Monday, January 08, 2024

Happy birthday Tupelo-E!


Elvis Presley, the "King of Rock and Roll," was born on January 8, 1935, in Tupelo, Mississippi, USA. If you believe he is still alive, he would be 89 years old (and there would likely be a whole lot of shakin' going on). If you believe he actually died in 1977, he would still be 42 in whatever place we go after we "die."

Metaphysics aside, I visited Elvis' birthplace in Tupelo back in 2019 on my second visit to Graceland in Memphis. My first stop was Tupelo Hardware where Elvis bought his first guitar. Well, actually, he came to the store to buy a bicycle but quickly gravitated towards a 22-caliber rifle (Elvis always did like guns). According to a sign on the hardware store, Elvis' mother compromised (because she thought he would shoot his or someone else's eye out) and bought him a guitar. Personally, I think a compromise between a bicycle and a rifle would probably have been roller skates. But that would have changed history dramatically.

Today (or actually today in 2019), Tupelo Hardware looked a lot like it did when Elvis shopped there except for all of the Elvis souvenirs and more variety of cleaning products. 

There is also a large selection of acoustic guitars for sale in case you want to brag that you bought a guitar at the same place Elvis did. I did not buy a guitar. I did buy a couple of t-shirts and a pretty ugly baseball hat that said Tupelo Hardware.

After the hardware store we did have lunch at a diner Elvis ate in back in the early 1950s called Johnnie's.

Apparently they haven't cleaned the table since he ate there.

After lunch we headed to 306 Elvis Presley Drive, Tupelo, Mississippi to the two-room shotgun shack Elvis was born in. His father, Vernon Presley and his brother built the shack. Soon after, Vernon was convicted of altering a check for a larger amount after selling a man a hog. If I was a reporter for Apple News I would tell you the name of the hog and its gender, but there wasn't social media at the time and it really isn't relevant to the story (though people who write online these days seem to think these types of details are necessary).

Here is a photo of the bedroom in Elvis' childhood home and the bed he and his mother slept in while Vernon was in jail. Well, actually it wasn't the actual bed. Nothing in the house was the same stuff that was there when Elvis lived there. It was staged to look like Shotgun Shack would look like in Better Shacks and Gardens at the time.

I did get to sit in the porch swing in front of the house. It was actually built after the Elvis house had been turned into a tourist attraction so Elvis never actually sat in the swing. But he likely would have, so I can claim to have sat in a porch swing that Elvis would have sat in on the porch of the house that Elvis lived.

The Elvis Birthplace is actually quite nice and includes a museum and gift shop staffed by volunteers who are Elvis fans but don't trust Yankees. I bought a Elvis Birthplace Christmas ornament and a guitar pick (that I can't seem to find). There are several statues of Elvis in the park. I like this one of him holding a guitar but wishing he had a 22 rifle.

But if he had owned a 22 rifle at the time he probably would have started shooting television sets earlier like this one from the Graceland museum of stuff Elvis once owned or touched or would have touched if he knew he owned it.

Come to think of it, Elvis wouldn't have shot a television in his boyhood home. I don't think televisions had been invented yet and if they were, his family couldn't afford one. He made up for that later in his life, so it is a good thing he learned to play guitar. People don't pay you to shoot television sets. At least not a lot.

Happy birthday Elvis!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Recently heard a story from Steve Martin about when he met Elvis (and his guns) back in the day. Think he was talking to Conan.