Gladys Love Smith was born on Thursday April 25, 1912, in Pontotoc County, Mississippi. Vernon Elvis Presley was born on Monday
April 10, 1916, in Fulton, Mississippi.
When Gladys Love Smith met Vernon Elvis Presley in 1933 at the Evangelical First Assembly of God Church in East Tupelo,
where he uncle was a preacher, she was 21, he was 4 years younger. Vernon was blond and handsome but immature, and not much
of a catch as a breadwinner. Unambitious, he had no trade and little application, working his way through a succession of
unskilled jobs, unable to hold any of them down for long. On the other hand, Gladys, who was no beauty but definitely pretty
with delicate features, slaved for her wages on 12 hour shifts at a clothing factory. But there must have been love - their
relationship would survive numerous traumas, including Vernon's imprisonment, evictions, chronic poverty and Gladys's obsessive
love for her only son. They married with a little ceremony in June 1933, after borrowing the $3 license fee from friends and
running away with another couple to another town to tie the knot.
Elvis Aaron Presley was born 19 months later at approximately 4.35am on 8th January, 1935 under the sign of Capricorn.
His stillborn identical twin, Jesse Garon, was buried in an unmarked grave in Priceville Cemetery, near the two roomed wooden
shack built by Vernon on Old Saltillo Road, East Tupelo. The glorious blue-eyed good looks that would become iconic were inherited
from mixed stock: Scottish, Cherokee and, maybe, Jewish . After a hard birth, Gladys, was told she could never have any more
children and so Gladys lavished her maternal affection on little Elvis. When Elvis was two, his father was sent to jail. Vernon,
his brother in law Travis Smith and another man Luther Gable, were convicted for fraud after they changed the sum on a cheque
for the sale for a pig from $3 to $8. They were all sentenced to 3 years in jail. Although he was released early, after only
18 months, and his wife and child had visited every weekend. By the time Vernon came out, the bond between Elvis and Gladys
was immutable, they even communicated in their own exclusive baby language. However, while it is not uncommon for immature
men to feel usurped in their wife's affections by their first born, Vernon, who had all intents and purposes been the older
Gladys's baby until their son was born, doesn't seem to have exhibited jealously at being relegated to second place in her
affections. Vernon was a doting father till the very end.
As the focus of all this smother love, the little boy thrived. Elvis was Gladys's little man, her adored prince. He called
his mama baby or satnin the meaning of which can only be guessed at, though it may derive of satin, the sheeny fabric that
is soft to the touch and pleasant to stroke, almost like skin. In their tactile, affectionate relationship, feet or footies
were sooties. She fed him up on the best they could afford: his favorite burned bacon, mashed potatoes, biscuits and what
is known in the south as thickening gravy - not made with meat juices, but a gluey sauce based on cornflour - and eggs that
had to be as tough as rubber before he would touch them. She taught him manners and how to comb his hair to greased perfection,
a habit he never lost.
As they moved from home to home, Gladys did her best to create a cosy, insular world for the three of them. Elvis, who
had inherited his father's dirty blond hair, had a few play-mates until he entered his teens. His mama was his best friend,
though she didn't spare the rod when she though it necessary, she believed that there was a place for discipline when it came
to keeping Elvis on the path she deemed right. He was a shy child, torn between wanting to have fun with other boys and keeping
his beloved mother happy.
Elvis started school when he was 5 or 6 years old. Gladys liked to walk the half mile to East Tupelo Consolidated. Vernon
was in and out of work and the family was often In debt but there was always enough money to provide Elvis with the comics
he enjoyed. There were Smiths and Presley relatives around, too, but church was a vital focus for the family. At The First
Assembly Church, Elvis became a fan of the black music and gospel. He also loved to join in. When Elvis was only 2 years old,
he jumped off Gladys' lap, run up the aisle and scramble up the platform. He would stand looking at the choir and trying to
sing with them.
In September 1948, Gladys and Vernon sold their furniture and packed up all they owned. They wanted to move to Memphis
and Elvis was excited to see where they would end up. They arrived in Memphis, they moved into run-down homes around Memphis
and Elvis went to high school. Then they were moved into a different housing, called 328. It had 2 bedrooms, a sitting room,
a kitchen and a bathroom. This was heaven for the Presley family. Elvis was now attending LC Humes High School and made a
small handful of friends. Elvis even got himself a girlfriend called Betty McMann, a local neighbor. Elvis was a normal teenager,
he suffered from spots and other teenage pains. Yet he was a charming young man who loved his mama.
Elvis left high school in 1953. During school term, Elvis held down two jobs to help his beloved family out. His first
job out of school was working at MB Parker machinists shop. Just 6 weeks later, he got into his truck, with his guitar and
drove through Memphis. Once he arrived, he walked through the door of Memphis Recording Service, where Sam Phillips ran the
Sun Record label. He paid his dollars and cut an acetate disc: My Happiness on A-side and That's Where My Heartaches Begin
on the B-side. He said it was a gift for his beloved mother but it was the start of a great career.
With his first royalty check, Elvis bought his mother a pink Cadillac. But, Gladys always worried that fame would distance
her from her beloved son.
After Elvis had recorded That's All right and other songs for Sun, he became famous. He was now a star and he wanted to
look after his mother and father. He would buy them cars, clothes and whatever they wanted to make them happy. After his first
number ones, they moved into Audubon Drive. They were so happy there till one day Elvis got a call off a excited Gladys and
Vernon. They had found a house a few miles south of Memphis that they thought he would love. They were right. When Elvis saw
the 18 room colonial style mansion, sitting in nearly 20 acres of grounds, it was love at first sight. He paid $100,00 a huge
amount in 1957 and he never wanted to negotiate the price down because he loved the house too much. This was a perfect place
for the King and his family. He turned the house into a Vegas bachelor pad complete with a soda fountain, jukebox, 8 foot
square King size bed and peacocks on the lawn. This was home.
If Gladys could barely tolerate her son's famed it was because when away Elvis would call home every night, and talk baby
talk for hours to ease her anxiety and pain. By now diet pills and alcohol had led to liver damage and the onset of hepatitis.
In Gladys' case depression was exacerbating her medical condition. And her increasing anxiety about Elvis being enlisted into
In December of that year, Elvis got his notice to report for induction into the army in the new year. The date was January
20th, but he was given two months break so he could film King Creole. Then on March 24th Private Presley number 55310761,
was sworn into the army and left for Fort Chaffee for basic training. Private Presley, Company A, 2ND Medium Tank Battalion,
37th Armour, 2nd Armoured Division, would become one of the rank and file.
Elvis was going to be sent to Germany and his family would follow him. Yet being apart from her son, Gladys began to drink
and takes pills herself. Soon she began to feel ill and her doctor admitted her to hospital, her skin was turning yellow,
the sign of jaundice. Her illness was no clear and Elvis was scared about his mother, they would talk on the phone and he
begged for time with her. The army said no and he even threatened to go AWOL, they let him go to see his mother. When Elvis
reached her bedside, she was extremely ill. She did perk up when Elvis was by her side and Elvis stayed by her side for 36
hours and then Elvis went home to sleep. Elvis was asleep when the phone rang in the early hours of Thursday, 14 August. He
knew what it was before he answered it. Vernon told him Gladys had died at 3.15am.
In shock and disbelief Elvis rushed to the hospital. After Elvis entered his mother ward and the door closed, witnesses
remember a piercing wild despair of wails from Elvis were heard as he wept and prayed long and loud over his mother's lifeless
body. He started talking in his baby language. He was crying, screaming and begging her to wake up. Satnin is gone, my baby
is gone he would cry to anyone who would listen. At the funeral Elvis flung himself at his mother in her coffin, hugging and
kissing her, rocking her back and forth, weeping endearments and crying out to her in their won special language to come back
to him. There was no autopsy, but it was known she had a heart attack and maybe some problems with her liver and her digestion.
Yet to Elvis, knowing the real cause of death never really mattered to him. His beloved mother was gone. She was his life
and no-one else really mattered to him. Elvis was hurt she was taken at such a young age. He would never be the same after
her death. Nothing could ever salve his pain. Gladys was at peace but her beloved son was trapped in a torment of pain and
Then Elvis and Vernon went to Germany. Elvis kept his father close to him and they had a closer father and son relationship
now. Then Vernon did something which really upset Elvis. Vernon started seeing another woman, His father might have only been
42, but Gladys had been in the grave just a few months, and Elvis was hurt and appalled. He saw his fathers willingness even
to consider a new relationship at this point was an insult to his mothers memory. He was still in mourning and felt deeply
disturbed that his father was ready to move on. Dee Stanley was in her early 30s and married to an older sergeant on the base,
who had served in both the Korean and Second World Wars. Eventually Dee would leave her husband for Vernon and join him in
Memphis with her 3 young sons, Billy, Rick and David. Elvis must have wanted Vernon to be happy but he would never fully embrace
the woman he felt had usurped his beloved mothers place and he did not go to his fathers second wedding in Alabama, in July
Throughout 70's concert tour Vernon travelled everywhere with his son. As Elvis' business manager, Vernon, with little
schooling, had a difficult task organising Elvis' financial fortune. This was never more evident, upon Elvis' death, when
a over a million dollars was found in Elvis' personal cheque book, half of which had to be paid in death taxes because Vernon
knew little or nothing of tax exemptions.
Son and fathere stayed close till August 16th 1977. After years of drug abuse and junk food, Elvis gained a lot of weight
and had number of hospital visits. Then On August 16th 1977, Elvis went into the bathroom at Graceland and died alone, face
down in his own vomit. Gladys'heart would have broken, if she had been alive and was the one who had found her beloved little
boy dead and at the age of only 42.
Vernon Presley died 2 years later on June 16th 1979 of a broken heart and was lied to rest next to Elvis and Gladys in
the Meditation Garden at Graceland.
JESSE GARON PRESLEY (January 8th 1935)
GLADYS LOVE SMITH (1912 - 1958)
ELVIS AARON PRESLEY (1935 - 1977)
VERNON ELVIS PRESLEY (1916 - 1979)