When the King Died, a Part of Me Died

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Gary
North
says that he's never met a man who says that a part of
him died when Elvis died, but then again North never met Elvis,
as I did. No, not at the 7-11, but at an Oklahoma motel in 1964.

In
the summer before my 9th grade year, three of my fellow students
and I – two girls and two boys – along with two teacher-sponsors,
were traveling by car from Texas to a national student council convention
in Wisconsin. We stopped overnight at a motel in Oklahoma.

Some
motel guests told us that Elvis Presley was rumored to be staying
at the motel. I found out which room he was supposed to be in, and
went and knocked on the door. The biggest, burliest guy I'd ever
seen opened the door. I said to him, "Sir, I heard that Elvis
Presley was staying in this room and I was wondering if I could
meet him."

The
guy glared at me and said, "Elvis Presley is not in this room.
Now, get lost, kid."

At
midnight, my friends and I were sitting by the pool playing cards,
when all of a sudden, lo and behold, Elvis Presley, dressed entirely
in black, casually walked up and asked, "Are you the kids who
were looking for me?"

Wow!
We could barely talk. Meeting the king of rock and roll in 1964
was bigger than meeting the king of England. That certainly was
the high point of our lives, at least up to then.

I
don't recall much of the conversation, but I do remember asking
him, "Is Ann Margaret
here
with you?" (She's the beautiful red-headed actress who was
his co-star in Viva
Las Vegas
.)
Elvis grinned and responded, "No … but I sure wish she was!"

Elvis
visited with us for about 20 minutes and then took off in his sleek,
black travel-trailer. He was the nicest, friendliest, most ordinary
person you'd ever meet. He signed autographs for us (on the Aces
of our deck of cards) and we took some photographs, all of which,
unfortunately, have been long lost. (Our student-council sponsors
refused to put the photographs in the school yearbook for fear of
adverse parent reaction.)

A
few years ago, I paid homage to Elvis with a visit to Graceland
and to the former offices of Sun
Records
. I felt like I was walking on hollowed ground.

The
music might have died with Buddy
Holly
, but when I heard on the radio in 1977 that Elvis Presley
had died, a part of me died too.

August
17, 2002

Mr.
Hornberger [send him mail] is
president of The Future of Freedom
Foundation
in Fairfax, Va.

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