Back in 1995 I visited Graceland (35.048798, -90.026006) and took the tour of the mansion. I saw the Jungle Room (I remember lots of green shag), the TV room (decorated in the colors of the Pittsburgh Steelers), and the billiards room (with pleated fabric on the walls and ceiling). While the mansion was much smaller than I expected, it was clearly the castle of a king who knew what he liked, and had it custom-made. At the time I was unable to see Elvis’ jets.
Flash forward to 2015, and I’m back at Graceland specifically to see the Elvis’ private air force. Rumor had it that his jets were sold to a collector, and this was my last chance to see them.
I had a minor incident with the parking lot toll troll. Here’s a tip for the folks who run Graceland: put up a big, easy to read sign that says “Parking $10”, so “foreigners” like myself understand that there is a fee to park. Yeah, the troll called me a “foreigner”. It doesn’t bother me. I look like Lucious Malfoy, so I understand her confusion.
Having paid my dues to the toll troll, I made haste for the jets. The folks who run Graceland are shrewd business people — to get to the jets, you have to get a ticket and then navigate a gauntlet of souvenir gift shops. Make no mistake: the souvenirs are Graceland are some of the finest quality souvenirs you will ever buy. There are no snow globes that leak; no pint glasses with logos that wash off after the third wash; no chintzy t-shirts with neck holes that are too small or that shrink or fade after the first wash. Graceland = quality. I got an awesome gold on black TCB Quickly t-shirt & a bumper sticker for my vehicle.
On to the Jets…
There are two jets at Graceland. One large, and one small. The large one is called the Lisa Marie, and the small one… might also be called the Lisa Marie (I’ll get back to you on that).
The Lisa Marie:
As you can see from the photos, it’s a nice, looking jet. Nice red, white and blue color scheme. Maybe a little schmutz on the undercarriage. It doesn’t have the “wingtip device” featured on modern planes, but otherwise it looks like a standard passenger jet.
The Lisa Marie has everything Elvis could need: a bar, a conference room with a surfboard table, and a bed for sleeping or “hunching”. Everything inside is either green or brown or somewhere in between — the same color scheme as the Jungle Room in the mansion. My mother had green appliances in the 1970s, so I think it was a 70s thing.
Bed, covered with a plastic slip cover:
Conference room with surfboard table:
The smaller jet
The smaller jet was much less auspicious, and more practical. It was clear that this vehicle was for short trips — maybe to hop across town to get a peanut butter, bacon and banana sandwich.
I’m glad I got to see Elvis’ jets before they were hidden forever in a collector’s warehouse, or ground up for scrap metal. Elvis was a King, and in most ways he exemplified the good (jets & mansion) and bad (burning out your body from having to work so hard) of the American dream.