[was] the greatest cultural force in the twentieth century. He
introduced the beat to everything--music, language, clothes--a
whole new social revolution." Leonard Bernstein
with panache aplenty understand that it is no longer enough to
teach the little ones to bake sugar cookies, hook a bream, or
play Baby Bye on the piano.
in todays dizzying world, we elders have the huge responsibility
of making sure our grandchildren are exposed to activities that
will enrich their lives forever.
why I found myself at Graceland in Memphis recently with Meredith,
my 8-year-old granddaughter.
were making memories for her to take home and store away for the
day when shed tell her own granddaughter, Listen,
kid, my grandmother gave me all sorts of educational opportunities
. . .
the blistering, ninety degree day we made our pilgrimage, Meredith
and I were two among many--Im talking lots and lots and
lots of humanity with throw-away cameras.
we were sitting on a bench at the grandiose Graceland Tourist
Center, home of one hundred rockin souvenir shops, watching
throngs of Elvis Presley fans stuff themselves with mustard-soaked
hot dogs as they shuffled along in endless lines to catch the
shuttle to the mansion.
already inched through the Lisa Marie (Elviss airplane),
admiring the 24 karat gold-plated lavatories and plastic covered
couches. Wed bumped our way through the crowded King
of Rock n Roll museum that leads (surprise!) into
yet another glittering souvenir shop. Wed enjoyed the coolness
of the darkened motorcycle and car display where Meredith oohed
and sighed over the pink striped jeep and I gazed longingly at
the Rolls. Wed swayed to Are You Lonesome Tonight?
and bounced our boo-tays to Hound Dog as we strolled
the shopping mall.
were Elvis saturated and satiated.
anyway, wed collapsed there on a bench outside one of the
souvenir shops, and Meredith said, groaning, Bebe, I think
I dont want any more Elvis.
was happy to hear it. Hot as a tater, my hunka hunka burnin
flesh was anxious to head south.
now Meredith could go home with pictures (Boy, did we snap!) and
she could impress friends with her newly acquired knowledge.
the way home, she stuck a piece of Berry Splash Kooler gum in
her mouth and, in between chews, said, Bebe, I didnt
know . . . Elvis was . . . so important.
was my chance to give the child an added dose of Rock n
I said, Elvis Presley completely changed the world of popular
she said, Huh? and I took that as an opportunity to
listen, I said, Elvis sold over one billion records
worldwide, more than anyone in record industry history. He had
gold and platinum records and 14 Grammy nominations. Say Elvis
anywhere in the world and folks know who youre talking about.
yawned, and I decided I needed to dig down for something more
know what? I said to my smart, red-headed granddaughter.
When Elvis appeared on the Ed Sullivan show in January of
1957, a bunch of my friends came to my house to watch him. This
was a big deal. Its unbelievable now, but the Sullivan directors
would only show Elvis from the waist up because they said he shook
his hips too much when he sang. Historians say this was one of
television historys most memorable moments. And I saw it!
asked, So Elvis could have been president? And I knew
my history lesson was sinking in.
I said. I mean, this mans been dead since 1977, and
over 600,000 folks still visit Graceland every year. Amazing.
really impressing her now, I thought. This is information shell
remember always. A cultural bonanza.
that time the car cell phone rang. It was her mama.
I whispered as she began to chat, tell Mama what you learned
what, Mama! she said, Youre not going to believe
this . . . Elvis died on the potty!
blinked. Guess there are just some historical facts more impressive
Boswell Jacks is the editor of USADEEPSOUTH.COM.
Best spot for all things Southern!
is a freelance columnist for a number of Deep South newspapers.
Her new book, SNIPPETS, is a collection of 60 of
her newspaper columns. Read more SNIPPETS.
is also the author of Grit, Guts, and Baseball,
a book about sports and race relations in the Mississippi Delta.
Jacks' humorous verse appears often in children's magazines.
Beth Boswell Jacks