To the world, he was the King of Rock and Roll, but to Brookdale Dogwood Creek residents Margaret Moon and Margie Hayden, Elvis Presley was a family friend and neighbor.
Elvis would have turned 83 on January 8. The date has prompted the pair to reminisce about the man many consider among America’s most significant cultural icons. Brookdale Dogwood Creek is located in Germantown, Tenn., a suburb of Memphis. The Presley family moved to Memphis when Elvis was a teen and the city is synonymous with the star.
Moon, 78, is a local native who laughingly calls herself “the first girl in Elvis’ new swimming pool.” In 1956, she and three friends decided to drop in at the house on Audubon Drive where the singer and his family lived for about a year before buying Graceland. “His mom opened the door and told us Elvis was on his way back from Texas, but that she’d be happy to show us around,” Moon said. After giving the teens a tour of the house, including a look at Elvis’ collection of teddy bears from fans, Gladys Presley offered to show them the pool under construction in the backyard.
“There were piles of dirt, but they had put the walls in and installed a ladder on each side,” Moon said. “I climbed down one of the ladders, walked across the bottom and went up the other ladder. So did my friends. From then on, I could say I was the first girl in his new pool.” The swimming pool was later removed from the home, which is now called the “Elvis Presley House.”
While an entertainer today would be unlikely to invite the public into the family home, times were different then, Moon said. “He was just getting famous and people would go by to see him. It was just how it was. And Elvis’ mother was a very gracious woman; she was known for that.”
Moon, whose husband went to high school with Elvis, also recalls the singer returning there in 1957 to perform one song as part of the senior class play. Seventeen and sitting in the audience, she watched the crowd react when Elvis, dressed in a blue tuxedo, black pants and a cummerbund, began performing “Blue Suede Shoes.” Moon said, “There aren’t even words to describe what happened. People just went crazy; they were wild for him.”
Margie Hayden, 87, moved to Memphis in the 1960s and lived near Graceland. She frequently saw Elvis riding his motorcycle in the neighborhood. Despite his fame, “for us, seeing him on his bike wasn’t something you thought much about. We were used to it.”
The birth of Elvis’ daughter Lisa Marie stands out in her mind. “I was coming back with three little girls from visiting family in Kentucky when we got stopped about a block from our house, right in front of Graceland. Lisa Marie was being brought home from the hospital and they had blocked traffic to let the vehicle in.”
Both women admit they went through the teenage crush phase but moved on. Still as locals, they always have thought Elvis’ fame had a broader meaning.
“He put Memphis on the map,” said Hayden. Moon said: “We were all proud of that.”