Once again this year, I expect millions of people are spending January the way my family is, in weeks of festive celebration of the January 8th birthdate of one of history's most historical historic figures. The one, the only, the incomparable - Bob Eubanks! You know - the “Newlywed Game” host!
Oh, yeah, the 8th was also the birthdate of Elvis. (Does anyone even bother to say “Presley” anymore? If you say, “Hey, an Elvis movie is on TV!” it's not like anyone's going to think it stars Elvis Stojko, that Olympic skater from Canada, right? When somebody says they’ve been listening to their Elvis records, your mind doesn’t conjure up the vocal stylings of Elvis Grbac. Remember Elvis Grbac? Former NFL quarterback? Twice led the league in fewest vowels?)
Anyway, I imagine Elvis commemorations are especially popular in Rushville. This is due to a little theory I have: That Elvis is ALIVE and hiding in Rushville. Just look at the evidence!: the name “Rushville” has hidden within it – prepare to gasp – all the letters that spell “Elvis”!
I admit, the theory still needs some work. For example, I don’t know what to make of the leftover letters, which spell “hurl.” My No. 5 son (age 19) says “Wake up, dad; ‘hurl’ is what people do when they hear your theories about Elvis living in Rushville.”
Okay, maybe he’s right, and Elvis really is gone. If so, then one thing’s for sure: Since I started writing columns, I've mentioned Elvis more than any other dead celebrity. Yeah, I've dropped the Kardashian name several times, but brain-dead isn't the same as Elvis-dead.
Here’s where I need – forgive me! – to mention the unmentionable – 2020; early March of that year, before anything locked down, I journeyed with the wife and sons 3 and 5 to visit Memphis. We did this thing that people do when they visit Memphis – we toured Elvis’ home, Graceland.
If you’ve never been there, but intend to go someday, I’ll try not to spoil it for you, but just to give you the lay of the land: Besides the Graceland spread and its various out-buildings, and the Presley family burial site, there’s an adjacent museum complex, chock full of all kinds of Elvis artifacts and memorabilia. To prepare for this column, I revisited my photos from the trip, some of which you can’t help but laugh about, for example, any pic of sons 3 and 5 and the wispy moustaches they were growing at the time.
Other highlights from my photo collection:
Spelling Police Alert #1!: Elvis loved football, and there’s a lot of football stuff on display to prove it, including a Green Bay Packers helmet that the museum card says was gifted to him by “Brat Starr.” Hahaha!! – that’s supposed to read “Bart Starr,” Green Bay’s legendary Hall-of-Fame quarterback. Whom I’ve never heard described as a brat.
In the building housing the Presley family’s office, Elvis’ father Vernon made a home-made, hand-written, all-caps sign that reads: “PLEASE READ AND OBSERVE/ NO LOAFING (that’s in red paint!) IN OFFICE/STRICTLY FOR EMPLOYEES ONLY! (those last two words in red!)/IF YOU HAVE BUSINESS HERE. (not sure why there’s a period after “HERE” but Vernon plunked one there) PLEASE TAKE CARE OF IT AND LEAVE. I’m sure this sign was heeded, since Vernon was the family’s highest-ranking VP.
There’s been growing snark lately in news reports and social media about people on Zoom calls blatantly packing their backgrounds with intellectual-sounding books they’ve probably never read. (I would definitely do that if I was on a video conference that massive numbers of people would see!! Unfortunately, my most highbrow books are my compendiums of “Calvin & Hobbes” and “Zits” comic strips.)
Anyway, whomever “staged” the collection of books in one Graceland display did Elvis right, making him look very book-nerdy: “The Prophet”; “The Jewel in the Lotus”; “The Human Aura”; “Letters of Helena Roerich.” Y’know, Helena Roerich, the Russian theosophist, creator of the philosophist teaching of Agni Yoga, and the inspiration for Elvis’ song “Rock-a-Hula Baby.”
Spelling Police Alert #2!: Several placards in the Elvis museum sport an embarrassing error – using “of” instead of “have”: “Rock and roll may not of begun with Elvis”; “Without Elvis, it would have been hard for there to of been a Ricky Nelson”; “Without Elvis, none of us would of made it.” As we left, I mentioned this to a museum employee, who said the Museum Director might be interested, and that’s who I should of contacted.