I had accepted a position with a grocery chain
heading up the Training & Development
Department. It was my job to oversee the
training of scanning coordinators. The people
who are responsible for making sure that
wherever the price tag says is what the
customer is charged. On the average there were
more than 5000 price changes per week in every
store. I was in charge of 77 stores. All of New
Mexico and El Paso,Texas. The training center
was in Albuquerque but I spent most of my time
traveling. I had a fabulous staff that worked
under me- some of them literally. But this is not
the story to be told today.
I was taking my first two week vacation since
starting August 8, 1976. I had been looking so
forward to this for well over a month. The day
finally arrived. August 12, 1977. I pulled out of
the training center at lunch time and headed
home in the Stingray. This was my first paid
vacation ever and driving home I felt so slick so
young so alive. I had earned this vacation and I
was gonna enjoy it. Ken wasn't able to get
anytime off from the beauty salon except for
his regular Sunday & Mondays. I really hadn't
made any plans to go anywhere. Unlike most
people on vacation I wanted to take the two
weeks off from traveling and hotels and
restaurants. Sleeping in, lying in the sun, having
friends over for drinks and dinner, going to bed
late and having plenty of sex.
Tuesday August 16. The day started off just
like the day before. Coffee, cleaning up the
house, lying in the sun, planning the evening with
friends over for dinner. I decided to wash the
Stingray. I was listening to the radio and out of
"I want to interrupt this program to bring
you an important news bulletin."
"THE KING IS DEAD! ELVIS PRESLEY, DIED
TODAY AT HIS HOME IN MEMPHIS,
(then silence from the DJ as he struggled with the news--he then read it again.)
"ELVIS PRESLEY,(pause) THE KING OF ROCK
AND ROLL --- DIED TODAY --- AT HIS HOME
IN MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE!"
could not be true. I don't know how but I
somehow managed to get myself up and into the
house. I called Ken. I had to leave right away. I
had to pack and get on the road. I told Ken I
would call him when I got to Memphis. I had over
1000 miles to drive and I made it in 15 hours. I
loved that Stingray. It was still to early to
check into my room so I left the Vet in the
parking lot and walked to Graceland.
Hundreds had already gathered at the gates.
I had never seen anything like this before in my
life. Crying, singing, woman, children, men,
families, blacks, whites, mexicans all gathered
for The King! I really don't remember how long I
stayed at the gates looking at Graceland. I
walked back to the motel checked in and then
checked out. I was exhausted. Not so much
from the traveling--I was use to that. What I
wasn't use to was the shared emotions from
hundreds perhaps thousands of strangers. We
all knew the world would never be the same.
When I awoke I went to the BBQ restaurant
next to the motel and ate. The restaurant was
packed with people but was strangely quiet.
Everyone was mourning. Thursday morning I
walked over to Highway 51 South across from
Graceland along with thousands of strangers and
Finally the caravan, led by a silver Cadillac
followed by the white Cadillac hearse with Elvis'
body and seventeen white Cadillac limousines,
toiled its way past all of us and headed the two
and a half miles to Forest Hill Cemetery.
Everyone followed the King.
I barely slept that night listening to Elvis sing.
His voice was everywhere. Friday morning I
found myself once again outside of The
Cemetery. It was barely dawn. At around 8:30am
the gates to Forest Hills as if by magic opened
and over an intercom we were told that Vernon
wanted us the fans to have The Kings Flowers.
No one ran no one trampled but everyone wept
tears of joy as we entered the Cemetary. I
reached out picked up a bouquet of Jasmine
walked out of Forest Hills back to the motel and
left Memphis. I arrived home early Saturday
morning. I was tired of motels tired of
restaurants and tired of traveling. One thing I
wasn't tired of was listening to Elvis sing. I
spent the rest of my first ever paid vacation
doing just that. Listening to Elvis sing. And I
still haven't stopped falling in love with him!