01 November 2016

No. 79: Graceland

No. 79: Go to Graceland

O my. Going to Graceland, the home of Elvis Presely,  has always been a dream of mine. OK. Not always. But for quite a long time.

In the late 70s I worked with a woman who idolized Elvis. She wore her make-up exactly as Priscilla Presley did when she met Elvis: bubble bouffant hairdo, thick black cats-eye eyeliner.

Priscilla Presley although
it could be my former co-worker.

Very popular look in the 60s (and the eyeliner is totally on point today) but we were in the 70s when the "natural" look was all the rage. Coming in from lunch on August 16, 1977, I relayed to my co- worker that Elvis had died. I had just heard it on the radio. She broke into tears then retreated to her office. A few minutes later, bag in hand, she was out the door, unable to speak. She couldn't come in to the office the next day either. Too upset. Her idol was gone. Elvis had peaked a little before my time, then came back around about the time I was in high school, but I was never a huge fan.  However her devastation intrigued me...how could a stranger have that much of a hold on someone?  

Then in 1986 the book Elvis and Me by Priscilla Presley came out. I gobbled up that book and anything else I could read about The King.  His voice really was beautiful. Deep and soulful.
So my curiosity was piqued but, Memphis...I had no reason to be anywhere near Memphis.

Fast forward to 2016. Thirty years later and Bunny is in school in Oxford, Mississippi, a mere hour away from Memphis. Funny how things work out. Bunny wanted me in Oxford last weekend and guess where I flew into? The Memphis Airport.   Know how far Graceland is from the Memphis Airport? About ten minutes.

So I HAD to go.

Doesn't look that big from the front. 

Out of the airport and turn on Elvis Presley Boulevard. I'm greeted by signs and air planes. Into the ticket center and out to see Elvis's private jets. Overall the planes appeared a little tired and while I am sure they were "state of the art" at the time, I was mostly impressed by how dated they look.

This was named after his daughter, 
the other jet was Hound Dog II

I'm sure this was the height of something,
but it just looks old and tired now. 

There was still a bit of time before my mansion tour so I went through Elvis's car collection next. He had a thing for Cadillacs, Mercedes and BMWs. Some of those cars were tanks!!! I swear most wouldn't fit in a modern day garage, they're just too long. My favorite was the 1955 pink Cadillac, probably because we are the same vintage.

Me with Presley's 1955 Pink Caddy. 
A very good year. 

And then it was time to visit the mansion. Honestly from the front it didn't look that  big. The website says 17,000 square feet and I suppose with the finished basement that is accurate. Visitors are not allowed on the second floor where there are bedrooms and the bathroom that was the site of Elvis's death.

The first floor tour starts in the living room. Peacocks on stained glass, a grand piano and a boxy cabinet TV are the highlights.  In fact, the TVs really stood out in all of the rooms.  Every room had at least one, sometimes more and they were all huge cabinets with the heavy and deep TVs inside.   Hard to believe how much they have changed since then.

Love that the TV is the center of attention.

Next was his parent's room and then off to the dining room. Yes, there was a TV in the corner of the formal dining room.

Beautiful formal dining room with a 
TV (hidden here) over in the left corner. 

The kitchen had some of the ugliest carpet ever and again a big ol' TV. O! And some more stained glass, this time in the form of Tiffany lamps.

That carpet is "something". 
What? I don't know.

Downstairs was a media room with more giant built in TVs and a stereo system. (And a bar, of course.)  

 Lots of TVs. WHAT was he watching on all those TVs?

 The billiards room followed, a dizzying mess of stained glass and 400 yards of fabric, pleated and draped.

And then, and then.....the room we have all heard about. The Jungle Room.  Plush green carpet on the floors and wall, Tiki style designs on the furniture, a waterfall cascading down a wall of cut field stone. The height of kitsch.

Love that furniture!

The tour continued outside to the south wing, with rooms of trophies and Gold Records, show outfits and photos. And more TVs. Overall Elvis had a total of 90 gold, 53 platinum and 25 multi-platinum albums.  He probably had that many TVs, too.

Televisions used to come already installed into their 
own enormous cabinets. 

There is a tiny Meditation Garden near the pool where Elvis, his parents, and his grandmother are buried. Jesse Garon Presley, Elvis's stillborn twin, is also memorialized here.

Rest in peace Elvis. 

That concluded my tour.
It was time to drive on down from Memphis to Oxford. But for a couple of hours I had been immersed in the magic of the King of Rock n Roll.

Graceland. I've been to Graceland.  Cross off #79.


And for a little bit of that creep factor...
Elvis met Priscilla in Germany when she was 14 and he was 24. They dated for a year or so, then he moved backed to the States, and they continued to communicate daily. After a couple of visits while she was still just 16, (and he was...ahem...26) she finally moved in with him at the ripe old age of 17. They married when she was a nice legal 21.  Can we say "pedophile"? 
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