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16 July 2024
Vester Presleys book.

Unless you were an Elvis Presley fan, you probably wouldn't know who Vester Presley was, but he was the Uncle of Elvis Presley.

Vester Presley.

As a kid, I was a huge Elvis Presley fan, at an early age at school, I always wore black drainpipe trousers, blue suede shoes and fluorescent socks. I remember in 1977 when Elvis died my dad woke me up to tell me that Elvis had died and let me watch the news on the television.

In 1980, my mum and dad took me and my sister on a holiday to America. We would travel from Florida on the East Coast to California on the West Coast, stopping at many places. My sister and I were told to pick out places we wanted to see on the trip, and I chose Graceland in Memphis.

I remember the day we arrived at Graceland, May 29th 1980, it was very quiet all around the area. We parked in a car park outside a row of shops opposite Graceland. The shops where we parked are no longer there and the place they were is now part of a huge development of the Elvis Estate that has grown up since his death.

Only us and maybe a couple of other people were walking around as we went through the famous white gates with a figure of Elvis playing the guitar on them. Just through the gates, on the right, was a security gate with an old man standing at the hut's door. We walked up the winding path towards the main house. Back in those days, you could not go into the house. You were allowed to walk up to the side of the house where the swimming pool, meditation gardens and the graves of Elvis and his parents were, but nowhere else. The house would not open to the public until 1982. We all walked up to see the grave of Elvis Presley and his parents. I remember thinking how cool the swimming pool was right outside the big door at the side of the house and how close to the house the graves were. We then went to see the meditation garden, spending a few minutes there.

Meeting Vester Presley.

A Presley Speaks book cover.On the way out, we stopped at the security gate at the entrance, where a table was laid out with books named ´A Presley Speaks´. I bought a presentation, hardback copy of the gold leaf book. It was a book of the memoirs of Vester Presley, Elvis Presley's Uncle and his relationship with Elvis. Mine was copy number 900 of 5000 that was printed in June 1978, these details are handwritten inside the back of the book.

As I looked through the book, I looked at a photo inside and realised that the old man there was, in fact, Elvis´s Uncle Vester. I told my mum and dad, but they didn't believe me, so I walked back to him and asked him if he was Elvis´s Uncle Vester.  I remember very well his slow Southern accent as he looked down at me and said, ´Yes, Sir, I am.´

I then asked him if he would autograph my book, and he said he would. He asked me my name and took me back into the security hut so that he could sign the book. He asked me my name and then wrote a message in my book. I remember being very upset because he spelt my name wrong. He apologised for the mistake, telling me he could not read or write well. He got me to write my name down on a piece of paper so that he could copy it. He crossed through his spelling of what he thought my name was then spelt it correctly by copying my name down correctly. It amazed me how polite Vester was to a 13-year-old boy, and he is one of the reasons that if I don't know someone's name, or these days just can't remember it, I always call men, Sir and women, young Lady. His politeness and kindness to me did, in some way, rub off on me.

To this day, the book has only ever been out of the box and the silk scarf it is wrapped in a few times. It is not something I think I would ever sell, but I wonder what it is now worth. It is a priceless memory of my visit to Graceland and the day that I met and spoke with Vestor Presley, the Uncle of Elvis Presley. I also wonder why I did not ask him to take his photo with me. That would have been another great photo to have as a memory.

About Vester Presley.

Vester Lee Presley was born in Fulton, Itawamba County, Mississippi, on September 11th 1914. He was the older brother of Vernon Presley, Elvis´s father. The two brothers married two sisters, Vester marrying Clettes Smith and Vernon marrying Gladys Smith.

Vester Presley was the long-time guard at the gates to Graceland and would often stop to talk or answer questions from many of Elvis´s fans. He was affectionately known by Elvis´s fans as just ´Uncle Vestor´. He passed away in Memphis on January 17th 1997, nearly 20 years after Elvis Presley died.