- Mickey’s girlfriend
- Native American princess
- Old time hat wearing country star,
- My Tennessee grandmama
- West Coast ball player
What is the common theme within the above list and our man’s paternal grandmother? Give up?
“Minnie” Mouse, “Minni”haha, “Minnie” Pearl, “Minnie” Ellen, and “Dodger”
Ok, I will concede you wouldn’t know about my grandmother Minnie but she and Minnie Mae Presley shared a birthday, 22 years apart and both hailed from the same neck of the woods.
And just in case you didn’t know, while everyone else called her Grandma, Elvis affectionately named her Dodger because of her quick reflexes when he once threw something her way.
Grandparent’s Day here in the U.S. is Sunday September 8, so let’s chat a bit about the king’s lineage, his grandmother Minnie Mae Hood Presley.
We know Elvis was born in Tupelo, Mississippi. His family tree traces both east and west of Tupelo, but not too far. His parents came from the the two counties that surround Lee County: His mother’s family is from Pontotoc County, which is to the west of Lee County, and his father’s family is from Itawamba County, which to to the east.
In the 1830’s, the Hood family settled in Itawamba County from Alabama. Joshua Hood built a log cabin there and a portion of it still stands today. It’s believed Minnie Mae Hood was born there on June 17, 1890, to Mary Louisa and William H. “Buck” Hood. The area shows a number of Hoods still residing in the area.
Minnie Mae later married Jessie D. McDowell Presley on July 20, 1913. Their firstborn was Vernon Elvis Presley, April 10, 1916. The couple went on to have four more children: Vester, Delta Mae, Gladys Erlene Dowling, and Rev. Nashval Lorene Pritchett (Presley). Uncle Vester and Aunt Delta were the most well known around Graceland, with Delta being the last family member to live at Graceland. She moved in in 1966 after the death of her husband and remained until her death in 1993.
Minnie Mae and Jessie unofficially separated. It’s said Jesse D. Presley (Vernon’s father and Elvis’ grandfather) was “mean as hell” and a bad seed, a womanizer and a drunk. Jesse eventually remarried (Vera) and resided in Kentucky until his death in 1973. Whether the descriptions are accurate or from spite is debatable. Obviously Elvis’ stillborn twin brother was named for Jesse. Minnie spent the rest of her years living with her offspring, first in Tupelo, later in Memphis. Minnie and Jesse officially divorced in 1946.
After the death of Gladys Presley, Minnie and son Vernon traveled to Germany living with Elvis while he was stationed by the Army. She returned to Graceland and remained there until her death May 8, 1980, outliving both her son and grandson.
It’s said Minnie was a harsh woman, but surely she survived harsh times. I found many photos of her with a stern look or a frown, a smile seemed to be a lost commodity. I think she likely felt she’d gotten a raw deal in life, an unhappy marriage, very hard times, betrayal and mistreatment – just my speculation. Photos can often be quite misleading. She was loyal to family and kin and instilled that same mindset in her children and most certainly in her famous beloved grandson.
This is beautifully inscribed on her grave, directly to the left of Elvis’ grave in the Meditation Garden of Graceland:
“Her children shall rise up and call her blessed. Her husband also and he praiseth her”
She was a gracious lady, our precious mother, and a virtuous woman.
In simplicity she taught us, with God-given wisdom she guided us through hardships and heartaches and taught us to look to God for our strength.
She was love in motion and with a quiet, sweet, gentle, and humble spirit.
She was our close and trusted friend and a friend to all who knew her and she was loved by many.
A flower that never faded.
She was the queen of our home.We love you mom and we deeply miss you.
Nash, Delta, Gladys, Vester. …. and in memory of Vernon and Elvis