[This piece is an addendum to “The Stanleys: Shifting The Narrative“]
I recently came across a short story from a longtime friend of the Stanley brothers which was posted on social media sometime in 2019. The story, to paraphrase (for grammar and clarity), goes like this: “I have been friends with Billy, Ricky, and David Stanley since 1962. David and I played pool all the time at Graceland. One day we were playing pool and every time I missed a shot a horn would go off. I said to David, ‘That is weird,’ and David laughed and asked me, ‘Do you see that video monitor on the shelf next to the books?’ I replied, ‘Yes,’ and then David said laughing, ‘Elvis is watching us play pool.’ The horn was to let whoever was working know that Elvis was awake.”
Now, this sounds pretty innocent, right? Sure it does. Doesn’t seem like anything we’d need to think twice about. But, a few questions do come to mind: Is this a truthful account, based on facts about the pool room and this friend’s experiences while playing pool inside Graceland? No reason to believe it’s not. Does this friend have any reason to make up such an innocuous story? Doesn’t seem like it.
What David Stanley was referring to in this story was part of the CCTV (closed-circuit television) set-up that Elvis had installed in different rooms at Graceland, either as a security feature or as a means to see/watch what was going on in other parts of the house (or both). There were video hook-ups in various rooms throughout the house, with a monitor in Elvis’s bedroom. (In “Elvis, Linda and Me,” Jeanne LeMay Dumas describes the set-up in Elvis’s bedroom: “A table with a console monitor sitting on it was against the right wall as you first walked into the room. This, I was to learn, was where Elvis could keep an eye on everything going on in and around Graceland by way of a closed-circuit TV system.”) So, David tells his friend that because of the horn sound, he knows that Elvis is watching them play pool (presumably from his bedroom, as it would make no sense for Elvis to alert his staff that he was awake [via the horn] if he were in some other part of the house). So, according to this friend, based on what David said that day, there was an internal video connection between the pool room and Elvis’s bedroom, where Elvis could see what was happening in the pool room (and for the sake of this analysis, we are assuming the system was still operational). Let’s go back to the pool room on August 16, 1977, then, and look at what David Stanley did when he heard that Elvis was having trouble:
First, he told his friend, Mark White, that he had to get him off the property.
Second, he drove Mark White either down the street, across the street, down to the neighborhood just south of Graceland, or all the way to where Mark White was staying on Timothy Drive. He then returned to Graceland.
Third, he pulled up to the back of the house and went inside, going straight to Elvis’s bathroom where others had gathered due to the emergency.
[Note: These three actions do not take into account the discrepancies in David Stanley’s telling of events that day, but for the sake of discussion we will stick with these general data points. More on the Mark White question is here.]
So here are the critical questions:
Why did David Stanley have to get his friend off the Graceland property? Presumably, because David was on duty at that time and wasn’t supposed to have friends over to the house while he was on duty. Right? On this day, however, David had a friend over (who was seen by at least one member of the household staff), which was presumably against the rules. But if having a friend over was against the rules, and David had to remove this friend before he went to check on Elvis during a medical emergency, why did David take that friend (Mark White, we’ve been told) to the pool room in the first place? After all, according to David’s longtime friend as posted on social media in 2019, there was a CCTV connection between Elvis’s bedroom and the pool room where David and Mark White were shooting pool. Think about that. David is not supposed to have friends over during his “work” shift, but he breaks this rule by having a friend over to play pool, and the pool room is one of the rooms that Elvis can monitor via CCTV.
Think about that.
Now, just to get a proper feel for this situation, imagine it’s 1977 and you are 16 years old and your parents go out for the evening. They say, “We will be 15 minutes away at Bob and Susan’s dinner party, but we will have a video feed into the living room so we will be able to see what you are doing in the living room.” A little while after your parents leave, you crack open some beers (Schlitz) that you had some guy at 7-11 buy for you and you throw on some music (Foghat) and your friends roll a joint and you all sit back in the living room and enjoy the no-parents evening. Even though you know that your parents can see, via video feed, everything you are doing. What does that tell us? It tells us that you must know that either your parents actually cannot see what you are doing, or you know your parents will not be checking the video feed.
Why didn’t David take Mark White to a room in Graceland that did not have a video feed to Elvis’s bedroom via the CCTV system, if he was worried about being “caught” breaking the rules? He could have picked any room that was lacking this equipment, but instead he chose to go where he knew that Elvis could see him. While he was breaking the rules of his job.
This needs to be emphasized: David Stanley brought a friend into the house and down to the pool room, while he was supposedly “on duty,” and when the emergency call went out, he had to get his friend off the property before responding to the call. Why? David had his friend in a room where he knew Elvis could see them. If Elvis were awake and had checked the CCTV feed, he would have known that Mark White was in the basement shooting pool with David. David had to have known and understood this.
Why, then, did David Stanley have to remove his friend from the property, if he already hosted the friend in a room where Elvis could have seen them? Did David, for some reason, know that Elvis would not have seen Mark White, and the removal of the friend was due to the possibility of other people calling him on it? That is, was David hiding Mark White not from Elvis, but from everyone else? If so, how did David Stanley know that other people would be gathering in the house at this particular time, given that he was unaware of the nature of the emergency? Did David Stanley’s action at this time suggest that he knew something “big” was happening at Graceland?
And, was this person in the pool room with David really Mark White?
Again, why did Mark White have to be removed from the property at that particular time if he was already visible on CCTV from Elvis’s bedroom?
Did David Stanley know that Elvis wouldn’t have seen him?
Did David Stanley know that Elvis would not be checking the video monitor?