An amazing and considered to be the largest city in Mississippi with a population of nearly 31, 000, a land area of 132.456 sq. kilometers, and 160 miles away from the states capital – the birthplace of the worlds King of Rock and Roll; Elvis Presley. Just as this humble town shares the many wonders of its history, Elvis has quite dignified it more as he brought honor and prestige to this once dirt-poor area.
On January 8, 1935, a baby was born in East Tupelo, Mississippi. This infant had a twin brother but it was still born. Therefore, Elvis Presley became the only child of Vernon and Gladys Presley. The family had limited resources. Vernon was a truck driver and Gladys was a sewing machine operator. Aside from financial troubles, Elvis had emotional and social troubles.
Originally known as Gum Pond due to its abundant growth of tupelo trees locally known as sweet gum, Tupelo has witnessed the birth and early childhood years of one of the worlds famous celebrity icons. Elvis Presley’s birthplace seen the development of this young boy, who at an early age had already developed his talent in singing as he performed his first public performance in a singing contest at the Mississippi-Alabama Fair and Dairy Show. He sang Red Foley’s Old Sheep.
When Elvis was three years old, Vernon pleaded guilty in a forgery case which sent him packing to prison. He was only there for eight months but this affected Vernon’s working life. He would never redeem the professionalism he once had because of his prison stint. That is why Gladys and little boy Elvis moved in with Vernon’s parents. For some reason, the trio managed to live above what was considered the poverty line.
Also, Elvis was having a hard time with the kids his age. He was shy, reserved, kept to himself and had low self-esteem when he was younger. Kids teased him and even threw fruit at him; all of which he ignored. He sought solace in music.
When he was ten, encouraged by his teacher, he joined a local talent contest on the Children’s Day at the Mississippi-Alabama fair. He donned a cowboy suit and stood on a chair in order to reach the microphone. He sang Old Sheep and won second place. He received a $5 cash price and free rides. When he turned 11, he received his first guitar. The following year, his uncle gave him guitar lessons.
During Elvis time, Tupelo was then considered as one of the most poverty-stricken places in Mississippi. Although Elvis’s family lived above the poverty line, still, his family experienced the hardships. It was during those times that Tupelos unemployment rate was 25% and the average annual rate of wages was just $1,368.
The family moved to Memphis in 1948. With Vernon’s new job, the Presley’s moved to an apartment located at 572 Poplar Avenue. Elvis was enrolled at the nearby LC Hume’s High School. He was still a loner during those days. He was often clad in black and stood out. He graduated from Hume’s High where he majored in History, English and Shop.
After graduating, he took a machinist job at the Parker Shop. But this didn’t stop his love for music. Since he grew up in Memphis, Elvis was exposed to jazz and blues. Where he was working, the Sun Records Company was just inches away. Elvis was determined to find out how his voice sounded when it was recorded.
To hit two birds with one stone, he recorded My Happiness and That’s When Your Heartaches Begin to find the answer to his question and to also serve as a belated birthday present for his mom. He didn’t expect that this would open him to another opportunity; stardom. He was signed on at Sun Records Company later on.
Today, Tupelo is now famous as it is recognized as Elvis Presley’s birthplace. Tupelo is no longer a symbol of poverty during the era of the Great Depression but is now an epitome of Elvis’s childhood years.
Hence, various infrastructures were built in Elvis Presley’s birthplace which demonstrated the life and history of the King of Rock and Roll. In Tupelo, you can see the 350-pound statue of Elvis Presley at 13. Made of bronze, this statue stands majestically.
Experts say that the Elvis Presley Memorial Foundation, spearheaded by Henry Dodge, decided to reflect a 13-year old Elvis Presley because this was the age when he left Tupelo and went to Memphis. As they say, Elvis’s most precious 13 years of life had been built in Tupelo and nobody can take that fact away from them.
You can also find a remarkable museum which features most of Elvis’s memorabilia. This museum tells more on Elvis’s 13 years in his birthplace.
Indeed, with a history as rich and as famous as that of Elvis Presley’s, Tupelo will forever be Elvis Presley’s birthplace; a fact that nobody can erase.
Post time: 06-20-2017