MY PRIZE-WINNING MEETING WITH EL (TRIP TO HOLLYWOOD)
By Jeannie AllenHow do you begin to explain what you felt like when your most cherished wish came true? As we walked toward the huge sound stage doors where Elvis stood talking with several extras between scenes of his new movie “G.I. Blues” I remember feeling detached, that none of this was really true. I watched him standing there in his Army uniform (he plays a tank crewman named “MacLean.” He was still talking with the extras facing the opposite direction, leaning slightly forward, hands on hips, with the familiar , wide-spread stance, head down. He swung around abruptly and looked up to greet us – ELVIS PRESLEY.
It was 4 years and 40 scrapbooks ago, I first heard his name on TV when he made his first appearance on the Dorsey Bros. Stage Show. The fire and excitement of him caught and held the audience.
When he’d finished he took with him half the hearts of America – one of them was mine – and now 4 years later here I was meeting him.
He stood hesitating for a moment, waiting to be introduced. I studied the handsome, tanned face, the smile was warm, genuine, in spite of this I was getting scared: “Hi!” he said softly – silence from me – “Uh… you’re from Portland” he volunteered hopefully. “Yes” I said. He tried again! “I was there once… one of the last places we played before I went into the Army. Let’s see that was… “ – “Monday, Labor Day September 2, 1957 at Multomah Stadium” I interrupted, having to laugh at the look of utter disbelief that crossed his face. Then he laughed too, his shyness and my nervousness vanished. This then was Elvis.
El has a wonderful sparkle in his eyes, very strong hands, he never shakes a lady’s hand, he just holds it tightly in his own for a moment.
I gave him a large packet of letters, presents, etc., including a gold cross and chain: “Listen” he said earnestly, I want you to tell each one of these people for me how much I appreciate all this.”
When the photographer arrived – “Put your little arm around me honey. We’ve got some pictures over here to take,” he ordered, with mock seriousness. When they were done El grabbed my hand – “You want to go watch us work honey C’mere” he said and took off for the set, pulling me along behind him, El doesn’t just walk, he strides, like a giant. I’m just 5’ tall!!! He had to start work again, but when the scene was shot he took us to his dressing room. We all sat talking about the film, he return etc.
Suddenly everybody left. “I don’t know when I should leave” I said. “Oh you can stay as long as you like” he said. “You don’t really mean that” I laughed, he grinned.
I showed him a pix of Sharon, our Prexy, with our local D.J. who El remembered, Sharon’s pix got a gentlemanly but heart-felt wolf-whistle. He even signed a special portrait for her for me to take. In a mag I had a with me was an article on El saying he was selling “Graceland,” he was most upset, said he was sorry he wouldn’t be there to show us all around when we visited it later in the year.
Elvis really had to leave then, rising, he shook my hand. I wanted to tell him how much all this had meant to me, but his eyes – kindly and warm – understood perfectly. As he smiled I looked up to say “goodbye” and, very softly, he bent down and kissed me “goodbye.”