Friday, May 30, 2008

My Mississippi Manifest Destiny: Elvis Presley's birthplace

Tupelo, Mississippi's claim to fame of course is that it is the birthplace of Elvis Presley. That's the house on the left, where The King was born on January 8, 1935. Tragically, Elvis' twin was stillborn.

What you see is a tiny home, it's only a little bigger than the public area of many convenience stores. There are just two rooms. Elvis' father, Vernon built the home, with the help of his father and brother.

Like any home of a famous person born poor but who found fame later, the furniture in the home is not original, but is typical of what you'd find in a house of the 1930s and 1940s.

Like most southerners at the time, black and white, the Presleys were poor, worked odd jobs, but found solace in religion. There's a chapel on the grounds of the birthplace, something Elvis said he wanted there shortly before he died. Elvis was a committed Christian, and it's often forgotten that he recorded many gospel songs. When the rock pioneer succumbed to a heart attack in 1977 at his Graceland Mansion in Memphis, he was reading a book about the Shroud of Turin.

As for the house, the Presleys couldn't make the payments on it, and were forced to move next door into the home of Vernon's parents. The family lived in several other homes in Tupelo, before moving to Memphis in 1948.

Somehow I missed the museum, which, and I still can't believe it, I overlooked. (Next trip I need to have either one of the Marathon Pundit family members, or a blogger with me.) I thought the gift shop and the museum were the same, and besides, I purchased an appropriate Elvis gift in downtown Tupelo, which I'm going to cover in my next post.

I know I'm skipping around a little bit, when you read that entry, you'll know why I chose to cover the birthplace first.

Previous My Mississippi Manifest Destiny posts:

The Battle of Tupelo
Shiloh Part Four
Shiloh Part Three
Shiloh Part Two
Shiloh Part One
Carl Perkins
The Varsity Theatre in Martin, Tennessee
Lincoln and Kentucky

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