In this episode of Memphis Type History: The Podcast, Rebecca and Caitlin have a treat for all the Elvis fans out there celebrating this week. They talk about Graceland Too, the offbeat museum of Elvis memorabilia you can’t visit anymore because of its closing in tragic circumstances. But you can hear all about it from from people who did see it firsthand on Memphis Type History: The Podcast.
He Drove Into Holly Springs in a Pink Cadillac
Graceland Too is no longer open to the public. However, memories of the eccentric owner of the Elvis memorabilia museum are still spoken of with fondness. Paul MacLeod drove into Holly Springs, Mississippi, in the 1980s dressed like Elvis and in a pink Cadillac. He took up residence in the small town and soon his reputation as an Elvis fan garnered him visitors of his own. He loved Elvis so much his entire home was filled with rare and strange memorabilia. He said to have even named is son Elvis Aaron Presley McLeod. So where did the name come from? That and other people’s firsthand experiences below.
The Attraction: Graceland Too and the man people came to see
The house itself was just as eccentric as the man who ran it. There was memorabilia covering every wall of the house. It changed colors regularly according to various themes: Pink for the Cadillac, Gray for Jailhouse Rock, among others. Unfortunately Paul McLeod was found dead suddenly on his porch in the front of his house from health issues. Two days earlier he had shot and killed a man at his front door. Although MacLeod was not convicted with anything, people claim the stress of the situation caused his death. The death was sudden, and just as suddenly his home and belongings were auctioned off. I only even experienced any of it at an exhibit at Crosstown Arts, which is why I looked for people who could help us fill in our memories with their firsthand accounts. I also found a really interesting article from Buzzfeed. You can find a link at the bottom, but I’ve included a quote I loved from that article:
“Paul was unreachable unless you stopped by Graceland Too. He had no telephone. Ring the bell on the front door, pay a fee (in the final years $5), and Paul, usually wearing black jeans and a rumpled Hawaiian shirt, would rise and let you in.
As with the real Graceland, visitors were never allowed upstairs. He also never let anyone use the bathroom and did not have running water, which was a problem when your primary clientele was drunk college students.
At the end of tours, Paul would grab a neon green and pink ice cream cone microphone and sing and imitate Elvis’ pelvis shake. According to Paul, a lady once peed herself watching him sing. “We had to go get Lysol,” Paul said.”
It was July. The heat was sweltering and the house was only cooled by box fans.
The first person we hear from is Darrin Devault… The following photos are from his collection you can find in his book, Graceland Too Revisited. He worked at the University of Memphis until 2015 and visited Graceland Too twice. He went to the museum first with a friend who was always looking for the opportunity to take good photos. So for his birthday, the friend asked to go to Graceland Too. Paul McLeod greeted them at the door. Only box fans cooled the house in the sweltering July heat. Darrin described the house as being at one time a “stately home”. At the time of their visit it was painted in the blue theme.
After that it was painted “Pepto Bismo Pink.” Darrin went to McLeod’s funeral. They led everyone at the funeral back to the house for the final tour. Close friends gave personal tours of the specific areas of the home with particular memories and stories to tell that pertained to that part of the house. Darrin talks about Paul’s “photographic memory” and his “wall of fans” for people visited consistently over the years including the Elvis garment you had to wear for your “wall of fans” photo to be displayed in the home. You’ll have to listen to the podcast to get the details, though.
Another of the notable memories was McLeod’s consumption of Coca Cola. He apparently drank a case a day. There is a photo from Darrin that shows one of the many empty Coke cans that existed around the house because of McLeod’s soda habit. Devault says the one thing he would keep if he could have anything, is a leather jacket with particular significance. He says its one of the roadside attractions that are off the beaten path and one of kind. Graceland Too was definitely one of those.
Best Experienced Under Cover of Darkness
Second, we hear from Aimee who was a lifetime member. She took one of those middle of night visits that were apparently very popular among college students. It was the mid-nineties. Upon arriving she was taken aback by the number of items and its location just off a main city street. She also talks about how it was a much different experience in the middle of the night than during the day. Aimee took the trip when she was relatively new to Memphis and was very curious about the Elvis culture that exists. She notes that while the Elvis culture exists there is also a much broader Memphis in which one could completely miss Elvis if you weren’t looking for it. She describes it as a place you had to see to believe and describes McLeod as every bit of what you hear about when people describe him.
A Lifetime Member’s Memories
I also talked to Emily Van Gilder and her boyfriend Evan Daws. Evan was actually a lifetime member and has his picture on that “wall of fans” you read about earlier and owner of several Lifetime Member cards. Evan talks about his many adventures at Graceland Too and shares what he’d choose if he could have anything from the collection. Emily had her own unique experience there. Listen to the podcast to get all those details.
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