Last week my wife and I took a trip down to Memphis, Tennessee, and since neither of us had ever been to Memphis before, we knew that a visit to Graceland would be on our agenda. The Graceland mansion was the home of the King of Rock & Roll, Elvis Presley, and is said to be in the same state as it was when he left this planet in the late 1970s, way before his time.
Upon entering the home you find yourself directed towards the living room and music room where you are nostalgically transported back in time to the era of turntables and console TVs. At that time the audio tour guide informs us that Graceland had been completely remodeled in the early part of the 1970s, which was somewhat obvious as our attention was drawn to a ’70s console television located in the music room. Next we entered the dining room where a ’70s style portable TV took prominence along with another TV in the attached kitchen. This made it apparent to those on the tour that the people in the Presley family loved their television. In fact, Elvis loved television so much, that after hearing that President Johnson had three TVs installed so that he could watch all three major networks at one time, he had the same setup installed in his basement TV room, locating them in a built-in wall panel.
But putting aside the period shag carpeting, which was the rage at that time, (Presley had his Jungle Room carpeted in green shag, including the ceiling), it was obvious that there was a definite lack of technology during that time period. There were no computers, iPads, iPods, tablet computers, nor any other device that we use on a daily basis and even the telephones I saw in the home were rotary dial. As a matter of fact, the biggest use of technology I observed was a black and white TV that was used as a surveillance camera, which was probably state of the art when it was installed, to monitor the entry gates.
Despite his wealth and fame, however, I can’t help but think that Elvis may have been happier with less and that had he hung around a while longer he would have enjoyed things like the Internet, HDTV, Blu-ray, and the Apple iPad. It also made me wonder how he would have enjoyed listening to his old songs being digitally remastered on CD or watching one of his movies on Blu-ray in high definition.
National Archives photo shared by Marion Doss via Flickr.