When Elvis Week hits, thousands of fans descend upon Graceland to pay their respects to the King of Rock ’n Roll.
They’ll visit his Memphis estate where they’ll pose for photos in the infamous Jungle Room, tricked out with green shag carpet, funky fake-fur upholstered furniture and a waterfall wall. They’ll peruse the basement billiard room, its walls and ceiling entirely covered in fabulously tacky fabric. And, of course, they’ll want to check out the pool.
But, after all the excess they’ve seen, visitors might be a little underwhelmed. Turns out, the King’s pool is a simple kidney-shaped vessel, measuring approximately 18 by 36 feet.
Matt Gohlke, owner of Gohlke Pools in Denton, TX, likes to visit historic watering holes and was surprised to discover that “the pool in Graceland was not spectacular in any way,” he noted in a blog post. Yet, he found himself staring and snapping pictures just the same.
Like everything at the Graceland mansion, the pool has been meticulously preserved. Aside from the automatic cleaner, it looks exactly as it did when it was built in 1957.
Memphis Pool can take a lot of credit for that. Aside from a period of time when Graceland underwent some changes in management, Roy Reed, the owner of the city’s oldest building and design firm and a member of the Master Pools Guild, has been helping keep Presley’s pool pristine since before the King’s untimely death in 1977.
While Graceland’s groundskeepers are in charge of weekly maintenance, Memphis Pool is on call for all other service work and repairs.
How does it feel to be responsible for this historical landmark?
“We take all of our customers seriously, but obviously if something goes awry there, it gets your attention quicker because you don’t have a lot of grace time – no pun intended – to get it fixed,” Reed said.
After all, Graceland attracts about 600,000 visitors a year. You wouldn’t want them seeing a green pool.
While the pool itself hasn’t changed, its equipment, housed in a nondescript building a few yards away, has been upgraded.
“I’m pleased to report that the salt system and a Prozone ozonator do an outstanding job maintaining pristine waters,” Reed said.
Working on a pool of such historical significance presents unusual challenges. For instance, Reed emphasized the care exercised not to damage the existing original tile during a replaster.
Of course, being Elvis’ appointed pool pro, he has seen his share of fan hysteria. Reed is reluctant to admit it, but at one time, he had an opportunistic employee who used to sell tiny vials of Elvis’ pool water for a $1 each.
There also was the lady who had a meltdown poolside after Reed invited her to put her finger in a sample of pool water. “I said ‘There, now you’ve been in Elvis’ pool.’” Tears welled in her eyes and her chin began to quiver.
“Not wanting to be implicated in creating a panic attack, I made a hasty departure,” Reed said. “As I left, she was being hugged by another lady that had accompanied her. Aside from the uncontrolled sobbing, I could hear her friend telling her, ‘Now, now, be strong, everything's OK.’ Soon they both were crying.”
In other words, they got all shook up.