The Authentic Experience
First off, let me introduce myself to those of you you who may not know me. I've been writing professionally since 1988 for newspapers, magazines, websites and three books in a chapter book series, and another three biographies, most recently about WWE Hall of Famer, Blackjack Mulligan. In the field of autographs, a contributing editor with Autograph Times, and Autograph Collector Magazines.
In the strange, naked city of autographs, there are lots of tales. Some good, some bad. Some will make you laugh, while others will simply make you want to cry...or run. Everyone who collects autographs has a story to tell. This one is mine. Growing up in Detroit, my family would make the long, hot trip to Little Rock, Arkansasevery Summer to visit my Grandparents for two weeks. For a six year old, this is not the most exciting news you can get. Stuck in the backseat of the car for two days, and listening to bickering of all kinds.
And how about the music? The sounds in the family car were as diverse as those riding in it. My father prefered the horn of Herb Alpert and his Tijuana Brass, and the stylings of Marty Robbins. My mother liked Hillbilly music as it was called, and Elvis. My sister and brother didn't care what was on as long as it wasn't Herb Alpert or Marty Robbins! I loved Elvis so between memorizing Redd Foxx and Rodney Dangerfield party records, I was trying to learn his style. Well, Little League baseball ended so I knew it was only of matter of time before we made or beloved trip South. I began pestering my father early and often. "Please, can we stop at Graceland? I want to meet Elvis". Perhaps it was my enthusiasm, or simply my egg shelled mind. I figured we'd just drive right on over to say Hello! Folks, Graceland hadn't become the adult Disneyland it is now. Begging...Begging..pleading, and 740 miles finally wore the old man down.
"Fine! FOR HEAVEN SAKES, YES!". When we reached Memphis, my heart hammered, my palms got slimy, and I was ready to meet The King. We drove and drove and drove. My father, unwilling to admit defeat, kept stopping at Gas Stations to ask directions. Who knew it merely across the street from the Elvis Presley Liquor Store, or the Elvis Presley Blvd. Hotel? I never knew it. After a few passes, we found a place down the street to park. After locking the doors, and slightly cracking the windows for air, we were off.
Down the street we could see a group of about 30 women of various ages. From 13 to 50, milling around in front of the gates. As we got closer. my Dad asked one of the gals, "What's going on?" She smiled and said that Elvis had left, but promised to stop and sign autographs when he got back. "Tough break, he left!" Being a half full kind of person, I saw that as yes, he left. But, he's coming back to sign! The old man and I walked around for about 15 minutes, keeping an eye on the car the whole time. Finally, a ruckus broke out in from of the gates. We looked, and saw a long, black car pulling into the drive way, being surrounded by polyester and aqua-net!
It stopped and I ran! This was my chance! Once I got close, I was immediately struck by a wall of rear-ends. Everywhere the eye could see. Fat ones, thin ones, young ones..mostly old ones. Getting clostrophobic, and about to fall out... mercillously, someone yelled out "Let the little boy see Elvis!". Just like drapes being pulled, the middle opened up and there he was, right in front of me. Healthy, thin and tan. He smiled and asked how I was. I know I was talking, but all that came out of my mouth was...." la, la, la la, la?" He and the other guy in the car laughed like crazy. They must have thought I was not right. Elvis reached out for my hand and pulled me over where he put his arm around me. "I'm sorry, I'm just really nervous". He laughed and asked me my name. "Stevie, don't be nervous, I just sing." we talked for a few minutes that seemed like hours to a six year old kid. And yes, he signed a little index card for me that I have matted and framed in my writing office.