Today is Rock Star day at the high school. With his collar "popped" and his hair slicked back, Ben went as Elvis.
You can't grow up in Memphis without knowing a litttle about Elvis. I was only 12 when he died, and like you, I remember where I was. While watching the Brady Bunch at my best friend's house, the TV reporter broke in with a Special Report. He held the microphone up to his mouth and said solemnly, "Elvis is dead." Within twenty four hours, it seemed the whole world came to Memphis.
If you lived in Memphis during Elvis' lifetime, my sister Debbie says, you have an Elvis story. She's right.
Mom Dot spotted him leaning on a car on North Parkway chatting with a friend. "We had to swerve in order to avoid bumping his backside," she says, adding that such a mishap would have been a career ending injury. My three older sisters saw him in his yard at Graceland playing football, and sister, Debbie, babysat for his hairdresser. My husband attended a concert as a kid. And, though it wasn't an in person sighting, I remember lying in bed with my mother watching Aloha from Hawaii crying like a baby, clueless as to why I was crying. She patted my leg knowingly. It was just the affect Elvis had on people.
If you're a serious fan you might know that Libertyland was one of Elvis' favorite Memphis haunts. When the amusement park finally closed down in 2005, I wrote an obituary for The Zippin Pippin, one of the country's oldest wooden roller coasters and Elvis' favorite ride. The sign in front of the Pippin stated that Elvis had rented out the park just a week before he died. http://www.themeparkreview.com/photos/libertyland/zippinpippin.htm
My Mary was born on the 2Oth anniversary of his death in Memphis. As they wheeled me into recovery, Elvis and Ann Margaret were dancing across the TV screen, no doubt as part of an Elvis Movie Marathon in his honor.
When we moved to Vermont a good thirty years after his death, I walked my kids to their classes at the elementary school. There he was in the teachers' lounge--a life size cut out of Elvis. And here in upstate New York, at least one resident drives around my little town with an Elvis license plate. You just can't get away from Elvis.
Nor do I want to. No one would deny that Elvis had his struggles, but whether it's the gospel CD that pours out of Mom Dot's room or the Christmas CD I play annually, he takes me right back to my childhood. And my own kids, in fact, gathered around the TV screen a few weeks ago to watch and rewatch the dance scene from Jail House Rock.
Yes, Elvis has left the building, but his music and his memory remain.