By Latisha Hutson
Not many entertainers alive or deceased can claim to have influenced not just one generation but several generations. You may know someone who will argue
that the 2nd and 3rd generation of Elvis fans are influenced by their parents. You may also know someone who insists that as the first generation of fans begin to fade out, so will Elvis` appeal to the public.
I'd like to share a story with you that will make them think twice before coming to such naïve conclusions.
In July, 1935 at the foothills of the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee, a baby girl was born. Her father was an on/off coal miner. Her mother was a housewife.
The family was so strapped for cash that the little girl never owned a winter coat until she married in 1952. She witnessed first hand the rise of Elvis Presley, a fellow Tennessean. She felt an unexplainable connection to him. She
wasn't fond of his music and never purchased a single record. But she kept track of his life and career. She was very proud that another person who was born into the same humble beginnings as she, had made it out of poverty and
became the most celebrated entertainer in history. When Elvis passed away, she sat up late the night of his funeral and watched the news coverage in the dark and alone. Her 7 year-old daughter awoke to the gentle sound of her
sniffling and got up out of bed. The seven year-old saw her mother sitting in a large rocking chair, watching the TV and occasionally wiping the tears from her face. Her daughter asked what was wrong and she replied that Elvis “was
buried today.” Her daughter was confused at why her mother was crying for someone who she didn't even listen to on the radio but she didn't question the action. That memory never left the little girl and years later she asked her
mother about the incident. In a enlightening woman-to-woman conversation, the mother explained to her daughter that it was true that she was never fond of his music but she felt an overwhelming sense of pride for the magnitude of
his success and the way he presented himself to the public. While others were dumbfounded at his extravagant nature, the way he would hand over gifts to complete strangers, she was not surprised, “For those of us who were born back
then, born in the south and born into those circumstances, we understood why he did it.”
It's been 26 years his death and the woman continues to be captivated by the latest Elvis news. When Sam Phillips passed away, she was working her
crossword puzzle in her large rocking chair. She put down her crossword book and listened attentively to the report. If I need verification on something concerning something that happened during Elvis` lifetime all I have to do is
ask her. Half a century after he first exploded on the scene, she can recall many exciting details about those early years. She recalled how their next door neighbor knocked loudly on their door and asked if she could watch their
television set because Elvis was on the Ed Sullivan Show. Like many people at the time, the neighbor didn't have a TV set.
The memory of my mother weeping for Elvis while sitting in the dark has never left me. The sadness she felt at the loss of such an enormously talented man
will always be with me. A man who touched many through his music, touched her for simply being himself. On August 2, 2003 Lisa Marie played at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. I was one of a few lucky people who were invited to
her “Meet and Greet” session backstage after her show. I knew almost instantly who I wanted to go with me. My mother. She never had the chance to meet Elvis, the person that she felt connected to for so many years but she now has
met his daughter. “I wish I had the chance to tell him ‘Way to go!’ but I didn't. But his daughter knows and that's just as good.”
I have been an Elvis fan for so long, I can't remember a time when I wasn't a fan. His voice soothes my soul, makes me happy when I'm sad and lifts me up
when I'm depressed. There was never a single Elvis record in our house when I was growing up. I discovered Elvis on my own at a very early age and I've never regretted it.