After driving through Arkansas, Dad and I finally crossed the state boundary to Tennessee via I-55 and the buildings increased as more vehicles in the freeway started appearing. We saw the state sign and we know we were at the city of Memphis.
Of course we would not miss this opportunity and took a detour to the city’s most famous site, “Graceland.” We exit the Elvis Presley Boulevard and from then on we started seeing more signs, billboards and shops all related to the King of Rock. Anyway our GPS, directed us to the main parking lot.
When we saw the Graceland welcome sign we turned and into the parking lot. Since its only around 7:30, it was empty and the mansion and museum are still close. As we park here is a short bio of the man himself.
“Elvis Aaron Presley was born to Vernon and Gladys Presley in a two-room house in Tupelo, Mississippi, on January 8, 1935. His twin brother, Jessie Garon, was stillborn, leaving Elvis to grow up as an only child. He and his parents moved to Memphis, Tennessee, in 1948, and Elvis graduated from Humes High School there in 1953.
Elvis’ musical influences were the pop and country music of the time, the gospel music he heard in church and at the all-night gospel sings he frequently attended, and the black R&B he absorbed on historic Beale Street as a Memphis teenager.
In 1954, Elvis began his singing career with the legendary Sun Records label in Memphis. In late 1955, his recording contract was sold to RCA Victor. By 1956, he was an international sensation. With a sound and style that uniquely combined his diverse musical influences and blurred and challenged the social and racial barriers of the time, he ushered in a whole new era of American music and popular culture.
Here are a few Elvis Presley facts: he starred in 33 successful films, made history with his television appearances and specials, and knew great acclaim through his many, often record-breaking, live concert performances on tour and in Las Vegas. Globally, he has sold over one billion records, more than any other artist. His American sales have earned him gold, platinum or multi-platinum awards. Among his many achievements were 14 Grammy nominations (3 wins) from the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award which he received at age 36, and his being named One of the Ten Outstanding Young Men of the Nation for 1970 by the United States Jaycees. Without any of the special privileges, his celebrity status might have afforded him, Elvis honorably served his country in the U.S. Army.
His talent, good looks, sensuality, charisma, and good humor endeared him to millions, as did the humility and human kindness he demonstrated throughout his life. Known the world over by his first name, he is regarded as one of the most important figures of twentieth century popular culture. Elvis died at his Memphis home, Graceland, on August 16, 1977. He was 42.“
We walked around and passed by the King’s own plane. Then we walked and some other shops selling his memorabilia. We went to the museum and visitor center where there were more people. There was a screen showing Elvis and all about him. Then when the center opened we went in and looked at the mansion’s prices and saw it has a tour in a certain hour.
We don’t have time to wait for that hour and decided that we would just cross the street and walked along the grounds. As we walk here is the history of Graceland.
“Graceland was once part of a 500-acre farm that was owned by the S.E. Toof family. The land had been part of the family for generations and was named after one of the female relatives, Grace. According to Graceland history, in 1939, Grace’s niece, Ruth Brown Moore and her husband, Dr. Thomas Moore, built the mansion, which became well-known to the locals of Memphis. The Moore’s daughter, Ruth Marie, was musically accomplished and became a harpist with the Memphis Symphony Orchestra. Classical recitals in the front formal rooms were common, just as rock ‘n’ roll and gospel jam sessions would be after the next owner moved in.
In the spring of 1957, when Elvis Presley was 22, he purchased the home and grounds for just over $100,000. The previous year had been a whirlwind – it was Elvis’ first year of super-stardom including historic network television appearances, record-breaking live performances and armloads of gold record awards. At the time he bought Graceland, Elvis was working on his second motion picture, “Loving You,” with “Jailhouse Rock” to follow, just the beginning of a long film career for Elvis Presley.
House guests at Graceland included family members and friends at various times – some in the mansion proper and some in residential accommodations elsewhere on the grounds. And although Elvis had various homes in the Los Angeles area and spent a great deal of time on the road with his concerts, Graceland was always home base – a constant in the life of Elvis Presley.“
Without the tour you cannot enter the mansion itself, but you can walk around the gardens. Dad and I walked to where there was a crowd and we found out it’s the Meditation Garden. In this area was where Elvis and members of his family have been laid to rest. People put flowers and memorabilia, while others pay respect to the King of Rock n Roll. We walked around the fountain and tombstones, taking pictures and as we admire our surroundings and the mansion from the distance.
“For security purposes, Vernon Presley, with special permission from the city, had the gravesites of Elvis and his mother, Gladys moved from Forest Hill Cemetery to Graceland in October of 1977. Since then, the garden has become the final resting place for Elvis’ father and paternal grandmother as well. A small marker has also been placed in memory of Elvis’ stillborn twin brother. The large marble cross was Gladys Presley’s original monument at Forest Hill. The statue of Jesus with outstretched arms was a gift to Elvis from his friends one Christmas.
Meditation Garden was designed and built by Bernard Grenadier at Elvis’ request in the mid-1960s. It features Italian statues, an elaborate fountain and special lighting. The brick wall behind the Grecian-inspired columns is inlaid with primitive stained-glass handmade in Spain in the mid-1800s. The garden offered Elvis a private, serene area for meditation, reflection and quiet contemplation It was one of his favorite places.”
After that, we went back to the Visitor Center where Dad bought plenty of souvenirs from mugs and hats, while we also checked out some of his memorabilia and a documentary. We didn’t stay that long because we knew that we still have a long way to go before we reached Deelow and Corvo in Biloxi, so after our quick shop we went back to the road.
Here are the links for more information: