Starling Travel

June 19, 2012

Moncur Epic Journey May 2012: Graceland, Memphis, Tennessee

Filed under: Places To Visit,Tennessee — Laura Moncur @ 10:00 am

Graceland: The Home of Elvis PresleySince Little Rock is so close to Memphis, Mike’s mother wanted to see Graceland, Elvis Presley‘s home and final resting place. We agreed to go with her because it was the only thing she really wanted to do on this trip.

We stayed at the Graceland Campground across the street while they stayed at the Heartbreak Hotel. Both properties were extremely clean and well-kept. It felt like we were staying at The Disneyland Hotel, except instead of going to Disneyland, we went to Graceland.

When the tour bus took us across the street and dropped us off at the famed house, I was surprised at how SMALL the house was compared to my imagination.

Graceland Exterior

I had seen pictures of Graceland before and I had assumed that it was a four-story mansion, just like the old plantation homes, but behind its huge columns were only two stories. I stood in front of a house that would be normal sized in my McMansion neighborhood back home and I was suddenly shocked at how humble the home was compared to what we consider a home now.

The inside of Graceland has been kept the same as it was at Elvis’ death in 1977, so it looks very much like a home of my childhood. The stained glass chandeliers in the kitchen look exactly like one my mother had in our West Valley home. In fact, the dark cabinetry of the kitchen matched our old kitchen exactly. Instead of feeling like I had walked into a house of a musical superstar, I felt like I had stepped into my own past.

Graceland Kitchen

The biggest difference between Elvis’ house and my own was the number of TVs. Every room had a RCA television from the 1970’s. It was the only noticeable sign that Elvis was far richer than my parents were when I was a kid, and most of the televisions were given to him by RCA in recognition of his work with them.

Graceland RCA TVs

The famous Three TV Rec Room in the basement reminded me of my childhood even more. Almost every family in our neighborhood had a rec room in the basement and some of them even had mirrors on the ceiling just like this room had. None of them had three televisions, like he did, but seeing that room felt like I walked into Aunt Pat’s basement. I fully expected an Atari to be plugged into the TV so we could play Breakout.

Graceland 3 TV Rec Room Basement

Another wave of nostalgia hit me when we headed back up the stairs and entered the Jungle Room. That green shag carpeting and the stonework on the wall looked just like the front room of every house of my childhood. Sure, Elvis’ stonework was a waterfall and ours was just a fireplace, but the recognition was just the same.

Graceland Jungle Room

Of course, the shag carpeting ran along the walls and even the ceiling. As a kid, I knew one family who had carpeting on the walls and ceiling of their rec room. It was a surprising reminder of the decorating ideas of the Seventies.

Graceland Green Shag Carpeting on the Ceiling

I was especially humbled in the huge hall of Gold Records and other memorabilia from Elvis’ career. I had no idea he had so many hits. Sure, I could name most of them and even sing them word for word, but I had never taken the time to count how many songs he had added to the American music library. Just seeing the famous white jumpsuit after seeing so many poor imitations of it in Las Vegas was inspiring to me.

Graceland White Jumpsuit

I expected to see weeping fans at Elvis’ grave, but it seems that the grief from his death has mellowed. Everyone was respectful and paid tribute there, but there was no one crying openly. After walking through the huge hall of Gold Records, I was truly sad to see his grave.

Graceland Elvis Grave

My visit to Graceland was a strange mixture of nostalgia, humility and awe. From the bullet casings scraped from the ground of the smokehouse to the familiar swing set in the backyard, I was surprised at how simply Elvis lived. After years of watching MTV cribs and visiting the great houses of every town in the west, I was pleasantly surprised at the humble home Elvis called Graceland.

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