“He that would bring home the wealth of the Indies must carry the wealth of the Indies with him.

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Copyright 2019 by Joyce Huntington.  All Rights Reserved. 
Website by Monte Blanco Design 

wHAT TO SEE 

Last Train to Memphis 

Memphis, Tennessee loves Elvis Presley. It should - keeping the King alive is great for the city. So there's a lot to see. Since Last Train to Memphis tells the story of  the places Elvis lived, worked and performed are preserved. However - some have changed or disappeared but markers remind  Elvis fans what those places once were. I've tracked them all but listed here the most interesting stops.

Sun Studio

706 uNION AVENUE

mEMPHIS, tENNESSEE  38103

 

In Last Train to Memphis:

 

“He (Elvis) showed up at the office of the Memphis Recording Service sometime in mid to late summer 1953, two or three months after graduation. Sun Records, and the Memphis Recording Service, were a two-person operation set in a storefront next to Mrs. Dell Taylor’s restaurant and renting for $75 or $80 a month. Venetian blinds made it impossible to see through the plate glass window from the outside, but when you walked in the door into a shallow reception area that had been partitioned off from the studio directly behind it, you saw a blond woman of thirty-five or thirty-six behind a desk wedged into the far left corner of the room. Marion Keisker would have been a familiar voice to virtually anyone who listened to Memphis radio over the past twenty-five years.”

Page i121

 

In Real Life:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

gRACELAND

Elvis Presley Blvd, Memphis, TENESSEE  38116

In Last Train from Memphis:

 

“Graceland turned out to be beyond his wildest expectations. Built in 1939 in Whitehaven, about eight miles south of downtown Memphis, it was written up by Ida Clemens in the Memphis Commercial Appeal in the fall of 1940 as the new country home of Dr. and Mrs. Thomas D. Moore. “Located well back from Highway 51 in a grove of towering oaks, it stands proudly on land that has been in the family nearly a century…. As you roll up the drive you sense its fine heritage from the past in its general feeling of aristocratic kindliness and tranquillity.” The facade of Tishomingo limestone and the Corinthian columns of the entrance portico were remarked upon. “Polished with the quiet manners characteristic of today’s beauty, the palatial home is a noteworthy example of the Georgian colonial style” with an “air of subtle luxury that pervades the exterior [and] seeps through the walls and penetrates every room in the house….”   Page i781

 

In Real Life:

 

THE PEABODY

HOTEL

149 Union Ave, Memphis, Tennessee 

38103

 

 

 

In Last Train to Memphis:

 

“IT IS LATE MAY or early June, hot, steamy; a fetid breeze comes in off the river and wafts its way through the elegant lobby of the Hotel Peabody, where, it is said, the Mississippi Delta begins. There is a steady hum of conversation in the room—polite, understated, well bred, but never letting up: the room is redolent with the suggestion of business dealings transacted in grandiloquent style, amid curlicues of cigar smoke rising toward the high Florentine ceiling, with the anticipation of a social evening to come. When the novelist William Faulkner is in town, he always stays at the Peabody; perhaps he is observing this very scene.”  Page i16

 

 

 

In Real Life:      

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                       

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

bEALE sTREET

mEMPHIS, tENNESSEE

 

In Last Train to Memphis

 

“Wherever they went, Dewey would have been greeted with cries of delighted recognition, and he returned those greetings with unfeigned goodwill, unfettered enthusiasm, a delighted exclamation of his own. Sam, meanwhile, quieter, more reserved, more formal somehow, hung back, soaking up a scene that held long-standing reverberations for him as well. He had dreamt of Beale Street long before he ever saw it, from the stories that Uncle Silas had spun, and his first view of it, at sixteen, had not failed to live up to his expectations. He was on his way to Dallas with his older brother Jud and some friends to hear the Reverend George W. Truett preach, but he was drawn, it seemed, almost inexorably to Beale, because “to me Beale Street was the most famous place in the South. We got in at five or six o’clock in the morning and it was pouring down rain, but we just drove up and down, and it was so much more than I had even envisioned. I don’t know if I can explain it to this day—my eyes had to be very big, because I saw everything, from winos to people dressed up fit[…]”  Page i24

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lansky 

Brothers 

126 Beale St

Memphis, Tennessee 38103

In Last Train to Memphis: 

 

“For Elvis, though, it was the clothing, it was the styles, the bold fashions, that drew him in, as he gazed hungrily into Lansky’s windows. He made a definite impression on Guy and Bernard Lansky, the brothers who owned and operated the store. “He came down and looked through the windows before he had any money—we knew him strictly by face,” recalled Guy. “He was working at the theater at that time, holes in his shoes and socks, real shabbily dressed, but he stood out, his hair, sure, but it was his… what I’m trying to say, it was his, you know, manners. He was just a very nice person.” Page i99

 

 

In Real Life: 

 

1/0

Don’t be fooled:  There are a few Lansky's but the one Elvis went to was on Beale Street.

 

 fIRST 

home

1034 Audubon Dr

Memphis, Tennessee  38117

 

In Last Train to Memphis: 

“Yvonne was surprised to discover how small and cramped the house on Audubon Drive was, she reported in Modern Screen magazine, made even more cramped by all the furniture Elvis had bought and all the fan mail that was boxed up on the porch. They ate meat loaf and mashed potatoes and after dinner sat out on lawn chairs in the back. Elvis held Yvonne’s hand and Gladys’ and declared that they were his “two best girls.”​Page i795

 

In Real Life:

 

 

 

 

Presley Family

apartment

252 N Lauderdale Street

Memphis, Tennessee 38105

 

In Last Train to Memphis:

 

“They finally gained admission to the Courts on September 20, at the start of Elvis’ freshman year at Humes. The rent was $35 a month, about what they had been paying on Poplar, but instead of a single room they got two bedrooms, a living room, a kitchen, and a bathroom of their own. There was a $2,500 ceiling on annual family income as a qualification for continued tenancy, and it was noted that the Presleys possessed no telephone and a car that barely ran, and that Vernon sent $10 every month to his mother in West Point, Mississippi. The repairs that the apartment needed were detailed on a Housing Authority form on the day they moved in: “Wall around bath tub needs repair… apartment in need of paint job… 1 shade will not roll in bedroom… light in front hall will not stay on… oven door will not shut tight… one leg broke off cabinet… bathroom sink stopped up… faucet in kitchen sink needs repairs.” But this marked the real beginning of the Presleys’ arrival in Memphis.”  Page i73

 

In Real Life:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1/0

LeOnard'sBbq

5465 Fox Plaza Drive

Memphis, TN 38115

 

 

In Last Train to Memphis:

 

“A big date was going to the movies at the Suzore No. 2 on North Main, fifty cents’ worth of gas, fifty cents for the movies, and a dollar for something to eat at K’s or Leonard’s afterward. They loved each other, they were committed to remaining “pure” until marriage, they shared everything with each other, there were no secrets. ”  Page i153

 

In Real Life:

 

Here's the thing. Of all the restaurants mentioned in Last Train to Memphis Leanard's is the only one still in operation.  And I can't it's not actually the one Elvis Presley

 

 

 

I saw the sign first. It was day. I imagine the Leonard's  into the headed there with my husband and walked in expecting to find the baleen on display – like with a big sign

EAST TRIGg BAPTISt CHURCH 

1315 S Bellevue Blvd

Memphis, TENNESSEE 38106

 

In Last Train to Memphis:

 

“THEY WENT TO CHURCH together, though not as often as Dixie would have liked. Elvis was good about attending his Bible class, but he didn’t always go to the service and sometimes he would just pick her up afterward. Sometimes when they did attend, they would arrive with a group of young people just before the service and sit in the back, making sure that parents and elders knew they were present. Then when the service was well under way and all eyes were on Reverend Hamill, they would sneak out the door and drive down to the colored church at East Trigg, less than a mile away, where the Reverend Brewster delivered his stirring sermons and Queen C. Anderson and the Brewsteraires were the featured soloists. They reveled in the exotic atmosphere, the music was out of this world—but they could only stay a few minutes, they had to get back to First Assembly before they were missed. ”  Page i153

 

In Real Life:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

.

pOPLAR TUNES RECORD STORE

308 Poplar Ave

 Memphis, TENNESSEE 38105

 

In Last Train to Memphis:

“The following week, ads for the July 30 Overton Park show started to appear. One spelled his name “Ellis Presley,” one left it out altogether, and the day of the performance there was an ad with Slim Whitman’s picture at the top that announced “ELVIS PRESLEY, New Memphis Star Who Sings ‘Blue Moon of Kentucky’ and ‘That’s All Right, Mama,’” along with a small Poplar Tunes ad urging patrons to “buy all of Slim Whitman’s Imperial Records—Elvis Presley’s Sun records” at the record store at 305 Poplar.”  Page i219

 

In Real Life:

 

1/0

Crown Electric

475 N. Dunlap

 Memphis, Tennessee

 

OVERTON

PARK

1914 Poplar Ave  Memphis, Tennessee 38104

 

In Last Train to Memphis:

 

“Toward the end of April, Elvis got a new job. He hadn’t been happy with the old one since they made him get a haircut, and the new one on Poplar was just around the corner from the Courts. It involved working for an electrical contractor, Crown Electric, and he was going to be driving a truck, bringing supplies out to the industrial building sites. If he wanted he would have a chance to train as an electrician; it was a long apprenticeship and required going to night school, but the opportunity was there. The owners, Mr. and Mrs. Tipler, seemed very nice—they were warm and considerate and seemed to accept their new employee for who he was."  Page i165

 

In Real Life:

 

 

Elvis started working at Crown Electric in Memphis in April, 1954. He was often described as being a “truck driver” before making it big, however the truth was he just drove a Crown Electric truck delivering materials to electricians on the job. It was during this time period that Elvis would team up with Scotty Moore and Bill Black and go on to record “That’s All Right” and change music history. Today, the site of Crown Electric is occupied by the Southern Steel Company.

Required Listening:

  1. That’s Alright

  2. Baby, Let’s Play House

  3. Mystery Train

  4. Blue Moon Of Kentucky

  5. My Happiness

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Last Train to Memphis:

 

“We were all scared to death,” said Scotty. “Here we come with two little funky instruments and a whole park full of people, and Elvis, instead of just standing flat-footed and tapping his foot, well, he was kind of jiggling. That was just his way of tapping his foot. Plus I think with those old loose britches that we wore—they weren’t pegged, they had lots of material and pleated fronts—you shook your leg, and it made it look like all hell was going on under there. During the instrumental parts he would back off from the mike and be playing and shaking, and the crowd would just go wild, but he thought they were actually making fun of him.”
He sang his second song, “Blue Moon of Kentucky,” which pretty much exhausted the group’s repertoire at this point, and the crowd went even wilder. Bill clowned and rode his bass, gave ever more confident whoops in the background, and hit his instrument a double lick. “It was really a wild sound, like a jungle drum or something,” Elvis recalled with some wonder. “I came offstage, and my manager told me that they was hollering because I was wiggling my legs. I went back out for “an encore, and I did a little more, and the more I did, the wilder they went.”


Sam Phillips and Bob Neal stood watching from the wings. This was something beyond either of their wildest expectations. As Elvis sang “Blue Moon of Kentucky” again, for his encore, he showed even greater confidence and more untrammeled movement. “It was a real eye-opener,” said Neal, who had had no reason to expect anything whatsoever of this untried, unproven nineteen-year-old. “He just automatically did things right.”  Page i224

 

In Real Life:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mckellar lake

Mckellar lAKE

MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE 

 

In Last Train to Memphis:

 

“Starting in April they began to go out to Riverside Park every week, two or three times a week, whenever it was warm enough. Sometimes on the weekends they would eat fried chicken on the bluff; McKellar Lake was full of boaters and water-skiers and young couples just having a good time. More often than not, they would double-date with Elvis’ cousin Gene, who was going out off and on with Dixie’s sister Juanita. Elvis and Gene were goofy together—they acted as if they had some kind of joke going on between them all the time, speaking in a kind of private language that no one else could understand, laughing at things that weren’t funny to anyone else.”​  Page i162

 

In Real Life:

 

 

MUD ISLAND 

Island DrIVE

Memphis, TENNESSEE 38103

 

In Last Train to Memphis:

 

“Over the next two days he showed June a month’s worth of Memphis sights—he took her by Humes, stopped by the Memphis Recording Service, went up to the Hotel Chisca, where he introduced her to Dewey, showed her the Courts where he had grown up, and Crown Electric across the street, with the truck he had driven sitting out in the yard. He introduced her to Bernard and Guy Lansky and bought her a motorcycle cap just like his. Then they went out to Mud Island, where he drove his motorcycle so fast that they both got scared, and he made her put her hand on his chest so that she could feel his heart pounding. ”   Page i570

 

In Real Life:

 

 Elvis Presley

BIRTHPLACE

306 Elvis Presley DrIVE

 Tupelo, MISSISSIPPI 38801

 

In Last Train to Memphis:

 

“Mayday, mayday, mayday, the call sounded, jerking the radioman alert.  He glanced at his console, where two green lights were pulsing.  The call was coming in through both Heceta Head and Umpqua Lighthouse, putting the source of the mayday somewhere between the two— the waters west of the dunes.”  Page 164

 

In Real Life:

 

So here’s the thing. I don’t ever really need a reason to go to a lighthouse but having a reason – like that Bonnie Henderson talks about Umpqua Lighthouse in Strand – is pretty cool. Umpqua plays a minor role in the book – a mayday call bounced through the lighthouse telling a radioman where a boat had run aground. It was a call from the fishing boat – the Senak – which touched off the hair-raising rescue operation right off the coast of Mile 157. I drove up to the lighthouse with my husband. As lighthouses go – it’s a little different. It’s not poking out into the ocean on a point – it’s nestled in the dunes – in fact, a pretty wide swath of dunes lie between the lighthouse and water. There’s a reason for that – the first lighthouse which sat at the mouth of the Umpqua flooded so often it collapsed. The new light – well, newish – was lit in 1894 and it sits in a little Oregon State Park which is overflowing with information. We spotted a marker facing the water – we can never resist those. It talks about whales on that stretch of coastline.

 

Up the road, a little is a museum which walks through the history of those parts. I was surprised that Strand, wasn’t in the shop – the museum keeper hadn’t heard of it but she said she might get some copies so it could be there when you arrive. There’s also a campground just around the bend – and if you want to make me jealous you can camp there like I never did – in fact – get the yurt. The interesting thing about the two lighthouses Henderson talks about – Umpqua and Heceta – is that they’re sister lighthouses, built by the same basic plan. Since the second rendition went up, the Umpqua light has been – without interruption – guiding sailors traveling along the Oregon Coast .

In Last Train to Memphis:

 

 

“Gladys had a difficult pregnancy and toward the end had to quit her job at the Garment Plant. When she came to term, Vernon’s mother, Minnie, a midwife named Edna Martin, and one other woman attended her until the midwife called the doctor, sixty-eight-year-old William Robert Hunt. At about four in the morning of January 8, he delivered a baby, stillborn, then thirty-five minutes later another boy. The twins were named Jesse Garon and Elvis Aron, with the rhyming middle names intended to match. Aron (pronounced with a long a and the emphasis on the first syllable) was for Vernon’s friend Aaron Kennedy, Elvis was Vernon’s middle name, and Jesse, of course, was for his father. The dead twin was buried in an unmarked grave in Priceville Cemetery, just below Old Saltillo Road, and was never forgotten either in the legend that accompanied his celebrated younger brother or in family memory. As a child Elvis was said to have frequently visited his brother’s grave; as an adult he referred to his twin again and again, reinforced by Gladys’ belief that “when one twin died, the one that lived got all the strength of both.” Shortly[…]” Page i32

 

In Real Life:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Assembly of God Church 

94-132 Elvis Presley Dr

 Tupelo, MS 38804

 

In Last Train to Memphis:

 

“In 1937 Gladys’ uncle Gains became sole preacher at the Assembly of God Church, which was now housed in a modest wood-framed structure on Adams Street built primarily by Gains. Many in the tiny congregation later recalled a very young Elvis Presley throwing himself into the hymn singing with abandon, and Gladys liked to tell how “when Elvis was just a little fellow, not more than two years old, he would slide down off my lap, run into the aisle and scramble up to the platform. There he would stand looking at the choir and trying to sing with them. He was too little to know the words… but he could carry the tune and he would watch their faces and try to do as they did.” Page i793