Tribute To Elvis A Visit To Graceland Memphis Tennessee
Thirty Five Years Ago, August 16, The King Died
BBC August 16, 1977 headlines read Elvis is dead-long live the king.
Memphesis, Tennessee November 2006
The plan for our trip to Memphis was to fly American Airlines, San Francisco to Houston, change to a small plane flying into Memphis: with this in mind I picked up Return to Holly Springs by Jan Karon, at Costco. I had no idea where Holly Springs, Mississippi was. All I knew was I was going to Memphis, I need reading material and I choose the book because I like the author. Number 2 son had enlisted in the Navy. He would miss grandpas summer visit, he wanted to see his grandpa before he went to boot camp. Tourist from California are spoiled. There is so much to do, we just assume everyplace is the same. When we visit Dad everyone asks,"What on earth are you doing here"?. Dad suggested we visit Graceland.
Where's the house? The sign points you into a parking lot. Once in the parking lot you find the machine to pay for parking. Signs guide you to the visitors center. The first visit was a surprise, usually you expect the visitors center to be near the attraction it isn't. Somehow expectations of grandeur dwarfed reality, The house across the street from the visitors center was small by Hollywood standards today. No celebrity home today no matter how grand detracts from the magic of Graceland The entrance to the king's estate is guarded as the entrance for a kings home should be. All the glamour and glitz of the Heart Break Hotel, visitors center, and tourist shops get your attention.
First Impressions Of The House
The Visitor Center
The visitor center is across the street from the house because no private vehicles are allowed on the estate property. We walked from the parking lot to the ticket counter. Tickets are stamped with your specific time to board the coach for the ride across the street. We toured the book store, then got in a Disneyland style line, to wait for the appointed time. While waiting in line, a photographer took pictures of each guest, then a young lady gave each person a headset with instructions on how to use the radio for the tour. Couples could use 2 headsets and one radio. We boarded a motorized coach driven by a nice man with a smile. On busy days the gates to Graceland remain open and the coaches depart continuously. The first time I visited the gates were closed, we waited marveling at the beauty of the grounds, workers were decorating for Christmas. The gates opened slowly as the van approached
The Main House
At the front door, a gracious docent greeted warmly with southern style, ready to help any who had forgotten radio instructions, ready to help anyone who needed a wheelchair.
Be sure to turn around when you enter the front door so that you see the beautiful stain glass windows.
Entering the front door you will see a line of people as they snaked though the downstairs. What seemed like a crowd evaporated as people went through at different speeds. The radio tour goes at wherever speed you chose. You start,you stop, even rewind if you wanted more time in one place. There is much to see.
Next to the door is the long narrow living room. The white couch, 15 feet long with a coffee table to match. (There was a 21 inch TV placed on a table on the opposite wall. To put this room into perspective think about watching a TV about the size of a microwave oven with fifteen friends.) Note: I specifically remember the TV and the table it sat on. My return visit there was no such thing, it didn't even make sense that there would have been a table with TV there. The docent I asked said, "Graceland is just as Elvis left it". Very strange.
As you pass each of the downstairs you discover:
Elvis was very close to his parents. They lived with him at Graceland. Their suite was on the first floor. His mother loved purple.
The kitchen is small. Imagine trying to cook dinner for 15 people on a 3 burner electric stove. Using a microwave oven the size of a television to speed things up. The dining room had a large table. Near the size of the couch in the living room.
The safari room looks comfortable with comfy fur covered chairs and shag carpet on the ceiling. Yes, shag carpet on the ceiling and the walls to make it quieter.
The Out Buildings and Grounds
The grounds are lovely There are stables that still house horses The out buildings include a museum with Elvis's costumes, platinum and gold record awards and other memorabilia. Don't miss the kitchen and recording studio which are on the way to the museum. I can't tell you how relieved I was to see a huge kitchen on the grounds. I love to have family and friends around I just couldn't imagine how the trendy kitchen in the main house suited a man who loved to entertain.
Leaving the Estate
The house is essentially as it was when Elvis died in August 16, 1977.
When the tour is finished, on your way to the pick-up area, stop and pay your respects in the family memorial. There Elvis, his parents and brother are buried.
Docents assure you a shuttle would be along soon asking trivia questions about what we saw and learned. Whether you are a true Elvis fan or not Graceland is a place everyone should visit. It is truly a tribute to a talented man who was deeply loved and adored by his fans.
There is another trip to Memphis planned for this fall. The draw of Graceland for more pictures is really strong. One of the docents we spoke with said she wasn't much of a fan when she first visited Graceland on a trip from Chicago. Now she loves it and works there. Maybe there really is something mystical about Elvis.
It has been five years since my first visit. It seems as though everything was very different this time. I was with a different son, in a wheel chair because of a broken ankle with many more people. Different things caught my attention. Looking at the grave site, listening to the narrator, my attention was drawn to a comment about how Elvis loved Hawaii and contributed most of the money to build the Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor. Suddenly hit me. Elvis Presley was loved because he loved people and loved to help them. Elvis, a great humanitarian, left a great legacy. We have passed the seventieth anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, we can thank Elvis for the amazing monument to brave and valiant men who died that day in infamy December 7, 1941. Thank you King of Rock and Roll.
Priscilla and Lisa Marie greeted the estimated 75,000 guests at Graceland vigil Wednesday night, In 35 years they have never been there together for this anniversary. Jeff Foxworthy will host a concert tonight to wrap up Elvis Presley week.
The memory of a great man will live on in the hearts of people who never met him, but his love had that effect on people. Those who knew him generally agree, he loved people and was kind to them and when it comes to kindness people have a long memory.
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