We moved to South Lake Tahoe in the summer of 1975. We had just settled into our home and I had met some neighbors. By the time school started, I met one of the mothers from the neighborhood at the bus stop. She was a Dutch Indonesian blond woman named Inge with three kids, one of which was a small son the same age as mine. The boys played together and she and I became like sisters, spending lots and lots of time together.
We lived a few blocks from each other in the Tahoe Paradise area and our homes had privileges at what we called “Man Made Lake” at Tahoe Paradise Park. I only found out recently that it did have a name and it was Lake Baron located on the banks of the Upper Truckee River in Meyers. The kids loved to swim in this lake. It always reminded me of Russian River because the ground under your feet in the lake was like the muddy Russian River riverbed.
The water was always cold but the kids loved it anyway and we went swimming there pretty regularly, since it was within walking distance to our homes.
Inge and I were lying out on our beach blankets after a swim the summer of 1977, on Tuesday, August 16th to be exact, and my ex-husband drove over to the park in his pick up truck and came over to us to tell us the bad news that Elvis had died. We couldn’t believe it. Elvis was a legend and larger than life.
I was so sad and very disappointed. He was in concert in May 1976 at the Sahara Tahoe and I really wanted to see him. We talked about it and my ex suggested we wait until next year when he returned to the Lake to see him, and truthfully, we didn’t have the money to see him either at that time.
There would never be that next time for us.
I had an opportunity to see the Beatles at the Cow Palace in SF when I was a teen and my dad would not let me go with my friends whose mom got us all tickets. I never did forgive my dad for that. I also had an opportunity to go on the Dance Party show in SF but my dad would not let me go there either. I felt robbed then as I did when Elvis died. I didn’t get to see him when he was only 12 miles from my house.
Ironically, my current husband, Bill did go to see Elvis that May in 1976. Bill thought he was awful. He said Elvis could not even remember the words to his songs and he looked bloated and sickly. I guess it was for the best that I remember him how he was.
Everyone loved Elvis. He was so handsome. I think most of us felt rather jealous when Elvis married Priscilla. What a lucky girl, I thought then.
I had so many great memories of that handsome man singing some of my favorite songs like: How Great Thou Art, It’s Now or Never, Can’t Help Falling In Love, Are You Lonesome Tonight, Return To Sender, A Fool Such As I, Fools Rush In, Hawaiian Wedding Song, The Wonder of You, Wooden Heart, Suspicious Minds, etc. And the movies that I loved such as Love Me Tender (his first with the beautiful Debra Paget), G I Blues, Blue Hawaii, Viva Las Vegas, etc.
I remember the scandal of his gyrating hips and how the television show cameras had to only film him from the waist up because they feared it would corrupt the young. They called him, "Elvis the Pelvis." I vaguely remember hearing about the Legion of Decency being the national watchdog group when I was young. Life has sure changed.
How sad that he died so young at 42 years old in such a tragic way (heart failure bought on by his drug addiction). With fame comes some demons apparently, and Elvis was no stranger to those demons. It was legendary -- the craziness of shooting the televisions, the mood swings, etc.
He would be celebrating his 77th birthday this coming January 8th. He would still have his hair. Those black locks and sideburns would probably be tinged with grey or white. He would have the middle-age spread held in with some spanx shapeware. His voice would still be good. And his fans would still be there to holler at his concerts. I would most likely try to be in one of the first rows to watch the King of Rock and Roll do his thang.
Sorry I missed you when you came to town. Happy Birthday, Elvis, RIP.