Thursday, January 21, 2016

So You Think You Know Tupelo?

Eight facts about Tupelo that you might not have known:

1.) Evaporated milk was one of Tupelo's earliest industries.

2.) The last known bank robbery by Prohibition-era gangster Machine Gun Kelly, took place on November 30, 1932 at Citizen's State Bank in Tupelo. His gang stole $38,000.

3.) Tupelo is the seventh largest city in the State of Mississippi.

4.) The current location of Ballard Park & Oren Dunn City Museum were once the home of the Tupelo Country Club, a clubhouse and nine-hole goal course. After the country club moved to Bel-Air the property was a dairy farm before it was transformed into a park.

5.) The building that Harvey's restaurant on South Gloster Street occupies was once a Coca-Cola bottling plant that opened in 1954.

6.) Harry Truman, the 33rd President of the Unite States, visited Tupelo on October 22, 1960 and more than 10,000 people welcomed him when he visited. Truman was on the road campaigning for John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johson who were running for President & Vice President of the United States.

7.) The Comus Theatre, built in 1912, was located on the northwest corner of Broadway and Court Streets. It hosted live traveling vaudeville shows and silent movies. Its name was later changed to Strand Theatre and subsequently to the Lyric Theatre. It was purchased by the Tupelo Community Theatre in 1958 and once again used as a playhouse.

8.) The home of Private John Allen, United States Congressman from Lee County, was sold in 1949 and became the Lee County Library. In 1969, the building was torn down and the current library was built on the site.

Friday, September 25, 2015

September Photo Blog

Thanks for sharing your photos with us each month! Here's just a few of our favorites from September, 2015! Keep sharing your Tupelo photos using #MyTupelo and you could be featured too! For more photos, visit:

Monday, August 31, 2015

The Power of Elvis: Still Bringing People Together

One of the unique things about life is the power of friendship and the things that bring people together. People find common interests and friendships form sometimes overnight and sometimes over time. Those friendships then move beyond the common interests and a deeper bond is built because of that.

With big things like music, or more specifically Elvis Presley's music, it's very easy to find a common ground between people. It's not uncommon to hear stories about how Elvis brings people together. We've heard of marriages that started from a passion for Elvis' music. Two of Elvis' childhood friends, Guy Harris and Sam Bell, who never met until the last 15 years, formed a friendship over having the same childhood friend. Even young girls in the 1950s that started the Tupelo Elvis Fan Club became friends because they all admired the young man so much.

This past Friday, August 28, My Tupelo got to experience that firsthand. The Convention & Visitors Bureau manages two Facebook pages, My Tupelo and Elvis' Tupelo. Our Elvis' Tupelo page is everything Elvis and consists of Elvis videos, images, chat, and more. We have several people that very regularly comment and engage with us. Three ladies in particular, Bonnie (Virginia), Janis (New York), and Donna (Florida), never miss a post and honestly, are some of the biggest Elvis fans we've encountered.

These ladies began chatting on our Facebook page and soon began chatting off the page. A friendship had blossomed. The ladies decided they wanted to meet and see Graceland & Tupelo, so they picked some dates and made travel arrangements. Unfortunately, Donna had to back out, but Bonnie and Janis still made the trip.

They visited Graceland on Thursday then came to Tupelo on Friday to experience the real "Elvis' Tupelo," but decided they wanted to meet the people that had brought them together. They reached out to us a few weeks prior to see if it would be a possibility, and of course, we couldn't say no! Before these die-hard Elvis fans saw the Birthplace or anything else Tupelo had to offer, they dropped by the Convention & Visitors Bureau to say hello.

When people talk about touching moments, this was one of them. We were able to visit with Bonnie and Janis for a little while. We talked about Elvis, their trip so far, and what they could do in Tupelo during their stay. Their excitement for experiencing Elvis' Tupelo was contagious. They reminded us of how fortunate we are to work and live in an area where the world's greatest entertainer experienced his formative years.

Before heading out to see the sites, we grabbed a group shot with these awesome ladies and sent them on their way, after a big hug, of course. When they left we stood there in disbelief for a minute, because it was refreshing to see that Elvis is still touching lives and bringing people together. Had it not been for a simple Facebook page, these ladies might never have started that friendship or even experienced their Elvis trip.

We were reminded that it's the little things in life that mean the most. Something as simple as friendship often has the most meaning. From there, experiences and moments build that friendship and help it to grow. Janis described the situation best through the popular song sung by Elvis, "The Wonder of You," when she quoted "I guess I'll never know the reason why, you love me like you do, that's the wonder, the wonder of you."

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Life Lessons Learned from Elvis’ Time in Tupelo

1. Elvis wanted a rifle but got a guitar instead. (Sometimes you don’t get what you want but everything happens for a reason.)

For Elvis’ 11th birthday, his mother, Gladys, took the young boy to Tupelo Hardware to purchase a birthday gift. Originally, going in, Elvis was going to get a bicycle, but when he got inside he saw a rifle and he just had to have it. His mother told him she wouldn't buy him the rifle, but Forrest Bobo, a family friend that worked at the store, let Elvis strum a guitar to help persuade him into something else. After some persuasion, Gladys ended up buying her son a guitar and the rest is history.

Many people fear what the future holds and make plans in attempt to control the future. However, those attempts rarely go how we envision. Once he got into Tupelo Hardware, Elvis knew what he wanted to walk out of the store with. A flood of exciting scenarios had likely entered his mind once he saw the rifle from taking it through the woods to showing it off to his friends. 

Sometimes you don’t get what you want, but everything happens for a reason. Elvis got that guitar because it was his destiny to be one of the most legendary artists of all time. So, next time your plans go astray – don’t worry! There’s a reason everything happens, so when one good thing doesn’t work out, hold on because something great may be coming soon.

2. Elvis placed fifth in a local talent show but later became a Grammy award winning singer. (Never give up and always keep bettering yourself.)

After impressing one of his teachers, a 10-year old Elvis entered the talent show at the Mississippi-Alabama Fair & Dairy Show, the yearly fair in Tupelo. Elvis performed one of his favorite songs, “Old Shep,” but ended up placing fifth in the competition. However, Elvis would later go on to win three Grammy awards in his lifetime.

We all have dreams and aspirations in life. Motivated by our passions, we seek to achieve greater success in the things we love, although sometimes, we fall short of our own personal goals. Despite falling short, it doesn’t mean you’re a failure. There is no aspect of our dreams that doesn’t have room for improvement. You can always do something to better yourself and your skills. There may be difficult times when you fall down, but always get back up and keep trying.

3. The Presley family was poor during their time in Tupelo but relied on their neighbors and community to help in the difficult times. (There’s no problem too large for a community to support.)

During their time in Tupelo, the Presley family had difficulty making ends meet and Elvis’ father, Vernon often bounced from one odd job to the next. They relied on the help of their neighbors and the surrounding community to help for any kind of support they could find.

Elvis’ childhood friends, Guy Harris and Sam Bell, still live in Tupelo today and attest to how the community would surround the Presley family, and other disadvantaged families, during difficult times to provide help in any way. Often times, it wouldn’t be financial help, it would be something as simple as sharing food, watching someone’s kids while the parents worked or even a car ride to get where they were going faster.

There is no task too large for a community to offer a helping hand. Tupelo has seen this first hand in how our community came together after the 2014 tornado that hit Tupelo. Although, in a time of need anything helps, offering assistance doesn’t have to be monetary or anything big, it can be as simple as being a listening ear to a friend in a time of need. Coming together as neighbors and fostering community is what makes a neighborhood or a city strong. It strengthens the bond between people and helps make life a little bit less heavy.

4. Elvis returned to Tupelo to perform for his hometown. (Never forget your roots.)

In 1956, Elvis was hitting his stride as a performing and recording artist. As part of the Mississippi-Alabama Fairy and Dairy show, Elvis agreed to return to his hometown and perform two-shows. Banners, a parade, cameras, reporters, and hundreds of adoring, screaming fans greeted him. And again, in 1957, he returned to perform a benefit concert to help build a Youth Center and park in Tupelo.

Elvis never forgot where his home was. Even after his family moved from Tupelo when he was 13, Elvis still visited Tupelo when given the opportunity. Guy Harris, one of Elvis’ childhood friends in Tupelo, recalls the Presley’s driving to Tupelo on Sundays to spend the day with friends and family, even after Elvis’ success had really taken off. The last time Harris saw Elvis was in 1970 when Elvis was visiting Tupelo. 

You’re never too big to remember from where you came. Your hometown will never change. It’s a part of the story you've been given and it’s the story that you get to live. Embrace your roots and be proud of it, because no matter the circumstances, there’s always something to be proud of. For most people, their hometown is still filled with people they love and care about. Never deny where you’re from or your roots, because any negative light cast on that town can be changed by one person’s positive outlook.