Estimated reading time: 9 minutes

Day 21 – Mary Sees Graceland & Flying Home

Estimated reading time: 9 minutes

Mary was like a child on their first visit to Disneyland; she was up at 5:00 am, getting ready!  She tickled me, so I joined her, and we were prepared with no place to go at 6:30 am!

Mary got everything packed for the last time, and thanks to the hydraulic press we borrowed, we got everything inside!  I felt obligated to tell the PSA people NOT to open the zipper because there could be an explosion of clothes flying all over the airport.

We packed for the last time!

Graceland was three minutes from our hotel, and we were in the first row of cars—we were among the first ten guests of the day!

Did You Know?  Graceland was named after Grace Toof, the original landowner, by Dr. and Mrs. Thomas Moore.  Grace was the aunt of Ruth Brown Moore, who built the mansion in 1939 with her husband, Thomas Moore.  The property was initially called “Graceland Farms” by Stephen C. Toof, a Memphis commercial printer, who named it after his daughter, Grace.  Grace inherited the land when her father died in 1894.

We were the first ones there this morning.

Mary ran through the gates screaming and yelling for Elvia, but I finally had to tell her that Elvis had left the building.

9:01 am and two seconds!

Everything is done in the 1950s decor.  The coffee shop was opening, so we got a latte, and Mary began to settle down.  Although she was looking around so much, she reminded me of The Exorcist, where the head twisted 360 degrees.

Coffee was needed to get the hearts started.

Our VIP tour was not scheduled until 10:30 am, so we wandered around, heading first for the automotive museum!  Mary was mumbling something about “Pink Cadillac.”

Elvis had a plethora of motorcycles; only some are on display right now.  We sent the Harley picture to Bob Z., knowing he would appreciate it.

Elvis loved his motorcycles.

Mary spotted the pink Cadillac and began to run in its direction.  Although she was only three years old when Elvis was at his peak, the pink Cadillac caught her fancy.

The 1955 Cadillac Fleetwood had a trunk-mounted air conditioning system.  Cadillac used this system from 1953 to 1956, and the 1955 model had an updated control panel with two blower controls.  The ceiling-mounted diffusers had a ball-and-socket jet for directional cooling and two flaps that could be opened.

The famous pink Cadillac.

Fortunately, I found two mules and a driver, so we hooked them up to Mary and dragged her away from the car.   She was yelling “zoom, ver-rooom, rummmm” and other assorted automotive sounds the whole time.  I asked if she had gas and got that Dr. Mary Mommy look!

Would you buy a used car from this lady?

After extracting Mary and paying the two-mule team, we jumped on a tour bus and crossed Elvis Presley Boulevard to the mansion.  In the 1950s, this was out in the countryside with nothing around but farmland.

It was purchased for a mere $105,000 and was complete with 16 acres of surrounding land!

Mirrors were everywhere in the house to make it look big.  It was originally 11,000 square feet, but Elvis added about 6,000 square feet while he lived there.

The living room at the home was beautiful.

The staircase had mirrors and was set up so Elvis could stand upstairs to the right and see who was coming into the house.  When he was home, the house was like a bus station with people coming and going.

The famous staircase.

We loved the dining room and the stories about the Presley family’s always-together dinners. At Christmas, the entire house is decorated for the season, and they have 90% of all the original Presley Christmas decorations.

The dining room was used every day!

The kitchen was like a short-order cafe since Elvis was a night owl.  Its staff was ready to make anything he desired 24/7, and it could feed a houseful of people.

The kitchen was active 24/7.

He had several escape rooms where we could enjoy peace and quiet.  The yellow and black room had three TVs so he could watch the then “three networks”: ABC, NBC, and CBS.

The yellow room is a place to escape.

The biliary room had hundreds of yards of material on the walls and ceiling, as it could get rough when he played pool with his friends.  The material deadened the sound.

Soundproof walls in the billiard room.

Vernon, his father, was Elvis’s personal finance manager.  He and two secretaries had an office in the large backyard where business was conducted.

The business office.

The family tree was attractive.  Elvis’s mother was part Jewish.

Did You Know?  In 1998, The Wall Street Journal published an article titled “All Shook Up in the Holy Land,” exposing Elvis Presley’s unlikely Jewish lineage.  Elvis’ maternal great-great-grandmother, Nancy Burdine, was a Jew.  Her daughter gave birth to Doll Mansell, Gladys Smith, who gave birth to Elvis.  Although it sounds improbable, according to Jewish law, which confers Jewish lineage by way of the mother, that makes Elvis Presley Jewish.

He had a fantastic family tree.

As his popularity increased, his ability to get out became an issue.  He took up racketball at a local school, but after a while, he had to build a private court in his large backyard.  He paid twice as much for the racketball building as he did for the entire mansion!

The racketball court was just a few steps from his home.

He was found unconscious by his then-girlfriend, Ginger Alden, on the bathroom floor in his Graceland mansion home.  He was rushed to the hospital, but after several attempts to revive him failed, Presley was pronounced dead at 3:30 pm.   He was only 42 years old.   At the time, his death was ruled a heart failure.   Yes, he had drugs, but they were all prescription, as Elvis did not use illegal drugs or alcohol.

Gone but never forgotten.

We again walked past the front of the mansion for a photo op.

On our way to the tour bus.

We were bussed to the back of the property, where a media center was located, and we got to see some of his belongings up close!

The jacket was smaller than it appeared in the movies.

We boarded the tour bus again and visited the many displays about Elvis’s life back across the street from the mansion.   This image was for David Riedy!


He had a personal designer for all of his various costumes. There were at least 120 on display in one of the rooms.

He had hundreds of costumes.

Mary thought I would look good in one of these.  When all the jewelry was sewn onto the basic outfit, it weighed 50 pounds.   Elvis was about 5’11”.  He appeared larger than life because the outfits accentuated specific attributes.   He was sweaty on stage because these materials were several layers thick and very heavy!

Mary wanted me to get one!

We had lunch at Vernon’s Smokehouse.  Oh my!  It was an adventure.  Vernon’s Smokehouse features authentic Memphis BBQ fare, including pork ribs, chicken, and beef brisket seasoned with the exclusive Vernon’s Smokehouse BBQ sauce.  In addition, they had classic southern cuisine and Elvis’ favorite home cooking, including meatloaf, catfish, and BBQ spaghetti—plus hamburgers, grilled sandwiches, and one of Elvis’ favorites—Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwiches.

I tried the sampler and it was delicious.

Off we go, with me dragging Miss Mary from the premises!   She even asked, “Pweese pweese, can we stay longer?” but I had to put my foot down!   The airport is calling.

Memphis Airport was our home for three-plus hours.   We enjoyed some wine while watching the people and planes come and go!

Onboard, Mary was photobombed!

Within hours, we will be home!

We were pleasantly surprised when daughter Robin picked us up so Dianne could stay with David.  Robin was right on time, and we loaded the bags into the car and departed for home.  We had to pay $300 because Mary’s bag was overweight.  We should have gone first class and avoided the costs; a lesson learned.

Scout and I went outside, returning to our nightly ritual.

Home, sweet home!

Traveling is fun, but coming home is lovely.   We missed our family and friends.

About Paul

Just an old retired guy trying to finish out my last years on this planet. I lost my best friend and wife in early 2020. I was blessed again by reconnecting with Dr. Mary Côté, a long-time friend. Mary and I got married July 28th, 2021, and are enjoying life together and plan to spend the rest of our lives being a blessing to our friends and family.
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