Elvis Presley's Boyhood Home (Tupelo,
skies were clear the next morning as I pulled back onto the empty Parkway and continued driving north. A few hours later, I drove into the
bustling city of Tupelo, Mississippi which, of course, is the hometown of Elvis
Presley. I'm not a big fan of The King and I'd never been to Tupelo, but
since I'm interested in Americana, I wanted to see where this guy was
born. Besides, Elvis had obviously downed at least a few Krispy Kreme
donuts in his life so I felt a kinship with him and wanted to pay my solemn respects.
Here's The King singing
Return to Sender.
RealPlayer. If problems, see
takes a while to get to The House of Elvis, since it's on the outskirts of town
and you have to keep your eyes peeled for the small directional signs, but I
finally made it. The small, two-room house where he was born sits there
next to large, modern museum. No, it's not at all like Graceland, the
glitzy mansion where Elvis lived and is buried, but since I wasn't planning to
visit Memphis on this particular trip, it would have to suffice.
walking into the museum, I paid my $5 admission fee and started walking around the
glass-encased displays, when a 50-ish woman staff member walked up to me and, in a
southern twang, asked if there was anything in particular that I wanted to
see. By her eager smile, I could sense that she was a big Elvis fan and from
her nicely-coiffed appearance, I could tell that she had probably been a Southern Belle in her younger
days. Not wanting to disappoint her, I
didn't admit my indifference to Elvis' music (except for "Return to
Sender" which is one of my favorites) and feigned interest in all the Elvis
(center) with his parents, Gladys and Vernon.
taking her cue, she proudly pointed to something in the display which, to me, looked like an old hammer. Silly
me. As she proudly proclaimed, this was the actual hammer that Elvis'
father, Vernon, had used to build the nearby house back in 1935, just before the King was
born! Incredible!! In all seriousness, though, I was polite and I
even asked her a few questions, and after a while she left me alone. Actually, the museum was kind of
interesting but after a half-hour, I'd seen enough sequined jumpsuits to
last a lifetime, so I made an exit through the gift shop. However, before escaping,
I just had to plunk down $2 for a replica of Elvis' first driver's license.
leaving the museum, I strolled over to Elvis' tiny house, which lies about 50
yards away. As I walked in,
I was greeted by an elderly woman sitting in a wooden chair near the door, who
started giving me a well-rehearsed spiel about Elvis while staring blankly off
into the distance. This poor woman was obviously very bored -- maybe Elvis
isn't as popular as he used to be -- but nevertheless
I found her story, which she was reciting for apparently the 985th time, kind of
Pondering which sequined jumpsuit to wear.
then I made a big mistake: I asked her a
question! It was a simple question, too. I merely wanted to know
when Elvis moved to Memphis. However -- and this was where I goofed
-- the women was still talking about Elvis'
childhood, and this well-intentioned question threw off her entire monologue. After answering my
question, she tried to regain her composure (apparently, no one had actually
asked her a question about Elvis before) but I could tell that she was
flustered. She was obviously shaken but she stammered through the rest of
After I strolled through the two rooms (a living-room/bedroom
and a kitchen), I politely bade her a good day and opened the creaking screen
door to leave. "Have a nice day," she said to me as I
left. As I walked out the door, I could tell by
her smile that she enjoyed talking to someone who was actually interested in her
story. Well, sort of interested.
and despite the plethora of sequined jumpsuits (not to mention Vernon's old hammer),
I was glad that I saw the Elvis house and museum. After fueling up in Tupelo
and getting my oil changed at Jiffy Lube,
I continued heading north and, in a tribute to the King, downed another
jelly-filled Krispy Kreme.
Above left: It takes a while to find it, but the Elvis Presley Museum on the
outskirts of Tupelo is worth seeing.
Above center: The
Elvis Presley house sits a few yards away.
Above right: Elvis' dad built this house in 1935 just before
the King was born. It costs only $2 to see it, but then there are only
2 rooms. Beware, though, of the old woman in the living room.
Above left: Getting my oil changed in
Tupelo, Mississippi. Well,
o.k., I mean getting
my truckís oil changed. My oil didnít need changing.
Above right: In the South, God is almost as popular as Elvis and football.