In the early 1990's a partner and I were invited to spend some time visiting an octogenarian friend in Memphis, Tennessee. The gentleman's name was Mr. B -- as he was usually called that by everyone who got to know him well.
Mr. B had been a good pal and business associate of a man I once worked for known as Pop T, affectionately named so by many of the employees who worked for him at the the movie theatre he owned, and some other cinemas and outdoor venues he had a percentage of ownership in.
In many ways, these old-timers were like a mentors to me, particularly during my tenure at Pop T's main cinema where I was co-manager for a number of years. For a long time I often drove the two gentlemen around to the many indoor and drive-in movies they had partnered-up in amongst themselves and a few others.
If this story is ever included in the memoir Dim the Lights! I can't wait to tell you about a few of them; like the business client that was caught in bed with an elected official one morning ( nothing inherently wrong with that, but it was startling back then); and another business associate, who, without fail, had to stop and comb his nearly bald pate every time he passed a mirror or glass pane that showed his image.
Later on, after Pop T had passed on and I'd left the theater, Mr. B and I even became real estate partners for a while. It was during that time the invite came to visit Mr. B. in his stately home and see some of the sights Memphis had to offer.
Mr. B. had a large, four-bedroom house in an older neighborhood that had perhaps seen better days. The home sat on an acre and a half of property inside the Memphis city limits. As Jen and I looked the room over, it suddenly occurred to me that this was Mr. B's deceased wife's room. It was also apparent the bedroom still held her furnishings and nick-knacks as though she were still alive, especially in the bathroom, as we soon found out. While surveying the room, my eyes were drawn to the carpet, near the foot of the bed, for some reason.
It then dawned on me that this was where a tragedy had befallen Mr. B's wife. I asked if that was the spot where she had died, at the foot of the bed. In an understanding way, he said yes, it was, and offered us another room to stay in if we felt uncomfortable. Glancing at each other, we both quickly told our host it would be alright -- the room would be just fine. He then left to get ready for dinner and we unpacked our luggage and toiletries. At the table he suggested we visit Graceland the next day. Of course, that idea was eagerly accepted.
Graceland visit and the ghost of Elvis Presley ...
The first thing that struck me on entering the home was how intimate it all seemed. We were expecting a Dallas TV show- type opulence, when what we got was decidedly different. If homey isn't exactly the right word for it, something similar most certainly is -- like cozy? Yes, that's what it felt like. Comfy as a fine fitting pair of blue suede shoes to be exact.
As a matter of fact, the first surprise on viewing the place was its relatively small size in comparison to what was expected. Just the type of residence a spirit might have a particular affinity for and, after all, the upstairs are off limits to the tourist crowds, and Elvis could enjoy downstairs, playing piano, or just lounge around in the Jungle Room late at night if he got tired of seeing curious fans during the takin' care of business hours.
One of the buildings on the property contains Elvis's jumpsuits, and that's where a lady devotee claims she saw the King. In wonderment, gazing at the sparkling jewels on one outfit, she suddenly saw something, or someone, move in her peripheral vision. Thinking no more about it, she turned back to the glass case, only to be confronted by the face of Elvis himself! After calming down she checked for any source the astounding sight could have been reflecting from, but could find nothing.
Later on, after seeing one of the estate's black horses head into the barn as if being called by someone, she asked a guide if any of Elvis's horses could still be around. She was told no, and the horses were elsewhere being groomed and couldn't possibly be near the barn. Pale and trembling, she moved on to the Meditation Garden, where the graves are. Now, not as if what had already happened wasn't enough, there in the glass case, holding the eternal flame, was the idol's reflection again! A double whammy of the King is enough to make anyone's day.
Other haunting encounters with the great entertainer, range from folks giving a uniformed Elvis a lift up to Graceland's gates, sometimes accompanied by a song or two from the great singer en route. Visitors also occasionally report hearing strains of Elvis' singing wafting down from the second floor. Speaking of the upstairs, many people report feeling strange, eerie sensations when standing in the foyer of the master's mansion, which just so happens to be directly under the bathroom where Elvis expired.
These are just some of the many unusual sightings and experiences folks have had over the years since his passing. Supposedly a gentleman even caught the King's face on video in the meditation garden one time. The maids have reported strange goings-on in the house as well. Why, it's even rumored a reluctant-to-talk-about-it Lisa Marie knows a thing or two about all this.
(Top)State historical marker in front of Graceland
(Bottom) Elvis' swimming pool.
Although we didn't have enough time to explore world famous Beale Street, with its myriad of haunted places, we did walk through the Peabody hotel on Union Street. The hotel lobby has been called the gateway to the Mississippi Delta.
It really was a shame missing historic Beale Street, with its blues and jazz joints, not to mention ghostly spots like the Orpheum Theater and Hunt-Phelan Home. The ever popular Ernestine and Hazel's dive bar, with it's jukebox and historic haunted upstairs-brothel, is another place.
The historic Peabody is also well known for the resident ducks who gambol about the fountain and lobby to the amusement of guests If there aren't any ghostly residents in the Peabody, there certainly ought to be with its long and varied past.
I remember exactly where I was when the news broke of Martin Luther King's murder in April of 1968: sitting on the couch as a little boy watching The Wild, Wild, West TV show with my parents. The Lorraine Motel, where the assassination happened, is a haunting of another kind -- one of memory that is.
(Top) Fountain in the Peabody-Memphis
(Bottom) The Lorraine Motel
A chilling night sweat ...
One of us replied anything in the low seventies would be fine, as it was late autumn and the days had been mild. After saying good night, being a bit exhausted from all the recent activities, we quickly fell into a comfy slumber.
Later, we abruptly awoke at the same time. It took us only seconds to realize we were soaked in sweat: the pillows, the sheets, our very night clothes -- all were nearly wet enough to have come straight out of a washer. The room was still a comfortable degree of temperature as it had been when we retired for the night. We talked in hushed tones for a few moments, before I went off to the bathroom for some towels. Thinking thoughts neither of us wanted to express to the other right then, we soon fell back to sleep.
An hour passed, or maybe two, when we were startled awake again by a room nearly cold enough to see one's breath in. That did it for me and I roused up to check the windows and vents for any drafts. Nothing was amiss. Checking those in the bathroom I was hit with a very uncomfortable feeling. The deceased lady's things were really laid about in profusion here, like she'd never left. Next I went down the hallway to check the thermostat. I don't remember the exact degree but it was in the low seventies. On the way back I noticed Mr. B's door was shut and stifled a desire to knock.
Come the morning we discussed telling our host about the eerie experience, but decided to just ask if he had adjusted the thermostat during the night. He replied no, he hadn't, and asked in return if everything was alright. Jen told him everything was fine, but of course it wasn't, not really. We never did say anything to him about that night as things turned out.
A few years previous to our stay, the missus had opened the front door to someone she knew (there had been more than a few maids and Man Fridays over the decades) while waiting on Mr. B to return home from his downtown office. She'd even prepared a cocktail for him and placed it on a table in the foyer, as she always did, when she expected him to be coming back home from work.
Whoever she opened the door to knew where the lady kept her pin money -- two-thousand dollars hidden in her feminine hygiene bag as it turned out. Before they plundered the cash, they had taken Mrs. B to her bedroom, forced the lady onto the floor at the foot of the bed, and then cruelly shot her in the back of the head.
As to the disturbing temperature fluctuation and heavy sweat Jen and I experienced, it can only be said there was never any reason we could come up with for them to occur. Could they have been caused by the ghost of the murdered Mrs. B? Or perhaps some kind of negative residual energy or memory imprint on time itself? Whatever the case my be, it certainly was an unsettling night in the old Bluff City and that's for sure.