"If you're an Elvis fan, no explanation is necessary; If you're not an Elvis fan, no explanation is possible."

(George Klein)






Elvis memorabilia greets travellers at Oakland International Airport

By Angela Hill, STAFF WRITER OAKLAND TRIBUNE, October 2004

ELVIS will not be in the building himself because he's dead and all, and that would just be creepy. But a lot of cool and rare stuff that has actually at some time touched The King or has at least been near him or near other people who have touched him or been near him -- back when he was alive and all -- is currently on display in a new exhibit at Oakland International Airport.

There are fun things such as Elvis' shirts, dressing-room keys, fan mail, record albums complete with Elvis Presley's own John Hancock, a pair of blue suede shoes he wore on the Steve Allen show (Elvis, not John Hancock) and lots of items from private local collections that have never been seen in public before.

This tribute to the Elvis hysteria -- titled "Eye of the Storm" -- is curated by the Oakland Museum of California and will be at the airport through Jan. 12. Only thing is, to see this display you have to be a ticketed airline passenger on your way to another city, say, Memphis for example. That's be- cause it's in the airport's usual art exhibit area along the inside walkway between the two terminals, which is past the security checkpoints.

But for true Elvis folk, it might be worth a plane ticket and a denuding at the security gate just to see it. For one thing, there are a lot of great photographs from the museum's permanent collection, including some of Elvis here in Oakland. There's a blown-up black-and-white shot of one true-blue-suede fan -- a euphoric 13-year-old Sandra McCune, standing next to Elvis at the old Oakland Civic Auditorium (now the Kaiser Convention Center). The girl is holding out the sides of the quilted skirt her mother made, with "Elvis" stitched onto it. "Right after that, she asked Elvis for one of his shirt buttons, and he yanked it off right there and gave it to her," said exhibit curator Ben Petry.

"All this didn't go over too well in her school, though. For fear she would contaminate other children because of her exposure to 'The Presley Menace,' she was relegated to the nurse's room for the rest of the school year." Some things in the exhibit have never been on public view before -- mainly because a lot of them were just discovered.

"A couple of years ago, my wife and I started going through these boxes we'd inherited after my mother passed away, and we found these amazing things," said Jim Forsher of Berkeley, a communications professor at Cal State Hayward whose late mother, Trude Forsher, was Elvis' private secretary in Hollywood in the mid-1950s. On display are some rare fan letters that his mother saved, a photo of her taking dictation from Elvis and Colonel Parker, and an album signed on the back with, "To Trude, a great little gal, Thanks and good luck, Elvis Presley." "She was in seventh heaven to get that job," Forsher said. "But my dad didn't like it. He couldn't stand Elvis anyway. For my dad, music ended with Wagner."





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