junkie 'hypnotized' for 50 years
first time Mary Settle heard Elvis Presley sing on the radio,
she was, as Elvis once put it, "All Shook Up."
13-year-old from Rogers, Ark., had never heard a singer like
Elvis before -- a powerful, soulful voice who brought a raw,
emotive power to soon-to-be classic songs like "That's All
Right," "Blue Moon of Kentucky" and "Good Rockin' Tonight."
was the summer of 1954, when Elvis recorded his first songs
at Sun Records in Memphis. Long before he was anointed the
"king of rock 'n' roll" and made his first television appearances
on "The Ed Sullivan Show," the former truck driver from Tupelo,
Miss., performed at small clubs and concert halls in the South,
including nearby Little Rock.
begged her mother to let her attend a concert, but her mother
refused. Elvis already was notorious for his hip-swinging
gyrations, and Settle's mother wasn't about to let her sweet,
innocent daughter "watch something from the devil," Settle
broke my heart, but my mom's words did not stop me from listening
to him," said Settle, now 62 and living in rural Assaria.
"I baby-sat and bought every record and album that hit the
stores. I loved him the first time I heard him sing, and I
love him just as much today."
has remained a loyal Elvis fan for 50 years and has devoted
a small bedroom at her home to Elvis memorabilia. This includes
posters, books, movies, framed photographs, bedspreads, pillows,
lamps, purses, a life-size cardboard cutout and a model reproduction
of Graceland, Elvis' Memphis home.
group of Salina-area Elvis fans was formed four months ago.
Members gather at a restaurant decorated in a 1950s motif
that includes a hip-swiveling Elvis in the front window. So
far, there only are six members, all women, but Settle is
convinced there are many more fans in the area.
January's gathering was especially important to Settle --
on Jan. 8, Elvis, who died in 1977 at age 42, would have turned
70. "I think if Elvis were alive today, he'd still be singing
and his voice would still be beautiful," said Settle, who
paid tribute to the king by decorating several tables with
balloons, birthday napkins and a homemade coconut cake.
Elvis' mother was alive, she made him a coconut cake every
day," Settle said.
Settle is a dedicated fan, she didn't seriously start collecting
Elvis memorabilia until about 12 years ago. She said she wanted
to remind her children and grandchildren how important Elvis
was to American culture.
didn't want the younger kids to forget about him," she said.
"When Elvis came, everyone was listening to singers like Perry
Como. Elvis was new and different -- he meant rebellion. He
was something we kids needed at the time."
first started ordering Elvis memorabilia from a catalog published
through Graceland. It wasn't long before her collection began
to spiral out of control. "I finally decided to put everything
in the one room," Settle said.
husband is indulgent of my Elvis collection. If he wasn't,
I'd just leave and take everything with me!"
Elvis items in the room include several foot-high dolls, portraying
both the young black-leather-jacketed Elvis and the white
jumpsuited Vegas Elvis; paintings of Elvis; an Elvis clock
shaped like a guitar; Elvis for President bumper stickers;
and an Elvis Christmas stocking.
said that while the room was just for show, "every once in
a while I'll sleep in here if my husband starts snoring,"
she said. Elvis has been gone for nearly 30 years now, but
true fans like Settle are helping keep his memory, and his
cultural importance, alive. It's the least they can do, Settle
said, for what Elvis has given to them.
hypnotized all of us back then, and we haven't snapped out
of it yet," she said. "I'm still lonesome for Elvis Presley."
Source: The Wichita Eagle, 22 Jan 2005)