Pilgrimage: A Photo Essay to Graceland

Filed in Gather Travel Essential by on August 16, 2007 0 Comments


A celebrity is a person who works hard all his life to become well known, then wears dark glasses to avoid being recognized.
- Fred Allen





Mom fell in love the year I was born
Singing Love Me Tender and Don’t be Cruel
The reigning King ascended to his throne
His songs and movies in our house ruled

Glued us to our radio and record player
wrenched hot tears on Sunday afternoons
Riveted us to bench seats for drive-in fare
Playing on a screen under the shining moon

He left the building much too young
Mom never got him to kiss her hand
His biggest fans she was among
But I was the one to hit Graceland

As she lay dying, back home in bed
I made our pilgrimage in her stead


9/28/2004 © Sue Barton



Thirty years ago today, the King was found dead on his bathroom floor. My mom had been a fan for many years and ten years ago, the year before my mom passed on as well, I made a trip to Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee that she would have loved. My brother and his family were living in Memphis at the time and had not only never been there, but it wasn’t even high on their list of things to do. I talked them into it and was glad we went.

The Graceland visitor center, museum, car and plane museum, and gift shop are on the opposite side of a highway from the walled in mansion. We queued up for a tour bus which took us across the street and around the circle drive. As we got off the bus we were given audiotape tour guides. We were not allowed to take photos in the house. The mansion really isn’t that big of a house. I’ve been in much larger here in the Seattle area that are owned by regular people. The living room seemed like any, but with three TV sets. He had one set to each national network because he had seen a similar set up at the White House. They dined at a dinette set that could have been in any home in the 60’s.

Out back was a shed that was used as an office by Elvis’s dad and Colonel Tom Parker.


















A swing set that Lisa Marie used as a child was just steps away.







There was quite a large pasture with horses, but they seemed happy to be close to the fence where they could talk to the crowd.









Elvis had a building that I believe used to be a handball court, but now contains his many sparkly outfits, gold records, honorary deputy badges (he longed to be a lawman and police departments everywhere deputized him), and other awards in glassed in displays (again, no photos.)

Elvis’s family at one time was buried in a local cemetery, but the gravesites kept being vandalized, so the city asked Graceland to take over their maintenance. There are so many Elvis fan clubs around the world that each day of the year is assigned to several clubs and on their day, they provide flowers and wreaths for the graves in the Graceland Memorial Park.
















I wish that my mom had gotten to go visit, but at least I was able to go and take home photos for her to see.


© Susan Barton


If you enjoyed this poem, you might like to read some more. To see a complete listing of the poems I have posted on Gather, follow this link.

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writer, photographer, mother, wife

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