Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Tennessee, Memphis - Monday, May 1, 2017 - Graceland Tour

On Monday it had stopped raining but the wind was still pretty brutal.  From the RV Park we can walk to where we need to get our tour tickets for Graceland.  We opted for the Elvis Experience Tour + Airplanes Tour.  The cost for this was more than what we normally pay for tours at just a little over $51.00 each for the senior ticket, plus $5.00 for the airplane tour.  Would I do it again?  Probably not, but I’m glad we did it this time.  They give everyone an IPad and headphones for the audio guided tour.  Even though there was a neck strap for the IPad I found it burdensome trying to take pictures, view the IPad and listen to the audio.  You can pay considerably more for an Ultimate VIP tour which includes a personal tour guide.  Hint: if you lag behind your group and get behind an Ultimate VIP group you can still hear what the personal guide has to say.  Greg didn’t want to stay behind them for the entire tour because the guide had a really annoying nasal way of speaking that was like nails grating on a blackboard to him.

I had never even seen pictures of Graceland so I was a little amazed to find it to be more of an upscale 60’s style home rather than what I think of as a “mansion” that the music artists are likely to have now.  It looks like a real family home, except for maybe the mirrors all over and some carpeting on the ceiling (more on that later).

Elvis bought Graceland and the 13.8 acres on which it sits in March of 1957 for $103,500.  It was named Graceland by the previous owners who were given Graceland as a wedding present from their Aunt Grace.  Elvis’ parents and his paternal grandmother also lived at Graceland.  The second story of the home which was where Elvis’ personal quarters were located is not a part of the tour.  No flash photography is allowed in the home.

The family living room has an extra-long custom made white sofa in it, but my photography of it failed.

This is his parents’ bedroom.  The bath just off of this bedroom was done in pink poodle wallpaper.

A commentary by Lisa Marie at this point of the tour indicted that every time Elvis came down this stairway he was completely pulled together, including the “bling” chains and rings.

In the family dining room Elvis always sat at the far end of the table so he could better view the television that was located next to the door to the room.

Naturally, I couldn’t pick up a piece of this china to look at the name of the pattern but it looks an awful lot like the china I picked out from Star China in Anderson when I was a young bride in 1967.

With all of the people that lived in this house and the band members and others who were constant visitors this kitchen was kept busy.  Most of the stuff in here looks just like what most of us were using in our homes in the 60’s except our kitchens weren’t quite so big.

The media room with equipment provided by RCA is something we didn’t have in our homes.  There were three televisions because Elvis liked to view all three news channels that were available then – no recording them to view later.  Most every surface in this room was covered with mirrors – had to laugh at one tour participant who found that “disgusting”.

I found the pool room interesting.  The walls and ceiling are totally covered in gathered material, 350 yards of it.

In another part of the tour a receipt for the pool table is on display.  Elvis bought it reconditioned in 1960 for $445.

The Jungle Room was reportedly furnished by Elvis during a one day shopping spree – obviously someone should have gone with him, it’s a little overboard.

The “jungle” look was furthered by green carpeting everywhere including the ceiling.  This did come in handy we are told for some recording sessions, the acoustics were great.

I could get a better photo of the back of the house than I could of the front.

Lisa Marie’s swing set looks like any other little kids swing set.

Elvis’ father, Vernon, and two secretaries had an office in a separate building behind the main house.  In his prime Elvis received over 5,000 pieces of mail a day.  Vernon and the secretaries took care of household bills and answering the mail.

Another separate building is now a trophy room.  While Elvis was alive he and his friends had a large slot car set up in here instead of trophies.

The trophy room also contains some of Elvis’ more personal items.  This photo album was found in Elvis’ desk drawer and contains pictures of his daughter Lisa.  My kids’ baby pictures are in an album just like this one.  It came as part of a package that included a set of encyclopedias, Meta Givens cookbooks (I don’t even know who Meta Givens was but I used the cookbooks a lot) and a large white bound family Bible.

This slot car is the only one left from the set up that used to be in this building.

The Presley’s wedding clothes are also on display here.  We were here on what would have been their 50th wedding anniversary.   They were married May 1, 1967 at the Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada.

On Lisa Marie’s 4th birthday Elvis couldn’t think of anything she needed.  He finally asked a family friend from Tupelo, MS, to write a poem he could give her.  When the friend gave the poem to Elvis to read he took it to his office and was brought to tears by the feelings it brought to him.  One of his tears stained and smudged the paper.  He took the paper back downstairs and apologized to his friend and asked if she could redo the poem because he had ruined this one.  She told him that no he hadn’t ruined it, it would be even more of a keepsake to Lisa Marie in the future.  This is a copy of the poem, I’m sure Lisa Marie has the original some place safe.

Elvis had a deep respect for law enforcement.  He had large collections of badges and guns.  He held the rank of captain in the Memphis and Denver police departments.  Some of his cars had dashboard police lights.  He was known to have pulled over a few people and warned them about safety infractions before signing some autographs and letting them go.

This portrait was the only one Elvis ever commissioned.  While he was in Las Vegas in 1969 he paid artist Ralph Cowan $18,000 to do this portrait.  It has hung in Graceland ever since.

In yet another building behind the house in 1975 Elvis put $200,000 into a racquetball/fitness center so he could indulge in his favorite sport.  The second floor had a Jacuzzi and dressing rooms.

This piano in the sitting room area of the racquetball building was the center of many jam sessions.  During the last session before he died Elvis played “Moody Blue” and “Unchained Melody” on this piano.  “Unchained Melody” was the first song Greg and I danced to and the one we danced to at our wedding reception.

The pool was the first thing Elvis said needed to be installed after the purchase of Graceland.  By today’s standards it really isn’t very big.

We finally found Elvis and wished him peace, he died at 42 years of age, much too young.

The graves of Elvis, his parents Vernon and Gladys and his paternal grandmother Minnie are in the Meditation Garden on Graceland property.  A marker for his twin brother Jesse who was stillborn is also here.  The caskets of Elvis and his mother were moved by his father in October 1977 with special permission for security purposes from the Forest Hills Cemetery where they were originally buried.

The wall of the Meditation Garden has several stained glass inserts from Spain.

Our view of the gates of Graceland as we were being transported back to our starting point at the ticket building.

This was only half of our day.  We went on to visit the new Elvis Presley’s Memphis exhibit.  I’ll write about that in the next blog.  I get tired of writing at about 1500 words.  I told Greg the other day that writing these entries is like writing a term paper every time – he said that’s why I do it instead of him.  By the time I sort the pictures (usually there are 150-200 of them each time we go out), edit them, decide which ones I want to use in our story and then write the story I have a few hours in each of our posts.

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