Thanks for posting these, Donut, loved reading Mr. Presley's thoughts, I recall reading that he didn't ever speak much. What a sad, sad day.
Elvis' Father Expresses Thanks
From the Archives of The Commercial Appeal
Saturday, August 20, 1977
After three days of privately grieving the loss of his son, Vernon Presley Friday searched for words to thank the world for its concern.
"It lightened my grief somewhat as I watched the tributes to my son that were shown from people throughout the world," said the 62-year-old, white-haired Presley, "But as everyone must know, I would rather have my son Elvis."
Presley appeared tired as he talked in the large den in the rear of Graceland Mansion. He wore sport clothes and tried to relax as he attempted to put the week's events into perspective. It was not easy.
"I am very sorry that all of the people who came to Memphis were not able to view the body, but there was not enough time," he said. "I was afraid that it would become more dangerous as the night wore on for the safety of the thousands of people that had come to Memphis to pay their tributes.
"I would like to express my sincere and deepest sympathy to the families of the girls in the very unfortunate and regrettable thing that happened at the gate. We want the families to understand."
(Miss Alice Hovatar and Miss Joanne Johnson, both of Monroe, La., were killed by an automobile early Thursday morning while standing in a no-traffic lane in front of Graceland. Tammy Baiter, 17, of St. Clair, Mo., was still in critical condition Friday night at Methodist Hospital from injuries in the wreck.)
Presley also praised law enforcement officers for their efforts. "The funeral arrangements were all handled beautifully. I would like to thank the Shelby County Sheriff's Department, the Memphis Police Department and other officers for the way they handled all of the traffic problems," he said.
And for the hundreds of journalists from all over the world who covered the funeral, Presley said: "You were most gracious. It is hard for me to put into words my thoughts at this time. But I do want you to know my feelings.
"I would like to take this opportunity to thank each member of the press, including the newspapers, radio, television and magazines, for their consideration to our family and friends during our sorrow after the death of my son, Elvis."
Presley also touched on several areas in which speculation has arisen since his son's death.
"Elvis did have a will and the attorneys will handle it next week," he said. "Elvis called me up to his suite at Graceland one night several months ago and asked me if I would have a will made up for him. We discussed it. Then I talked to the attorneys. It was drawn up. He approved it and it was signed and witnessed by three people and notarized."
Presley said Graceland mansion, which was purchased by his son for $100,000 in 1957, would remain in the family.
"I will assume that the rest of my life I will keep it intact," said Presley, who lives at 1266 Dolan. "My plan is to keep Graceland as long as it is physically or otherwise possible."
Living at Graceland now are Mrs. Delta Mae Bigg, the elder Presley's sister, and Mrs. Minnie Presley, 85, who is Elvis' grandmother. Also living there is Charlie Hodge, who played guitar on stage for Elvis.
The mansion also has three maids and two cooks.
Presley said the family may build its own mausoleum if the flow of tourists disrupts the privacy of relatives of other persons entombed there.
"The possibilities exist, but I don't think so now since we were able to get a room in a very nice location," he said. "If it becomes too congested for the other people, however, we may build our own at Forest Hill (Cemetery Midtown)."
He also said he may move the vault of Mrs. Gladys Presley, Elvis' mother who died in 1958 and who is buried at Forest Hill about a quarter of a mile from the mausoleum that holds Elvis.
"That possibility also exists, but I don't know when," he said. "I think it might make Elvis happy if he had known."
Presley recalled his son's courtship of Miss Ginger Alden, the 20-year-old, dark-haired beauty who said she and Elvis had planned to marry either Dec. 25 or Jan. 8, Elvis' birthday.
"I mentioned to my son Elvis one time about the possibilities of remarrying and Elvis told me, 'Only God knows that," Presley said. "I knew he had gotten engaged, but to my knowledge no date had been set..."
Ironically, the couple had discussed wedding arrangements in the wee hours of Tuesday morning, Miss Alden said Thursday night. She said the engagement was to be announced at Elvis' Memphis concert Aug. 27.
The elder Presley then discussed his son's final day. He said his sister, Mrs. Biggs, took Elvis some water and the morning newspaper as he relaxed in his room about 8:30 a.m. Tuesday.
"He told me he was going to get up that night and then leave at 11:30 p.m. or midnight for the tour," which was to open in Portland, Maine, Wednesday night, Mrs. Biggs said Friday. "He was happy and walking around talking about the upcoming tour. He was in a jovial and happy mood."
Elvis' father said he and road manager Joe Esposito were in an office behind the mansion discussing the tour that morning. He said Esposito later went into the house.
"Joe called me between 2:15 p.m. and 2:30 p.m., I think, and told me I should come upstairs because something had happened," Presley said, "I went upstairs and we started giving Elvis mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, but I thought it was probably too late.
"I looked at Elvis and I realized it was probably a helpless situation but it was so hard to believe it had happened."
A short time later, an ambulance rushed the singer to Baptist Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 3:30 p.m.
It was Monday evening, less that 24 hours earlier, that Elvis spoke his final words to his father.
"I told Elvis, 'I think I'll just go with you on this tour," Presley said. "Then Elvis said, 'Fine. The more the merrier."
'World's At Standstill' For Elvis' Fiancee
Friday, August 19, 1977
Ginger Alden, the dark-haired beauty who in five months was to become the next Mrs. Elvis Presley, was still wearing her 11 1/2-carat diamond engagement ring as she recalled the final hours of the singer's life.
"I said, 'Elvis,' and he didn't answer, so I opened his bathroom door and that's when I saw him in there," she said in a soft but steady voice Thursday night at her home. "I slapped him a few times and it was like he breathed once when I turned his head. I raised one of his eyes and it was just blood red but I couldn't move him."
Miss Alden, wearing the black dress she wore only hours earlier to the funeral, said she wanted to convince herself Presley was not dead. She failed.
"I thought at first he might have hit his head because he had fallen out of his black lounging chair and his face was buried in the carpet," said Miss Alden.
"He said, 'I'm going into the bathroom to read,' (Tuesday morning) and that's the last thing he said to me. I didn't want to think he was dead. God wouldn't want to take him so soon."
The moments of uncertainty began about 2:20 p.m. and passed like hours, Miss Alden said. She quickly summoned road manager Joe Esposito and Al Strada, a bodyguard, and Presley's personal physician, Dr. Nichopoulos.
Earlier reports had been that Esposito was the first to find the singer's body.
"When Joe turned his (Presley's) head over I think he knew he was dead because he didn't want me to see him and sent me into the other room," said Miss Alden. "It seemed like hours while we waited (after the ambulance left). Jo Smith (wife of Presley's cousin Billy Smith said, 'Everywhere you look at Graceland it's him.' And that's the way I'm finding it at home.
"It's like the whole world's at a standstill."
She said the ambulance, which rushed Presley to Baptist Hospital, returned with Nichopoulos some time later. "He walked up to Mr. (Vernon) Presley and shook his head. He just said he was sorry."
And so ended the waiting.
Miss Alden and Presley had visited dentist Dr. Lester Hoffman Monday night and later had spent the evening at Graceland making plans for their marriage, which she said was to have been announced at Elvis' Aug. 27 concert in Memphis.
They played racketball on the grounds at Graceland with the Smiths until about 6 a.m.
"Then we went back inside and I was ready to fall asleep," Miss Alden said. "I told him he needed to get some sleep too, but he said he couldn't sleep and went into the bathroom to read. It was a book on religion or psychology."
Hours later she found the man she remembered as "a part of me" who proposed to her less than two months after they met in November, 1976. The proposal was an unusual one. It was in the lounge area of the bathroom.
"It was like old-fashioned times...he was on his knees," Miss Alden said. "He asked me to marry him and I said 'Yes,' so he pulled out a green velvet box with the ring in it."
She said she would remember Elvis as a generous person who was easy to please.
"I remember the deep love he had for everybody and his generosity in giving gifts," said Miss Alden, who first saw Presley when he patted her on the head at the Mid-South Fair in 1961. She was 5. Elvis was 26. "When he saw a lot of happiness on someone's face that was enough for him."
Miss Alden said friends of Presley's had noted a change in him after they had met.
"They always would come up to me and say, 'You're what he's searched for for a long time,'" she recalled. "It gave me a wonderful feeling. I wanted to make him happy and I think I did."
The night after Presley and Miss Alden met, the singer took her to se one of his planes at Memphis Aero. After a short look inside, Presley suggested they go for a ride. She thought the ride was to Nashville but several hours later she called her mother from Las Vegas.
"It was such a thrill for me because I had never been West before," she said. "Then later he would sometimes introduce me as his girl friend at concerts. He'd say, 'Stand up...sit down' quickly because he'd say, 'You're hogging the spotlight.'"
Elvis often took Miss Alden's family and sisters on tour with him and in March took Ginger and her sisters, Miss Rosemary Alden and Miss Terry Jean Alden, to Hawaii for 10 days.
"That was like heaven," she said, as Rosemary, who also was in the room Thursday night, nodded in agreement. "He played football and Ping Pong and later took us to see some native dances at a Hawaiian culture center."
It was at the Alden residence that Elvis did his last singing on Saturday night, Aug. 6. The singing was mostly religious hymns, such as "How Great Thou Art."
Mrs. Jo Alden, Ginger's mother, recalled the evening.
"He was in such a wonderful mood," she said. "He has these hand expressions, sort of like karate type movements."
Mrs. Alden, who said she never worried when her daughter was with Presley, also dreamed of what never was to be.
"He said he was going to introduce her onstage next Saturday night at his concert in Memphis," she said. "He told her to look real special. It's so sad he didn't get time to announce it, instead of having us announce it."
Ginger said she is not sure about her future but has no immediate plans for a book.
"I don't think I could write anything now," she said. "Later, I don't know. If I did it would be only about the things that were good."
Esposito Sees Friendship As The 'Real' Elvis Story
Saturday, August 20, 1977
Joe Esposito, road manager and friend of Elvis Presley for nearly 20 years, since their days in the U.S. Army in West Germany, talked Friday about the entertainer's death but still had difficulty accepting it.
"I'm sitting here talking to you about something I didn't think I would ever talk about, at least not at this point in my life," Esposito said in an interview from Graceland. "No one believes it yet and probably won't for a long time."
Esposito was one of a handful of people at the mansion where Presley was found Tuesday afternoon by his fiancee, Miss Ginger Alden.
Esposito's account of the final day of Elvis' life followed that given Thursday night by Miss Alden, the last person to see the singer alive.
He said no one initially suspected Presley was dead when he was found in a second-floor bathroom.
"At the time Ginger found him she thought he had just collapsed. She didn't know he was dead," said Esposito, who was talking to Elvis bodyguard Al Strada in the downstairs kitchen when summoned by Miss Alden. "I went to pick Elvis up because I thought he had fainted but then I realized he was not breathing. I don't know how long he had been there."
Esposito said Elvis probably had gone into the bathroom to read so he would not keep Miss Alden awake with a light in the bedroom.
Miss Alden said Thursday that Presley often had difficulty sleeping as a tour approached but that she noticed nothing unusual about him early Tuesday morning.
It was not until about 2:20 Tuesday afternoon that Elvis was found, some six hours after he spoke his last words to Miss Alden, who said she slept most of the day.
Esposito said it was not strange that no one in the often-congested mansion missed Elvis during the hours he was in the bathroom.
"No one would be up in his bedroom when he was (expected to be) asleep," he said. "I just happened to walk into the house to talk to Al when Ginger said something was wrong with Elvis."
After frantic efforts to revive Elvis failed, Esposito said he called an ambulance; Dr. George C. Nichopoulos, who was Presley's private physician, and Vernon Presley, the singer's father who was in a downstairs office.
He said emergency efforts to revive Presley continued while ambulance attendants raced to the scene after receiving the emergency call at 2:33 p.m. Esposito said Nichopolous arrived as Presley was being placed in the ambulance and that he joined them in the ride to Baptist Hospital.
Nichopolous pronounced Presley dead at 3:30 p.m., leaving the 39-year-old Esposito to sort out the Presley empire.
"I'm going to continue to stay here and help Mr. Presley arrange things so the company can go on," he said Friday. "Vernon is taking it pretty good, but I don't think he still realizes what has happened."
Esposito dislikes talking of Presley's private life but said of Miss Alden: "I liked Ginger very much. She's a very, very nice woman. I think just like any other couple, they would quarrel. Just like I quarrel with my girl friend. Nothing unusual about that."
The longtime Elvis partner said Presley did not use drugs, "none whatsoever."He said Elvis' former bodyguard Red West, who in a recent book attacked the singer's life-style as one filled with drugs and odd habits, must have been "very bitter" to write such a book.
"I don't know," Esposito said. "You'll have to ask Red West that question. All I know is that I would have never done it."
He regretted that West was not alone in publicly tarnishing the image of Elvis.
"All you read about Elvis is the bad things," he said. "I guess people like to read that kind of stuff but I don't know why. I hope everybody in the world that wrote anything bad about Elvis gets a good night's sleep."
He said none of Elvis' "real friends" has any plans for a book now but that if an accurate book of Presley's life was to be written, it should be a joint effort.
He said he hoped one day those friends could put down their experiences with Elvis over the years and have writers put it together.
Said Esposito: "Now that would be the real story of Elvis Presley's life."
Thanks for posting these, Donut, loved reading Mr. Presley's thoughts, I recall reading that he didn't ever speak much. What a sad, sad day.
Just pretend, I'm holding you, and whispering things soft and low.
And think of me, how it's gonna be and just pretend I didn't go
Thank you so much for posting .
I really loved reading this. I wasn't there but i think i must have been a
very dark day for the Presley family as well for the fans all
over the world.
Thank you Donut, these articles were very interesting to read.
Thanks for these Donut. Strange,but even after all this time, it still makes for really sad reading.Maybe it`s because I actually rarely think of Elvis as dead?
It is so sad to read the article from Vernon, even after all these years. Thanks for
"talk about the good times"
Enjoyed the article about Vernon, thank you.
Good articles, thanks
Thanks for posting this articles, Donut- very interesting because in Europe it`s not so easy to get them or to get access to the archiv.
The biggest part of Elvis is his heart; it is full of love for everyone
many thanks for posting this , it was great to read vernons thoughts , so soon after ELVIS death.
good articles, including Joe's quotes
thanks for sharing