(Blast from the past - Strictly Elvis Generation)

J.A.T. Publishing Danny Thomas and Elvis on the Potomac, Feb. 14, 1964

Valentine's Day With Elvis

by Katherine Hawley

Strictly Elvis Generation No. 4

Another dreary day of school! It didn't seem fair. On Valentine's Day a teenage girl's thoughts turn to hearts, flowers and love ----- not education. Nevertheless I slowly went about my daily ritual of getting myself together before Jeanne arrived to walk with me. Gazing at my bedroom walls, or " shrine to Elvis " as my older brother called them, I heard my mother approaching. She burst in, morning paper in hand, chattering about something. I paid little attention until I heard the magic work " Elvis ". I dropped everything, scrambled over, and scanned the article myself: 

" February 14, 1964 - Elvis Presley to arrive in Long Beach harbor today. Presley is coming to town to hand over the 165-foot presidential yacht, Potomac, to Danny Thomas, who is representing St. Judes Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. " 

After fifteen minutes of pleading my case, mom gave in. I was going to see Elvis live and in the flesh! 

Although Jeanne was not a true Elvis fan my enthusiasm completely enveloped her at the door. She insisted on going too. 

The taxi ride down to the harbor seemed to take forever. We were greeted by a very pleasant security guard at the gate who told us we were the first to arrive in honor of Elvis. Since he wasn't due for another four hours our anticipation would have to sustain us until then. 

Danny Thomas was the first to make an appearance. He nodded towards the crowd as he drove by in his Cadillac. Shortly thereafter we spotted a shiny limousine making its way towards us. It pulled into the driveway cautiously and paused while our congregation, which had increased to about 100 people, spread out on both sides. As Jeanne and I peered into the darkened rear window closest us, it steadily wound its way down and left us face to face with ELVIS'!! While we teetered on our toes for a few seconds he mimicked our stare humorously, smiled and said, " Hi, girls. " I managed a feeble little " hi " while Jeanne was still gasping for breath. The drive then whisked him past us and parked on the edge of the dock. 

Since I had given up locating mom, who was hopelessly lost in the shuffle, I revived Jeanne and we raced over to the limousine. Elvis was already on board the huge yacht so we stayed glued to the car awaiting his return. 

He soon emerged from the vessel and started down the gangplank with members of his entourage clearing the way. He was escorted through the swarming fans and finally reached the vehicle. He acknowledged us cheerfully and asked how we were doing. I think I mumbled something about being fine. Actually I was in shock! Looking around, he modestly commented on the large crowd being as it was a school day. We agreed while being pushed closer and closer to him by the girls behind us. Suddenly, Jeanne, who had claimed to be anti-Elvis for so many years, grabbed his hand, held it up in the air like a trophy and screamed with delight. Elvis looked as surprised as I was jealous. Embarrassed by her sudden outburst of courage she finally let go. Being disgustingly shy I found it impossible to equal her behavior but I did manage to ask him for his autograph. He gladly consented and teased me with a question, " Do your folks know where you are? " When I explained my mother had accompanied us, that really tickled him. 

While he was signing Jeanne's picture all I could do was stare. I had never seen a more perfect looking human being. The sunlight on his hair reminded me of black satin. His sexy eyes, which seemed to demand your attention, had a never-ending blue depth that was really spellbinding and only rivalled by the longest lashes ever to grace a man. His flawless complexion was one that any girl would give her right arm for. His high cheekbones were accented handsomely when he smiled that special Elvis way. Though he looked very suave his speech and mannerisms revealed the country boy turned southern gentleman we love so much. Every impeccable feature was totally masculine, but this man can only be described as truly beautiful. 

Pens, pictures and outstretched arms were coming at Elvis from all directions now. The crowd sensed his departure time nearing. I had managed to hold my position next to him, which was no easy chore, so I was one of the first to see the door of the limousine opened. Elvis slowly edged toward it while accommodating fans with handshakes and replies to their screaming compliments. I moved right along with him but suddenly he looked all around, waved and made a swift retreat into the plush interior. I exchanged glances with him through the window and then he was gone. We chased after the car until we could run no more. Limp and exhausted we watched it pull out into the street and disappear into traffic. Our day with Elvis was over. 

My treasured autograph is eleven years old now and presently preserved on a wood plaque under a layer of decoupage. Being an eternal sentimentalist, I consider it a Valentine gift from Elvis to me. I have a used scarf and other recent mementoes which are very precious too, but somehow his signature rates highest. I think it signifies my first love, my youth, and a wonderful but rare experience. When I see Elvis in Las Vegas, Tahoe, or wherever, I always find myself reminiscing silently. Even though I am one among the millions of women who adore him, I know I had a small but special moment with him once and nobody can take that away from me! 

Needless to say, Jeanne has been a devoted Elvis fan ever since that day. I never turn down the opportunity to remind her who is responsible for it either! And my mom... 

            ........            well, she is still cursing herself for forgetting the camera!!!