Where’s Elvis Presley: Tupelo or Memphis?

In January 2014, Vanity Fair magazine published an article showing a photo of Elvis Presley presumably taken in downtown Tupelo, Mississippi, in 1947. The article traces the origin of the photo to a woman who was walking into a drugstore to drop off some film that had one exposure left on the roll. According to the story, she noticed a young Elvis on his bike and asked him to pose, snapping her last frame of him. The woman later gave the photo to Presley family friend Janelle McComb of Tupelo, who passed along the photo and the story of how she obtained it to Elvis fan and memorabilia collector Wade Jones shortly before her death. The story behind the photo may have been correct, but the city was wrong. Tupelo lies in Lee County, which was a dry county in the 1940’s, meaning it was illegal to sell alcohol, yet the background of the photo shows a liquor store. Mississippi didn’t repeal Prohibition until 1966. The bike in the photo is also familiar. Elvis received a Firestone Pilot Classic bicycle, most likely for his 13th birthday. In 1993, a photo was found in Gladys’ closet at Graceland of Elvis on a new bike with “age 13” written on the back. The bike is the same one in the Vanity Fair photo, except for the fenders, which were removed in the later photo. The Presleys moved to Memphis in November 1948 and lived at 370 Washington before moving just around the corner to a large rooming house at 572 Poplar Avenue in June 1949. They briefly lived there until September, when they moved to Lauderdale Courts. Elvis’ grandmother, Minnie Mae Presley, continued living at the Poplar address, according to the 1950 Memphis City Directory. City directories list homes and businesses by street throughout the city.   The 1950 directory also shows the S&S Drug Store, Lando Marossi restaurant and Milo’s liquor store that appear in the Vanity Fair photo. John Sampietro, whose father operated the S&S Drug Store at the corner of Poplar and High Street, remembered his father talking about how a young Elvis would come into the store to play pinball. Milo Solomito operated the liquor store just across the street from the drug store and his son, Milo Jr., identified the store in the photo as the one his father ran for many years. To the right of the liquor...
read more

Elvis Presley’s Home Sweet Homes

A man’s home is his castle – and so Graceland is definitely the king’s castle. But for about the first half of his life, Elvis and his family had many other home sweet homes. The family moved often in both Tupelo and Memphis, and lived in many different houses and apartment complexes. Before Elvis ever crossed the gates of Graceland, he called many other places in Memphis “home.” Let’s take a look at where the Presley family lived in Memphis before their move to their beloved Graceland. In November 1948, Elvis and his parents, Gladys and Vernon, packed up their 1937 Plymouth and drove about two hours northwest from Tupelo, Mississippi, to Memphis, Tennessee. Vernon and Gladys hoped for better job prospects in the bigger city, but work was often scarce or low-wage. And it wasn’t just the three of them; other family members, such as Elvis’ paternal grandmother, Minnie Mae, moved with the family, too. The family’s first address in Memphis was 370 Washington and they paid $11/week in rent. The Presleys stayed there for less than a year, and then moved to 572 Poplar, where they stayed just a few months. Elvis entered Humes High School while living on Poplar, and he earned mostly B’s and C’s in school. In September 1949, the family moved to 185 Winchester Street, which is the address of the Lauderdale Courts apartments. The family shared a two-bedroom, first-floor apartment for $35 a month. Elvis and Buzzy Forbess and Farley Guy hang out at Lauderdale Courts in 1954. Elvis’ career was growing by the time this picture was taken. The family stayed at Lauderdale Courts from September 1949 to January 1953, which was the longest time they lived at a single residence that wasn’t Graceland. Elvis had many friends who lived in and around Lauderdale Courts. Some of those friends remember playing music with Elvis in and around the complex. Even after Elvis found fame, he still went back to Lauderdale Courts to see his friends who lived there. The family packed up again and moved to 698 Saffarans, which was across the street from Humes High School, followed just a couple of months later with a move to 462 Alabama in April 1953. Elvis graduated from Humes High School while they lived on Alabama. Next, the family moved to 2414 Lamar Avenue in 1954, followed by 1414 Getwell in late 1955. There isn’t a lot of detail in Elvis biographies about these moves, because it’s during...
read more

Elvis Presley: Singer, Actor and Football Player

The earthy smell of turf, the colorful school spirit, the roar of the crowd as the quarterback throws the winning touchdown… it’s football season. It’s also one of Elvis’ favorite times of the year. When he wasn’t on stage, in a studio or on the big screen, there’s a good chance you could find Elvis Presley playing football. Elvis loved other sports, too, like karate and racquetball. But Elvis always found time for a quick game, and if he couldn’t play it himself, he watched his favorite teams compete on TV. “The thing I keep up with most is professional football. I know all the players. I know all their numbers, who they play for. I’ve had people quiz me on it, just in games when we’ve got nothing to do,” Elvis said in a 1962 interview. “And that’s a big thing with me right now. I watch all the games that I can. I get the films from the teams themselves if I can. But next to the entertainment thing, and music, that I guess, would be the biggest (interest).” Elvis was a busy man in 1956: He released his first album, starred in his first movie and toured across the country. He had a rare day off on December 27, 1956, and spent it playing football. The two previous photos were taken at that game. Elvis played touch football with a group of friends at the Dave Wells Community Center in Memphis. Hundreds showed up to watch the young superstar play a little pigskin in the park. Elvis also played football on the grounds at Graceland. In fact, on October 16, 1960, he broke his finger while playing touch football at Graceland. Elvis’ famous generosity and his love for football often worked hand-in-hand. Elvis played some football while he was a student at Humes High School, but he wasn’t a star athlete. But a few years after graduating high school (and after becoming a worldwide sensation), he purchased 1,400 tickets – seen in the photo above – for every Humes High School student so they could all attend the annual E.H. Crump Memorial Football Game for the Blind. Total cost? $1,050. Elvis even sponsored a football team. His friends had started a team, so he sponsored it – notice E.P. Enterprises on the jersey. His friend Red West, who was on the team, later said it was some of the most fun...
read more

Elvis Presley’s Highest Honor

Elvis Presley is possibly the most celebrated entertainer of all time. He won Grammy Awards, has sold millions of records and his own Hall of Gold at his home can’t even hold all of his Gold, Platinum and Diamond Records, much less the countless other awards he won during his legendary career. But his most treasured award wasn’t for making money or becoming a household name; it was for being a good man. In 1970, Elvis was named one of the Ten Outstanding Young Men by the United States Junior Chamber, or the Jaycees. It was the only award he ever accepted in person, and it was the only award he carried with him every where he went for the rest of his life. In celebration of Citizenship Day on September 17, let’s take a look at Elvis’ highest honor. The Ten Outstanding Young Men program – now renamed the Ten Outstanding Young Americans – was created by the Jaycees in 1938 to honor 10 Americans, aged 18-40, who “best exemplify the highest attributes of the nation’s emerging generation,” according to the Jaycee’s website. Men and women who excel in all fields, including entertainment, sports, business, academics, politics, medicine, science, technology and humanitarian efforts, are honored. In 1970, Elvis was close friends with Bill Morris. Bill was the Shelby County Sheriff, and he went on to serve as the mayor of Memphis. Bill nominated Elvis for inclusion in Ten Outstanding Young Men, thanks to his impact on music and culture, not to mention his charitable heart. Elvis constantly donated to charities, especially those in Memphis and Shelby County. Elvis was incredibly honored by his inclusion in Ten Outstanding Young Men. He and Priscilla attended the JCC prayer breakfast at the Memphis Holiday Inn Rivermont, and later that afternoon, United Nations ambassador-appointee and future U.S. President George H. W. Bush spoke at the JCC luncheon. That evening, Elvis and Priscilla held a reception at Graceland for the award winners and Jaycee officials, followed by a formal dinner at the Four Flames Restaurant. The 8 p.m. awards ceremony took place at Ellis Auditorium – a building very special to Elvis. He went to plenty of concerts there and eventually performed there himself as a young singer. Elvis always commanded a stage, and that’s what he did with his heartfelt speech at the awards ceremony. He quoted one of his favorite Roy Hamilton songs in his...
read more

Meet Elvis Presley’s Grandma, Minnie Mae

Most folks have a grandmother. Elvis had “Dodger.” Sunday, September 13 is Grandparents’ Day, and to celebrate we’re getting to know Minnie Mae Presley, Elvis’ paternal grandmother, whom he affectionately called “Dodger.” Elvis was born in Tupelo, Mississippi, in Lee County. His family tree traces both east and west of the All America City. His parents came from the the two counties that surround Lee County: His mother’s family is from Pontotoc County, which is to the west of Lee County, and his father’s family is from Itawamba County, which to to the east. The Hoods came to Itawamba County from Alabama in the 1830s, and one Hood family member, Joshua, built a log cabin there. It’s believed Minnie Mae Hood was born there on June 17, 1890, to Mary Louisa and William H. “Buck” Hood. A portion of that log cabin still stands, and there are many Hood relatives still living in the area. Minnie Mae married Jessie D. McDowell Presley on July 20, 1913. The couple welcomed their first child, Vernon Presley, on April 10, 1916. The couple went on to have four more children: Vester, Delta Mae, Gladys Erlene Dowling, and Rev. Nashval Lorene Pritchett (Presley). Minnie Mae and Jessie’s marriage slowly declined and the couple unofficially separated; she moved in with her son, Vernon, his wife, Gladys, and son, Elvis. She moved with them when they moved from Tupelo to Memphis, and Minnie Mae and her husband officially divorced in 1954. Minnie Mae lived with Elvis and his parents at all of their homes in Memphis, including Graceland. She even traveled to Germany with Elvis while he was stationed there. Elvis, always the family man, loved having his relatives so close. Others called her “Grandma,” but Elvis nicknamed her “Dodger.” No matter what life threw her way, she always came through it in the end. Minnie Mae died on May 8, 1980, in Memphis. She is buried at the Meditation Garden at Graceland near her son, Vernon, daughter-in-law Gladys, and her grandson, Elvis. In the mornings, visitors can walk up to visit the Meditation Garden at Graceland for free. Check Graceland.com for more information and how to book your visit to experience the the king’s...
read more

Page 30 of 45« First...1020...2829303132...40...Last »