Teen Age Idol
Who did you idolize as a teenager? Did you go crazy for the Beatles? Ga-ga over Duran Duran? In love with Justin Bieber? Did you think Elvis was the livin’ end?
Oh how poignant that this topic would come up right here, a couple days after what would have been my teen age Idol’s 81st Birthday.
I had it bad for the King.
I am not quite sure when I became obsessed with Aaron Elvis Pressley. There is honestly not a time I can’t remember him not being present in my dreams. My mother says that when I was younger I would stand on the front porch, confidently using my jump rope as my microphone, and would announce I was Dolly Pressley. Yes, I combined both my musical idols together. I was 3, so it was cute then. Trust me.
By the time I was 16 years old, my room looked like a shrine to the King. There were clocks, movie posters, t-shirts, Album covers, and magazine cut outs. I could easily quote Viva Las Vegas word for word and dreamed that I was Ann Margaret as she danced and sang with the King.
When I was 16 I got the meet Elvis’ step brother, Rick Stanley, when he was the speaker at our church beach camp that summer. He didn’t seem to mind spending time talking to a 16 year old Elvis junky. It was pretty cool talking about the King, with someone who had actually been a part of the coveted inner circle, The Memphis Mafia.
The summer I was 19 my family headed out west for a trip to Branson and St. Louis MO. The day we left on the trip, our rental van broke down, causing us to get behind schedule. The next day we had only made it as far as Memphis.
God was totally involved in this trip because the calendar read, August 15, 1994. The next day was the 17th anniversary of the day the music truly died! Somehow I convinced the family to stay over the night, so we could tour Graceland, and I could participate in the coveted and beautiful candlelight vigil.
The smirks and jabs came as soon as we pulled into the parking lot of the hotel just down the street from Graceland. As we parked our vehicle, we soon noticed we had parked right next to the Hunka Burnin Love Fan Club van. Twenty two years later I can still vividly see the tag line etched in red letters under the club name: Just carrying on where Elvis left off! I thought it was genius, but my family thought it was laughable. Amateurs.
The next day was a dream. I toured the King’s home, and walked the same shaggy carpet he had, just 17 years earlier. Of course my family commented and made jokes the whole tour.
As it came time for the candlelight vigil my heart started pounding rapidly. How honored was I to be able to participate in such a solemn tradition. At dark, candles were lit, and you began the journey up the long driveway to Graceland and around the grave where the King was laid to rest. People had journeyed from near and far to attend this special night and magic was in the air.
The beauty of the candles being lit and floating up the hill, the people singing beloved songs, exchanging favorite memories of their beloved Elvis was almost too much to witness. My eyes became misty as I took it all in.
Of course it was all ruined by people who were laughing, making fun, and chattering the whole time up the walk way. I tried hard to push aside their disrespect, but it made it hard, because it was my OWN family. My mother and sister created such a negative vibe, that I just knew security was going to throw us off the property.
Well fortunately that didn’t happen, and Mother and Sarah, somehow found it within themselves to show a little respect. I still have a soft spot for the King. The pureness of his voice, and the sadness of his short life, just captivate me. I still have a little cake on January 8th and listen to my music collection most of the day on the 16th of August each year.
One day I hope to head back to Memphis and do the vigil again. However this time, my family will stay home. Maybe, I can make the journey with the Hunka Burning Love fan club…. I am sure they are still carrying on.
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