Where Were You When You Heard Elvis Had Died?

Today, 16 Aug, is the date in 1977 that Elvis left this mortal coil.

I was in my early twenties, headed into Texas City with my best and oldest friend. We got together after work, loaded up his old International Harvester SUV “The Goose” and were bound for an inlet to Galveston Bay for some crabbing.  My best bud, a pharmacist, had grown up a fisherman and sportsman, as had I.  I was a student at UT-Austin, working a summer job in Houston as a painter’s helper on the Galleria II project.

As we were rolling into Texas City and turning off IH-45, the announcer on the big Houston rock’n’roll radio station stated, with a somber tone, “The King Is Dead.” Being in a party mode since leaving Houston, we looked at each other with blood shot eyes and went…whaaaa?  I said, seriously, who cares about the monarchy? Then the announcer stated it was Elvis who had died of congestive heart failure. That new information clue-batted us and we both expressed our shock and disbelief.

Elvis had been a part of our lives since we were toddlers.  My parents would drop us boys off at my grandparent’s farm on Saturday afternoon and go into Shreveport to have dinner, then go see this new singing sensation at the Louisiana Hayride, a young man named Elvis.  Of course my grandparent’s didn’t approve of this new “devil” music, no more than my parents approved of my Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin music, years later.

I can remember, even though I was only about four at the time, being scooped up and loaded in my Dad’s Buick Special for the midnight ride home, trying to understand where my parents had been and asking questions.

Years went by, I heard all of his songs and saw all of his movies(silly as most were), but it was Elvis, no one else looked like him or acted like him.  In the late sixties his star was waning and his Las Vegas era replaced the hit making young hip shaker. I was now into hard rock and paid little attention to his now faded glory.

But on this day, when I discovered he had passed away far too early, his impact on my life came flooding back with many memories.

*PS*  Elvis’ spirit was with my bud and I that afternoon and evening, we filled two large ice chests with huge blue shell crabs and made it home safely without injury or a DWI.

TIME NEVER DIES

Sercan Ondem

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