28. Apr, 2016

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SATURDAY 06-09-08 

This morning we set out for Tupelo, Mississippi, birthplace of Elvis Presley, the journey was an uneventful 100 miles or so. On arrival www.elvispresleybirthplace.com there were no allocated RV parking spaces. Fortunately it was quiet and the staff allowed us to park along the driveway. 

The house Elvis was born in is very small indeed comprising of just two rooms. We took a look around the ‘shotgun’ house, so named because you could aim a gun at an open front door, shoot, and have the bullet go straight through the rooms and out of an open back door, though quite why you’d want to do that is beyond me.

Vernon, Elvis’s father borrowed $180 to buy materials, and his grandfather and Uncle helped to build the house. Vernon has been described as “a malingerer, always averse to work and responsibility” and in 1938 was jailed for an eight dollar cheque forgery. His 8-month imprisonment for the offence resulted in the house being repossessed due to non-payment of the loan; Elvis was just 3 years old at the time. 

On his tenth birthday in 1946 Elvis was taken to the Tupelo Hardware store to buy his present. His mother Gladys wanted to get him a bicycle, Elvis insisted on a .22 rifle, and in the end he walked out with a guitar. In 1948 the Presley’s moved to Memphis in order to seek work and better prospects. By now Elvis had owned his first guitar for two years, and the rest, as they say, is history. 

Elvis returned to Tupelo in 1956 and 1957 to perform at concerts at the local fairground. Whilst there for his 1957 performance he drove past his first home to see the house and the surrounding land were for sale. Elvis approached the local dignitaries and told them he would waive his fee for performing if they agreed to buy the house and surrounding land and turn it in to a park. This was agreed, and it became a place Elvis returned to in his later years, where he would sit on a bench on the hill which had a view of the house where he was born. 

We then planned to look in the chapel where Elvis’s bible is on display but were disappointed to be told by staff that it had been stolen from its sealed cabinet about a year ago. 

After the visit we popped in to Wal-Mart for some fresh produce as we don’t expect to be near any shops for the next two or three days. We had planned to stay on this Wal-Mart car park for the night but it was only mid-afternoon and we felt we should keep on the move for a while especially as the weather at long last was warm and sunny. We joined the Natchez Trace Parkway, running between Natchez in the south and Nashville in the north. The road is single carriageway, bans commercial vehicles, and has a strictly enforced 50mph speed limit. The original Old Parkway, some of it still remaining, was a route for herded bison before becoming a main route north and south for traders taking crops and goods down to New Orleans for sale, sometimes they even sailed down the Mississippi loaded with their wares and then selling the boat as well, before walking back north on the trail home. 

After about 50 miles we approached the campground at Tishomingo State Park www.mdwfp.com , and decided to camp here for the night. We’re so glad we did as it’s an absolutely delightful spot with individual RV pitches close to the shore of a lake. We can’t believe how quiet it is, especially as it’s a weekend. Of the 62 pitches only about five are taken and as a result we even have our own personal shower block. We have decided to stay here all day tomorrow and will be booking two night’s accommodation, just as soon as we find a member of staff to pay. 

We spent this evening sat beside the lake with our LPG powered campfire complete with ceramic logs, and with the liberal addition of pine cones and small pieces of wood creating a more realistic fire. 

LOCATION TONIGHT: Tishomingo State Park, Mississippi Highway 25/Milepost 304 Natchez Trace Parkway.