Marilyn and Betty Jane Heath recount stories of their neighbor in 1952
Graceland, 3717 Elvis Presley
I’m a native Memphian. My life and The King’s life juxtaposed for about ten years in this earthly realm. This means that Elvis was a household word. I had heard every story, theory, and encounter involving Elvis. Imagine my surprise when a friend told me recently that she credited her very existence to Elvis. You be the judge. In 1952 Betty Jane Heath lived with her husband in Lauderdale Courts. A young man often came and played guitar and sang to Betty’s parents who lived in a home where Overton Square resides now. One day, a very pregnant Betty Jane Heath was walking with her mother Dewey Hill, her aunt Sandy Kerr, and her toddler daughter through Lauderdale Courts. A Mayflower truck lost control and headed straight for the family. The frequent musical visitor to the Hill home, who was sweet on Sandy, had been nearby and pushed Betty Jane out of the way just before the runaway truck ended her life and the baby she was carrying. That unborn baby was my friend, Marilyn Jane Heath. The young hero was Elvis Presley. Marilyn said she has the newspaper clipping that describes how the driver never stopped and Elvis jumped in a car with Marilyn’s father to retrieve the driver of the truck. The article never mentioned Elvis by name, sadly. I add this to a long list of ways Elvis touched a long list of lives in Memphis. And now you can too. This is Elvis Week. And there is a long list of ways you can celebrate the life and times of Elvis Presley. Check our calendar and the Graceland website for the full list of celebrations.
Photography exhibition at Carpenter's Building
Carpenter's Building, 212 N. Second
Sat., Aug. 13, 6 p.m.-12 a.m.
Believe you me, there are many artist receptions for wonderful exhibitions this weekend. Be sure to check our calendar for a full list. I am selecting this one because the artist assures that this exhibition of fine art photographic prints by David Bryane Kay with special guests, Drew Whitmire and Brian Anderson, is the “best ever” and benefits the Room in the Inn downtown mission. I’m curious.
Summer Sips at High Point Pub
High Point Pub, 477 High Point Terrace
Sat., Aug. 13, 12 p.m.
It’s time for one last summer vacation. Tucked away in the High Point Terrace neighborhood resides a little pub where Cybill Shepherd who played Eula Varner in The Long Hot Summer once resided. Put your long hot summer away Hawaiian style.
The Life and Blues of Bessie Smith
Hattiloo Theatre, 37 S. Cooper
Starts Aug. 12. Sundays, 3 p.m. and Thursdays-Saturdays, 7:30 p.m. Continues through Sept. 4
Tennessee native Bessie Smith busked the streets of Chattanooga as a child to help her family make ends meet. Tragically, she died along U.S. Route 61 traveling from Memphis to Clarksdale. But not before she made a name for herself as the most popular female blues singer of the 1920s and 1930s. She is often regarded as one of the greatest singers of her era and a major influence on other jazz singers. This performance re-imagines Bessie’s final electrifying evening after she and her band are turned away by a whites-only theatre. It all takes place in 1937 in a Memphis “buffet flat,” where the partying, laughter, and bawdiness all come together to deliver an entertaining, unforgettable, and surprisingly touching evening.
Collierville celebrates train heritage.
Morton Museum of Collierville History, 196 Main, Collierville
Sat., Aug. 13, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Memphis is a major commercial and transportation hub due to the Mississippi River and a convergence of numerous rail and highway links. Therefore, I will never apologize for being a fan of the train which allowed for unprecedented growth and prosperity in our region and country. Trains are pretty cool and the Morton Museum of Collierville knows it.
For a full list of what’s happening this weekend in and around Memphis, check out our calendar of events. Also, be sure to tag your favorite Instagram photos of Memphis while you are out and about with the #memphismagazine hashtag. I hope you have a great weekend.