As I sat down yesterday to grab a bite to eat, I picked up an old newspaper to read (yes, I read old newspapers) and I realized that I had missed the anniversary of Elvis’ death on Saturday. He died thirty-one years ago on August 16th. His death is kind of like that of JFK or Martin Luther King, it’s one that people always reminisce about and it made me think back on where I was and what I was doing the day that I heard that the King of Rock n'Roll was gone.
I was fifteen that summer and I knew a little of Elvis’ music, but mostly newer stuff thanks to my friend Kelly. She was partial to two Elvis songs that we listened to over and over. One was “Kentucky Rain” and the other was “In the Ghetto”, why of all of that he sang, that she had an affinity for these two songs, I’ll never know. But we listened to them on 45’s and we knew every word.
Anyway, we lived so far out in the county that we did not get daily newspaper delivery at that time. We could get the newspaper in the mail, but it came a day late. But, you could buy a daily copy at the little grocery store in Lynn Grove; the small community that was nearest us. Lynn Grove at that time consisted of a grocery, a feed mill, a service station, a post office and I think that’s about it. Could have been more…but that’s all I remember.
At fifteen, the HIGHLIGHT of my summer day was that my Mom would let me drive the almost two miles to downtown Lynn Grove and buy a newspaper. And heaven help all of those on the road, I drove there as fast as that old Gran Torino would take me – with the radio as a loud as it would play. Looking back I don’t know why I didn’t try to savor the trip, try to stretch it out, but I didn’t.
And on August 16th, 1977, on my daily newspaper run, they broke in on the radio and informed me that The King - was dead. I got to go home and break the news to my Mom. A girl who had actually lived through that magical decade of poodle skirts, bobby socks and saddle shoes; a girl of the 50’s, that Elvis had left the building.
Now, my Mom was fine, she wasn’t a huge Elvis fan. But my BFF Rhonda’s Momma, she was some kind of UPSET. She was an Elvis FAN. She even had tickets to an upcoming concert! She framed those tickets and they hung in a place of honor in their living room for years!
Whew, glad I didn’t have to go home and tell her the King was gone!