Force captain in Germany), but “they were just friends.”
A picture of my iPad with a nice image of Graceland’s pasture. The day we were there the weather was cold and rainy and no horses were out that day.
The back of Graceland
The Trophy Room marks the entrance to the Hall of Fame, a separate building at Graceland that holds a huge collection of Elvis’ gold, silver, and platinum LPs, awards, movie posters, and costumes. The best part of the tour was all the music and interviews you could hear in his voice.
Elvis’ trophy building houses an amazing collection of his gold and platinum records, as well as other great memorabilia from Elvis’ early career, his movies, his charitable endeavors and more.
Mitch takes a close look at an exhibit about the fast rise of Elvis’ career.
Don’t Be Cruel gold 45 record, just one of so many!
Priscilla and Elvis’ wedding attire
Movie poster from one of his comedy movies, Easy Come, Easy Go.
More movie poster from his rather goofy musicals.
This amazing tour experience ran scenes from his movies so even if you’ve never watched an Elvis movie, you can see how well he could actually act!
The King’s pool with the memorial garden behind it.
A bejeweled suit from his later years, now on display in the racquetball court/museum.
You can almost imagine him standing there in these suits. He cut a nice figure, didn’t he!?
We also visited another museum across the street from Graceland, “Elvis: The Vegas Years,” which is all about his residency, in which he lived in Vegas and did shows there in the 70s. Tons of costumes. He was a pretty tall, thin guy!
More fancy suits from his Vegas years, with video of one of his charismatic performances playing below.
White suits from Elvis’ Vegas years.
More white suits from his Vegas years. The king loved white. And bling.
More video of him singing during his Vegas years and posing in a cape.
The final stop on the tour of Graceland Mansion is the Meditation Garden, where Elvis and members of his family have been laid to rest. Millions of fans from around the world have visited Graceland to pay their respects to Elvis – the humanitarian, singing sensation, movie star, and King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.
Many visitors are moved to tears seeing where The King is laid to rest in between his mother and father. The TCB on the bottom of his headstone was his motto: Taking Care of Business.
The other family member buried here is Minnie May, Elvis’ grandmother, who outlived Elvis and both his parents. On the far side is a memorial plaque for Jessie Garon Presley, Elvis’ twin brother who was stillborn, leaving Elvis an only child.
Elvis loved cars! We also visited the Elvis Presley Automobile Museum, which displays over 20 of his favorites.
Elvis’ “favorite car,” a Stutz Blackhawk
From my iPad, an image of a young, very handsome Elvis driving a truck in his early fame years.
Elvis also had a John Deere tractor. Hey, he had a trailer trash side! (But of course. He was born very poor.)
A home movie in the automobile museum showed Elvis playing in the now and driving his golf cart around the grounds of Graceland.
Mitch stands next to Elvis’ iconic pink Cadillac.
A stop in the gift shop…and a selfie with Elvis glasses.
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