"If you're an Elvis fan, no explanation is necessary; If you're not an Elvis fan, no explanation is possible."

(George Klein)



"History has him as this good old country boy, Elvis is about as country as Bono!"

(Jerry Schilling)






Presley promoters want help

Paul and Joyce Fournier are huddled under an umbrella within yards of the shotgun shack where Gladys Presley gave birth to the King. Reading about Elvis on a brick wall, they moved from one printed recollection to another, ignoring the rain and enjoying the lawn and flower gardens.

"We live in Michigan, but this is a part of my life and Paul's life," said Joyce Fournier. "When I was in eighth and ninth grade, Elvis blossomed even in small towns of central Indiana. So, here we are." An estimated 75,000 visitors a year flock to the Elvis Presley birthplace. For the Elvis Presley Memorial Foundation, which oversees the site, the part-time upkeep by the city isn't enough. Members have proposed that the grounds have full-time attention to complement the recent improvements.

Henry Dodge, the foundation chairman, recently pointed out those improvements to the Tupelo City Council. Among them, the life-size sculpture by Michiel Van der Sommen of Elvis at 13, which stands on the grounds adjacent to the house, and a $75,000 renovation of the house and revamping of the gift shop, funded by the Tupelo Convention and Visitors' Bureau, fans, corporate entities and other sources.

Now, Dodge and the foundation want to turn the birthplace site into a world-class attraction, and that means a full-time maintenance man. The proposal to the city asks for a $10,000 supplement to maintain the grounds, but for the foundation to have its own maintenance employee. The city will consider the request in December.

The idea of a full-time person suits parks director Don Lewis just fine. The proposal will save the city $7,000 per year of the $17,000 it already invests in the site, including the maintenance worker, who usually spends 30-plus hours a week at the birthplace. Sometimes, having two masters causes confusion. For the foundation to take over maintenance, Lewis said, "would be kind of a win-win situation." Museum director Dick Guyton agrees.

The site requires a lot of grooming. It needs new plantings twice a year, Guyton said, and it's mowed twice a week in the summer and once a week in the winter. The foundation doesn't want a full-time person to replace its current maintenance man, Guyton said. It just wants someone it doesn't have to share with the city. Send this link to a friend. (News, Source: The Clarion-Ledger)



Feature interviews for November
Paul Simpson
Ed Bonja (Part 2)
Ed Bonja
Ernst Jorgensen
Phil Aitcheson (Presley Commission)
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Elvis Odd Spot (updated 17 Nov 2004)