In 1976, my grandparents moved from their house in Hendersonville to a brand new retirement center just off of Gallatin road, in Madison, near Briley Parkway. It was called Chippington Towers and stood about twelve stories tall and they lived on the ninth floor. I have very fond memories of visiting and I stayed with them quite a bit.
Across the street from their home, was a Sears, so my grandpa and I would walk over there quite a bit because they had an amazing candy store. On the way, we would pass a home that looked so out of place, not in a bad way, that I will forever remember.
I later found out that the house belonged to Elvis’ manager, one Colonel Tom Parker. As a 8 year old, all I heard was “It is Elvis’ house.” Which led to every single time we would walk over to Sears, which we did a lot, I would always ask my grandpa, “Papa, do you think Elvis is there?” He would smile and say, “Maybe.” By the way, my grandpa was so awesome that instead of crushing a young boy’s dream, he always kept it going with that reply.
From their apartment, I had a bird’s eye view of Colonel Tom’s house. I would stand on the balcony and just look and look. Any slight movement at the house and any car pulling in, had to be Elvis, it just had to be. I would run to tell my grandpa that we had to go over there immediately. I don’t remember if we did or not, but if it involved my grandfather, I am sure he got up and we went over there.
I read years later that Elvis did spend a lot of time there and found out recently that he loved the quesadillas from Es Fernando’s Mexican restaurant. It was located just down the street from Colonel Tom’s house and every time the king was in town, he would drop by and have the food sent over.
When Elvis died in 1977, I remember it was raining cats and dogs that day and once the news broke, I wanted to go to my grandparents place immediately and get on that balcony and see if anything was happening. Of course nothing was going on but to a most curious 8-year old boy, it was the center of the universe.
My grandparents moved out of their place in 1986 to come live with us after my grandpa got sick. We moved them out one weekend and the very last thing I did before leaving, was sit on the balcony, alone, and look down at Colonel Tom’s house. I did this for quite awhile.
I still don’t know why he had a house in of all places, Madison, but I’m thankful he did. Every time I hear Colonel Tom’s name, I think about Elvis, and I think about my grandpa and I smile.