When I was a child, my family took lots of road trips. We would all pile into the Winnebago or the Lincoln Continental and drive to Mammoth Mountain, Sun Valley (Idaho), the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, New Orleans, California Ghost Towns, New Mexico Indian Reservations etc…etc…
On one of at least a couple of trips that we made to Palm Springs, the family went out shopping at Alan Ladd Hardware and Gifts, which was owned by the actor Alan Ladd. An interesting thing about Alan Ladd that I just learned is that his mother committed suicide and then later Alan Ladd himself tried to commit suicide at the age of 48 by shooting himself in the heart, but he survived and then two years later he overdosed on sedatives and alcohol. Anyway that’s another story. This story is about Elvis and how I sometimes wonder how much of an effect seeing him up close had on my young 10-ish year old brain.
Yes it’s true, I saw Elvis shopping. My Mom had just finished shopping in Alan Ladd’s, no one else was in the store that I remember and we had just walked out the front door. Some men were getting out of a car right in front of the front door to the store next to where we had parked also. My Mom suddenly says, in an excited whisper, “That’s Elvis Presley!”. Good old Mom, if it hadn’t been for her we probably wouldn’t have even noticed because Elvis was already almost through the front door into the store. It appeared that he had either some friends with him or some body guards, but when Elvis went in the store he was shopping by himself. Me being a kid, I didn’t have a notion of fear or manners and after my family followed him back into the store, my mom prodded me to go to the section where Elvis was shopping (I guess she figured that I could get away with it being as young as I was). I believe it was the kitchen utensils section, now I can’t be sure about that but I do seem to remember that was the section of the store that he went to first. I don’t think he was all that keen on me following him around the store so after a short while I joined the family again and we left.
It is fun for me to think about though….. that for a few minutes I breathed the same air as and shopped alongside Elvis Presley.
I first wrote this blog post in 2010. The next morning after I wrote it I saw in the news that that very day was the 75th anniversary of Elvis’ birth and that the Smithsonian Institution was showcasing the “King of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s” image through exhibits opening Friday in Washington and Los Angeles. I didn’t know about that when I wrote the blog, it was just a strange coincidence, unless…… perhaps….. the Smithsonian (or the King himself) is sending out telepathic messages.