The latest interview ElvisOnLine has conducted was with Mary Stonebreaker, whose back fence backs on to the Graceland property. The above picture, is the view from the rear of her house. Mary kindly allowed me to talk with her...Here is the interview in its entirety...
EOL: Hi Mary, may I first take the time to thank you for talking with ElvisOnLine and sharing your experiences with us.
The pleasure is all mine I am glad to be interviewed by someone who knows so much about Elvis.
EOL: Can you recall to us, when and how did it come about that you moved into the premises beside Graceland?
My husband and I moved into this house behind Graceland actually to be near Graceland and Elvis. We wish to continue to administer to the fans as Elvis himself always did and continue the legacy.
EOL: Were you a fan of Elvis at that time?
WE have always been Elvis' fans, he was the most controversal icon of our time which spans two centuries. Just like Buzz Lightyear say to infinity and beyond.
EOL: You were obviously aware of the neighbour you would be living next to?
Of course we knew who would be our neighbor and that was the reason for moving into this house, to be near Elvis.
EOL: On first moving in, there must have been excitement as to whom you were living beside. Can you tell us about that?
Well like I said we moved here for the reason of being near our idol Elvis Presley. When I first saw Elvis he was in our neighbors drive way and because of freezing weather at the time our water pipes had broken and we had no water and we were painting the inside of our home so I had paint from one end to the other and it was almost every color we had in our house. I didn't want him to see me like that so I quickly waved at him all the while running into the house. Once inside all I could do was scream and holler I was so excited.
EOL: Was there a rush to look over the fence?
The view over the fence was what made me want to move into this house behind Graceland, but I have never abused the previledge of looking over that fence. I wouldn't want any one spying on me so I like to give Elvis the same courtesy. I will say one tribute week there were people here and of course everyone wants to look over the fence or look through the knott holes to see what we see every day so it was after dark and when I put my eye to the hole there was an eye looking back at me, which scared me to death, it was one of Elvis' horses that we would give apples to from time to time, but at the time I didn't expect to see an eye looking back at me.
EOL: How close in proximity is your house to Graceland?
My house is about 1,500 feet from the back of Graceland, you can see everything that happens at the back of the mansion.
EOL: Well, the inevitable question I guess, did you ever see or meet Elvis in person as his neighbour?
The fence at Graceland to begin with was only 5 feet high and on the 10 anniversary of Elvis' death they put in a new fence which was 10 feet high. You could see Elvis and Priscilla riding horses in the pasture. We have seen Lisa Marie at the back of the house walking the track. Elvis himself use to visit neighbors and the lady who owned this house before us a Christine Stone actually had Elvis and 8 of his guys jump the then 5 foot fence to crash one of their family barbeques. Elvis would also give the kids rides on his go cart that lived around the mansion. Like my mother use to say Elvis is just a good ole boy. Of course there were always people around Elvis' gate and some would get to go to the movies or Liberty land on a regular basis. He was friendly and cordial.
Elvis' was a very friendly person and liked his fans very much, he would inter act with them.
EOL: While living beside Graceland, during his life and residence there, can you tell us how it was? Would it be that you would see him as most do their neighbours and greet each other?
A lot of Elvis' fans saw him around Memphis, he was a larger than life figure and was always beseiged by his young fans and occasionally by their parents mostly mothers. Elvis appealed to most everyone, they liked and admired him not only as Elvis Presley the icon but as Elvis the man.
EOL: Was there ever an invitation to visit his house while he was resident there?
I was never invited to Graceland mansion as I wasn't much of a party goer during his life, but have been in the house many times since but rarely go any more due to the fact every time I go I find something that was there that is no longer in view.
EOL: Elvis' passing must have shocked you like anf fan. What was it like in Memphis at that time and was the future of Graceland ever considered by you or other neighbours?
Elvis' leaving us at such a young age was a shock to everyone in every country of the world. I am sure that many wondered what would become of Graceland. A petition was sent to the neighbors to get their ok's after Elvis' body was threatened by grave robbers at Forest Hills cemetary. Without the neighbors ok's Vernon could not have moved the bodies to Graceland. I think every one remembers what they were doing and where they were when Elvis' death was announced.
EOL: It must be a very special place to live beside, knowing you're so close to his home and place of final rest?
It is a special place to live even now but one must get use to life as it is today. I know that Elvis' spirit is alive and well in all the homes in this special place around his beloved Graceland. I feel we have been graced by his spirit many times. At first it was scary but we have grown accustomed to the strange goings on in this area and our own home.
EOL: Since he passed away, you have mentioned to me your tours of Memphis. Was this something you got into during Elvis' life or after his passing?
We did not have our tour service, Memphis Tour and Travel Inc, when Elvis was at Graceland we actually formed this company in 2007 with a gentleman who was a friend of Elvis since he was living in Lauderdale court and wrote Miracle of the Rosary for Elvis, this song appears in 11 of Elvis' albums. This gentleman early in the year had a serious stroke and passed away so we are left taking care of the fans, which we love. We want to give the fans that are not familiar with this area and the places that Elvis went a non expensive tour that hopefully they will remember for a life time. We don't believe in scalping anyone especially another Elvis fan. We believe you must treat everyone the way you want to be treated.
EOL: Is there much interest in the fact that you lived beside him as neighbours?
People are always asking questions about Elvis and there is much interest in finding out things that maybe others don't know already.
EOL: Can you ever see yourself living anywhere else?
We came here to live forever, but with the new owner of EPE that may not be possible, I have heard he may want to buy our property which I have bitter sweet thoughts about. This is our lives here behind Graceland mansion and we would miss it greatly, but we also don't want a roller coaster going over our house either. None know right now what is going to happen to their lives or homes.
EOL: Mary, as a fan, can you tell me a bit about your following of Elvis and what it is that appeals to you?
Elvis has a universal appeal, and the one thing that has kept this going for 30 years is Elvis' teriffic energy. You can feel him, he makes you happy, when you are sick he give you health, he is a friend and loved one of many and through this energy I don't see him loosing appeal in my life time.
EOL: A question I ask all interviewees, if he were alive today, what do you think he would be like?
I feel that Elvis today would be trim and tanned and living a great life style that he would have learned you don't have to please everyone as long as you please yourself.
EOL: Well Mary, may I thank you very much for taking time out to speak with me and may I wish you a Happy New Year and look forward to talking to you in the future.Perhaps next, about your Elvis Birthday celebrations. In my native language, Slán agus Buíochas.
Thank you for giving me a chance to be heard. Mary Smith, Stonebraker
(C) M Stonebreaker & EOL
"There's A Sweet Sweet Spirit In This Place"....