Sunday, April 6, 2014

Elvis's Graceland… Gotta Do It

          Graceland.  It’s not your standard mansion tour. You travel to Graceland not to ooh and aah over opulence or to be impressed by material wealth, as tourists do when visiting the mansions of Newport, Rhode Island.  
          No, you go to Graceland so you can walk where Elvis walked, so you can be where Elvis was, so you can see where Elvis lived—and where he died.  You go to Graceland to immerse yourself in the legend that was Elvis.


Elvis purchased this large house on 13 acres of land for ~$100,000 in 1957.
Now, $100,000 buys little more than a fixer-upper in a bad part of town.
Actually, Graceland is in a bad part of town; the area of Memphis
surrounding the estate has fallen into sad disrepair.
         Does grandeur exist in the home Elvis purchased at the age of 22?  Oh sure—stained glass panels and a grand piano in the stunning all-white living room, a crystal chandelier in the dining room, intricately hand-carved furniture in the family/music room.  But the home also appears much as it must have on August 16, 1977—aging appliances in the kitchen, shag carpet in the family room, a rusted swing set in the back yard. 

          Lisa Marie narrates part of the audio tour and—with reminiscences exclusive to a nine-year-old's memory—her voice radiates pride and wonder as she relates tales of a home overflowing with the presence of her famous father, a place teeming with music and merriment.

Lisa Marie remembers her father entertaining guests in the living room, and she remembers lively "jam" sessions around the piano.

Elvis's final resting place.

         The tour’s final stop is Elvis’s gravesite in the side yard by the pool.  Elvis died at the age of 42.  At the time I thought he was impossibly old.  But now it seems so tragically young.
          The next time you’re in Memphis take a few hours to visit Graceland and absorb the aura of this near mythical entertainer.  You’ll gain a new appreciation for Elvis and his music, and for the high price of fame.
          Graceland.  Gotta do it.  And I’m glad I did.


After the tour, you can add your dollars to the Presley estate by purchasing souvenirs in the gift shop.  I picked up a key chain and a few post cards, shown above.  As per the card in the upper left corner, Elvis was known for his love of peanut butter and banana sandwiches.
Here's a quick quiz:  Can you name one single favorite sandwich of any popular entertainer today?


  1. Oh "Lawdy Miss Clawdy", how I do remember the day he died! It's one of those events that you can remember exactly where you were and what you were doing when it happened. I was listening to radio while getting ready for work when the news of his death was announced. I was stunned! This was pre-Internet, and so it meant having to wait around for the next news cycle to make sure that what I'd heard was true.

    Thanks you so much for posting this. If I'm ever in Memphis, the Graceland tour will be a "must do" for me.


  2. I remember August 16, 1977 as well. I was working in the gift shop of Dutch Wonderland, a tourist attraction in Lancaster County, PA. One of the other "gift shop girls" came in and said: "Did you hear? The King is dead."
    And yes, I had to wait until after work to see it on the 11:00 p.m. news.

    Glad you enjoyed the post, John. Thanks for commenting!

  3. I was in my kitchen in NH, watching "The Big Valley" on one of the two TV channels we got way up there in the woods, and they did a news scroll (shades of post-9/11 news coverage) across the bottom of the black-and-white screen. Oddly surreal, watching Barbara Stanwyck and Lee Majors while learning that the King had passed.

  4. I love all the details in your reminiscence—a black and white TV, "The Big Valley", Barbara Stanwyck, a kitchen in the woods of New Hampshire. All the ingredients for a great, (and surreal), story.

    It's amazing how an event like the death of a legend clarifies the mind, isn't it?

    Vickie, I had a black and white television in 1977 too. I think mine got three channels though!

    Thanks for your comments!

  5. Wanted to make sure I added how much I enjoyed reading this post. I've heard a lot over the years about the restoration of Elvis' estate by Priscilla Presley, but had never seen a picture of the interior.

    Lisa Marie has several songs about her dad on her first album, but there's a line in one of them about the fact that on one of her trips back to Graceland, she noticed there's an extra space in gravesite area, just waiting for her! That's gotta be a creepy feeling.

    As for favorite sandwiches of the famous, you're right, I can't recall another. We do have a famous hot dog stand here in Hollywood, where celebrities can design their own dogs, and those bear their names, but I don't think that quite measures up to the fame of Elvis' peanut butter and banana sandwich.

    Thanks for the lovely tour!

  6. Does anyone even know how that peanut butter and banana sandwich became so famous?
    In the days before the internet and infotainment (where we can now find out every little thing about any celebrity at any time), it's hard to believe how quickly the knowledge of Elvis's favorite sandwich went "viral"!

    I didn't see the extra spot for Lisa Marie's gravesite, but I'm sure it's there somewhere!

    Thanks for your extra insights, and for your kind comments, Vickie!

  7. I enjoyed this post so much. It brought back memories of my visit to Graceland several years ago. My husband and I had such a good time there, though I chose not to order the favorite sandwich at the snack bar. Since then, I've tried to convince others to visit Graceland as well, but haven't been too successful. I hope you post with its marvelous photos will be more convincing than my exhortations.

  8. I didn't even notice that they had the peanut butter and banana sandwich as a snack bar choice!

    It's not easy to convince others to make the trip to Memphis to visit Graceland, especially if they're not Elvis fans. But I gained a new appreciation for Elvis's talent when I was there, and it's definitely one of those "American experiences" I'm glad I had.

    I'm also glad that you enjoyed the post, Janet. Thanks for your kind comments!