August 16, 2018…41 years later

This is (sadly) the 41st anniversary of the death of Elvis Aron (Aaron) Presley. I am among the ever decreasing persons who were alive during Elvis’ career. I can remember that day like it was yesterday and that is saying something as my medical diagnosis, along with my daily observations/frustrations, impair (to varying degrees) my memory.

August 16, 1977 was a bright sunshine day where I lived/was born/was raised and the same is true in Memphis Tennessee where Elvis had his primary home. The home he purchased with his mother and father being Gladys Love (Smith) Presley and Vernon Elvis Presley. The home that was removed from the city. A home that part of the acres adjoin a church. A home that the previous owners named Graceland. A home that was the confirmation of the promise Elvis made repeatedly during his childhood of “mamma one day I am going to buy you a nice house”. A home where Gladys had her chickens. A home that, with some exceptions, looks similar now as it was when Elvis bought it. A home that Elvis loved. It is also (sadly) the location where Elvis died.

My heart and prayers go out to; Billy Jo Smith, Lisa Marie Presley, the Presley family, Kathy Westmoreland, Sandie Kaye Stevens, Sandi Pichon, Jerry Schilling, and others who I extend this apology to for not naming them in this blog post.

I learned today that Aretha Franklin died today as well. Interestingly she was from Memphis and she died on the day as Elvis i.e. August 16th. People called Elvis “the king” or “the king of rock and roll”. People called Aretha “the queen of soul”. Worth noting is that there is audio of Elvis in concert in the 1970s whereby a woman holds up a sign saying “Elvis is King” and Elvis responded “there is but one king Jesus Christ”.

Future generations may have access to so much about the life, onstage and off, of Elvis Presley. I can attest to the fact that there is far too much incorrect information. Bias. Disrespect. Conjecture concerning Elvis. I have always believed in facts, firsthand sources, and context. I am not one of those that believed Elvis walked on water or that he was perfect or that he made all the right decisions. Elvis was a man blessed by God, as we all are, with talents. Elvis bravely pursued his talents and the rest as they say is…history. It is my hope that long past the day I pass that some of my insights, opinions, knowledge of Elvis is read and put into proper context. That they don’t feed into the lies and half truths. That they enjoy his music. His films. His TV appearances. His concert, and personal, recordings. There are some good life lessons to be garnered about Elvis as a man, a Christian, who had a heart and passion for those who were poor and disadvantaged. Elvis was born and raised in bitter poverty and he embraced people of all types and music of all types. Elvis knew firsthand the challenges of being raised for a period of time by a single parent as his father was completing his time in jail/prison (note: Vernon did everything humanly possible to take responsibility, compensate the injured party in full, To not ever get into legal trouble again. Vernon was ashamed and embarrassed about this and in no way shape or form did this one act dictate who Vernon Presley was as a man, a father, and a husband. And the ONLY reason I bring this subject up is that so many don’t know of Elvis’ life and all of the hardships).

Take care and may God bless you.

PHOTOS are; Elvis while in his US Army stint (1958 – 1960), Elvis with Priscilla at Graceland circa 1967, Elvis with Priscilla on vacation circa 1968, Elvis with the Clara Ward singers circa 1960s, Elvis in front of Graceland with his Rolls Royce circa 1960s, and some of Elvis’ cars at his home in Memphis Tennessee being Audubon Drive circa 1956.

WM Horse Army

WM Elvis wtih Priscilla his back n snowWM E Cilla (7)WM 1960s Elvis with Clara Ward sisters rare indeed 10WM CARS outside GRACELAND 1965 March 17WM AUDOBON DRIVE Elvis cars lined up


Elvis Presley and . . . Chess (Part 1)


Chess is a game that has been around (literally) thousands of years. It is thought to have primarily originated in India but components of China also lay claim. There is no confusion about Chess being played, studied, etc. in terms of military aspects with the “winner” limiting the opponents King so that it is trapped vertically, diagonally, and horizontally (i.e. checkmate) by one piece (the Queen) or combinations of other pieces such as; pawns, rooks, knights, and bishops. Basically, a class system summarized on a board.  Though I have played Chess all my life, and I am ok at it, it is a game that (up until the recent advent of high tech computers that can process thousands of calculations) is seldom mastered.

I encourage others to play chess for there are numerous benefits. You don’t need a lot of money and on computers, or with the assist of computers, you can play against a virtual opponent. Playing Chess forces one to look 1, 2, 3, etc. steps ahead which change fluidly in response to the opponents move(s).

Before I get to Elvis I want to make another point and that is since Chess is thousands of years old the game is over as specified herein but the Queen has the greatest power as she holds the greatest power, mobility, etc. I think it’s kinda cool that even back in the ages when women, in general, were second-class citizens that women (deservingly so) were openly given this status.

There are conflicting accounts of Elvis’ interest, or lack of, pertaining to Chess. But all agree that as an adult Elvis owned a Chess set as part of his decor. And everyone who knew Elvis, personally or professionally, remark about his quick wit, intelligence, photographic memory, etc some of which are great assets when it comes to playing Chess.

Pawns – in Chess there are more pawns (8) that any other pieces. The pawns represent the lowest class (not my opinion but in this context) but they can, in combination, be used to win the game known as “checkmate”.

Knights – they come in pairs and have a unique ability, or disability, wherein they move (forward or back) two spaces and then one space to the side. The name “Knights” is self-evident.

Bishops – they come in pairs and their unique ability (other than the Queen) is that they move diagonally, forward or backward, but they cannot deviate from the board color which they are initially placed before the game commences. The name “Bishop” is self-evident pertaining to a respected place in Christianity/Religion.

Rooks – they come in pairs and their unique ability (other than the Queen) whereby they can move forward or sideways in more than one space at a time. The name “Rook” is not known to me off the top of my head but it is sculptured in the form of a standing castle.

Queen – there is only one and as I have stated herein her powers are the greatest insofar as the ability to move (note – they do not have the power to move as the Knights do).

King – there is only one and every effort is made to protect the King. The King is limited to one space at a time.

Elvis Presley.

Pawn – To know Elvis you have to understand that he was born to parents who were not educated. I state this with great respect for Gladys and Vernon but it is a fact. They (Elvis, Gladys, and Vernon) were poor. Dirt poor. Bitterly poor. Without assets. Without means. Gladys could not read or write. She never had a drivers license.

What they lacked in education and means Gladys loved Elvis, as he did her, with her entire essence. Vernon loved Elvis but you just have to look at photographs, or videos, to see that Elvis is almost always touching Gladys when she is near. He holds her hand. He touches her face. He puts his arm around her.

SOLELY related to a class system in relation to Chess, and before Elvis gained monetary independence, the Presleys would be pawns. They have collective power. They cannot move freely as they are dictated to by their lack of means. Lack of education. Lack of political connections.

Knights – historically knights were sworn and dedicated (wholly) to the King. They were protectors. They had unique power and access. I would say that this is similar to the members of the “Memphis Mafia.

Bishops – since the name is historically rooted in Christianity the Bishop was assigned to look over their community. To be a person of honor. Of charity. A teacher of God, and when he walked the earth and afterward Jesus, to the rich and poor alike in their relationship with God. Though Elvis did not have a singular Bishop Elvis, Gladys, and Vernon (again before Elvis’ success) put great emphasis on their preacher/pastor very similar to a Bishop and they benefited from this pertaining to; church services, church gatherings, medical care, food/meals, as a fundamental social outlet

… to be continued

Christmas 2014 (by Jeff Schrembs)

Christmas has always been bittersweet for me.

Seems like all of the “bad” stuff in my life, and I plead guilty to self inflicted bad acts, happens from late September through late December.

Growing up I saw, as was the case the other 364 days of the year, how different my grandparents were on the “sides” of my family. One had animation, full blown christmas decorations, and beauty and the other had “lets all get together as a family”. I enjoyed them both but, for some reason(s), always felt…alone.

As a father I always made an effort for my children to have a great christmas. I have so many memories, still left in my mind and others recorded, of the days before – the day off – and the garbage trash bags being filled with wrapping paper. I watched the christmas video from 2009 but I could only get through 2 minutes as my heart was, is, and god knows if ever it will change…irreparably broken. I mention 2009 because out of all the presents my little girl loved playing with was not the presents but the boxes. With the ribbons and bows. With the wrapping paper. At the time I made this recording, and I was always the one taking the photos and videos rarely being in them, I never imagined how my life would turn within the year.

They say that depression spikes this time of year. Certain statistics bear this out. I don’t really know what is harder; never having a chance to make things right or the role that one played in making things…wrong. I equate it to a one hour QVC special where the host is selling dirt. Yes dirt. For one hour they gush about dirt. Then the next hour dirt is the “todays special” and dirt now is available in 6 easy payments. You get caught up in watching how special they make dirt look and before you know it you regret everything about it and you are mad at yourself for falling for the “manufacturers list price of a pound of dirt being $225.00” then “marked down to $99,95”. It is truly a “lose lose” situation all the way around.

Anyway I was fortunate to have some really good christmas’ spent with those I loved, and still do, the most. It wasn’t all of the animated christmas figures I collected (jealous?) nor the activated matching teddy bears that mesmerized everyone under four foot tall. It was that the mother of my children made it special. She was the reason. She did 99.9% of it. She was the rock. She was…everything.

TIme goes by and those you worried about, raised, loved, gave them baths, put them to sleep, cried over, and loved grow up and before you know it are addicted to screens. Video screens. TV screens. Tablet screens. Every type of screen but a door.

*** Random thought alert *** – I just remembered a christmas when my son was about 10 years old and he got the latest video system and game. He got this game, back when modems where attached to the phone still around 2004, and I remember that it enabled him to join other kids his age. It showed their “screen names” and they were so cute. Such as; I love puppies, daddy’s girl, I like pink, almost 9, etc. And in this game they are parachuting and trying to win a flag. Well, I checked in on my son and he was all in on the game. He yelled out demands for beverages and treats. He LOVED this game. Anyway as he sips on soda, and rips open snacks, he tells me to get out of the way and I try to make “heads or tails” about this game and then (after about 15 minutes) he finds time to show me his character. I almost fell out of the (bottom of the bunk) bed. His character was not “I like kittens”. It wasn’t “I like juice”. It wasn’t G rated. It wasn’t R rated. It was XX rated. And as my eyeballs were trying to fall out of my head I saw that at the bottom of the screen was a live “chat”. It was obvious that the little kids parents had become aware of my sons choice of adjectives. So being 6 foot 1 and around 215 pounds (at the time now I am less than 180) I did what any big man/father figure does…I went and told my wife. She was sitting on a stool and when she laughed her body would move. She spat out her coffee. She thought it was hilarious. Her laugh was unique and it lit up a room. Well, it wasn’t until my son passed out on the bean bag, with crumbs on his face and plastic wrappers in his hands and 2 liter coke bottles to the left and right (by the way how did he get those 2 litres?) that I was able to “rename” his character and put a password on it. I thought he would sleep about 8 hours but in the middle of the night I heard “DAD. DAD. WHAT DID YOU DO”? To prove to him I was in control, and he would listen to his father, I (again) did what anyone in my situation would. We negotiated ending up with me buying him a “cheat code”, which he took full advantage of, in return for a “G rated” character name. Those were the days.

Well, this story would not be complete (oxymoron for this post went way off course) without a “shout out” to National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. I still have nightmares, not really after all it was funny in hindsight, about the time I loaded up all of our beach vacation suitcases/etc. while the SUV was IN the garage only to have it pointed out to me (again with the laugh) that my SUV now could not back out of the garage because I had 350 pounds of luggage on top.

Christmas. Memories. May you have many many more of them and enjoy them to no end.

WHAT. I wrote this on my Elvis Expert Blog? Come on Jeff. My apologies to those expecting Elvis. Here is a rain check and not from…QVC.

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