Graceland I’ve been to Memphis a million times and had only been to Graceland once about 10 years ago. I was with a good friend of mine after dropping our boys off in Huntsville at the NASA space camp one summer. It was one of those “I’ll do it if you’ll do it” kind of things.
After you buy your ticket and get in line for the little van that takes you across the street to the estate, the staff asks to take your picture in case you want to remember this moment forever. Neither one of us wanted any physical proof that we’d been there.
There was a long line, you could hear Elvis Presley music playing everywhere, even in the restrooms and enough Elvis memorabilia to fill a landfill. I had seen velvet Elvis paintings being sold on the sidewalk. I could not get over how many people were waiting just like us to see this place. Could it be like this everyday? It’s only closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.
When it was our turn the van drove through the white gates (not pearly) with musical notes on them. The greeter asked how many of us had been there before. More than half were repeat visitors. The word devotion comes to mind.
Then walking through the front door took care of my attitude. The house has been preserved in the same condition it was when he died. This was a real home, the interior decorations were over the top, but it was Elvis who lived there. The living room, dining room, a bedroom, kitchen, pool room, basement den, family room, all circa late 70’s. It was so interesting and a glimpse of how he lived when he was home. There is a trophy room in an annex, his office and at the end, his gravesite. He’s buried next to his mother, father and twin brother who died at birth. Some of the visitors were really moved at this gravesite. You also left with the impression that he did a lot for a lot of people.
I was surprised at my reaction, the feel of the place and the size of the crowd thirty years after his death.
So while Graceland wasn’t on Lee’s bucket list, he was game. The house hadn’t changed at all in the 10 years since I’d seen it but the staging area had. There is a whole new complex when you drive into the parking lot and a lot of the schlock is gone. Not a single velvet Elvis painting in sight. You can visit the car museum and tour his plane in addition to seeing his house. Lee was impressed as I had been 10 years earlier. He loved the manicured grounds. The crowds weren’t as big but it was a Sunday in October and we there near closing time at 4 pm. My recommendation if you find yourself in Memphis, take an hour and see Graceland. It’s right there on Elvis Presley Boulevard. Thank you, thank you very much.
Then on to the real purpose of our visit…Germantown Commissary.
There are so many good barbecue joints in Memphis, they are everywhere. It’s a real pig lovers pilgrimage. But for this Sunday in October we were headed for the Commissary on South Germantown road. It never disappoints. It’s small and I think it does more take out than dine in. The tables are covered with black and white checked vinyl table cloths and there’s roadside old South memorabilia all over the walls. But the food is why we drove 4 hours to get there.
They are known for their tamales, pulled pork and ribs. But the brisket, catfish and barbecue shrimp are every bit as good. There’s their barbecue sauce and a hot sauce, both are excellent. The tamales come with shredded cheddar cheese and a chili sauce. The pulled pork is juicy and messy and the potato salad and slaw are perfect with it. Add a sweet tea and I can die happy.
The tamales are so good we brought an order back with us in a cooler that we brought just for that. Who knows when we’ll be back?
Memphis is filled with things to do: Beale Street, Sun Studio, Stax Museum of American Soul Music, the National Civil Rights Museum, the Memphis Rock and Soul Museum, the Peabody Ducks and more. You’ll run out of time before you run out of things to do. Plan some time for your road trip to Memphis.