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My Connection to Elvis

Today is the anniversary of the death of Elvis Presley.

I didn’t find that fact in Wikipedia or any news site and I’ve never been much of a Presley fan.

I remember the date very well because he died exactly one week after we moved to Las Vegas to start my first teaching job.

I also recall the temperature hit 114° the first day we were in town, stayed around 110° for highs all week, and barely dropped to 90° for a low. It made Tucson, where we had come from, seem down right cool.

Anyway, Vegas was already shaping up to be something of a strange place to live but it turned even more weird when the whole city instantly went into mourning for Elvis.

Signs and memorials appeared all over town, even far away from the strip where the older, pudgy, over-the-top jump-suited version of Elvis had become a fixture. The local TV stations became almost non-stop retrospectives of his life.

However, that’s not the only tenuous connection to The King that’s been stuck in my head today.

We ran into the cult of Elvis again nine years later when we left Vegas to move here to the DC area.

One of our overnight stops on the way was Memphis, Tennessee and I had booked a motel room at a place not far from Graceland.

Except that I had no idea where it was located other than that the Mobil Travel Guide said it was just off the highway. The book didn’t mention that the alternative name for the street, not shown on the gas station map either (remember maps before Google?), was Elvis Presley Boulevard.

The motel was full of fans who had come to town for the anniversary, as were most of the “air-conditioned cable-ready cold padded cells”* strung along the same street.

Just out of curiosity we drove past the mansion that evening, watching the crowds and noticing all the tacky souvenir stores across from the musical gates.

Ok, I know none of this has much relevance to anyone but me. And the title of this post could possibly be considered deceptive advertising.

But thanks for staying all the way to the end of this ride through the cobweb-filled nostalgia tunnel in the back of my head. :-)


* Fire in the Canyon by Fountains of Wayne, more my musical taste than either iteration of Elvis.

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1 Comment

  1. LOL that was enjoyable. My brush with fame? Several years ago I was at a theater in Charleston, SC, with a group of girlfriends, and Mikhail Baryshnikov sat in front of us. We were there for a teachers’ arts integration workshop during the Spoleto festival, and part of the workshop was free tickets to Spoleto events. We had attended a play he was in the night before, so imagine our pleasant surprise to find Mikhail and his costar (a Jesus character) sitting in front of us. At intermission he turned around and asked us if we wanted to go have a drink with them during the intermission. I’m sure our twittering (literally) had nothing to do with the invite!! We had fun, and one of the teachers kept saying “Oh no, Jesus smokes!” Not Mikhail though! Too bad Im sure he does not remotely remember it.

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