Elvis: Precious Memories by Donna Presley Early and Edie Hand

I now have a new favorite quote about Elvis, “God gave the world a song and a smile when he gave us Elvis.” Donna Presley Early writes that in her book Elvis: Precious Memories about her first cousin Elvis Presley. Donna is Nash’s daughter. Nash was Vernon’s sister. Excerpts from Nash’s memoirs are included in this book as well, which completely makes the book! The book was co-authored by Edie Hand who is the great niece of Elvis’ grandmother Minnie (aka Dodger). Apparently I bought this first edition 1997 hardback for $10 at A Schwab’s on Beale Street. Not sure why it has taken me so long to read it. I was pleasantly surprised, especially when I saw James Blackwood wrote the forward.

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Nash was nine years old when her nephew Elvis was born and being the youngest she wanted so badly to care for a baby. Nash and Elvis got into some trouble together like when she almost dropped him and when he fell off his bike and when he ate her mud pies.

Nash’s daughter Donna gives another explanation why Elvis called his grandmother, Minnie, Dodger. It was not because Minnie dodged a ball Elvis threw at her, Donna writes Elvis could not pronounce Grandmother when he was little so he said Granddodger then over the years it was shortened to Dodger.

Donna also writes she does not believe Gladys bought Elvis a guitar instead of a bike because she was afraid of him riding, since Nash had already taught Elvis to ride a bike. Donna believes Uncle Vester, Vernon’s brother, gave Elvis an old guitar then later Vernon bought him a new one.

Donna writes the Memphis Mafia got in the between Elvis and his family. Donna also writes that Vernon believed Elvis was murdered. That he told her that before Vernon died. Vernon said Elvis’ autopsy revealed codeine was in his system and Elvis was allergic to codeine and knew he was allergic and would have never knowingly taken it. Vernon believed, according to Donna, someone purposely gave Elvis codeine to kill him. Donna also said Tish Henley exclaimed, “Oh please let it be a heart attack” when she heard Elvis had died.

According to Donna, Elvis wanted her to move to Graceland when she was 15 as a companion for Priscilla but her mom Nash said no. Donna visited for two weeks every summer saying she and Priscilla hung out all the time. I have never heard Priscilla mention Donna. Donna said she and Elvis were Minnie’s favorites, and Donna called the Pippin the ‘pipkin’ but that might be a typo.

I did not realize Bill Burke was an actual friend of Elvis’ during his teen years? I just thought he knew him from being a Memphis newspaper reporter. I did not know George Hamilton was from Memphis?

I also did not realize the Meditation Garden was open to the public 9am to 4pm Tuesdays through Sundays while Vernon was alive? Graceland of course was open to the public starting June 7, 1982. Elvis’ family worked as tour guides (Donna’s sister Susie) and ticket takers (Aunt Nash).

The following are some questions that occurred to me while I was reading this book:

Would Elvis had been ELVIS had his twin lived?

How would Elvis’ life had been different had Gladys lived longer?

Would Elvis be as popular today had he lived longer?

How would Lisa Marie be different had Elvis lived longer?

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