As 2020 comes to a close, we invite you to look at our monument “Becoming.”
The young Elvis sits atop a hill overlooking Tupelo. Perhaps this is where Elvis would sit and dream of the future. Elvis was attributed as saying, “From the time I was a kid, I always knew something was going to happen to me. Didn’t exactly know what.*”
Little did he know at the time that he would become Elvis the Entertainer or the incredible legacy he left behind.
Look ahead. What is your dream? What does the future have in store for you?
Meet the Executive Director Dick Guyton. Dick has been the executive director of the Elvis Presley Birthplace for 18 years. He was asked a few questions about his Elvis experience.
What is your first memory of Elvis?
I saw him perform at the Tupelo Fairgrounds in both 1956 and 1957. I was a teenager, and we got the day off from school. It was interesting to watch the crowd’s reaction to Elvis, especially all the girls. One girl even got up on stage with Elvis and had to be escorted off. The city was enthralled with Elvis.
When did you become the executive director of the Birthplace?
I interviewed in June 2002. I was hired the 17th day of July in 2002. This was three weeks before the 25th anniversary of Elvis’s death. And, I didn’t truly realize how big of an occasion this would be to the Birthplace until I experienced it. Luckily, the Elvis Presley Memorial Foundation Board of Directors stepped up and had everything ready, so I was able to experience and learn about the event. It was quite a day. We had 26 motorcoaches lined up side-by-side in the street. I’d never seen anything like that before. I observed all kinds of activities and people from everywhere. It was amazing.
You will find a sculpture – “Elvis at 13” – and a monument of two sculptures and a base piece – “Becoming” – that are highlights at the Elvis Presley Birthplace.
With “Elvis at 13,” Elvis is portrayed in oversized overalls, a full open-collar shirt and plain shoes as evidence of the poverty and humbleness of those early years. The sculpture shows Elvis carrying his guitar and pointed like he is walking toward the Overlook. The sculpture is life-size with purpose and displayed at ground level so that fans can more directly relate to Elvis as a person.
“Becoming” is two sculptures and a base piece known by one name and is at the top of the Overlook. One sculpture is Elvis as a boy, one sculpture is Elvis as an entertainer, and the base piece represents the broken clay ground of a hot summer day as Elvis would have known it. The base is in a circle with both sculptures on it; this represents the life of Elvis. As a young boy, Elvis and his friends would run the hills and hollows of these 15 acres of property. Near the end of those days, perhaps Elvis picked up his guitar and walked up to the Overlook. Perhaps it was here that Elvis “dreamed the dream” of a better life for himself and his family.
After Elvis died, the front porch of his birthplace was covered in flowers from his many fans. The city of Tupelo began receiving contributions from his many fans, and they needed to make a decision on how the funds would be managed.
Janelle McComb was a family friend of the Presleys. Janelle was also a collector of Elvis’s memorabilia. The city of Tupelo appointed Janelle to be the director of the funds received in memory of Elvis.
At the time, only the birthplace house and a youth center were on the park property. When Elvis came to Tupelo to visit, he would walk around and talk about possibly having a place for meditation on the birthplace park property. It was decided that the funds should be used to build a chapel.
Elvis Presley Memorial Foundation board member Roy Turner was instrumental in helping Elaine Dundy write the book “Elvis & Gladys.”
Young Roy was very involved with the Northeast Mississippi Historical and Genealogical Society and credits the members of the society for his “education,” considering it his alma mater. Through the society’s tutelage, he eventually held every office in the society and wrote, edited, and printed the society’s journal.
Elaine Dundy grew up in New York City and Long Island. After graduating from Sweet Briar College in 1943, she worked as an actress in Paris and, later, London, where she met her future husband, the theater critic Kenneth Tynan. She was an actress, a novelist, a playwright, and a biographer.
Fan Appreciation Day at the Elvis Presley Birthplace will be Saturday, August 8, 2020. In appreciation of our fans, there will be no entry charge to any exhibit at the Birthplace.
We certainly want you to come and experience the Innocence of Elvis with us at the Birthplace, and there is plenty to experience. The city of Tupelo also has Elvis attractions to experience.
In February, when City of Tupelo Mayor Jason Shelton had the announcement to reveal the sex of his child, the celebration was held in the Event Center of the Elvis Presley Birthplace. The information was hidden on the marquee of the theater in the Event Center, and Elvis tribute artist Riley Jenkins aided in the reveal.
The Elvis Presley Birthplace is available to book for special events – like the announcement of a child. We’ve hosted anniversary parties with catering and dancing. Business meetings are held here. If you’re looking for a fun and intimate venue, Elvis Presley Birthplace is where you need to be!
It’s not the same without you. We’re missing our friends.
For all of you who have been, this is a reminder of your visit.
For those of you who haven’t been yet, this is some of what you have to experience.
Our new marker for the Reflections area has been installed. The path you see to the left goes from the Reflections area to the parking lot. We have many fans who come and spend time in the serenity of the pond and fountains. Spring will soon be here, and Reflections will have an explosion of colorful plant activity. We invite you to come and reflect.
We appreciate of all of the messages and posts that we received for Elvis’ 85th Birthday milestone. There’s no doubt that Elvis fans are the best fans in the world!
To celebrate the event, we had a brief program with a lot of cupcakes! We thank Tupelo City Councilman Buddy Palmer and Elvis Tribute Artist Taylor Rodriguez for being part of the program.