I would like to share with you my very busy eight days in Memphis during Elvis Week . We arrived on Wed. the 9th and after checking in, we immediately went to the mansion to take a tour. It felt like like coming home at last as I waked slowly thru. When I got to the trophy room , I was still in awe over all the accolades he has earned. Then on to the Racquetball building and to an extension room showing an amazing amount of awards and plaques, and this is where all the newly certified gold and platinum records are now displayed. They showed some 'not seen before' clothing worn by Elvis in 'That's the Way it Is' and it was thrilling to be looking at them up close like that.
As we left there , we entered Meditation Garden where Elvis is buried, along with his mother ,father and grandmother. Being as it was early in the week there were not yet many flowers there . I knew that the next morning the simple floral tribute would be in place, that I had made to represent our wonderful amount of fan club members . We had arranged to have the Shadow of Elvis that we use on our website ,to be chiseled out of wood . It was mounted on a board, and a floral wreath in the shape of a heart was added along with other red roses, a photo of Elvis and our fan club name. When we left there we went souvenir shopping in the stores across the street, and also down at Graceland Crossings.
A late dinner, a few phone calls and then sleep, knowing there would be very little sleep from then on. On Thursday Aug.10th my friends left early for Tupelo Miss. where Elvis was born. I didn't go this time.
I went up the hill to Meditation Gardens where you can always find me between 7 and 8:30 every morning. It is so peaceful and it makes you realize the reason for you being in Memphis at all. Our floral tribute was placed by the side of others from various fan clubs . Soon flowers from all over the states and foreign countries would be there representing all the fan clubs. Germany, Japan, England , Belgium, France , Netherlands, Russia, Istanbul, much too many to all be mentioned right now ,and I do believe every state right here was also represented . This year they opened the wedding chapel on the grounds. So lovely ,simple and serene . On the side is an additional little cottage for the bride to tend to her gown and add finishing touches while waiting for the ceremony to begin. Couples may sign up to renew their wedding vows on their anniversary or whenever. And what could be nicer than being married there for the first time. Of course your wedding party must be small, but surely you would have a lasting beautiful memory . After leaving there I visited friends in Hearbreak Hotel and then to breakfast with other friends. While waiting for my buddies to arrive that afternoon, I shopped for some more souvenirs, and caught the cute little movie that runs continuously ,no charge, put together by EPE highlighting interesting moments and movie scenes .Then my close friends arrived and we went whirl winding around together.
Friday,Aug11th -- After meditation garden back to the room to prepare for EPE's Annual Presidents Luncheon which was ,I'm pleased to say one of the best. This sure made up for this past January which was one of the worst. They seemed to go all out to please us. The food was wonderful, the guest speakers were interesting, and informative. On the screen they showed among other things the new Elvis Presley website, with all it's virtual reality features. Really remarkable how it's been changed so completely and so well done.
When the luncheon was over we went directly to the Ramada Inn where we expected to see Rex Mansfield and his wife Elizabeth who had lived in Germany with Elvis during his army years. Unfortunately they did not appear. I heard later that it was due to Rex's sudden illness. Elizabeth had been a secretary who spoke both German and English and so was very valuable to Elvis and the guys. Rex was one of the Memphis Mafia and he won the girl. Maybe due to the fact that Elvis had found Priscilla ?
At night down at the Graceland Crossings under the tent there was continuous entertainment by some really talented young men. We had a great time staying late of course.
Some of my friends went to Tunica Casino in Miss. to see DJ Fontana, Scotty Moore and the Jordanaires who had played with Elvis in the good ol' days when he was first starting out in the business.
We instead went to the British Launch for their new Elvis Today magazine. the Todd Slaughter Monthly has just retired after 40 years and this mag is to be the replacement of sorts. the Imperials performed , a wonderful backup group that are featured on many Elvis recordings ,along with Terry Mike Jeffries, a very popular Elvis singer and entertainer , and we all danced the night away ,having a wonderful time.
Aug 12th Sat. morning they ran ,or walked the Elvis Presley international 5K Run. Many participated in behalf of United Cerebral Palsy. Not I though. That afternoon we went to see Anita Wood, who was the only girl who was ever expected to marry Elvis. His fame separated them. Anita appeared with five members of the original Memphis Mafia and it was a very interesting question and answer session.
Aug12th Saturday night was the highlight of the whole Elvis Week , the long awaited showing of the newly added to and improved movie 'That's The Way It Is.' There are no words to describe this . Though you might think you have seen it many times before , there is no comparison. The high tech remastering with 40% more of unseen material coupled with the Dolby all around sound made it all brand new.
Each scene was breathtaking , it was Elvis at his very best. When it is released on Jan.8th it will be seen first on TV and the next day the video tape will be released. We were told that they are making efforts to have it also released in the movies eventually. After the movie we went down to Beale Street and hung around enjoying it. We went to Hard Rock Cafe to eat and then returned to Graceland. Under the tent they were still going strong till 2AM.
Many of my friends were there, but I called it quits. Sunday Aug13th brought the Gospel Brunch complete with guests ,in three sessions at EP Memphis Restaurant ,and there also was Bill Burkes annual Get-Together in Marlowes in the afternoon. I instead went to a local Fan club Party celebrating the life and times of Elvis Presley .
Sunday night we went to the Marriott for EPE's annual Dance Party. Exhausted we still arrived at the tent to party some more.
Aug 14 On Monday ,after my early morning walk up the hill to Meditation Garden, I went over to a designated place to sign up for the Honor Guard Many friends also did this. The honor guard lines the walk holding candles ,on both sides and in the middle , on the night of candlelight. After many of us met for breakfast, we all went to the first house that Elvis bought for his family, on Auderbon Dr. The owners of the home have recreated the theme and atmosphere of the way Elvis lived in it at the time. But there was many originals also. the kitchen remained the same, as did the bathroom.
The floors were brought back to the original, and many other things were pointed out to us. Out in back was his pool, and we were told the history of it, and the pool house beside it . Very interesting. That afternoon was Conversations on Elvis at the EP Memphis Restaurant after which we went to catch Daniel Young's show. He did a wonderful job singing and performing Elvis songs.
Marion Cocke, Elvis' former nurse held her 12th Annual Memorial dinner Charity event. I didn't go there so I have no report on it. That night ,Sun Studios block party featuring Billy Swan and then of course under the tent again to meet friends and to again hear and see Daniel Young's fine show.
Aug15th Tuesday morning after my visit up the hill, I went to breakfast with frien