magic of Elvis
the palace of her King.....Visiting an old friend
Patricia Bunin, Correspondent
guitar?" I kept wondering as I wended my way through Graceland
Mansion in Memphis. Large, reddish mahogany-colored lacquered
wood. Breathless to the touch. That was the guitar Elvis
used when he serenaded me privately as I sat star-struck
next to him on that fateful day in 1956.
day I wangled my way into his hotel room in Charlotte, N.C.
The day I climbed 20 flights of stairs to his suite. The day
I waited three hours in the stairwell until he appeared. Bobby
Davis, my delightful personal guide for the Graceland tour,
listened carefully and politely refrained from laughing as
I described the guitar. There were easily dozens of guitars
on display that fit that description.
if Elvis hadn't picked up his guitar all those years ago and
asked me gently, "Would you like me to sing something for
you, young lady?" I would have wanted to visit Graceland.
Even if he hadn't kissed me goodbye. But he did. And it changed
my life forever. The first boy I ever kissed went on to become
the King of Rock 'n' Roll. Though generations of young women
screamed and fainted at his concerts, overcome by his charisma,
I only saw him perform in person that one time. Just for me.
the years when I went to see Elvis movies -- and I saw them
all, multiple times --during a love scene I would whisper
loudly to my girlfriends, "He kissed me first!" No one could
ever top that. And I would smile secretly to myself recalling
the somewhat chaste kiss that the handsome young man from
Tupelo, Miss., had bestowed on the somewhat shy 13-year-old
girl from Virginia. Visiting Graceland wasn't merely a desire
for me. It was a quest.
years to the summer after I met Elvis, I finally made it.
And suddenly here I was, checking into Heartbreak Hotel (yes,
the desk clerk's dressed in black, just like the song says)
with my husband George Roegler snapping photos of me as I
draped myself over the purple and zebra chaise lounge in the
I was rushing across the street at midnight because I couldn't
wait until the morning to get my first glimpse of the mansion.
After a sleepless night of anticipation as I looked up at
the picture of The King in our room --at the exact age he
was when I met him -- the big day arrived.
I was standing between Courage and Strength, the two lions
that flank the entrance to Graceland. On an average day, 2,000
to 3,000 people tour Graceland, the second most visited and
recognized private residence, next to The White House, in
the United States.
I felt strangely at home in the 17,552-square-foot house where
Elvis winks at you from every wall. It was just like I had
popped in to visit an old friend. At his grave site in the
Meditation Garden, where thousands of fans will soon gather
for a candlelight vigil on Monday, the 27th anniversary of
his death, I was taken by the tiny memorial to his twin brother,
Jessie Garon, who was stillborn.
would have happened if he had lived? Would the brothers Presley
have teamed up musically? But there was to be only one King
of rock 'n' roll and he has since reigned for 50 years. We
went to the Sun Records studio where Elvis recorded his first
song, "That's All Right," on July 5, 1954. It recently became
a gold record, joining 148 other Elvis gold and platinum singles
and albums. It was magic to touch the spot where Elvis stood
when he recorded the song.
much about Elvis is magic. Right down to the staff of overwhelmingly
dedicated people who help to carry on his legend. You might
say the Graceland staff is in Elvis' image: courteous and
gracious to the core, just like the gentleman who charmed
me with his good southern manners so long ago. --
a King-sized donation.......Taking
the fight for the cure to Memphis and home again
Patricia Bunin, Correspondent
I was diagnosed with cancer in both breasts six years ago,
a friend said, "Look for the opportunity." Last month I found
it at Graceland. A chance for me to partner with Elvis, and
all of you who are reading this, to make a big difference
in funding the fight to find a cure for breast cancer.
now, I can hear Elvis's enchanting voice as he sang to me when,
48 years ago, at age 13, I was lucky enough to meet him. I can
still feel the gentle touch of his goodbye kiss, my first ever.To
celebrate my six-year survivor anniversary, my husband, George
Roegler, took me on a trip from our home in Altadena to Memphis,
Tenn. to fulfill my long time dream.
the chemotherapy treatments that followed my double
mastectomy, I made a list of all the things I had always
wanted to do. Visiting Graceland was right near the
top of that list.
honor of this significant event in my life, The Elvis Foundation
has generously donated $600, in my name, to the Susan G. Komen
Breast Cancer Foundation. I invite all Elvis fans reading
this to contribute to a challenge grant to boost this donation.
Just think, if a million people gave $6 each, we would boost
the Elvis donation to more than $6 million. But everyone cannot
donate. So please, if you can, help celebrate my anniversary
by making a donation of any amount with a "6" in it.
should be made payable to the Susan G. Komen Foundation with
"Elvis/Patricia Donation" written on the check.
The Komen Foundation will keep records of the contributions
and I will report back to you in October, Breast Cancer Awareness
Month, and let you know how high the Elvis donation grew with
your checks to:
G. Komen Foundation
Walnut Grove Road,