Keeping a journal for the past 50 years has its advantages. That’s because I found one of my “portable” journals contained the four-day trip I took with my six siblings to see Elvis in October of 2003. When I have talked to friends about that trip, I usually get remarks something like, “I would never survive a trip of any kind with my siblings!” or “With my three, no way.”
When we all got together for the trip to Graceland, the five sisters drove a van, while the two brothers flew down and met us there. Our first meal together that evening was at a nice place called “Dale’s” which had been recommended by our room clerk. Our waitress’ name was NancyAnn, and after she got our seven orders, at the suggestion of my younger brother, we all got up and traded seats. He must have done it someplace before and wanted to see what would happen if we did it. She did very well getting us served correctly, and no one said a word. The next day when we went there again, we had the same waitress and when she saw us, she said, “Oh, no, not you again!” I remember one of us jokingly said, “That’s what our mother always said.”
That day was “Elvis Day,” so we had an early morning. We all traveled together in our van to Graceland. We went in on the left side of Elvis Presley Boulevard with Graceland on the other side of the street. We parked beside Heartbreak Hotel and passed the Lisa Marie jet to get to the main entrance. It only cost $20.70 for our entire group at Senior Citizen rates. Elvis’ music was playing all the time we were there. The tour was crowded, and it was hard to see the inside of the house. Lots of mirrors and gold and velvet and other opulence filled the rooms. The enclosed stairways were all lined with mirrors. In the basement was a jungle room filled with stuffed animals. The carport was filled with his cars, motorcycles, golf carts, horses and an old swing set. Out back was a memorial garden place where Elvis, his twin (who died at birth), parents and grandmother, are all buried. Lots of fake flowers circulating around a very small waterfall.
The original racquetball court was filled to the ceiling with his pictures, clothes and awards. The rooms had carpeting on the walls as well as floors. It was a much smaller house than we thought it would be.
Elvis had a row of three different television sets because that is what he had seen our president do. We were told that the kitchen was always open because people came there to eat at all times of day and night. In his bedroom, he had a big round white bed with a radio built in the headboard. We also toured his museum of cars. We saw the big beautiful pink Cadillac convertible that he had gotten for his wonderful mother. After the house tour, we took a shuttle to see the little drug store that had been turned into “Sun Records” where Elvis had recorded his very first song.
On the night before we left for Nashville, we had dinner at Dale’s again. We asked for NancyAnn to be our waitress. No, we didn’t change seats, we enjoyed our meal and left her a very large tip.
Kay E. Conklin is a retired Delaware County recorder who served four terms. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a degree in sociology and anthropology.