At the Gates of the King

The Gates of Graceland, Memphis. ©David Gardner 2008

The Gates of Graceland, Memphis. ©David Gardner 2008

On our way back to San Francisco, we decided to go through Memphis so we could stop at Graceland, the home of Elvis, for a tour of the mansion and grounds. I didn’t have high expectations going in, but I was actually pretty surprised at what I saw. Really, the house is not all that large. While I expected a really kitsch sort of environment, it wasn’t nearly as “out there” as I might have expected. Sure it had all the elements – the jungle room, the fabric covered pool room, the porcelain monkey collection – but not nearly as crazy as I pictured. Especially considering the times (70’s).

Brick graffiti, Graceland. ©David Gardner 2008

Brick graffiti, Graceland. ©David Gardner 2008

But the biggest surprise for me was on entering the grounds from the street through the gates. As we drove past, I got just quick glimpse of the graffiti covered walls in tribute to Elvis. That is, every brick in the gated entrance, and every stone in the 100 yard wall that fronts the street, had at least one, and usually more written tribute to the king. After the tour, we walked back down to the perimeter wall to photograph what was there.

Long view, Graceland wall. ©David Gardner 2008

Long view, Graceland wall. ©David Gardner 2008

Looking over the wall carefully, we could find no entry older the about 1999. Although it is true that there were not all that many dated markings, it was clear many had faded out, or had simply been written over with new sentiments. Judging from those people just hanging around the outside of Graceland, I doubt most of the people making marks were even alive during Elvis’ time. His attraction is still so strong.

Graceland wall detail. ©David Gardner 2008

Graceland wall detail. ©David Gardner 2008

The messages ranged from the typical, “I was here” to rather moving ode’s, and even marriage proposals. There were also many repeat treks to pay homage. As usual, the markings had expanded to the sidewalk and even the light poles. On both sides of the busy four lane Elvis Presley Blvd, markings continued. I found it to be a rather sweet tribute.

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