The collective memories of several generations were stimulated Saturday night when Elvis Presley came to the P.A. Smith Hotel in Navasota. Well, make that a reasonable facsimile of Elvis - but that’s irrelevant! This particularly congenial Elvis impersonator brought us Elvis’ music, his moves and made a bunch of 60 and 70-year-old women feel 16 again!
When it comes to impersonating American icons, there was no one like Elvis! Otherwise, how else can you explain the giddiness and warm feeling which sweeps over you when he kneels in front of you in a room full of people, looks into your eyes and sings directly to you? And it’s not even the real Elvis in front of you!
In the Aug. 23, 2017, edition of The Examiner, my column paid homage to Elvis’ memory on the 40th anniversary of his death. In it I recalled where I was and what I was doing when Elvis died and how my sweet little children were as respectful of my tears as if someone in our real family had died.
I also recounted how I loved Elvis more than even Roy Rogers but it was with the innocent love of a 9-year-old who was clueless to the nuances of the swiveling hips.
And then there was the male contempt of Elvis. My father didn’t like Elvis and this posed a potential problem when Elvis was scheduled to make his first appearance on the Ed Sullivan show Sept. 9, 1956. Looking back I wonder if my dad’s male ego felt threatened by Elvis or did something inside this World War II veteran tell him that Elvis was the precursor to a drastic change in society as he knew it? Whatever motivated his dislike for Elvis the Pelvis, I was allowed to watch Ed Sullivan that evening. Before long, I was singing and dancing with abandon in front of the television in perhaps my first real act of pre-adolescent rebellion.
Dancing with abandon was something many of Saturday night’s attendees did! While the majority of the audience was comprised of couples and families, the liveliest were those who appeared to be on a ladies’ night out. Many threw inhibition to the wind reveling in songs from their past, and maybe recalling a few bittersweet memories, too. Most men just sat and watched but a few got into the spirit of the moment sharing some moves of their own!
Engaging in a little crowd watching, I tried to imagine what this pre-geriatric audience, and those of us already there, looked like back in the 50s, 60s and 70s. We aren’t born old and in today’s mobile society, it can be a real challenge to sustain relationships with those folks who knew us when we were young and wrinkle-free. I expect that if I went through some old yearbooks I might find that those guys who let their hair down - well, what hair they did have - were voted Most Popular or Most something back in the day.
I admit to being relatively reserved that evening. It could have been that because I was with my gentleman friend there were some subconscious shades-of-my-father’s disapproval at play reining in my own inner Elvis but more likely it was because the Examiner photographer was there and I prefer to write about the news rather than make it!
While American Bandstand’s Dick Clark has said, “The music of your youth stays with you throughout your life,” thanks to the 2022 movie “Elvis,” the music of the King of Rock ‘n Roll may continue to live on even after this generation of devout followers is gone.
The column represents the thoughts and opinions of Connie Clements. Opinion columns are NOT the opinion of the Navasota Examiner.
Clements is a freelance reporter for the Navasota Examiner and an award-winning columnist.