Memphis – Day 2 – Kathy

Kathy – Note: Lots of pictures so it may take a while for them to download.

Hank really didn’t want to go to Graceland, but I was very interested in the whole Elvis Presley experience so we split up for the day. Hank went to the National Civil Rights Museum. I wanted to go there too, but today is all about Elvis! Tomorrow I am planning a stop to the National Civic Rights Museum as we visit a few other museums.

So, Happy Mother’s Day to me! I got to spend SEVEN wonderful hours at Graceland! 🎶🕺🏻🎶 Yes, that’s right seven hours of the Elvis experience! It was SO cool! I decided to purchase the “Ultimate VIP Ticket.” This allowed me to be in a group of eight people with a personal tour guide giving you all the insights into Elvis’s personal and professional life. We also did not wait in any lines. We went to the front of every line and had unlimited access to everything.

We started our tour by taking a shuttle bus across the street to Graceland Mansion. If you have not been to Memphis, a huge complex has been built across the street from Graceland, with an unbelievable amount of Elvis information, artifacts and memorabilia. More about that later, let’s get to the good stuff first.

We had a private tour of the Graceland Mansion. It is a beautiful place. We learned that Elvis was a very kind and compassionate person. He had a close group of friends and family members that he would take care of very well, often giving them elaborate gifts. He was also extremely generous with many local and national charities including the local Shriners Hospital. Elvis had a soft spot for children and animals. Elvis grew up very poor and once he became very wealthy there were two things he didn’t want anything to do with after that. He never wore bib overalls or ate seafood (he didn’t even allow seafood to be cooked at Graceland) because he associated them with his childhood of poverty. Elvis really took care of those he loved along with anyone who was less fortunate than him. He was very humbled and appreciative of his wealth and shared it with many.

Elvis was also a very spiritual man. He had a meditation garden built at Graceland and visited it often. Upon his death they found a statute of the Virgin Mary in his bedroom, a bible in his bedside table, and a plaque of the Last Supper nearby. Elvis loved gospel music and that inspired him throughout his musical career.

Elvis was a twin. His brother Jessie Garon Presley was born first and was stillborn. Elvis’s mother Gladys did not know she was pregnant with twins (no ultrasounds back then). Thirty-five minutes after Jessie Garon Presley was born Gladys was having more contractions and then Elvis Aaron Presley was born. Elvis often felt a connection to Jessie Garon. At a young age his mother Gladys encouraged Elvis to sing to his brother in heaven which Elvis often did.

Elvis never drank alcohol but he did keep a full bar stocked at one of his bars at Graceland. This was for others to enjoy. Elvis preferred southern cooking and Pepsi. He had a buzzard under the dining room table that he would push alerting the staff on site to bring out more food to share with anyone visiting Graceland.

Elvis actually had light brown hair which you can see in one of the pictures I added. He used shoe polish to darken his hair when he was younger and later dyed it a black color.

The upstairs at Graceland was reserved for Elvis and Pricilla. This was their private space. Downstairs many people would visit Graceland and Elvis’s parents Vernon and Gladys lived at Graceland too. Minnie Mae (Vernon’s mom and Elvis’s grandmother) also lived at Graceland. Elvis was very close to Minnie Mae.

Elvis and Pricilla had many great memories at Graceland. They rode horses and golf carts around the property, played in their pool, and had many gatherings with family and friends. They had many acres and Elvis would sometimes disguise himself, ride out the back entrance of Graceland and then drive to the front fence line to watch tourist, meet people and listen to them talk about him. He never let them know it was actually him.

Elvis was eccentric. He loved Graceland and often redecorated it in many different bright colors. His favorites were the powdered baby blue colors and bright reds. He had carpet in the floors, walls and ceilings in many rooms. He really loved decorating his family room also known as the “jungle room.” In the basement he had a spectacular pool table and room that had wall to wall to ceiling fabric. It’s pretty cool looking. The wall fabric had to be replaced because tourists would bring scissors in and cut the fabric when no one was looking for keepsakes.

Elvis had a TV room in his basement that had a bright yellow theme with mirrors all over the walls and ceiling. Elvis had three TV’s in this room so he could watch three different stations at the same time. Once the TV’s went off the air around midnight, then he had a projector in the back of the room that would play movies throughout the night. Elvis often went to sleep at 4 – 5am each day.

Elvis added an outside pool to Graceland, horse stables and a racket ball court. The six horses that are there now live a pretty sweet life. No one rides them, they are brushed daily, eat well, and end their day in an air conditioned clean stable.

Elvis did some of the electrical work at Graceland. He wasn’t the best but he could do the basics. Elvis, his friends, and his dad Vernon enjoyed target shooting behind Graceland. The target was too close so they kept backing up. Eventually they got on the rooftop of Graceland shot at the target from there. Little Lisa Marie had a gunshot hole in her swing set slide due to poor shooting form the house balcony. Lucky she was not playing on it during shooting practice.

Elvis took up racket ball and built himself a state of the art racket ball court. Upstairs he had a private area for him, a gold plated shower with multiple shower heads, a sauna, and a dressing room. In the pictures you can see me drinking out of his racket ball water faucet. We were two hours into our four hour private tour, so it was nice cool and refreshing water. I drank out of the same water faucet as Elvis! We are connected forever now. 😄😄😄

Vernon (Elvis’s dad) wanted Elvis to be buried at Graceland after he died to prevent anyone from disturbing his gravesite. In Memphis, Tennessee city limits you are not allowed to bury someone on private property so Vernon buried Elvis, and reburied his mother Gladys and his stillborn brother Jessie Garon in Elvis’s Meditation Garden. He then opened up the Graceland property once a week for an hour and a half for anyone to come in. This area was now considered a memorial garden and available for the public to view. This crazy idea worked and the city allowed it. The area is very beautiful, peaceful and comforting.

Graceland was a three hour tour because the home and property are so large. It was wonderful to experience the life of Elvis outside of the spotlight.

After finishing our tour at Graceland we then went back across the street to the main displays of Elvis archives. We viewed many of Elvis’s automobiles and motor cycles. The Elvis corporation saves and catalogs all things given to Elvis or left for him at Graceland or the museum across the street. They have three other buildings in the Memphis area filled with Elvis memorabilia and gifts.

There was so much to see in the different museums across the street from Graceland. I learned about Elvis’s poor childhood, his launch to stardom, his time in the military, and so much more.

At the end of our tour we got to go into s private area and put on white gloves. There we got to hold Elvis’s gold microphone and view some of his artifacts not on display to the general public. It was kinda odd but pretty cool too.

We then went to Vernon’s Smokehouse (Elvis’s dad) which is on site and where we had a nice lunch. I walked about more exploring, also checked out a few gift shops and then went to see Elvis’s two planes on sight. One is named Lisa Marie after his daughter. Unfortunately the plane exhibit closed just before I arrived so I didn’t get to see the inside of the planes. Oh well, that’s ok. I headed back over to Graceland to get a final few pictures the caught an Uber back to the hotel. It was s pretty sweet day learning about the King of Rock & Roll. So pleased I had this opportunity. I enjoyed the day immensely. 🎶🕺🏻🎼🕺🏻🎶🕺🏻🎼

There was Olympic weightlifting competition trials in a building by all the Elvis museums (across the street from Graceland). The signs say only “authorized people” can come in. Well you know me, I just walked in like I own the place and no one stopped me. I watched lots of big muscular women and men lift amazing amounts of weights. It was pretty cool. Got a few pics of the champions too.

Lastly, it was Mother’s Day. My second one away from home while on this adventure. All the kids connected with me and it was great to talk with them. Hank and I are very blessed to have three great kids. I miss them and look forward to seeing them all sometime soon as we finish up in the next few months. Geoff, our oldest went out for an eight mile run and he purposely ran on specific roads. His Apple Watch recorded the route and it spelled out “Mom.” Pretty cool of Geoff to do that for his momma. I’m thankful for Geoff, Josh and Steph. Also, very thankful for our new daughter-in-law Amanda. We are pretty lucky to call these four young adults our children. I love them all. ❤️ My mother passed a few years back, but she is in my thoughts today. She was truly an amazing woman. Happy Mother’s Day to all you moms out there. 💗🌺💗🌺💗

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