Steven Dutch, Professor Emeritus, Natural and Applied Sciences,
Universityof Wisconsin - Green Bay
|I had passed through Memphis a couple of times before, always on the way somewhere else. So when my wife and I found ourselves there in 2008, we decided we had to do Graceland. Not that either of us felt a hunka hunka burnin' passion to see it, but it's a cultural phenomenon.|
|Graceland is located along a decidedly working class street south of Memphis just a few miles from the Mississippi line.|
|Above: Graceland is located on the east side of the street.||Below: The visitor center is located across the street on the west side.|
|The first things you see entering the visitor center are Elvis' planes.|
|State historical marker at Graceland.|
|The Jungle Room. I took one look and said "This is the kind of room my parents would have built if they'd had Elvis' money."|
|Left, a fan letter written and signed on a long roll of paper.
Below: Did Elvis sell records? Oh, yes, he sold records.
|Rear of Graceland.|
|The swimming pool.|
|Elvis is buried next to the house, flanked by his parents and grandmother.|
|Elvis has fans worldwide.|
|Graceland is a substantial house but not nearly as massive as Elvis could have purchased.|
|Most everyone I met in the military had great respect for Elvis because when his number came up in the draft, he served, unlike a number of other celebrities that come to mind. And not some cushy job in public relations, either. He served with an armored unit. And by all accounts he was a good soldier who didn't expect special favors.|
I left Graceland feeling a lot more respect for Elvis. He was raised poor but in a tradition that stressed respect, courtesy, kindness, and patriotism, and those qualities can go a long way in keeping you sane when the world turns you into an idol. I have the impression he was basically a very decent person who was in way over his head and the stress (and the pills to deal with it) finally killed him. And he was lucky. His agent, "Colonel" Tom Parker, took a very healthy cut of Presley's earnings, but also promoted him aggressively and piloted him to superstardom. Parker certainly made out handsomely, but he did well by Elvis.
Created 1 April 2007, Last Update 04 June 2020